Story Deconstruction: The Hunger Games Part 7

Welcome back to my deconstruction series. Last time we covered up to the second pinch point, and the next section (5/8 to 6/8 or the second plot point at 75%) moves almost as quickly as the previous one.

Spoilers Ahead.

After Rue’s death, Katniss is a little lost. She doesn’t have a plan except to kill everyone, to survive so that Rue’s death will not be in vain. That isn’t a very specific plan, though, and the Game changes with an announcement: Peeta and Katniss can both win if they both survive.

From that moment, what Katniss must do is pretty clear. Find Peeta. Help him deal with his injury. Play the devoted girlfriend.

There’s only a couple of mentions of home (backstory), the first is a brief mention of Gale and his feelings towards the Capitol (and now Katniss is a believer, she’s changed from the Games), and the second is telling Peeta the story of the goat. Stories within stories, here, since she begins by telling us what she can’t tell the world: how she really got the money for the goat. Then, she tells us how she got the goat. It’s a cute scene, Katniss tries to pass off the goat as a practical thing but Peeta teases the truth out of her (that Katniss did it out of love for her sister). (Though the savvy reader may wonder if Peeta is seeing things that aren’t there?)

And at their greatest hour of need, the Gamemakers taunt them with a “feast” at the Cornucopia, the medicine that Peeta desperately needs. Sounds like a second plot point to me!

I can’t narrow down which part of the sequence is the second plot point. So many things happen at the Cornucopia that are fairly meaningful for Katniss. She gets the medicine but is trapped. Then, she gets saved by the boy from Rue’s district as a thank-you.

At whatever point it happens, the Game has changed again and the story has shifted into the next section. After the second plot point, we’re barreling towards the climax.

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4 Responses to Story Deconstruction: The Hunger Games Part 7

  1. Dan says:

    Great deconstruction! Where is parts 8 and 9?

  2. Based on what Larry’s definition of the Second Plot Point is, I suppose the SPP would be the Game Twist because it’s the last bit of information that propels the story forward and “gives the hero everything she or he needs to become the primary catalyst in the story’s conclusion.” So I suppose you’re right about the Second Pinch Point being Rue’s death (b/c of the Capitol.) They appear so close together though! Then again, I forgot the three act structure changes things a bit.

    • barb says:

      I’d forgotten that THG is divided into three parts – the Tributes, the Games, the Victor. On my first two readings I had felt the distinctions were more aesthetic than structural. The tone doesn’t change, for instance, from part I to part II. But then today I decided to look at the dividers, thanks to your comment, and realized both part II and III begin revolving around Peeta.

      However, the announcement that two can win happens a bit too soon to be a true second plot point (imho). He’s hurt and he needs medicine. She must risk herself to prove she cares for him. There was so little risk, no sacrifice, in her learning she needed to find him or finding him. The “feast” at the Cornucopia where everyone each has something they desperately need, and Katniss goes to get it, I still think that’s PP2… Personal sacrifice, risk, danger. And a lot of subtle information is given that morning: who is left, what they needed, how they are surviving (and now, all that’s left are the people who don’t want to fight). This point gives us a feel for the climax. Man, I need to reread the book as Larry does his deconstruction.

      I’m not entirely convinced that the three-act structure conflicts with the four-part story. In the 3-act, Act II comprises between 50-55% of the story in the middle (using James Scott Bell’s Plot and Structure as a guide, here). In the 4-part, Parts 2 and 3 also comprise 50-55% of the story and I’ve always seen that as two ways of saying the same thing. Brooks goes into far more detail to what should go in the middle of the story.

      I do think Collins chose major moments around which she divided her story into 3 evenly-sized “acts”, but at the same time I still see the 4-part structure shining through without regards to which part we’re in. By the time Act II rolls around, we’re in the middle of Part 2. Same with Act III; we’re on the verge of entering Part 4. By choosing to divide her acts around Peeta, he is elevated from ally to protagonist (though he isn’t a PoV character).

      Perhaps I’m a jaded reader, but even in my first read-through I was never worried, not for a second, that Katniss would have to fight Peeta. I just knew it was going to work out somehow as a non-issue. So in the subtext that I brought to the book, I “read” all the stuff regarding Peeta as subplot and gave it subplot importance. Definitely this colored my perceptions and opinions, the way I interpreted landmarks in the story. Apparently many others did a whole lot of nail-biting worried that Peeta and Katniss would be antagonists. 🙂

      Thanks for your comments. Been definite food-for-thought.

  3. I see the 4-part structure as well but the milestones don’t always occur IMO at the percentile mark they should. Honestly though, I don’t think they should have to. After all, it is just a guide, right?

    The Game Twist being the Second Plot Point definitely occurs a bit early. Chapter 18? But that is at the end of Act 2 so the Act structure gets in the way a little. I believe. The SPP should occur around chapter 21. In this chapter, it’s where Thresh spares Katniss’ life for Rue by saving her.

    The Game twist could be just that, a twist. Just not a milestone. Then again, If it weren’t for the Game twist, Katniss wouldn’t have the option to go to the Cornucopia to get what she needed to save Peeta’s life… Learning that bit of information is what thwarted her to find him in the first place.

    As for the jaded comment, completely agree with you. I didn’t think Katniss and Peeta would become antagonists but I got that from the writing. I just didn’t see that option. That would have been cliche. No?

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