The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins and The Road by Cormac McCarthy

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Robert Evans proclaimed, “There are three sides to every story: your side, my side, and the truth. And no one is lying. Memories shared serve each differently.” The same can be said for humanities’ existence and there seems to be a fine line between them. Hope and reality subsist because of the different values, memories, culture, religion, and experiences, all around the world. Reality is an existential concept that claims that one person’s perspective is its own reality. Hope is an expectation or idea that something will happen. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins and The Road by Cormac McCarthy both contain allegory to compliment their central theme of reality vs hope. In the novels, the characters learn what they hope for and their reality might not be the same.

Hope and reality inform us that we are human. That is what makes it popular in fiction. For example, a lot of fiction is fantasy. Fantasy paints the perfect picture and instill in us belief and hope. Hope makes us stay with the story. The hidden meanings and symbols behind the plot, setting, the protagonist, the antagonist, are out there for one specific purpose. The purpose is to remind us we are human. Hope has existed since the beginning of time and without it, there would not have been voyages to discover the new world, rebellions, riots, protests, and women’s rights. Hope is the light in dark places.

Reality is popular in fiction because it stems from one’s perspective. The author or the personality they give the characters comes from views, values, culture and much more. It keeps you grounded and helps to distinguish what is real. Reality reveals the truth behind the words of fiction and is usually what the character is trying to escape in the novel. However, in The Road, the father would say you are not confronting your reality, by providing fantasy. This is how reality is significant in history. Hope and reality take our anxieties and combine them in one place making the themes relatable and popular.

In the competition known as The Hunger Games, Katniss is social, engaging in a fake relationship, and a killer but the audience seen her as strong and in love. To survive she must become someone else when she really wants everyone to be treated equally and her family living above poverty; however, that is not the harsh reality she faces every day. How often does what you hope for become a reality?

In chapter three: “There’s almost always some wood,” Gale says. “Since that year half of them died of cold. Not much entertainment in that.

It’s true. We spent one Hunger Games watching the players freeze to death at night. You could hardly see them because they were just huddled in balls and had no wood for fires or torches or anything. It was considered very anti-climactic in the Capitol, all those quiet bloodless deaths. Since then, there’s usually been wood to make fires.” (pg.49) According to shmoop, this is an example of reality tv because the focus is more on the audience than the tributes freezing to death.

The Road is about a father and son who traveled to get to the ocean. A catastrophic event has left almost nothing of the world. There are burned bodies and woods everywhere. As they take this trip, they realize it could be a nightmare, but this is there reality. They realized that if they had a good dream it could mean that they have checked out of reality.

McCarthy wrote, “In his dream she was sick, and he cared for her. The dream bore the look of sacrifice, but he thought differently. He did not take care of her and she died alone somewhere in the dark and there is no other dream nor other waking world and there is no other tale to tell.” This dream depicts his desire. It tells of his wife suicide. The father wish that she was just sick, and he could take care of her. He had to snap back into his reality because he should only be having bad dreams. Good dreams would mean he is trying to escape his current situation instead of coming to terms.

Collins and McCarthy have similar personal backgrounds construct common theme. McCarthy lived through poverty, starvation, and divorce. Collin’s father was a Lieutenant in the Airforce and often heard stories of poverty, starvation, and the effects of war. These experiences created a bias or there very own perspectives for their novels. The memories create desperation for hope and facing reality.

Hope and reality do exist together, especially in these two novels. In The Hunger Games, Gale is so focused on telling Katniss about the wood for making a bow, it completely negates the issue of tributes dying. It concentrated on the audience because they were disappointed in watching tributes freeze. The Road has a text where the father is dreaming of taking care of his wife because she fell ill. This was a dream, hope. The reality is she died alone from the catastrophic event that engulfed the world in flames. In the novels, the plot starts with hope. The characters set out to obtain something. “Additionally, hope can be both an emotional state and also a perspective on reality.” (Bookworm).

In both novels, the authors were able to demonstrate multiple meanings starting with the characters, plot, settings and then revealing symbolism coupled with the idea of desire and hanging on by a thread is what keeps the audience entertained. The world knows of this very feeling no matter the circumstance or economic status. Relatable situations always captivate the audience, other than fantasy and desire, and this is what contributes to a book’s success. Examples would be the Holocaust, any war, and riots for justice. All of these worked together to blend the common theme between these two novels, hope vs reality.


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The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins and The Road by Cormac McCarthy. (2021, Nov 11). Retrieved from https://samploon.com/the-hunger-games-by-suzanne-collins-and-the-road-by-cormac-mccarthy/

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