These assignments for Creative Writing are so much fun. Below, I’ve highlighted Katniss’ steps in the Hero’s Journey, a model first created by Joseph Campbell in The Hero with a Thousand Faces. How many other Hunger Games fans do we have out there? I cannot wait for the second film adaptation. I hope it lives up to the standards the book has set!
The movie The Hunger Games fits the Hero’s Journey closely, with a few variations. Below I have listed the parts to the journey to make it easier to read.
Call to adventure: Katniss takes Prim’s place as the female tribute of District 12.
Refusal of the call: Katniss wants to stay and care for her family, but knows she cannot. (Katniss does not truly refusal the call; she actually does the opposite!)
Supernatural aid: Katniss meets her mentor, Haymitch, and others who will help her in the Hunger Games.
Crossing the first threshold: Katniss and all the tributes enter the arena.
Belly of the whale: Katniss is pursued by the Careers, the toughest of the tributes.
Road of trials: The battles that take place within the arena, including battling the Careers.
Meeting with the goddess: Katniss meets Rue, who helps her escape the Careers. A variation of the meeting with the goddess could be Katniss and Peeta meeting with the host of the Hunger Games.
*Temptation away from the true path: Katniss is tempted at the end of the Hunger Games to kill Peeta because only one tribute is allowed to survive.
*Atonement: Katniss and Peeta try to atone with the Capital by convincing them they are in love and had to win together.
*Apotheosis: Katniss and Peeta are final winners of the Games. (They have outsmarted the capital.)
Ultimate boon: Cato is killed; only Peeta and Katniss are left.
Refusal of the return: Katniss refuses to return without Peeta.
Magic flight: Katniss and Peeta are picked up by the Capital’s ship.
*Rescue from without: Rue saves Katniss after being attacked by trackerjackers. Another rescue from without is when Haymitch sends Katniss medicine into the arena.
Crossing return threshold: Katniss and Peeta return to the district on a train.
Mastering of the two worlds: Katniss and Peeta have outsmarted the game-maker and Capital and win the Hunger Games.
Freedom to live: Katniss and Peeta are able to return home together.
Overall, The Hunger Games seems to follow the Hero’s Journey. The steps I have marked with an asterisk are parts to the Journey that I found within the Hunger Games, but did not seem to follow the exact order of the Hero’s Journey. For example, Katniss temptation away from the true path did not occur until the end of the movie, when she was faced with the choice of killing Peeta or letting him live. This was when she believed only one of them would be allowed to live. The atonement and the apotheosis also occur more towards the end of the movie, after the ultimate boon and magic flight. The rescue from without occurs in a few different parts of the movie, not just one. One is when Rue saves Katniss after a trackerjacker attack in the middle of the movie, and another is when Haymitch sends Katniss medicine that her and Peeta would not survive without. Although certain parts of the Hero’s Journey occur in a different order in The Hunger Games, I still believe the Hero’s Journey model played an important role in the story. Another important point I would like to make is that while Katniss would have liked to have refused the call, she didn’t. In truth, Prim was the one called to adventure but Katniss took her place.
I believe the Hero’s Journey is still a viable model for contemporary and popular storytelling. Within the Hero’s Journey, writers and filmmakers still have flexibility as to how they want to incorporate it. The Hunger Games followed the Hero’s Journey by using the basic outline with a few variations of order. I’m sure there could be a few different interpretations as to how the Hunger Games followed the Hero’s Journey, but the point is that it follows the basic steps to the Hero’s Journey. Of course, not all stories follow the Hero’s Journey and it might not be a viable method for every story but it is definitely a viable method for some. The Hunger Games proved that the Hero’s Journey is still a good model for contemporary storytelling. I believe the Hero’s Journey can be kept fresh and unpredictable because it is only a structure to follow—the content always varies. Within the Hero’s Journey, artists can show their own uniqueness.