Classism in The Hunger Games and Of Mice And Men: Comparative Essay

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Classism is the differential treatment of a group based on their social class. It can affect everyone, but particularly those in the lower class. Classism shows up in a lot of books and movies but usually you don’t even notice. In The Hunger Games and Of Mice And Men there is classism. The Hunger Games is a movie set in the future and is based on a girl named Katniss Everdeen and her struggle to survive in the games. The games is a televised event and all citizens must watch the youth fight to the death until there is only one survivor. Of Mice And Men is a book that is set in the past and based on two migrant ranch workers, George and Lennie, that go from ranch to ranch looking for work. Both the movie and the book shows how the wealthy keep the lower class down in many ways. Classism is shown in many different ways throughout the past, present and future; some of those ways is through books and movies. Movies like The Hunger Games, and the book, Of Mice And Men, shows how the bourgeoisie is to blame and is responsible for the sufferings of the characters in a lower class, who are also known as the proletariat.

Throughout The Hunger Games, there are a lot of examples of classism. The most obvious example is the bourgeoisie, the Capitol, keeping the proletariat, the districts, suppressed. There are some districts that are in a higher social class like districts 1, 2, and 3. Unlike district 12, which is the poorest district, get to put their names in twice just to get food. When Katniss volunteers as tribute she tells her sister, Prim, to not “take any more extra food from them, it isn’t worth putting your name in more times” (The Hunger Games). This line of dialogue proves that the wealthy pressure the poor to make them even more vulnerable than they already are by giving them the chance to get more food only if they are willing to have a higher chance to be selected for a game that could result in their death. This is an example of use value. This is also shown with commodification; in the film, this is basically known as buying your chances to win. Haymitch, Katniss’ and Peeta’s mentor, even says it himself; “‘You really wanna know how to stay alive? You get people to like you… and to get sponsors, you have to make people like you’” (The Hunger Games). This character clarifies to both Katniss and Peeta that they have to promote themselves to win and that if none of the sponsors like them, they are just going to go downhill from there. Haymitch proves it himself that getting sponsors to like you is the only way to survive. In this future based film, you see how much the bourgeoisie makes the proletariat suffer, but this is not just shown in the future, it is also shown in the past.

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The book, Of Mice And Men, shows how classism is the reason why George and Lennie are never able to achieve their dreams. The ranch owners, the bourgeoisie, use the workers only to make money off of them. Crooks, for example even tells Lennie that he has “seen hundreds of men come by on the road an’ on the ranches, with the bindles on their back an’ that same damn thing in their heads…An’ never a God damn one of em’ ever gets it” (Steinbeck 64). This line of dialogue establishes that the poor never get what they want and will never be able to reach their goals because of their status in the social class. The working class never get what they want, which is land, just because they have no money so they have to keep working for the higher class only for them the owners to keep making more money. Not only is this shown through peoples’ social class but also through intelligence. George is the brightest one compared to Lennie and George uses that to his advantage. This is known as exchange value. When they are going to meet a new boss so that they can get a new job, he tells Lennie to “jus’ stand there and don’t say nothing” and tells him that “if [the boss] finds out what a crazy bastard” he is they “won’t get no job” (Steinbeck 3). This verbal abuse supports how George limits Lennie from being better by calling him a “crazy bastard” and demanding that he doesn’t speak. Lennie has always listened to George and does everything that he says and George takes advantage of that, which keeps him from growing as a person.

Back to The Hunger Games, classism occurs through all levels in the nation of Panem. Among the districts, district 12 is known for being the poorest which affects the chances of Katniss and Peetas chance of survival in the arena. The bourgeoisie use this weakness to their advantage by using false consciousness. When they are all sitting on the couch, watching the television for their scores for when they were being analyzed, Katniss gets the highest score of an 11, giving her and her district hope of finally winning (The Hunger Games). This setup suggests that Katniss could win the games since she is supposedly the best tribute going into the games. This gives her false hope, which leads her believe she can win but in reality, the capital set her up to be an even bigger target. Classism is also shown through sign-exchange value. Some of the tributes, who are from the career districts, have had resources to train for the competition, which tells us that the Capital favors them and values them more while they leave the lower districts with no resources at all (The Hunger Games). This event suggests that the disadvantage of being in the lower class still tends to follow them around even after they leave their original circumstances behind. The bourgeoisie will do anything to keep the lower class from winning so that the proletariat will never become better.

Classism is everywhere, it all around us. You see it in the future, past, and present; you see it in books and movies too. It is what causes the main conflicts of The Hunger Games and Of Mice And Men. The higher social class limited the growth of those in the lower social class. In both the movie and book, the bourgeoisie is the main reason why the proletariat suffer and are kept being put down.


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