The Hunger Games And Fahrenheit 451 As Examples Of Postmodernist Literature

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Postmodernism is the literary movement following World War 2, which left writers with a sense of paranoia due to various disasters which occurred in the last half of the 20th century. Unlike modernism, which depicted a world on the edge of disaster, postmodernists portrayed the world to be a chaotic place beyond redemption. Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury and The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins are texts written during the postmodern era, which confirm to the values and characteristics of the postmodern era. Despite having different context, both texts present a dystopian future, focusing on the vision of an unfinished, ‘jagged’ world undergone countless disasters. Hence by incorporating dystopian themes and stylistic techniques often used in postmodern literature such as irony and intertexuality, audiences are privy to how both texts confirm to postmodern zeitgeist stylistically and ideologically.

In Fahrenheit 451, Bradbury confirms to the style and values of postmodernism, through his style and form of storytelling. This is evident through it’s metafiction, when Bradbury breaks into the narrative in the first person perspective, using the protagonist Montag as a mouthpiece to comment on the story. “Last night I thought about all the kerosene I’ve used in the past ten years. And I thought about books … for the first time I realized that a man was behind each one of the books” The third person perspective limited omniscient is used for majority of the novel. By then breaking into first person, this enables Bradbury to insert his views about the importance of books, while being an author himself. This demonstrates self reflexivity, a postmodern characteristic which draws attention to the manner of composition. Moreover, by implementing Irony,, Bradbury presents a fragmented society beyond the point of redemption.This is evident when Clarrisse asks, “Is it true that long ago, firemen put fire out instead of going to start them?” By questioning whether the purpose of firemen was once to put fire out, Bradbury reverses the traditional role of a fireman, creating irony. Hence by implementing irony, Bradbury presents a fragmented society where there is no organising principle or ordering system. This confirms to postmodern attitudes, which views human experience as fragmented and the world to be chaotic. Thus, through the form and style of storytelling Bradbury implements, the audience is privy to how Fahrenheit 451 confirms to the style and attributes of postmodernism.

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Similarly, The Hunger Games confirms to the values and attributes of the postmodern era, instead however by presenting a hyperreality in a post-apocalyptic world. Collins demonstrates this by incorporating similar aspects to modern television and culture. This is evident when Katniss is preparing for her interview and Haymitch, her mentor is deciding how to market her. “How we’re going to present you. Are you going to be charming? Aloof? Fierce?… The impression you make tomorrow will decide exactly what I can get you in terms of sponsors”. This draws attention to the importance of Katniss’s public persona, and how she must alter her personality to be liked by the media, and maximise the number of sponsors and gifts she receives. This aspect is very similar to the reality TV show ‘Big Brother’ where people go into an interview and create a first impression to the audience. The idea of being ‘sponsored’ is also in ‘Big Brother’ as relatives or friends are able to persuade audiences to keep them in the game. By drawing connections to reality TV, Collins enables the audience to see the artificial and controlled environment in The Hunger Games, and how the Capitol (the dictatorship holding political and economic dominance) has power over this similar to the way the media has power in today’s society. Hence, by comparing The Hunger Games with reality TV, Collins portrays the world Moreover, by making use of intertextuality with ‘Big Brother’, Collins makes it apparent that the novel has absorbed and transformed ideas from the media. This reflects attributes of postmodernism which borrowed concepts from other places. Hence by sharing similar aspects to modern television, The Hunger Games confirms postmodern values and characteristics.

Both The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins and Fahrenheit 451 are novels written during the postmodern era which confirms the styles and attitudes of this literary movement. Despite having different contexts, both implement literary techniques often used in postmodern literature, and portray a similar image of a dystopian future which focuses on a chaotic world, beyond reclaiming or understanding.


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