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I thought that Daily Kos, being full of academics and humanities majors, would be a decent place to ask this.  It's not a political diary, just an opening for discussion

John Granger, who made his name with an academic analysis of the Christian subtexts of the Harry Potter series, had a go with the Hunger Games trilogy.  He sees the alchemical color themes of black, white and red in the progress of Katliss from destruction/penitence (black) through sanctification (white) and thence to resurrection (red).  Peeta is the Christ figure, giving out bread in Book 1 and tortured for the first half of Book 3.  Granger's also sure that the three books' division into three sections, and thence into 32 chapters is an allegory of the Trinity.

Do you think that such an analysis is justified by the books?  

Here are the final three paragraphs of a series of articles in which he analyzes the series. Unlocking ‘Mockingjay’: Katniss’ Apotheosis

The book, though, quite intentionally is disturbing rather than a simple delight, satisfying while leaving the reader almost shattered alongside Katniss and confused on quite a few points. The race to the Capitol’s many alchemical notes came in such a rush that, while effective, were lost on the reader almost literally “blown away” by the accumulative gore and violence. Peeta’s agony, too, obscured for most his continuing role as the Christ of the books, the savior in whom our heroine struggles to believe, restores by her love and faith, and whose message she delivers sacrificially by taking up her own murderous cross to land on the Hanging Tree.

It is not a Christian book, of course, in a Focus on the Family, cardboard-Jesus, evangelical fashion, but in the tradition of English literature. It is a work that one enters, and, if the heart is pure and disbelief suspended, we are transformed in our shared experience with the hero/ine and his or her greater life in Christ or as Christ. That this anagogical experience and deep stream of meaning exists beneath a dramatic indictment of modern media, the crimes of the political left and right (and how nebulous and superficial the differences between power-pursuing partisans of either side of the aisle are ultimately), and of modern warfare makes Ms. Collins’ achievement that much more notable.

I close with the observation that, as obscure as the sublime content may seem, it is the power of this well-beneath-the-surface story and its magic that delivers all the other messages. Though we only notice the political allegory, perhaps, and want to deny the spiritual freight of the books, it is the latter that changes us, maybe even shattering us, lifting us to a better, more human place above our ego concerns.

Is this a reasonable analysis, or is this an attempt by an academic in the humanities to write something that is publishable in a "publish or perish" world?  

For that matter, are the stories of the early New Testament and beliefs/superstitions that may date back to the Bronze Age so woven with our intellectual being that a skillful author plucks at soul-strings whose presence we ignore?  Is it also possible that authors completely innocent of alchemical elements (if not Christianity, as Suzanne Collins is said to be Roman Catholic) replicate them because they see them played out again and again in culture, as they may have been since cave-dwellers entertained each other around the fire?  


Which is the better of the YA series?

36%17 votes
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51%24 votes
12%6 votes

| 47 votes | Vote | Results

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip jar, my take (4+ / 0-)

    The thought of Peeta-as-Christ is not borne out by Peeta's behavior, which includes voting for a final Hunger Games to be carried out by the children of Capital officials.  Peeta as St. Peter might be closer, but using the period of Peeta's torture and hypnosis as the period between Peter's denial of Christ and Christ's forgiveness would be a stretch.  Katniss as Christ might work, if you allow for the Christ of "The Last Temptation of Christ" as opposed to the tradtional theological picture.  

    On the other hand, such discussions probably detract from the joy of reading any book the first time, but may render the second and third readings more rewarding.

    "Politics should be the part-time profession of every citizen who would protect the rights and privileges of free people and who would preserve what is good and fruitful in our national heritage." -- Lucille Ball

    by Yamaneko2 on Sat Mar 24, 2012 at 01:56:52 PM PDT

    •  I don't know.. (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Wee Mama, a2nite, createpeace, ZenTrainer

      I don't know if I'm really into or see the Christian allergory of the Hunger books.  I read the first one because my 17 y/o granddaughter recommended it, knowing I love to read.  I bought the other two and kept reading until finished.  I found them very powerful, somewhat upsetting, and to be honest, was amazed that teenagers were so taken by them.  (I find that a hopeful sign actually.)

