Monday, March 26, 2012


                                                  KATNISS and ANTIGONE:

     Though the onset of their respective crises differ in the details, each women finds herself faced with a moral imperative, setting her in direct, deadly opposition to the demands of established law. Antigone chooses to bury her rebellious brother Polyneices, despite a decree from  the new King, her uncle,Creon, which states that anyone who attempts to bury a rebel shall also suffer death. Her love for her brother, combined with her sense of obligation to fulfill the rituals which would release the deceased's shade from its mortal confinement, leads her to act in defiance of conformity, even at the peril of her own life.
     Katniss Everdeen, already toughened by the simple task of seeing to her own survival, as well as that of her mother and younger sister, Primrose, finds herself pitted against the power of Panem. In an established order, which not only cares little for the well-being of its denizens, but actively orchestrates a punitive, death-inducing ritual upon its youngest members, Katniss elects to substitute herself for Prim in the annual Hunger Games lottery. In this, her sense of familial responsibility also outweighs her sense of self-preservation.
     Antigone is forced to face the wrath of Creon, once known for his smooth-talking demeanor, and who now relies exclusively on harsh logic to maintain control of his city.  “Show me the man who keeps his house in hand, he's fit for public authority", has become his view. His scorn for anarchy leads him to wield power in a manner which borders on obsessive and irrational. Katniss must contend with the Capitol's staunch desire to remind the districts that they are, and shall forever remain, subordinate to it in every way. The district whose Tribute wins the annual theatrical slaughter receives food and privilege for the following year. Districts whose Tributes fail become subject to further sanctions. In her continued defiance of order, Katniss seeks to keep both herself and Peeta alive, even though only one survivor is ever permitted. Her artful, floral burial of Rue, captured on camera is, like Antigone's sprinkling of dust on Polyneices' corpse, ultimately the intimate anarchy which places her forever at odds with the Capitol and its President, who personally seeks her destruction as compense for her rebellion.
     Acts of love, acts of anarchy, acts of self-sacrifice. These acts forever define two indomitable female protagonists. Faced with harsh choices, and the harsher dictates of conscience, each young woman answers that call, knowing  her cause hopeless. Antigone's love for her brother and Katniss' love for Prim, loyalty to Rue, and growing affection for Peeta brought them to defy the established order of their world and make their impassioned rebellions the stories of legend. One an ancient, the other, a future icon, each a powerful figure, worthy subjects of our literary admiration. Mayhap, Katniss had read the tale of Antigone and knew the lessons to be drawn. Where there exists evil, good must be brought to bear, despite the personal price paid. Where there exists love, all manner of evil may ultimately be vanquished. Where there exists a fierce heroine, a great story may be told for generations.

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