Inside a Hero’s Journey
Suzanne Collins’s novel The Hunger Games illustrates the challenging transition that Katniss Everdeen faces while growing from a young adolescent to an adult. Katniss loses her father to a mine explosion; and eventually volunteers in the games to protect her sister. Fear of being in the spotlight ignites her psychological issues, traumatic experience of losing her father, her mother paralyzed from depression, and due to the harshness of the games, as well as the pressure to not show any sign of weakness or be seen as an easy target. Collin’s novel captures Katniss’ growing responsibilities under the Capitol’s spotlight in the games. A psychoanalytic approach has the potential to reveal the elements of Katniss’s personality, her defense mechanisms, and the psychosexual stages she goes through during her evolution from traumatized teenager to adult victor.
Katniss Everdeen seems to connect quite a bit to the Freudian stages: conscious, preconscious, and unconscious. In The Hunger Games it is clear to see that the protagonist, Katniss, is an inspiring survivor who provides for her family at a substantially young age. Katniss states, “I knelt down in the water, my fingers, digging into the roos. Small, blush tubbers that don’t look like much but boiled or baked are as good as any potato. “Katniss”, I said aloud. It’s the plant I was named after, and I heard my father’s voice joking, “As long as you can find yourself, you’ll never starve”, (Collins,52). This passage emphasizes how Katniss is struggling with loss of her father. On top of that, she is struggling to take care of her mother and her sister, Prim. Essentially, as long as she can find herself and her family food, she will be okay. Firstly, conscious is the small amount of mental activity we know most about. Katniss is always aware of her surroundings and her actions, the book is narrated from her point which is initially her conscious. Katniss states: “In the woods waits for the only person with whom I can be myself. Gale. I can feel the muscles in my face relaxing, my pace quickening as I climb the hills to our place, a rock ledge overlooking a valley.”(Collins,6) This quote explains the way she felt while being in the woods. Even at the age of 16 alone she knew her surroundings and what do in certain situations. For example, in the woods she knew how to hide away in trees or tunnels, hunt, fish, and support her family. Secondly, the preconscious; this consist of the thoughts, feelings, knowledge, and memories a person possesses.According to .. states: ” In addition, to save her younger sister Prim on reaping day, she volunteered. Even Though, Katniss was afraid and knew what she was volunteering, for her action was heroic and did whatever to keep her sister safe. It was noticeable to Peeta’s mother she told Peeta, “She’s a survivor that one.”(Collins,90) She knew how to hunt, fight, fish, and trap or hide which made her a fierce character. Always focusing on her work of living and not very sentimental which sets her apart from other women heroines. The third element is unconscious, the process in the mind that stores all the memories and experiences that are disturbing or traumatic. This related to Katniss because she had so many situations that haunted her, she lost her father, having to deal with her mother.According to Pozios Vasilis states :”Psychological trauma is pervasive for Katniss, she is haunted by sheer brutality and life threatening nature of the games.”(How bad is Katniss,2014) Her mother has abandoned Katniss and Prim after her father died and left eleven year Katniss to take care of herself and support Prim. Quillazy states: “With her mother out of the picture, Katniss successfully puts herself in her mother’s position to not only take care of the house, but to become the mother figure for Prim who is her father’s child.”(Quillazy,2015) The meaning to “mother is out of the picture” was she was depressed from her husband’s passing and was just like a human body no life inside. Therefore, that made Katniss always feel betrayed by her mother and never felt like she could trust her especially when she leaves for the games and Prim is alone with her. She knew if she did not support herself and her sister the district would of taken them away from her depressed mother. Katniss while in her room on the train turns to her mom to tell her, “Are you listening to me? She nods, alarmed by my intensity. You must know whats coming. You can’t leave again.”(Collins,35) In other words, she knew her mother has left them multiple times but now she is not there so she can’t leave Prim on her own and being in the games fighting for her life.
Throughout The Hunger Games “the real Katniss” is in the spotlight, this forces her to be heroic by showing her survivalist mindset. According to movie psychoanalyst, Heather Hardison, “This forces her out of her comfort zone and makes her question herself through the games and throughout her found friendships with Peeta and Rue.”(THG Psychoanalyst ,2012.) This is important because it focuses on the way Katniss had to hold in her emotions and show no sign of weakness. According to Sacrificing Childhood THG, states: “As Katniss fights against the dictates of a society that demands sacrifice she becomes “the girl on fire”.” (Susan Tan, 2013) In fact, she knew if she cried or showed any signs of weakness she would be marked as an easy target. In other words, she was a warrior who went through losing her father and having to take care of her mother and sister but still managed to be strong and push through in regards to the games. While in the games, many opposing players from differing districts try to survive in their ways, which consist of stealing, teaming up, hiding, and killing each other. Therefore, these actions are components of the personality of Katniss her Id, Ego, and Superego. First is the Id, all those thoughts that make you feel good, even if they are wrong. So Katniss knew it was wrong to hide but it was a pleasure for her to get some safety by climbing the tree, so the other players could not see her. She didn’t want to be harmed in any way so she took the action of climbing and hiding pleasure for safety. Instead of going into battle with Peeta Katniss knew that the nightlock, the poisonous berries were a way out for both of them. They proceeded to put the berries in their mouths and knew it was wrong but it made her change it all, in the game! Katniss states : “I give Peeta’s hand one last squeeze as a signal, as a goodbye, and we begin counting.One. Maybe I’m wrong. Two. Maybe they don’t care if we both die. Three. it’s too late (…).”(Collins,344) It seemed as if she knew Claudius Templesmith would not let them die just like that, so she let them go along together and both come out alive as victors of the seventy- fourth Hunger Games. On the other hand, is the Ego, it is the Reality helps us direct ourselves and it has no idea right from wrong. As explained before Ego has no concept of right or wrong, for Katniss playing a role as the player in the games like the others, to survive she hid in a tree and throws a beehive at players who teamed up on her. Therefore, climbing the tree gave her a satisfying feeling, she teams up with Rue helping her hide also, she is the youngest participant in her district and games. As Katniss sees young Rue as her sister Prim, she says “Rue has decided to trust me wholeheartedly. I know this because as soon as the anthem finished she snuggles up against me and falls asleep”.(Collins,288) Rue and Katniss both trusted in one another and Katniss felt as if she did not have to take precautions with Rue, but knew in the back of her mind not both could win which upset her. However, the ego is a way to survive as it reflects the world she lives in, helping others like Rue, competing with all districts and fighting for her life, and succeeding in the games. The last of the stages is Superego, the part of the mind that is based on our morals. Superego to Katniss was when she helps Rue to survive together, she knew she had to win this game and survive for her district 12 but she found another point of that. “Besides, if I’m going to die today, it’s Rue I want to win.”(Collins,189) This quote showed the caring person Katniss is, even though, she knew Rue was from another district she would warn her of any signs of other players. In the games, Rue and Katniss trusted each other and Rue reminded her of her sister Prim. They treated each other like sisters, Katniss knew how to survive, find berries, plants medicine, and hiding in the trees.
In the final analysis, the psychoanalytic criticism explored the heroic Katniss Everdeen, a teenage girl from district 12, brave, determined, independent, and resourceful.
Inside a Hero’s Journey