      I am a Sci/Fi, Fantasy fan, and read a lot of books with political undertones from that kind of book.  

      Even though I rarely go to the movies, I do plan to go see this one, hopefully with my now 18  and 15 y/o granddaughters.  I suggested that the 12 year old not go with us, but in the final say, will leave that choice up to her mother.

      •  It is a good thing to see young people read. (0+ / 0-)

        So many of them have made it through the Harry Potter series.  

        I do believe that Hunger Games is far better than most fiction put out for people today, and would not be surprised to see it included in textbooks ten years from now.

        "Politics should be the part-time profession of every citizen who would protect the rights and privileges of free people and who would preserve what is good and fruitful in our national heritage." -- Lucille Ball

        by Yamaneko2 on Sat Mar 24, 2012 at 02:24:21 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Interesting... (0+ / 0-)

          My freshman granddaughter has to read it in one of her classes at school.  She tried to read it a year or so ago, and put it down.  Now she has to.  (She is taking advanced classes in high school, but I was suprised it was included in homework.)

          Not an easy book to read.  

  •  I hate when academics try to hash out (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    marleycat, ZenTrainer

    what an author, particularly one of pop fiction, is trying to secretly say through their books. I honestly don't believe we see Christian themes in the book, unless you want to say that every suffering hero in everybody ever written is some sort of Christlike figure. The author herself has stated that at least the first book was a reaction to reality TV and where we as a culture are heading, ie our insatiable appetites for being titilated by the suffering and failure of others that we can safely detach ourselves from and watch from a distance.

  •  Are there only two possibilities? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    1)  All of the elements of two different stories match up precisely.


    2) Two stories have nothing in common.

    Why can't two stories have some common elements, or how can two complex stories not have a least a couple of common elements and characters that slightly resemble each other?

    So I see only tatters of clearness through a pervading obscurity - Annie Dillard -6.88, -5.33

    by illinifan17 on Sat Mar 24, 2012 at 02:53:37 PM PDT

    •  I really don't know. (0+ / 0-)

      The only Christ figure who could match up perfectly is Jesus Christ himself and even He does not in a literal reading of the four canonical Gospels.  So I wonder what is the threshold for a literary character to be considered a Christ figure.  G. K. Chesterton's lion Aslan, from the Chronicles of Narnia would probably count since the author actively sought to write a Christian allegory.  It would be hard to find a Christ figure in Hamlet.  

      (Maybe I should write Ms. Collins herself to get her opinion.)

      "Politics should be the part-time profession of every citizen who would protect the rights and privileges of free people and who would preserve what is good and fruitful in our national heritage." -- Lucille Ball

      by Yamaneko2 on Sat Mar 24, 2012 at 03:03:41 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  John Granger and alchemy (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Miss Allaneous

        Not Chesterton but C.S. Lewis wrote the Narnia books, which feature the Christian version of literary alchemy.

        Literary alchemy isn't necessarily Christian or even theist:  Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials fantasy books are drenched in alchemical imagery but reflect his militant atheism.  

        Granger won some fandom notoriety with his analysis of literary alchemy in the Harry Potter books.  But he is not a recognized scholar:  he self-publishes his books.

        J.K. Rowling set out quite consciously to incorporate the structure and imagery of literay alchemy into Harry Potter.  I doubt you could say the same for Suzanne Collins and the Hunger Games.  Yes, there's a central trio who are marked, in alchemical tradition, as heart (Katniss), mind (Peeta), and body (Gale); and Katniss is a master of fire, the element (of four) always associated with the hero.  But Collins could be borrowing, unconsciously, from a host of  fantasy novels.

        Granger is focused on finding Christian allegories in all the literature he writes about.  Curiously, the origins of alchemy in Western culture can be traced to pre-Christian, Hellenstic Egypt c. 300 B.C.--or even further back, to Zoroastrianism in ancient Iran.      

  •  Don't sully Harry Potter (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    dskoe, Temmoku, jan4insight

    by associating it with Christianity.


  •  Jeebus save us from (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    dskoe, Temmoku

    overeducated pedants. Clowns like Granger are nothing but intellectual parasites--& not terribly intellectual at that (save in the pompousness of his blather).

