To the Editor:
In "The Hunger Games" by Suzanne Collins, Rue, a child tribute, was killed for the purpose of survival, by her competitors, as well as for the ultimate purpose of entertainment for the Gamemakers. In this competition, there are no specific rules that prevent innocent unprotected children from participating and being killed. It’s sad to think of a scenario where children who have just started their lives, are facing death. Katniss, the heroine of the story, did something extraordinary in chapter 18. Katniss gave Rue a proper burial, which had never been done before, and in doing so, she fought against the established society rules. This is a significant moment in the book. This is the moment where Katniss publically takes a stand for what she believes in. In the news, there’s been a lot of stir about shootings in schools, especially the recent killings in Florida. In the April 2018 Volume 10, Issue 4, edition of The BReeze, my local newspaper, I learned that the students and parents of the Bridgewater-Raritan High School (BRHS) planned a walk out to demonstrate their concerns about children’s safety at school and gun control. Just like Katniss in "The Hunger Games," the BRHS students stood up for what they believed in - that it’s wrong for innocent young people to be killed because of prehistoric society rules.
It is worth discussing that there are some important similarities between the moment Katniss takes a stand and the BRHS student walk out. The first similarity is that both are raising awareness about the importance of protecting innocent lives from existing society rules, or lack thereof. Katniss is upset that Rue, who is a child, is forced to participate in such a mature game in which she has no capabilities of surviving. When Rue got picked, none of the Gamemakers stepped in and changed the rules, knowing full well she was just a child, and had no chance of surviving. The BRHS students are upset because “...children should not fear going to school, or even wonder if they will be safe that day...” as stated on page 1 of The BReeze. When the children in Florida were killed, there were no rules in place to make sure no one entered the school with guns.
Another similarity between Katniss’ moment and the BRHS walk out is that both announced what they believed in a very public way. In "The Hunger Games," Katniss decorated Rue’s hair with wildflowers to show that Rue wasn’t just another person who died. As proven on page 237, when Katniss states, “... I decorate her body in flowers. Covering the ugly wound. Wreathing her face. Weaving her hair with bright colors. They’ll have to show it. Or, even if they turn the cameras somewhere else at this moment, they’ll have to bring them back when they come to collect the bodies and everyone will see her then and know I did it.” Clearly, this shows how Katniss is trying to make the statement as public as possible. Similarly, BRHS students walked out of class and used posters that said phrases like “Am I next?” and “Arms are for hugging.” They also made speeches, saying “Democracy is not a spectator sport” and “It’s reassuring to know that future generations are aware of social injustices, and are also willing to take a stand”. This shows that BRHS students also used public forums as a method of getting their message out to the world. Reflecting on the similarities between "The Hunger Games" and the BRHS student walk out, I think it requires a lot of courage to take a stand against society rules and to do it in a public way. If I were to feel as passionate as Katniss or the BRHS students about something I believe in, I think that I would take a public approach, because it obviously worked for them in creating awareness.
It is worth discussing two major differences between the moment Katniss takes a stand and the BRHS student walk out. The first difference is that the Katniss's moment comes from a fictional story, but sadly, the BRHS walk out is based on a real-life incident. "The Hunger Games" isn’t a real event, and the sadness of Rue’s death is imaginary. But gun violence in our schools is a reoccurring event, and the BRHS students marching to the municipal building is a reality. Another major difference is that Katniss takes a stand, alone, while the BRHS students march as a group. At the BRHS walk out, the students consciously chose to march together to show that many people want this change. As stated by one student on page 1 of The BReeze, “‘Gun regulation is important to me because I feel that I, along with everybody else, have the right to feel safe inside schools and other public places.’” But in "The Hunger Games," Katniss takes a stand, alone, to protect children from being killed in this mature game in which they have no capabilities to survive. These are the two major differences when comparing the moment Katniss takes a stand and the BRHS student walk out. When I consider these differences, I think that, realistically, if I needed to take a stand for something I believed in, it would be much easier to get my message across as a group. Because I think it’s really hard to arrange a group, I have a lot of respect for the BRHS students and what they achieved on March 11.
“‘...I don’t like feeling terrified whenever I turn on the news and watch a report of more lives being lost due to circumstances that could have easily been prevented...’” says Siya Gupta on page 1 of The BReeze. When synthesizing, this statement holds true whether it refers to the fictional world of all the districts in "The Hunger Games" and of the very real world of the Bridgewater-Raritan Regional School District. Collins brilliantly wrote a novel that intelligently connects with my everyday life and the struggle for gun control in schools; though most people, like me, initially chose to read the novel for pure entertainment. I really appreciate how Collins chose a subject matter that is far from imaginary, despite the fictional setting. Regarding the topic of gun control at school, and the brave stand that the BRHS students took, I think it is admirable that communities that haven’t had an incident are working hard to prevent and protect before disaster strikes. I also think that for the large number of incidents that have already happened throughout America in the last decade, it is a sad sign that there are young people growing up unhappy and without help. For this reason, I think that it is fair that to agree with Collins and the BRHS students that existing society rules sometimes need to be re-examined and changed.
Amalia Tsampalis, 10 years old
Hillside Intermediate School