Things That Make Me Go Hmmm...An Early Holiday Gift From Taylor Swift...

Taylor Swift released "Safe and Sound" last night, a single from "The Hunger Games" movie official soundtrack. For this week's "Things That Make Me Go Hmmm..." I'd like to ponder which scene the song may be paired with. (As always, there are spoilers for those who have not read the novel.)

Down With the Capitol posted the song and the lyrics and asked fans which part of the movie/novel they think it goes with. Fans seem to be torn between the "cave" scene where Katniss drugs Peeta before going to the feast and the scene from chapter 18 with Rue (or after...). At least one fan said it reminded them of Katniss saying goodbye to Prim.

I am partial to the scene with Rue because of the lullaby reference and the title itself. Rue asks Katniss to stay with her when she says "Don't go" on page 234 in The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins. Then when Rue asks Katniss to sing, she thinks of the "mountain air" lullaby, or meadow song. "Safe and Sound" by Swift seems to mirror the lyrics in the meadow song, telling listeners that tomorrow will be a better day, tomorrow will bring hope and peace.
From the meadow song (or Rue's Lullaby):
"Here it's safe, here it's warm
Here the daisies guard you from every harm
Here your dreams are sweet and tomorrow brings them true
Here is the place where I love you." (p. 235)
and from Swift's song, via Theresa at Down With the Capitol:
"Just close your eyes
sun is going down
You’ll be all right
no one can hurt you now
Come morning light
you and I will be safe and sound."

On page 238 Katniss hears a young mockingjay sing Rue's four-note call, "The ones that mean she's safe."
"'Good and safe,' I say...'We don't have to worry about her now.' Good and safe." (p. 238)
I can see this song being played as Katniss walks away from Rue, thinking that now she will be "Good and safe."

Though, I can also see this applying to the cave scene from chapter 21, as well. These lyrics seem to apply to Peeta when he is dying in the cave and Katniss makes the decision to go to the feast to get the life-saving medicine for him:
"Don’t you dare look out your window
Darlin' everything’s on fire
the war outside our door keeps raging on
Hold on to this lullaby
Even when the music's gone
Just close your eyes
The sun is going down
You’ll be all right
No one can hurt you now
Come morning light
You and I’ll be safe and sound."

So, here's what I think. I think they'll play some of the song (at least the beginning) after Rue's death. Then I think they'll start the second half of the song just as Katniss is giving Peeta the sleep syrup and continue it through the night as she gets ready for (and is on her way to) the feast. Those alone moments will need music playing in the background and this song seems to fit both scenes. I can see how it applies to Prim, as well. For that matter, it could also play during the re-cap of the Games and the train ride home. Perhaps the song will carry out in several scenes. I think it's a testament to the powerful writing of Suzanne Collins, showing how the theme of hope carries through the entire book. Katniss may seem to lose hope many times, but it's always there: sacrificing herself to give Prim hope for a better life; sharing herself with Rue and giving Rue hope with the lullaby; risking her life to save Peeta, giving him hope. Her intent may not have always seemed sacrificial, but her actions spoke loudly. I love the fact that the songwriters picked up on this theme, even though the song is seemingly so sad (and I know I will cry no matter which part of the movie it is played).

I found the emotion very raw and gripping in the song. I'm not a country music fan, never heard of The Civil Wars, and didn't care all that much for Swift's past music. But I do think this is a fitting piece and it seems to go with the rustic district feel that is portrayed in the trailer. Listening to this, hearing Swift's voice...yes, I just may have to check out what else she has (and even The Civil Wars has) to offer.

What do you think? Which part does it seem to fit the best for you? Share in the comments below!
Listen here: Taylor Swift's "Safe and Sound"

Teachers - have your students analyze the lyrics to the song and decide which part (or parts) of the novel would be most fitting. Then have a classroom debate. Students could work in groups or alone. Allow them to listen to the song, as well. The music itself sets the tone for the lyrics and helps students with analysis.
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