Happy St. Patrick's Day, Haymitch Style: Exploring Heritage in The Hunger Games

Every Day is St. Patrick's Day for Haymitch: Exploring Heritage in The Hunger Games Trilogy

St. Patrick's Day seems to be a fitting holiday for Haymitch: stumbling drunks are just part of the festivities.
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But, it does make me wonder (perhaps I should write, "it's one of the Things That Make Me Go Hmmmm...") about different heritages and ethnic backgrounds of the characters in The Hunger Games trilogy.

I first read about the topic on a guest post by Elizabeth Baird Hardy (EBH: Don't Go Down Into That Hole...) on the Hogwarts Professor website April 14, 2010. We then had a nice exchange in the comments section about the roots of the characters from District 12, especially Katniss and the other Seam characters (I posted as "Tracee"). 

Obviously in the movie Haymitch is portrayed with blonde hair; but in the book, he is "Seam" like Katniss and Gale with gray eyes, olive skin, and dark hair. The term "Melungeon" is brought up by commenter "Laurelkat" in the article, which sparks everyone's interest. This was the first time I had heard that term used to describe the Seam characters, but it certainly isn't the last time it's explored.

Classroom Connections
Have your students use inductive reasoning (context clues of character descriptions: physical traits, personalities, habits, dialects, location in Panem, etc.) to infer the District 12 citizens' background/ethnicity. 

As an added challenge, have students try to infer the other district citizens' roots. Depending on which book your students are reading, some districts may have no context clues to draw from. For readers of The Hunger Games, have them attempt District 11. Readers of Catching Fire can attempt Districts 3, 4, 7, and 11. And readers of all three can try to attempt them all. 
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