Rick Margolis is the executive editor of the School Libray Journal. He was lucky enough to interview Suzanne Collins about Mockingjay. As he found out, it can be hard conducting an interview with someone who can’t tell you about the book you’re not yet allowed to read….but he did a great job of teasing out the themes for The Hunger Games trilogy, and the inspiration for the story.
The article at the SLJ is a fascinating Q & A with Ms Collins that talks about why she writes for children and teens, how different it is writing for the screen as opposed to writing prose, as well as some of the major themes in The Hunger Games stories, most notably the origin of the Mockingjay and what the Mockingjay means to Katniss.
She explains it like this:
Symbolically, I suppose, Katniss is something like a mockingjay in and of herself. She is a girl who should never have existed. And the reason she does exist is that she comes from District 12, which is sort of the joke of the 12 districts of Panem. The Capitol is lax there. The security is much less. The peacekeepers, who are the peacekeeping force, are still the law, and they’re still threatening, but they intermix more with the population in District 12 than they do in other districts. And also things like the fence that surrounds 12 isn’t electrified full time.
Because of these lapses in security and the Capitol just thinking that 12 is not ever really going to be a threat because it’s small and poor, they create an environment in which Katniss develops, in which she is created, this girl who slips under this fence, which isn’t electrified, and learns to be a hunter. Not only that, she’s a survivalist, and along with that goes a degree of independent thinking that is unusual in the districts.
So here we have her arriving in the arena in the first book, not only equipped as someone who can keep herself alive in this environment—and then once she gets the bow and arrows, can be lethal—but she’s also somebody who already thinks outside the box because they just haven’t been paying attention to District 12. So in that way, too, Katniss is the mockingjay. She is the thing that should never have been created, that the Capitol never intended to happen. In the same way they just let the jabberjays go and thought, “We don’t have to worry about them,” they thought, “We don’t have to worry about District 12.” And this new creature evolved, which is the mockingjay, which is Katniss.
One of the other really interesting answers we get from Ms Collins, is in her outline of the parallels between the story of The Hunger Games and that of Theseus and the Minotaur, as well as Spartacus and the Third Servile War. Perhaps this is the best clue yet to what we might expect to come in Mockingjay. Ms Collins told Rick Margolis:
Spartacus really becomes more of a model for the arc of the three books, for Katniss. We don’t know a lot of details about his life, but there was this guy named Spartacus who was a gladiator who broke out of the arena and led a rebellion against an oppressive government that led to what is called the Third Servile War. He caused the Romans quite a bit of trouble. And, ultimately, he died.
We have asked the question here before about who might die in Mockingjay. There’s no doubt in my mind that we will see one of the major characters lose their life during the rebellion. I guess we’ll find out for sure on August 24, along with one detail Ms Collins said she has definitely answered…why President Snow’s breath smells of blood (spooky and icky at the same time!)
So what do you think? Why does his breath smell of blood? And who will die in the Mockingjay? We always love hearing your thoughts.
Category: The Books