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Significance of Plants in the Hunger Games

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Primrose Everdeen
In the novel Primrose, or Prim for short, is quite a prominent character, she is the sister of the narrator and heroine of the book; Katniss. Prim is 12 years old and lives in the seam of district 12 with her mother and sister, she has a pet Cat; Buttercup, and Pet Goat that she uses for milk; Lady. Although Primrose is not just the name of this female character but it is also the name of a flower.
Plant profile - Primrose (or Primula vulgaris) is native to western and southern Europe, north-west Africa and south-east Asia. It is a delicately scented, pretty, pale yellow flower with five petals. Primrose flowers in the early spring and is one of the first flowers to bloom; it grows in open woods and shaded hedgerows.
Primrose symbolism – Although fairly similar, different cultures have their own symbolic meanings for the primrose plant. The Victorian interpretation of primrose was quite superstitious; like when bringing the primrose plant into your house if you have more or less than thirteen flowers it was believed to be bad luck. It was also a symbol for bashfulness, inconsistency, young love, neglected merit and also says I can’t live without you when given as a gift. Whereas in Norse folklore it was much more related to the gods, since it is the sacred flower of ‘Freya goddess of love’ and all that she enraptures, in Norse culture it also represents the woman and the petals on the blossom stood for various stages of life. Although those two cultures have their own specialized symbolic meaning for Primrose, the plant has some quite generalised meanings throughout lots of cultures such as love, patience, kindness, gentleness belonging and nurturing.
Herbalism and medicinal uses – Primrose is a very versatile plant and is used not only as an ornamental flower but is also edible and has many medicinal uses. The leaves and flowers of Primrose -although quite bitter- can be used in salads to add a unique colour and flavour to the dish, the leaves and petals can also be dried up and used in herbal teas. It has medicinal benefits such as curing (or aiding to cure) insomnia, headaches, PMS, migraine pains, congestion, coughs, bloating, asthma, cholesterol regulation, inflammatory diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis, lupus, scleroderma, problems caused by diabetes, cirrhosis of the liver and the plants oil can help with skin conditions such as dry skin, rashes, itchiness, acne and overall skin health in general.

Significance of plants mentioned in The Hunger Games Novel

Rue
Rue is first introduced to us in the book when Katniss and Peeta are replaying the reaping’s and she comes up during the reaping for district 11, Katniss thought that it was horrible a small twelve year old girl was chosen as tribute and no one volunteered to replace her. Rue and Katniss later become friends and allies in the game when they help each other defeat the careers. The plant Rue also grows in ‘the meadow’ an area outside Katniss’s house on the outskirts of district 12.
Plant profile – Rue (or Ruta graveolens) is native to the Balkan Peninsula, but is now grown all over the world as an ornamental plant in peoples gardens. It has bright yellow flowers, green-blue leaves and a very strong, sweet aromatic fragrance. Rue is a very tolerant plant and can withstand hot and dry soil conditions.
Rue Symbolism – Rue is most commonly known as the plant of regret, this is thought to be because of the very bitter taste of the flowers, since after you take a bite you regret it due to the horrid taste. This is also where the verb ‘rue’ (to regret) originated from. Rue is also sometimes known as the herb of grace in many literary works; such as Shakespeare’s ‘Hamlet’. Some other symbolic meanings of the plant include patience, endurance, virginity, and repentance. In Greek mythology, the basilisk, whose breath would cause plants to wilt ant stones to crack, but this creature had no effect on Rue, it would withstand the breath of the Basilisk and then weasels that were bitten by the basilisk would retreat in the Rue’s leaves to recover and later return to fight.
Herbalism and Medicinal uses – Rue is often grown as a medicinal herb, condiment and sometimes is even used as an insect repellent. Rue is used for digestion problems including loss of appetite, upset stomach, and diarrhoea. It is also used for heart and circulation problems including heart palpitations and arteriosclerosis. Some people use rue for breathing problems including pain and coughing due to swelling around the lungs. Rue is also used for other painful conditions such as arthritis, headaches, cramps, and muscle spasms; and for nervous system problems including nervousness, epilepsy, multiple sclerosis, and Bell's palsy. In some foods and beverages Rue can be used -in very small quantities due to bitterness- to add flavour.

