Inequality in Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins

Topics: America

The United States of America is considered to be one of the greatest countries in the world and is regarded as the “Land of the Free” Economic and social inequality seems to be getting worse with every passing year and shows absolutely no sign of improvement Catching Fire is a story of a country called Panem, and there are twelve districts in the country and many of them get treated unfairly and the Capitol fears that a rebellion in amongst them Panem is dealing with inequality amongst the districts, which is why they rebeL They are tired of the way they are being treated by the Capitol.

Panem is a representation of what the United States is today the income of the United States can be separated between the rural and urban cities in the country. For example, the city of Alpine has a much higher average family income than Detroit by a huge percentage Panem‘s income happens to be separated amongst the twelve districts.

There are many factors that cause economic inequality such as food security underemployment, racial inequality, and income distribution Both Panem and the United States share these same factors.

Panem presents an allegorical and literal representation of the same economic and social inequality that the United States faces today. Food security is very rough for some of the citizens of the districts such as District 12. There are twelve districts in Panem and they all have their differences, but it seems that one of the biggest differences between them is how they are treated.

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The Capitol seems to treat its citizens far better than they treat the other districts Districts 11 and 12 seem to be abused and mistreated by the Peacekeepers, which are controlled by the Capitol There is a special day in District 12 called Parcel Day, which celebrates the winning district of the Hunger Games for once a month for an entire year. On Parcel Day everyone in the district receives free food along with entertainment provided for by the Capitol. Katniss was surprised to see the reactions that occurred when she stated, “To see all those hungry kids in the Seam running around, waving cans of apple sauce, tins of meat, even candy” (Collins 25). The reason why this is very important is that Katniss sees that the starving kids have been craving food so much that they are in complete joy.

This shows that even the kids do not have enough to eat, Later on she attends a dinner in the Capitol and finds out they are wasting precious food Katniss thinks to herself, “Here in the Capitol they‘re vomiting for the pleasure of filling their bellies again and again”. She realizes that the inequality of food is a major problem seeing as to how people are starving back in her district and working hard to be able to afford food 0n the other hand, people in the Capitol are putting all of their food to waste by vomiting it back out just to eat more. What Katniss said gave readers a description of how her district has people starving due to lack of food security Here in the United States, things are not much different In recent studies conducted in 2013, 6.8 million households had very low food security and at times were unable to provide nutritional food for themselves and their families.

More than seventy percent of these households belong to urban areas in the country such as Queens, Detroit, and Chicago, Rural areas such as Alpine, Cherokee, and Bedford have a low percentage of any type of hunger (worldhunger). Unfortunately, Panem and the United States have little to no difference in the food security problem they both share Millions of people are starving in the United States alone so one can only imagine how many people are starving and dying in the districts. The United States does have a number of programs trying to help lesson the conflict dealing with hunger, but there has not been much improvement over the years. Food security is a huge problem in Panem and the United States and it seems as if underemployment is one of the reasons why food security is an issue at all here. Underemployment is a situation in which the worker is employed; however, they are not working for the necessary wage or salary needed to live properly.

It is an important issue of inequality amongst the districts. For example, District 12 is a working district. Their citizens are starving and work hard in the mines just to try and provide for their families, Katniss provided food for her mother and sister by hunting in the woods along with Gale. When Gale was a skilled trapper he tried to provide for his family as Katniss stated, “It wasn’t enough to keep a family of five without Hazelle working her fingers to the bone on that washboard. In winter her hands got so red and cracked, they bled at the slightest provocation” (Collins 8). This shows that their family worked hard just to help provide for themselves and had to face some extreme measures such as physical pain Katniss also faced getting caught by the Capitol hunting as it was illegal and could have faced major consequences for what she was doing. Other Districts, such as 1 and 2, also worked, but not as much as the other hard-working districts and they also lived a better lifestyle. The United States also faces the issue of underemployment It has been a major problem here for many decades now and the underemployment rate is constantly rising due to the fact that the minimum wage is not rising at the same rate as inflation is.

