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Random HG thought - The Phantom Librarian
Spewing out too many words since November 2003
Random HG thought
So, I don't have to worry about this for a while, fan-fictionally, but I was thinking about the time after... well, in chapter 27 of Mockingjay, spoilers under the cut for those who haven't read it yet.

So I did a story a little while ago (Songs of Victory) that took place during Katniss's captivity in the training center. Didn't really question the account in the book very much -- she was left in the training center, alone, just getting food, while her trial went on without her and for months, the only voice she heard was her own.

And the more I think about it, the less sense any of it makes. Solitary confinement for months? Before her trial even ended? I know Panem's weird, but so is Katniss at this point. So which weirdness is it?

Is it a Panem weirdness that a suicidally depressed teenage girl is put in solitary confinement for several months while her friends and remaining family just twiddle their thumbs?

Or is Katniss just not seeing or hearing anyone who comes to visit her?

Frankly, I can see either possibility. Panem is a decidedly weird place with very bizarre behavior on a lot of matters. They've just had a war, and we have no indication at all what the new government is like (except that it was the new president, Paylor, who decided Katniss had a right to the truth about the parachutes). She could be considered exceptionally dangerous, or, as in my story, they could be trying to make her as crazy as possible to beat the assassination charge.

On the other hand, Katniss at this point is also decidedly weird. We know her mom essentially had a mental breakdown from stress over her father's death, and Katniss has just had a much bigger stressor. Not only has she lost a lot of people she loved -- on a mission she set out on without any authorization -- but she has gone through all of it only to undermine the government she did it to help install, because she's realized it's "Meet the new boss, same as the old boss." She's lost her beloved sister, and in the process of it, realized how much of herself she's lost. I find it horrifically possible that she's living in her own crazed world at this point, off in a hallucination of solitary confinement.

In the fic (to be called The Narrow Path, and it will start tomorrow or Monday), I'll most likely go the conventional route, but I thought it might be interesting to talk about.

I feel a bit...: curious curious

16 comments or Leave a comment
aerrin From: aerrin Date: March 24th, 2013 01:14 pm (UTC) (Link)
I kind of like the second idea, particularly after having done some reading on the effects of solitary confinement on one's mental state and general health, and how fast those effects sink in. The New Yorker did an interesting article on it (http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2009/03/30/090330fa_fact_gawande), and there's a really great sci fi book dealing with the subject called Solitaire.

fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: March 24th, 2013 04:36 pm (UTC) (Link)
That was why I was thinking it would be so very, very odd for people to actually leave her alone like that. It's not like none of her loved ones are nearby or the new government is trying to torture her.
From: (Anonymous) Date: March 24th, 2013 04:27 pm (UTC) (Link)

"Suicidally depressed teenage girls"

Throughout the novel, the authorities refuse to treat her like the age she is--her mother, Snow, when he wants her to stop the rebellion, heck, Panem for putting her into the arena in the first place, and the rebellion also forces her to act like an adult. No point, just a thought. :)
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: March 24th, 2013 04:35 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: "Suicidally depressed teenage girls"

Yes. And notably, she regresses during captivity to life with her father and songs she learned when she was a small child.

I think one of the interesting things in her dynamic with Haymitch is that she goes to him as a girl looking for advice from a mentor. He defends her (I'm thinking of his going to bat for her when they wanted her surgically "enhanced"), and, to some extent, protects her a little bit, at least, from some of the dangers. In other words, he almost treats her like a kid, albeit one who has taken on a lot of adult responsibilities.
From: (Anonymous) Date: March 24th, 2013 08:41 pm (UTC) (Link)
It does seem more logical that they wouldn't have her in solitary unless they had specific reasons for wanting her to break down even further--and, however they decide to play the death, an unpredictably broken down Katniss doesn't play to that. Locking her up and trying to manipulate her one way or the other--which would mean people interacting with her, if only to a limited and controlled extent--would be essential.

fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: March 24th, 2013 10:38 pm (UTC) (Link)
Exactly -- I can't make the motive work except inasmuch as they're trying to make her generically "crazy."
From: (Anonymous) Date: March 24th, 2013 10:23 pm (UTC) (Link)
Is it possible that she's wrong about the length of time passing not the solitary?

I liked the take you had in Songs, which I found bizarrely possible in narrative and spin-obsessed Panem. In the cultural context of the Games and "Peacekeepers" who are trained in torture methods, i didn't blink at a bit of solitary confinement even when it's driving someone insane.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: March 24th, 2013 10:37 pm (UTC) (Link)
Given the passage of time and the seasonal changes, the shortest I could get it was two months.

I probably will use that take in the upcoming fic still. But this other thing got in my head, and I wondered if anyone else thought it... odd?

Edited at 2013-03-24 10:39 pm (UTC)
From: (Anonymous) Date: March 24th, 2013 10:53 pm (UTC) (Link)
Right, I haven't read it recently or looking for that level of detail.

