Todorov’s and Jackson’s Fantasy and Gothic Views of Katniss in The Hunger Games
Todorov and Jackson create two works that explain the definition of the fantastic and the gothic. According to Todorov, The Hunger Games is considered to be a fantasy and a gothic novel because it meets his literary views of how secondary world settings and supernatural events that occur together are often found in these genres. In The Hunger Games, Panem is the country Katniss lives in, or in other words a secondary world. Panem is considered a secondary world because it “cannot be explained by the laws of this familiar world” (Todorov 25), such as our primary world. Secondly, Todorov states that the “uncertainty of the truth” and fear, are common themes that make a novel fantastic and gothic. Katniss fears that if she is open to trusting people, she will be betrayed, like the ways she was by her mother, Peeta and the Capitol. However, what Todorov forgets to mention is that many fantasy and gothic genres can read through the psychoanalytic lens; how one’s—Katniss—psyche reveals their unconscious drives.
Todorov explains that in “fantastic texts, the author describes events which are not likely to occur in everyday life” (33), or in other words, the primary world. The primary world—that is known to be our own—is much different from this secondary world, also known as Panem. Panem divides their country into 12 districts, all of which possess important goods for Panem, for example District 12 has coal. People in the districts die from starvation and the lack of health care, but also by not being the victor of the Hunger Games. The Capitol of Panem—the wealthy people—pick 2 people from each district to sacrifice for their country. This idea of sacrifice, or giving back, ties into the gothic theme and “cannot be explained by the laws of this familiar world” (Todorov 25). The familiar world—primary world—does not sacrifice innocent people for a larger power by taking their lives like the lottery, and putting them in a place where they must kill each other until there is a victory of one person. If homicide occurred in most places around the world, they would be punished through the court of law and sent to prison.
When Katniss steps into the arena, she has entered a place that is “neither entirely ‘real’ not entirely ‘unreal’, but is located somewhere indeterminately between the two” (Jackson 19). In this place that is both real and unreal, Katniss faces supernatural events such as fireballs, mutated wolves and Tracker Jackers—human-made bees that cause severe hallucinations and sometimes death. This place is considered not entirely real because Katniss is aware that the supernatural events are created by the Gamemakers, meant entirely for entertaining the audience (Collins 175). However, the games are not entirely ‘unreal’ because the fireballs are real flames, the mutated wolves are alive and hungry, and the Tracker Jacker’s do carry poison, all of which can cause...