Rue: The Real MVP of the Hunger Games

Why Mr. Bennet Is My Favorite Character in P&P-3

While rereading Suzanne Collins’ novel The Hunger Games for my Introduction to Literature class, I couldn’t help but notice that one character in particular is vastly undervalued and under-discussed. As the title of this post would suggest, this character is none other than Rue, the female tribute from District 11. She may be the youngest tribute in the Games, but I believe that she is also the most surprising, wisest, and important competitors in the Arena.

One of the most valuable and interesting aspects of Rue as a character is the way she challenges the reader. At first I automatically categorized her as a reflection of Prim, Katniss’ younger sister. Prim and Rue are the same age, and Katniss even goes so far as to say that “she reminds [her] of Prim” (210). But just as you’re confident that you know Rue, she begins to take on a different– yet still familiar– persona. Suddenly the reader is exposed to yet another side of this young girl, a side that certainly surprised me at first. Rue’s hidden strength is clearly uncovered when Katniss says, “You can see the glint of excitement in her eyes. In this way, she’s exactly the opposite of Prim, for whom adventures are an ordeal” (210).

Smile_Rue

Not only is she more courageous, adventurous, and clever than she first appears, she is also much more like Katniss than I initially realized. In fact, I’ve come to think of Rue as more of a reflection of Katniss rather than Prim. Take this description of Rue, for example:

“And I come to know Rue, the oldest of six kids, fiercely protective of her siblings, who gives her rations to the younger ones, who forages in the meadows in a district where the Peacekeepers are far less obliging than ours” (211).

Whether she is conscious of it or not, Katniss has actually given us a fairly close description of herself. Although the tiny details are different (Rue has six siblings while Katniss only has one, etc.) the basic ideas are the same. Both Katniss and Rue are the eldest sibling and take on a parental role in their families. They feel as though it’s their responsibility to protect and provide for their siblings, and they accomplish the latter by illegally hunting and gathering. In many surprising and unexpected ways, we come to view Rue as a younger version of Katniss. Rue_points_out_the_nest

However, I believe the case can be made that Rue is actually much wiser than Katniss. Unlike Katniss, Rue understands the value of appreciating the little things in life, as exemplified by her love for music. Such a seemingly frivolous passions surprises Katniss, as seen when she says, “In our world, I rank music somewhere between hair ribbons and rainbows in terms of usefulness. At least a rainbow gives you a tip about the weather” (211). My guess is that Rue feels much happier and fulfilled than Katniss does, for there are few things that this District 12 tribute appears to enjoy.

smiling-and-the-hunger-games-gallery

Arguably the most important and fascinating aspect of Rue is what and who she represents. Rue is a tribute from District 11, which specializes in agriculture. The citizens of this district are forced to work in the field to earn their wages. Much to Katniss’ surprise, the Peacekeepers there are even more cruel and merciless than those in District 12. Rue explains that if you eat the crops while picking them “they whip you and make everyone else watch” (202). Add to the harsh conditions of District 12 the fact that Rue is described as having “bright, dark eyes and satiny brown skin” (98) and what does this all suggest? When the details are broken down and laid out it appears as though Rue is representative of slavery and the horrific racial inequality faced by African Americans. Katniss is taken aback when she learns that conditions in District 11 are indeed worse than those in District 12, similar to how many people are ignorant of the struggles that people of different races and ethnicities are forced to confront on a daily basis. Rue is much more than yet another tribute in the Games; in actuality, she is a symbol for an aspect of American history and society that people are often too eager to forget.

Having realized the complexity and depth of Rue’s character through this second reading, I would be interested to see how much more insight I could gain from reading this novel a third time. Rue is so much more than she first appears to be– a statement that applies to each and every one of us, if only we choose to see it.

What do you think of Rue? Who is your favorite character in The Hunger Games? Let me know in the comments section below!

Yours,

HOLLY

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13 thoughts on “Rue: The Real MVP of the Hunger Games

  1. To me, Rue is representative of Katniss as a young girl, before her father died. As you pointed out, their personalities are strikingly similar, but Rue is softer, less hardened by sorrow. Rue’s friendship, and death, reverberate through the pages of all 3 books, which is why she is one of my favorite characters.
    My absolute favorite is Peeta. I find him to be incredibly brave, unfailingly kind, and, as you mentioned last post, quite a strategist.

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    1. I love your theory of Rue being Katniss before her father died– it makes so much sense! The fact that her death is so important in the trilogy speaks volumes as well, especially since there is so much death in general. Her death sticks out from the rest as something incredibly tragic in a human, emotional way that many of the others lack. So interesting to think about!
      Thanks for commenting! 🙂

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    1. I read The Hunger Games for the first time years ago as well, so I was really happy that I got the chance to reread it in my lit class. There are so many interesting details that stand out more during the second read that it almost makes me want to reread the entire trilogy. Thanks so much! 🙂

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  2. I love that you are reading this book through a more critical lens for one of your classes! I think it’s way more accurate to say Rue is a more fulfilled version of Katniss, and that she really makes Katniss check herself as a character (sometimes she can get very stuck in the mentality that Distrcit 12 has the worst life, and that not really necessarily be true). I can’t wait to read more of your analysis of this book during your reread! 🙂

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    1. Doing this has made me realize how interesting reading more modern books with a critical eye like this can be… I’ll definitely be doing more of these kinds of posts in the future. Thanks so much! 🙂

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  3. Hi, Nut Free Nerd! I just wanted to let you know that I have nominated you for the Blogger Recognition Award and I seriously love your blog. It’s completely okay if you decide you don’t want to take part in this but if you would like to, check out my blog for the rules. Have a great evening:)

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  4. I really loved reading this post. Like you I do think Rue is a very underated character in the series – after all it was her that sparked the whole uprising. I have always associated Rue with being like Prim but now that you mention it I do see her a lot like Katniss. Especially in the way she cared for her younger siblings.

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    1. Thinking about this has really made me wonder what Suzanne Collins actually intended the role of Rue to be– it would be so cool to find out! Thanks so much! 🙂

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