Significance of plants mentioned in The Hunger Games Novel

Katniss Everdeen
Katniss is by far the most important character in the book, for she is the narrator, protagonist and heroine all in one. Katniss lives at home in the seam of district 12 with her sister and mother and has had to become very skilled at hunting with a bow and arrow to provide for the family; ever since her father passed away in a mining accident. Katniss is 16 years old and volunteers as tribute in place of her sister in the reaping for the 74th Hunger Games, therefore having to compete in a fight to the death against 23 other components.
Plant Profile – Katniss (or Saggitaria) is native to south, central and North America but some subspecies are also found in Europe, Africa and Asia. It grows in shallow water with the leaves and flowers above the surface, the leaves are in the shape of an arrowhead (leading to it also being known as arrowhead plant) and the flowers are white with three petals and numerous purple stamen.
Plant symbolism – Katniss’s scientific name is Saggitaria, which is also the name of the constellation Sagittarius; who happens to be an archer. This is most likely why the plant was given the name of Sagittarius due to its arrow head shaped leaves. The plant is a symbol for many things such as hardiness, value, skill, independence, honesty, and outspokenness. The Katniss plant is seen as a very adaptable survivor and the plant withstands some very harsh conditions.
Herbalism and medicinal uses – Katniss has many medicinal purposes as well as being a very good source of food. The leaves of the plant are edible although the most treasured part of the plant would be the bluish, round tuber roots; it is very similar to a potato but slightly starchier and is crunchier when cooked. The fresh leaf of arrowhead Katniss are well known for their use in treating inflamed skin, skin disorders, cuts, burns and bee stings.

Significance of plants mentioned in The Hunger Games

Rationale
For my creative assignment I chose to research three plants from the novel that we are studying, I learnt about their history, symbolism and tied it all to the events and characters from the book. This term we have been studying The Hunger Games. Nature plays a large roll in this book so there were several plants for me to choose from, but I chose to research the plants that main characters were named after, since I felt that they had more significance and were tied much closer to the book than the other plants that were mentioned. The three plants that I chose are Katniss; the plant that the narrator and heroine of the book was named after, Primrose; Katniss’s sister and finally Rue; Katniss’s friend and ally during the game. I drew each of the plants so that you could not only read about the plants I am talking about, but also see them. I thought that it was important to know what the plants look like to be able to fully tie the plant and character together, since appearance plays a big part in the attributes of both the plants and the character and can help you visualise things in your mind, I know that for me seeing what the plants I was writing about definitely helped me make connections and think things out in my mind.
Comparisons of plant to character:
Primrose Everdeen - In the book Primrose is described as being a very kind, gentle, beautiful and delicate young girl. The primrose plant has meanings such as bashfulness, delicateness, womanhood, kindness, gentleness, belonging and nurturing, all of which the character exhibits constantly throughout the book. Two of the symbolic traits of the plant that stood out for me were kindness and nurturing since Primrose shows both of these traits fully from the start to the finish of the book. She is described many times as kind and gentle and in the community of the seam in district 12 she is respected and loved because of it; she is very supportive of her sister and puts others before herself. As for nurturing it basically wraps the entire character of primrose Everdeen up in one word; Prim has a talent and passion for healing and nurturing not only ill people but also animals back to health. This attribute of hers is showcased several times throughout the book whether it be stories Katniss tells about the people she helps her mother cure or how she nurtured both of her pets Buttercup the cat and Lady the goat back to health when they were sick, injured and nobody else wanted them.
Not only is the plants symbolism shown through the character, but also aspects of the plant in real life. For example Primrose has man many healing benefits as listed before and is a very versatile plant, Prim also exhibits amazing healing skills, just like the plant, and was described by Katniss as a natural born healer. Another interesting thing I found out about the plant was that it is one of the first plants to bloom in the spring, which means that after long cold winters with bear trees and flowers nowhere to be seen the plant would bring rejoice, hope and happiness for the spring and summer ahead when the first blooms are seen. I thought this tied well into the book since Prim brings all of these things to other people, especially Katniss; since Prim is the only thing Katniss truly loves in the world, she is the main source of hope for her and drives her to win the hunger games and return home to her at the end of the book.
I think that the author chose a great name for primrose since both the plant and the character have very similar attributes, but I think it was also a very good choice not because of the symbolic references but also the name ‘Primrose’ sounds like a very delicate pretty name, for the very delicate pretty character.
Significance of plants mentioned in The Hunger Games

