The Hunger Games is a series of books that were later made into movies. The story is set in a dystopian future where the government controls everything. One of the things they do is hold an annual event called the Hunger Games.
During the Hunger Games, each district sends two tributes, one boy and one girl, to compete in a televised battle to the death. The winner is the last person standing and is rewarded with food and supplies for their district.
One of the symbols in The series is the three fingers. So, what does the hunger games symbol mean? Reading on, Pennbook will explore you with the most surprising information.
A Quick Summary of the Series
Few other book series have had the same impact as The Hunger Games. Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the last two decades, you’re presumably at least somewhat acquainted with the narrative. But first, a little refresher for the uninitiated.
The Hunger Games is the first book in the series, and it introduces us to the dystopian world of Panem. The despotic and all-powerful Capitol rules over society, split into districts.
Katniss Everdeen, our protagonist, resides in District 12 with her mother and younger sister, Prim. Katniss is intensely protective of Prim, to the point that she volunteers to take her place in the 74th annual Hunger Games.
A lottery selects one boy and one girl from each area for this terrifying battle royale-style event. Shirley Jackson’s renowned short tale comes to mind.
The youngsters are transported to a large arena where they are forced to fight to the death over the course of many days and weeks. There can only be one winner, and the competition is only over after all of the other contenders have died.
Panem residents watch on television as these young ‘tributes’ fight for survival with every ounce of their physical and mental might.
The Hunger Games 74: Reaping
By voluntarily entering the arena to rescue her younger sister Prim, Katniss Everdeen earned the title of District 12’s tribute in the 74th Hunger Games. Prim clutched onto Katniss as she approached the platform to enter, and Gale had to pull her free.
The other members of District 12 were instructed to applaud as Katniss took the platform, but they chose to bid her farewell by making the sign of respect.
Death of Rue
Katniss hit Marvel in the upper chest with one of her arrows after the boy from District 1 had speared Rue in the stomach and killed him.
Rue’s corpse was covered with flowers by Katniss so that she could demonstrate to the Capitol that she was “not simply a pawn in their games” when the body was taken. She gave Rue the salute just before the hovercraft arrived.
In the movie, following Rue’s passing, Katniss makes the gesture of respect for the cameras, and the residents of District 11 follow suit, which leads to the District 11 revolt.
The Triumph Tour
The District 12 respect sign was used by the audience in District 11 during the Victory Tour after Peeta and Katniss concluded their speeches, which included the personal address and the speech delivered in each district.
This was Katniss’ last farewell to Rue in the arena. The elderly guy who had started it during the District 11 address was fatally shot in front of everyone.
The reaping of Quarter Quell
Residents of District 12 used the sign to honor Katniss Everdeen and Peeta Mellark during the 3rd Quarter Quell before being escorted to the train by Peacekeepers.
What Does The Three Fingers Mean In Hunger Games?
When Katniss Everdeen, the heroine, volunteers for her sister Primrose during the 74th Hunger Games, the three-finger salute first emerges. “At first one, then another, then almost every member of the crowd touches the three middle fingers of their left hand to their lips and holds it out to me,” writes author Suzanne Collins.
According to the book, it is an archaic and infrequently observed gesture of District 12 that is occasionally seen at funerals. She explains its importance in Book 1 by characterizing it as “an old and rarely used gesture of our district, occasionally seen at funerals. It means thanks, it means admiration, it means good bye to someone you love.”
It occurs later in the novel when Katniss pays her respects to Rue, a fellow tribute who dies while assisting her in the arena. “I push my left hand’s three middle fingers against my lips and point them in her direction.”
It continues, “Then I walk away without looking back.” Katniss makes the same motion in the film, except she does it straight at the camera. The citizens of District 11 then follow suit, sparking a revolt.
The three-finger salute is also addressed in the second novel, Catching Fire. The audience performs the gesture when Katniss enters District 11 to give a speech honoring Rue. The text says, “Everyone in the throng places their three middle fingers of their left hand against their lips and extends them to me.”
On the other hand, Katniss has no idea that the simple act of paying homage to her loved ones has turned into a deadly symbol of quiet revolt against the Capitol. The four-note Mockingjay melody is occasionally accompanied by the three-finger salute. The person who begins it among member of the crowd in District 11 is shot in the head.
When the film version of Catching Fire, starring Jennifer Lawrence, was released in 2014, the three-finger salute became very famous.
Regardless, the gesture was not inspired by the Hunger Games franchise. Since 1908, it has been used by members of Scout and Guide organizations all around the globe. It represents a distinct notion to them, one unconnected to resistance.
What are the Origins of the Three Finger Salute?
Even though Suzanne Collins popularized the TFS with The Hunger Games, the sign has a long history.
The author was inspired by a century-old Scout and Guide gesture that the organization still uses today. It is used to welcome fellow members, especially during key Scouting rituals.
Like The Hunger Games, the Scout and Guide TFS is a show of gratitude and admiration, but without the aspects of resistance and rebellion that the novels symbolize.
The Three-Finger Salute Is Getting a Makeover
Protesters in Thailand used the three-finger salute for the first time during the coup d’état in May 2014. The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1 was being shown at the moment. Several teens were arrested after making the public gesture against the military coup. The junta saw it as a danger, and it was finally outlawed.
Protesters in Hong Kong in 2014 also adopted the three-finger salute. It was used by critics of Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte in 2017. Since then, it hasn’t been seen in the mentioned nation. Protesters in Thailand brought it back in 2020. Protesters in Myanmar utilized it extensively this year.
The three-finger salute, which has implications similar to the raised fist, has become a symbol of Asian pro-democracy demonstrations.
What Suzanne Collins And The Movie Producers Think?
Over 100 million copies of The Hunger Games have been sold globally. Even though the novels and their film adaptations are popular among young people in today’s political climate, Suzanne Collins has remained silent about the demonstrations.
In a 2017 interview with The Daily Beast, Collins’ publicist indicated that the author would not comment on the student demonstrations or Thailand’s military junta’s policies. According to the publication, Collins has a policy of not commenting on things pertaining to The Hunger Games trilogy.
Collins has not altered her mind five years later. In contrast, more demonstrators in many nations have copied the contentious gesture from the novels.
Meanwhile, when the demonstrations in Thailand erupted in 2014, the Mockingjay film’s creators remained mute at first.
“They’re betraying individuals who are basically portraying real world versions of the film’s characters…”
In an interview with The Daily Beast, Brad Adams, executive director of Human Rights Watch’s Asia branch, stated, “They should all speak out, inspire people, stand with them.”
Nina Jacobson, the producer of the previous two films, eventually spoke out. In 2014, she told BuzzFeed News, “I find it touching that our film has become part of a vocabulary of resistance.”
“She never could have imagined the movies having such an impact on real life.” Jacobson recently told CBS News.
The Three Finger Salute has gone a long way from its humble beginnings as a Scout salute. If this excitement about The Hunger Games has left you wanting more dystopian YA literature, check out our list of suggestions for works that will appeal to readers of all ages.