On Earth Day, or any day, The Hunger Games trilogy offers excellent discussion points on the environment.
In chapter one of The Hunger Games, as Mayor Undersee is reading the history of Panem, discuss the natural and man-made disasters that contributed to the destruction of earth as we know it today. What have we done (and what are we currently doing) to contribute to this futuristic mess? Topics you can bring up are oil spills, carbon emissions, destruction of our rain forests, etc. Have students brainstorm a list of disasters just in the past three years.
You can segue into the wars that further contributed to the deaths of many and harm to our earth/nature. How many wars are currently being fought right now? What is the end result? Or is war never-ending?
This question is specifically addressed in Mockingjay. Peeta points out that we humans will continue to kill each other (and everything else) until there is no one left. He forces the citizens to consider how their actions--no matter how impulsive--will affect humanity.
Is this how we, too, are making decisions? Impetuous, reactionary. Too caught up in our own lives that we ignore what we are creating for our future generations?
Sara Teasdale, one of my favorite poets, wrote the poem "There Will Come Soft Rains," published in 1920. This poignant poem is particularly appropriate; and though Teasdale wrote this in response (most likely) to World War I, its song could very well be sung by the mockingjays in Katniss's world.
There Will Come Soft Rains
|Albany storm clouds, June 2009 (photo T.Orman)|
There will come soft rains and the smell of the ground,
And swallows circling with their shimmering sound;
And frogs in the pool singing at night,
And wild plum trees in tremulous white;
Robins will wear their feathery fire,
Whistling their whims on a low fence-wire;
And not one will know of the war, not one
Will care at last when it is done.
Not one would mind, neither bird nor tree,
If mankind perished utterly;
And Spring herself when she woke at dawn
Would scarcely know that we were gone.
— Teasdale, Sara. From Flame and Shadow. The Macmillan Company, 1935. Copyright, 1920 by The Macmillan Company. All rights reserved.
The speaker's indifference to the end of human life can be connected to characters in The Hunger Games trilogy. Ask your students, "Which characters are indifferent to taking the lives of others?"
While reading the first two books, most will probably respond with President Snow and the people of the Capitol. In Mockingjay, [Spoiler alert] new players enter into the killing field, as Katniss discerns that even the Rebels and President Coin are careless with protecting and maintaining life for future generations. And ironically, it's President Snow who is Katniss's source of realization.
For further study, read Ray Bradbury's 1950 short story of the same title. He writes of a post-apocalyptic society in which machines and nature have lived on after humankind has destroyed itself.
*This post is part of Classroom Connections*