Music in the Hunger Games: An Appalachian Symbol
In the Hunger Games, music is as oppressed as the people that live in Panem. Like Katniss and the people of District 12, music evolves from a personal level and expressing community, to becoming a tool of rebellion, its lyrics the voice of the rebellion.
Appalachian music, as seen in the film Matewan as well as discussed in class, music is a very colloquial element to the culture of Appalachian peoples.It helps to build a community, and to uplift that community from its economic situation. Quite literally, it “distracts” the individual from the life he or she lives by telling them “life’s not as dismal as it seems – there are good things about life as well.”
Similarly in the Hunger Games, music starts as a community-based motive to uplift the people of District 12 from within the community. The songs in District 12 are not force-fed songs from the Capitol – they are genuine, colloquial songs. The song “Hanging Tree” in Mockingjay is a less cheerful, but very heartfelt song about a man being hung who invites his love to join him at the tree he is to be hung in. Katniss explains “The phrase Where I told you to run, so we’d both be free is the most troubling because at first you think he’s talking about when he told her to flee, presumably to safety. But then you wonder if he meant for her to run to him. To death.
“The Hanging Tree”, while not an uplifting piece, is a catchy tune the people of District 12 to reflect their troubles, and eventually is broadcasted to the rest of Panem during the revolution. What’s important about the song is that there is no excess requirement of instruments of any sort to sing “Hanging Tree.” The song simply resonates based on its melody.
The same can be said for many Appalachian songs as well. The song “Little Sadie,” while catchy in melody, depicts a young prostitute being shot down in the street.