Rue – In the hunger games Rue is a very strong, brave, kind and innocent character, Katniss took a liking to Rue because she reminded her so much of her sister Prim. The plant symbolises things such as patience, endurance, virginity, repentance, regret, grace and tolerance. I think that the story of why Rue is known as the flower of regret because people look at the dainty yellow flower with the strong sweet smell and think that it will be sweet but then when they taste the bitter flower they regret it, has a lot in common with the character Rue. I thought this because everyone underestimated Rue; they thought because she was young small and didn’t have a well-known talent that she was going to be killed fast, but that was certainly not the case. She was fast, nimble and had great knowledge of plants and animals, this was shown to be especially useful in the Hunger Games, especially when she and Katniss needed to devise smart plans to trick the career tributes. I think that since the career tributes underestimated Rue and didn’t target her to begin with, they later on regrated this strongly when they realised how much of a threat she really was.
A lot of the other symbolic meanings match the characters attributes also, out of them patience and tolerance stood out for me. Rue is most definitely a patient character, she could stay in one spot for many days and was willing to wait out the entire Hunger Games without having to kill anyone herself, an example of this was in chapter 13-14 when Katniss realised that Rue was hiding unnoticed in a tree near her for several days just quietly watching the fights with Katniss and the careers happening around her. Tolerance stood out for me not only because it is a strong trait of the character and the plant symbolises it, but also the story of the basilisk and how the plant could tolerate its poisonous breath and then could help creatures bitten by the basilisk recover to go back into battle. I thought that the plant Rue in the legend was quite similar to the character Rue in the book, this being because of the way she helped Katniss. The way that she didn’t let things like starvation, thirst, animals, tributes etc. get to her in the hunger games showed great tolerance of the her surroundings and the situation that she was in, then even when she was in danger she helped Katniss by sharing her knowledge and prepared her for the battle ahead, just like the plant Rue did in the legend.
I thought that the stories around, and symbolism of the plant matched the character very well, although I think that the name was slightly out of place. Since Rue is to regret (even though the careers may have had feelings of regret towards her) I thought the name was slightly out of place. I thought this because Rues main purpose in the story is helping Katniss and being somewhat of a beacon of hope, the name was slightly too angry and sad sounding for the character she played, and in my opinion it made her sound like a much harsher devilish character than she really was.
Katniss Everdeen – With Katniss being the centre of the whole story, I think that it is very important that the author chose a good suiting and relevant name for her, and this I think she did very well. In the book Katniss is a very strong willed, brave, independent, moral, responsible and loving (to a certain extent) character. I thought that Katniss the plant is represented in the book through the character very well in many both symbolic and literal ways.
One of the similarities between plant and character that I thought stood out quite a bit had to do with the scientific name of the plant; Saggitaria. Since the plant Saggitaria is named after the star sign Sagittarius, the star sign is very prevalent in most of the plants symbolic meanings, folklore and such. Sagittarius is based on the centaur Chiron, who happens to be a very strong, brave character and is a very skilled archer. The description of Sagittarius has an almost uncanny resemblance to the character of Katniss, with the exception of him being a Minotaur of course. Since Katniss is also a very skilled
Significance of plants mentioned in The Hunger Games

Archer, which she uses both for hunting game and as an advantage in the Hunger Games and is also a very strong –both mentally and physically- and brave person. An example of Katniss exhibiting how mentally strong she is, is when her father died and her mother went off the rails and was unable to provide for her sister and herself, she continued to be strong through the worst of it and pulled her mother and sister through this tragedy, keeping a level head and a reasonable mindset not letting the grief get the best of her. Katniss also shows bravery all throughout the book from the risks that she takes in the games to the small acts of rebellion she does in spite of the Capitol.
Not only does the name of the Katniss plant link to Katniss’s archery skills; but also the appearance of the plant. The leaves of the Katniss plant are a long triangle shape that highly resembles the shape of an arrow head, this is also where the plant gets its nickname ‘arrowhead Katniss’. Other than the archery related aspects of the plant, there were also other symbolic meanings the plant has that were very similar to the personality of the character; two of these include honesty and independence. Katniss is most definitely an honest character, she always speaks her mind to people she trusts, no matter if it may make her sound rude or spiteful, she doesn’t believe in lying to someone just so they can hear what they want to hear (all with the exception of when she needs to act differently to get sponsors in the Hunger Games). Katniss shows her independence through the way she almost autonomously goes out hunting, trading, selling and overall providing her family, even though her hunting partner is Gale they both do different things by themselves and before Gale she was totally by herself.
I think that the plant Katniss was a great choice for the author to name the character after since they have so much in common. Especially the amount of archery references that the plant had, it was almost a given that Katniss was to be and archer as well.
To conclude I think that the author chose great plant related names that related exceptionally to the events in the book and the character personalities, without sounding almost unnatural and staged by making it obvious that three of the characters names were plants. The symbolic meanings of the plants revealed lots about the characters themselves making the whole thing seem a lot more meaningful, thought out and less forced. I also think that it added a certain level of authenticity and naturalness to the book, especially since the book was filled with lots of nature related things, it made the characters seem much more fitting to the story that was taking place. I loved the choices that the author made and I thought that they were perfect for the book.

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