Middlesex All-School Read 2013

The Hunger Games

Each summer Middlesex School students and faculty, both new and returning, participate together in the All-School Read (ASR).  It is an opportunity to think about topics of personal and political significance.  Successful texts engage our imagination, our conscience, and our intellect.  They invite us to look critically and creatively at ourselves, as also at our communities and our world.

Many of our students will already have read this year’s ASR, Suzanne Collins’ Hunger Games (2008).  Following a terrible civil war, the North American nation of Panem is in ruins.  As a term of their surrender, the twelve districts surrounding the Capitol agree to send one young man and one young woman to participate in the annual Hunger Games.  It is a battle to the death, and only one participant can survive.  Collins’ novel bears strong similarity to Koushun Takami’s 1999 book, Battle Royale.  It satirizes reality television and a long history of horrific public spectacles, like gladiatorial games, witch hunts, and lynchings.  The book has received praise from literary critics and authors and was called one of the best books of 2008 by Publishers Weekly.

At the center of The Hunger Games is a cynical commentary on entertainment culture that raises timely questions about media treatment of violence and its consequences for youth.  The text additionally explores dynamics of good and creative decision making, dictated alternatively by idealism and pragmatism; the relation of political power and individual autonomy as it might occasion civil disobedience; pressures on young people to conform to social mores; social and economic inequality; and the value of human life.  Collins invites her readers to look carefully at personal commitments and the political and institutional structures that give shape to our lives and to think carefully about justice and individual responsibility.

Questions and comments about the All-School Read, should be directed to Cabell King, Director of Spiritual and Ethical Education.

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