It's an interesting thought, unreliable narrators are kind of fun in that way. I think either approach could work.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: March 24th, 2013 11:06 pm (UTC) (Link)
I couldn't find a day-by-day timeline online (probably because a lot is left to guesswork), so I did one myself to try and keep events in order in a different POV. Headspin.
From: (Anonymous) Date: March 25th, 2013 06:19 pm (UTC) (Link)

unreliable Katniss

Long time lurker, here. I love your HP fics, and now really love your HG fics. A long time ago, I made a LJ account so that I could comment on your fics, but now I don't know the password. Anyway...

One of the things I really liked about the Hunger Games is how unreliable Katniss is as a narrator. Even when she's totally sane, the "facts" you get from her, as the narrator, about Peeta's motivations, for example, are... unreliable. And then there are the points in the books where her sanity wavers/breaks (in 13, when she's running around hiding in closets, after Prim dies, after she kills Coin). I always read those points as being somewhat compromised in terms of the reliability of the narrator. I found that really interesting, too -- what does it mean when the person telling us the story is clearly not totally sane?

Anyway, so I could easily believe that Katniss was not really being kept in solitary confinement, but that she was just not able to process interactions with other people.

Interesting question...

aliannesecunda From: aliannesecunda Date: March 25th, 2013 06:35 pm (UTC) (Link)
I never felt comfortable with/understood this section, but your alternative suggestion makes so. much. sense. to me.

Just... *boggles* It's so logical.
From: (Anonymous) Date: March 26th, 2013 04:14 am (UTC) (Link)
Just thinking of the overall scenario:

Now that you've got me thinking, I do and don't buy that things are as Snow portrayed them at the end. Katniss sees the events that killed her sister as being too much like a scenario she knows someone on her side was working on. Snow's also right both about it not being his kind of play and about it not getting him anything.

Unless you count Katniss killing the new president.

If I were to make a guess at that point? Snow's atrocities strengthen him. If they don't actually strengthen his position, they strengthen his psychological power. He might come across as the monster who eats children but he never comes across as the monster who fights children. One is scary the other is the weak creature that can't pick on someone his own size.

But, he's quite capable of anticipating the sort of move his enemies might make. There are two points to human shields. One is to keep your enemies from attacking for fear of hitting them (whether because they value those lives or because they can't risk the political fallout). The second is to make your enemies bear the cost of those lives.

Anticipating a strike from the rebels that will try to make him look bad and putting Prim where she'll get hit if it happens--because, then, Katniss will Do Something--that's not unlike Snow.

Meanwhile, since she became a tribute, Katniss has been living her life, making her choices, picking every word she says with the fear that people are watching. She can't blink without fear that it will be played by the media and used against her.

Her sister's death, in a way, is the final example. Whatever happened, whoever did it, Prim's death had nothing to do with Prim and everything to do with Katniss. It was done on TV, live, to get to her one way or another.

So, if she's going to hallucinate, a world where no one is there but her, no one watching, no one listening, her actions and words finally don't matter, this would be the kind of world you might expect her to create.

sonetka From: sonetka Date: March 26th, 2013 04:29 am (UTC) (Link)
I'm sure Snow was all in favour of Katniss killing Coin, but even if Prim's and the children's deaths were a double-end-twisted setup like that, the fact that Coin was proposing another Hunger Games was a huge factor as well, and Snow had no way of making her do that, that was all on her. Also, how would Snow have any way of getting Prim into the area?

Snow, I think, is really losing his grip in the books -- whatever talents made him able to control Panem for umpteen years are starting to fade; he's terrifying, but he also consistently hits harder than he needs to and ends up suffering from the recoil -- no better example is necessary than his insistence that the rule-change in Peeta and Katniss's first games be withdrawn at the end because There Can Be Only One Victor, Dammit. If he had just gone with it, he could have had Panem reconciled to another twenty years of Games, at least. He also had no problem bombing that hospital, and made no attempt to deny it was him -- Snow's whole point is that he can kill you and he'll make sure you're aware of it. Coin is the subtler, one -- her game is keeping people in the dark and double-crossing them.
From: (Anonymous) Date: March 26th, 2013 05:44 am (UTC) (Link)
That's really interesting from Katniss' perspective. As a reader, rooting for Katniss and her happiness, my favorite people are the ones who give her real answers, and who want to add to her knowledge rather than keep her in the dark so that she can make informed decisions. That role of knowledge-bearer belongs primarily to Haymitch, Paylor, and oddly enough, Snow. Snow even gives Katniss more information while Haymitch is still keeping her in the dark about the consequences of her behavior after her first games. I trust him when he says he's not going to lie to her.

jedinic From: jedinic Date: April 24th, 2013 04:06 am (UTC) (Link)
I'm with the unreliable narrator theory - I don't believe that was done to Katniss. (I would hope not!) It just didn't make sense to me.
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