The Heroine’s Journey
One criticism of the Monomyth is its masculinity. Joseph Campbell’s analysis of the Classics did not allow for a non-male main character. I defended Campbell and argued he merely analyzed texts from a more sexist, male dominated time in history on Wednesday. Fear not, the Monomyth is alive in our modern age with heroines as capable as Hercules.
This Friday Fiction Breakdown will look at Suzanne Collin’s Hunger Games with its main character and heroine Katniss Everdeen. Katniss’s character is tightly associated with the classic Monomyth.
Call to Adventure
Katniss received her Call to Adventure when her sister, Prim, was chosen during the Reaping to be a participant in the Hunger Games. Impulsively, Katniss volunteered for Prim and took her sister’s place.
Refusal of the Call
After the Reaping, Katniss was allowed to return home to her family. She refused the call to die in the games. She promised Prim and her family she would return home.
Just before Katniss and Peeta, the baker’s boy picked at the Reaping, boarded the train to the Capital, Katniss had a conversation with the mayor’s daughter, Madge Undersee, who was Katniss’ best friend. Madge gave Katniss a Mockingjay pin. This pin represented home so Katniss would not forget where she came from. It would help her during the Road of Trials in the Hunger Games.
This was also the moment she met Haymich, a previous winner of the games, her mentor, and the town drunk.
Crossing the Threshold
Effie, an escort from the Capital, took Katniss, Peeta, and Haymitch from District 12 to the Capital via train. This was where the point of no return had been solidified for Katniss.
Belly of the Whale
A narrow elevator shaft carried Katniss up to a bright light. She looked around and saw the other tributes, a cornucopia, and equipment scattered across a field. Katniss was in the Hunger Games, the danger zone, the place of no return.
Road of Trials
The various horrors, battles, and tests in the Hunger Games belonged to the Road of Trials.
Rescue from Without
Usually, the Rescue from Without is in the final part of the Monomyth. It is not in the Hunger Games.
Katniss was stung by a Tracker Jacker, a genetically mutated wasp with potent, hallucinogenic venom. She was completely incapacitated. Rue, a girl from District 11, helped Katniss recover and they formed an alliance.
Meeting with the Goddess
Peeta was injured in a creek when Katniss found him. She hid him in a cave and nursed him back to health. Here Peeta confirmed his pledge of love that he expressed before the games. Peeta became more human to Katniss, who was becoming enveloped in the bloodshed.
Woman as Temptress
Peeta turned from the goddess who helped Katniss to the tempter. He begged her to kill him and win the games for herself. Katniss could have won the games if she killed Peeta, but she would have lost her humanity. She refused the temptation to leave or kill him.
Atonement with the Father
Atonement with the Father is the final test. The end of the Hunger Games was near. Katniss, Peeta, and Cato, a boy from District 2, were the only remaining contestants. Seneca Crane, the head gamemaker, had a final test. He promised Katniss and Peeta they would both win if they could kill Cato. He unleashed mutts, creatures with the characteristics of the dead participants, onto the gamefield. The three humans took shelter on top of the cornucopia and after a brief battle, Cato fell to the mutts and was killed.
Seneca went back on his word after Cato’s death. He wanted Katniss and Peeta to battle one more time for a sole winner. They refused and Katniss proposed the two eat poisonous berries. She believed it was better to have no winner than for one of them to kill the other.
Katniss learned several things. First, her humanity was more important than winning the game. Second, she did care about Peeta, even if not romantically. Finally, the Capital, not the other contestants or the other districts, was her enemy. The games were a way to divide the districts in order to prevent them from rising against the Capital.
This point is also the Refusal of Return as it would be better to die than continue to live in subjugation to the Capital.
Seneca stopped Katniss and Peeta from eating the poisonous berries. They had won the 74th Hunger Games.
Crossing the Return Threshold
The train crossed back into District 12 and returned the heroes home.
Master of Two Worlds
Katniss and Peeta were given new residences in the Victor’s Village to live in luxury and celebrity status. Still, Katniss was haunted by her revelations in the games that the Capital and President Snow were the ultimate enemies.
Freedom to Live
Katniss and Peeta would no longer be subject to the Reaping and could live out their lives in peace.
Everdeen does not always follow the Monomyth in perfect succession. However, it is close and Campbell never stressed (as far as I could find) about a story having to follow the Monomyth steps in perfect succession. Collins’ narrative only deviates from Campbell’s model in a few places. I was unable to find if Collins ever spoke about Katniss Everdeen being the classic heroine or if the Classics influenced her writing. After reading this, I hope you would agree with me that Katniss Everdeen is the heroine we need in a male dominated field of science fiction and fantasy heros.
Thank you for reading this installment of Friday Fiction Breakdown. Is there room for heroines in the Monomyth? Do you feel the Hero(ine)’s Journey is still relevant in our modern society? Please comment below or Tweet us on Twitter or post on Facebook.
Until next time.
Credit Hunger Games – Suzanne Collins
Credit Hero with a Thousand Faces – Joseph Campbell
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