If there is a drop in the underemployment rate it tends to increase almost right away the following month Families are constantly trying to provide for themselves but seem to be earning less each year. The average underemployment rate currently is about 155% as of March 2015 based on 30,000 people in the United States (statista). This proves that huge amounts of people are not making enough income to not only provide for themselves but also for their families, The underemployment in Panem is a direct representation of the United States today. Conditions have been harsh on most districts in Panem, In the 74m Annual Hunger Games, Katniss allied with a girl from District 11, who was eventually killed. Since people from a district are not allowed to travel to another district she was shocked at the conditions she saw while on her Victory Tour, Upon arriving to District 11, Katniss stated, “Rue did give me the impression that the rules in District 11 were more harshly enforced. But I never imagined something like this” (Collins, 55). She was referring to the entrance of District 11.

The rules of the district were toughly enforced due to the citizens trying to rebel. Right before leaving the district, Katniss finally witnessed how tough the peacekeepers were with them when she saw a man make a three-finger salute, which was sign for the rebellion and she stated that the peacekeepers were, “forcing him (old man) to his knees before the crowd. And putting a bullet through his head” (62). She witnessed something terribly horrific. The majority of the people belonging to the district were black so one can infer that one of the causes for all this inequality was due to skin color. The United States has shown signs many of racial inequality still to this day. On August 9, 2014, there was a shooting of an unarmed black teenager, Michael Brown, by a white police officer. This incident can relate to the shooting of the old man of District 11. On July 17, 2014 there was a black man, Eric Garner, who was choked to death, also by a white police officer as well even after not resisting the police.

Some members of our current police can be referred to as these ‘peacekeepers’ that Panem has, the white officers were not charged and were let go. They had no consequences for their actions, and the same can be said about the peacekeepers. There is an average of about 96 cases a year from 20002012 where a white cop kills a black person based on justifiable homicides reported to the FBI by local police. The cases do not seem to lessen, but instead increase year by year (Lee). It seems as if peacekeepers and police are only serving for their respective governments by trying to control and stop any revolts or protests. The economic inequality of the districts is another key issue Citizens of the districts are limited to what they can and cannot buy due to the fact that their wealth is not sufficient enough to go around shopping or buying as they please.

On the other hand, the citizens of the Capitol can buy almost whatever they want because they have enough money that it is not even much of a factor for them anymore. Since almost everyone in the district must work, there is hardly time to keep the district clean. For example, Katniss stated, “I remember District 8, an ugly urban place stinking of industrial fumes”. District 8 is obviously not being maintained well and people must work so there is not much time to help out. The Capitol has built structures, and is maintained well but that seems obvious due to the fact that it can be related to the United State’s capitol, Washington DC. They both are ruled by the president and the government so they try and maintain themselves before any other district or city. The United States’ income distribution can be spilt among cities, or even states. For example, Mississippi has the lowest average annual wage of about $36,000 per year while New York has an average of about $63,000 per year. Citizens living in rural cities such as South Alamo, Texas do not make enough average income to look like New York City, which is full of buildings, lights, and much more entertainment.

Money is distributed very poorly all over the United States but the highest national average compared to lowest national average marks a huge difference and just goes to show how economic inequality amongst the United States is huge (Kiersz & Holodny). In Panem, a district that has very minimal money will most likely begin to see its downfall just as District 12 has been seeing The Capitol has a high percentage of Panem‘s income and probably could not survive without the plight of the districts. For example, The United States would not have wealth without poverty. However, the inequality between the wealthy and the poor is by a huge margin and increasing by each passing year and millions of people suffer from not making enough to provide for their families. Panem and The United States of America have a lot in common in dealing with social and economic inequality they directly represent each other.

Catching Fire shows how twelve districts in the country of Panem have similar issues to the rural and urban areas of the United States such as food security, underemployment> racial inequality, and income distribution. Panem has many citizens of their districts that are starting to rebel against the Capitol for the way they are being treated and for the inequality among them. The United States also has many of the same issues that Panem faces, Baltimore and Ferguson have also faced many riots recently against the police and government. It is ironic that our country is considered to be the “Land of the Free” when the United States has a huge amount of harsh mistreatment by the government. The Capitol mistreats the citizens of the districts of Panem. Both countries are facing similar issues, which represent one such as revolts, inequality of income and poor food security panem is an allegorical representation of what the United States is in terms of social and economic inequality today.

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Inequality in Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins. (2023, Mar 10). Retrieved from

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