Friday, March 16, 2012

So I'm reading 'The Hunger Games...'

...being the good North Carolinian that I am, and a citizen who wants to celebrate the biggest film made in this region in at least two decades. And I notice that (spoiler alert here) Katniss never kills anyone except 1) in self-defense or 2) as a mercy killing, after wild beasts have mauled him. (And she does so from a distance, so her hands stay literally clean.) Peeta, her boyfriend-in-the-making, doesn't kill anyone, as far as I could tell.

The book's cleverly thought out, smoothly written, inventive and acute in social commentary. But the hero and heroine remain strangely innocent for people thrown into a brutal arena where other "tributes" slay each other in a last-killer-standing contest. I expected to read about the transformation of a shy, decent girl into a person hardened by the ugly realities of combat,

Then I thought about the Harry Potter novels, all of which I have read, and couldn't remember whether Harry had actively snuffed anyone -- no matter how malevolent -- except in self-defense, and rarely then. That got me thinking about all the great children's literature I've read, back to "Treasure Island" and "Kidnapped" and beyond, and I realized that's almost always the way: However horrible the world may become, the hero(ine) must remain unspoiled by destructive impulses.

It was kind of refreshing to see that, over two centuries or so of books written for kids, this kind of naivete prevails. We don't force teenagers to participate fully in the cruel realities of life in the great written narratives -- which, sadly, is why we call them fables.


Clay Aiken said...

I would rather have a surprise, involuntary, dry rectal exam then read this.

Anonymous said...

Actually, Harry never uses the Avada Kedavra curse, and so he never kills anyone in any of the books, not even Voldemort in the final showdown. Voldemort's own rebounding Avada Kedavra curse killed himself in the final battle. Even in the final moment, Harry used just the Expelliarmus curse.

Anonymous said...

you should have read the whole series before writing this article.