6.03.2012

What Summer Brings in Panem {Things That Make Me Go Hmmm}


While students (and teachers) celebrate the beginning of summer vacation in North America, I wondered if children in Panem ever get to celebrate the same freedom from a break in the school year? I couldn't quite recall if Katniss ever mentioned a break in school for anything except Capitol-mandated viewing of Hunger Games-related events, which would be quite unpleasant for most citizens of Panem. In fact, summer doesn't bring the anticipation of sleeping in, lying in the sun daydreaming, or a break from studies for the district children. Summer brings the Hunger Games.

But how do we know the Games are during the summer months? Well, there are a few clues. This is something you can have your students research. Ask them to flip through the book and look for clues that the Games take place during the summer. Context clues will include dates, descriptions about the weather, plants, insects, etc.. We know that the references from District 12 should match those you would find in Appalachia and those in the Capitol should match seasons found in the Rocky Mountains. Of course, when Katniss is in the arena, the location is unknown. But considering this all takes place in North America and the arena is in an area with a lake, forest, and other wildlife, we can be certain that the arena is not located in the southern parts of North America (i.e. Mexico and the southern states). However, the arena's climate can also be controlled by the Gamemakers, as referenced on page 279 of The Hunger Games, "So cold, so bitterly cold tonight. As if the Gamemakers have sent an infusion of frozen air across the arena, which may be exactly what they've done" (Collins). Even so, this cold air is unexpected to Katniss. Students can infer from this passage that it's not winter.

CLASSROOM CONNECTION...
Ask your students to find at least three additional examples that would indicate the Hunger Games takes place during the summer. There are numerous clues, but they should use their books to find the answers (rather than the internet--which is why I am not going to post answers here).

ONLINE EXERCISE...
As an extended internet activity, have your students examine if there is any symbolism present that might connect the Games with the summer months. They should first research what types of symbols are connected to summer and the summer solstice. As they are looking for examples of symbols they should pay attention to anything that would connect to the novel.

WRITE ABOUT IT...
If you are looking for a writing activity for your students for the end of the year, have them reflect on what summer means to them. What do they have planned? How does the time off from school make them feel? Then have them compare their summer to how the tributes must spend theirs. Or a district citizen who must watch a loved one compete in the Games. How would they view summertime then? With excitement or dread?

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Classroom Connections: Summer in Panem from www.hungergameslessons.com

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