WARNING: If you haven't read the Hunger Games there might be some spoiler alerts in this blog, they are marked in parenthesis before the sentence containing them.
The Hunger Games is a popular book series in our modern day culture. When one takes a first glance at this all they see is a story about 24 kids fighting to the death, an entertaining plot. But if one would look closer they would notice that there is an underlining feminist argument.
Suzanne Collins, the author of The Hunger Games trilogy, uses the primary character, Katniss, to present her feminist argument. Katniss is the heroine of the story. She is put into an arena to fight to the death, and is motivated purely on returning to her family.
When we first meet Katniss, although she is not a mother, she has many characteristics described in The Cult of Domesticity. Katniss strives to take care of her little sister, due to her mother's absence, and take care of the house. This shows Katniss's domesticity aspect, she is the caretaker of her home. While Katniss takes up the role of the stereotypical "mother" in our society, her real mother fails to do so. Thus, Collins is making Katniss a stronger character than a women is expected to be, beginning her female empowerment plot.
Although Katniss does posses the domesticity values, she is nothing similar to the rest of the ideologies in the cult. Katniss is the farthest thing from submissive, with her relationships between men Katniss is not afraid to speak her mind and challenge them. In the novel Collins uses the area of the Capitol to show the norm of women. Women usually are extremely submissive to men, especially President Snow. The Capitol is also an extremely patriarchal structure of a society. No women are in any position of major power, and if they are in some position they are under the rule of a man.
But in the Capitol women are not the only submissive ones. Due to the extreme stratification, the lower your district (class) the more submissive you are to the Capitol and the men in charge of it. For example, (spoiler alert) in the end of the first novel Katniss stands up to the Capitol's rules of the Hunger Games when she and Peeta almost kill themselves at the same time.
Another example, (another spoiler alert) is when Rue dies Katniss decorates her body with flowers and sings her to her death to show respect to her life. Katniss ends her song with kissing three fingers and raising them to the camera, an old symbol from district 12 to say goodbye to someone you love. This symbol is unwelcome by the Capitol and especially the games because it defies the brutal image that the Capitol wishes to get from the games. This displays the overall agency that Katniss has in this patriarchal society. Although this action came with major consequences, Katniss stood strong like a true heroine.
Katniss is also empowered when she defies the expectations of purity and piety in the Cult of Domesticity. Some might say that the Hunger Games world could not expect the women to be pure when they put them in an arena to fight to the death, but if one focuses on the pre-game interviews of the tributes they can see how purity is still expected. When other women go up to the stage they have an image. Glimmer is the "seductress" and captures the audience by being blatantly against purity and piety.
Although this captures the viewers attention, the viewers do not gain respect for this tribute. Unlike Glimmer, the youngest tribute Rue plays the innocent pure little girl for her image. This makes her extremely loved by the audience but she also looks weak to the other tributes. Thus, (spoiler alert) when Peeta declares his love for Katniss, she is angered because he made her look weak.
Katniss's lack of desire to be the perfect woman is the base of Collin's feminist empowerment. In the beginning of the book Katniss seems powerless, just another pawn in the Capitol's games, but by the end of the novel she is holding all the cards. Collins makes sure to make the main aspect of the book to be Katniss and her heroine aspect rather than the men. The strength of Katniss's character makes this feminist argument strong. Every little detail that Collins puts into the female characters, especially Katniss, is to defy the norm of the Cult of True Womanhood. The stereotypical hero is finally, and successfully, portrayed as a woman.