Love is probably not the first word that comes to your mind when you think about a story that centers around children killing children for the entertainment of the rich society. I am not even sure that author, Suzanne Collins had love on her mind when she wrote The Hunger Games, But I do believe love became an underlying theme in the story.
I am not specifically talking about romantic love. Even though some would say there is a romance brewing between Katniss and Peeta, there is enough question to the validity of that romance that it does not allow for romantic love to be a strong theme.
However, the kind of love that is predominate in The Hunger Games is the kind of love that Jesus spoke about when He said, “Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13 NIV). Both Katniss and Peeta exhibited this form of sacrificial love throughout the story. In the years following her father’s death, Katniss gave up everything so that her little sister would not go hungry. You could even argue that her sacrificial love for her sister is what drove Katniss to learn to hunt and to survive.
Who could ever forget the touching moment when against all the odds, Primrose’s name was drawn to be the female representative for District 12 in the games. At that moment, Katniss did what no one else ever dare to do – volunteer, knowing it was probably a death warrant, to take her sisters place in the games. This is the very same example that Jesus Christ gave us two thousand years ago when He volunteered to die so that the rest of humanity would have a chance to live. “Greater love has no man than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.” Or in Katniss’ sake, her sister.
Not too many of us will be called to literally lay down our lives for someone else. But those of us who have a family, we certainly can learn from Katniss how important it is to give up some of our own rights and pleasures for the sake of our family. It might be that we need to give up some of our own free time in order to do something for those we love. It might be that we need to give up a dream of buying something for ourselves so that we can meet the needs of others. Is there any doubt that Katniss was a perfect example of sacrificial love?
And then there is poor Peeta. The boy with no apparent skills whose biggest flaw seems to be his love for Katniss. But his sincere love for her is manifested not just in his words, but in his willingness to sacrifice himself so that Katniss might live.
Fortunately, neither Katniss nor Peeta had to sacrifice their own life so that the other one would live. But the dramatic closing scene in which they were both willing to die so that the establishment would not win, we saw two young people take on society to help show others that there were always alternatives. My bet is that had they actually fully sacrificed themselves, we would have seen something reminiscent of Romeo and Juliet and that single act of sacrifice would have been the first step in restoring peace to a broken country.
With the example of Katniss and Peeta set before you, what sacrifice are you being asked to perform to show your love for someone else?
Part 3 of the series will cover the importance of having a good mentor. Look for it soon. In the meantime, if you liked the subtle theme of love and romance in The Hunger Games because it was not the overbearing theme of the story, you might want to try reading The Center Circle. There is lots of action with a hint of romance frolicking in the background.