    The only mythological system most of the Western world recognizes is the Judeo-Christian shtick. When all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail, & Granger is gonna pound on that as long as he gets paid decent money for it.

    In the interest of honesty, he ought to retitle that blog The Hogwash Professor-wannabe.:

    snarcolepsy, n: a condition in which the sufferer responds to any comment with a smartass comeback.

    by Uncle Cosmo on Sat Mar 24, 2012 at 03:27:56 PM PDT

    •  He has a degree, with honors, from U of Chicago (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      He is currently teaching at Providence Hall Classical Christian School in Oklahoma City.  From its website:

      The mission of Providence Hall is to assist parents by providing a challenging classical educational experience which is designed to help students become learners for life in the light of God’s Word. They will learn to recognize truth, beauty, and goodness according to Biblical standards which will prepare them to live with purpose and intelligence as servants of the Lord Jesus Christ for the benefit of man and the glory of God.
      So maybe this is why he's able to find Christ figures so readily.

      "Politics should be the part-time profession of every citizen who would protect the rights and privileges of free people and who would preserve what is good and fruitful in our national heritage." -- Lucille Ball

      by Yamaneko2 on Sat Mar 24, 2012 at 03:47:40 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Or is he teaching there? (0+ / 0-)

        The school lists its teachers, and his name is not on the list.  My bad for using Wikipedia.

        "Politics should be the part-time profession of every citizen who would protect the rights and privileges of free people and who would preserve what is good and fruitful in our national heritage." -- Lucille Ball

        by Yamaneko2 on Sat Mar 24, 2012 at 04:11:59 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  I defer to Tolkien: (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Pale Jenova, SherwoodB, jan4insight
    "I cordially dislike allegory in all its manifestations, and always have done so since I grew old and wary enough to detect its presence. I much prefer history, true or feigned, with its varied applicability to the thought and experience of the reader. I think that many confuse 'applicability' with 'allegory'; but the one resides in the freedom of the reader, and the other in the purposed domination of the author."
    There is nothing "Christian" in the behavior of Katniss.  If anything, her realization of "Meet the new boss, same as the old boss" is Hindu--Destroy the world to create a new one.

    "Nothing in all the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity." --M. L. King "You can't fix stupid" --Ron White -6.00, -5.18

    by zenbassoon on Sat Mar 24, 2012 at 05:25:54 PM PDT

  •  oh man (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Struggle against adversity and redemption are the heart of every fiction.  

    I'd say he's decided that since Christ is the hero in his favorite story, all heroes are Christ figures, since they tend to hit the same psychological goalposts.  

    You know what they call a story where nobody learns anything, nothing happens, and everything always works out?  Fanfiction.

    •  Now, now (0+ / 0-)

      You can find really good fanfiction, if you are willing to sift through the not so good.

      And the not so good is at least indicative of young writers attempting to find their craft. Maybe their next will be good?

      Sometimes . . . I feel . . . like a redneck with chopsticks . . . Dreaming of squirrel while I'm sucking down squid . . .

      by Pale Jenova on Sat Mar 24, 2012 at 06:51:06 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  You can find allegory in anything (0+ / 0-)

    if you look for it. Humans have a survival instinct to see patterns. Much like the number "23" and the Illuminati (The Illuminati do not exist. But 23 is their number.), or the number "19" and Stephen King's Dark Tower series. (Rip out the first 50 pages of the first book. It will make the series much better!)

    Take the game Final Fantasy VII. The character Aeris plays the role of the Christ character, even giving her to save the Planet--but without all the torture of the Christian myth, which removes the distractions from the message.

    Now, that mold on the wall behind my refrigerator? It looks a lot like Jesus. Or is it Mr. Ed?

    Sometimes . . . I feel . . . like a redneck with chopsticks . . . Dreaming of squirrel while I'm sucking down squid . . .

    by Pale Jenova on Sat Mar 24, 2012 at 06:58:42 PM PDT

  •  I voted for the book that used the most (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    jan4insight, kurt

    semicolons;longer sentences and higher reading level. Semicolons are divine!

    Character is what you are in the dark. Emilio Lizardo in Buckaroo Bonzai

    by Temmoku on Sat Mar 24, 2012 at 08:12:55 PM PDT

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