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Negotiating motherhood in The hunger games
Umeå University, Faculty of Arts, Department of language studies.ORCID iD: 0000-0001-7243-0059
2018 (English)In: Handmaids, tributes, and carers: dystopian females' roles and goals / [ed] Myrna Santos, Newcastle upon Tyne: Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2018, p. 2-17Chapter in book (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

This chapter investigates and problematizes representations of motherhood in Suzanne Collins' The Hunger Games-trilogy. The novels depict a range of maternal models, some traditional and conservative, some transgressive. If, as has been argued, young adult literature affects how readers "on the cusp of adulthood" consider society and their place in it, the way mothers and mothering are represented in the novels may have a substantial impact on the readers' identity formation.

Characterised by scholars as weak, despondent and overly feminine, Katniss' mother has been criticised as a failure, abdicating from her maternal role. Conversely, Katniss' marriage and maternity have been read as a heteronormative cop-out, undoing the character's gender-transcending work. Drawing on literary and sociological research, I suggest a different reading of both characters, in which the narrative allows Katniss' mother to explore a way of mothering that allows for maternal subjectivity, complexity of character and reconciliation of personal growth with motherhood. I further interrogate the epilogue, but not, as other scholars have done, from the point of view of the supposed domestication of Katniss, but from the character's lack of agency and choice. It is suggested throughout the novels that Katniss does not want to have children, and the final decision is framed in terms of (ultimately futile) resistance on her part and coercion on Peeta's. Analysing the text within the framework of voluntary childlessness as female liberation as well as the difference between "will" and "consent" in relation to reproduction, I suggest that Katniss' submission and subsequent emotional distress articulate an ambivalent attitude towards motherhood. Ultimately, it could be argued that Katniss' mother achieves a maternal role that is more transgressive and liberating than that of her daughter. The novels thus offer up a variety of maternal models, which make it possible for readers to negotiate their own understanding of mothering.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Newcastle upon Tyne: Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2018. p. 2-17
Keywords [en]
motherhood, young adult literature, dystopian novels
National Category
Cultural Studies Gender Studies
Research subject
gender studies
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-151483ISBN: 978-1-5275-1315-0 (print)OAI: oai:DiVA.org:umu-151483DiVA, id: diva2:1245189
Available from: 2018-09-04 Created: 2018-09-04 Last updated: 2018-12-04Bibliographically approved

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CiteExportLink to record
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Citation style
  • apa
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