What Do The Hunger Games and The Odyssey Have in Common?
Katniss Everdeen, the now famous protagonist of The Hunger Games, won the critics’ hearts for the new type of heroine that she embodied. Last year an undergraduate at Hostos Community College wrote a compelling paper comparing Katniss to the classic warrior in Homer’s Odyssey. His paper, “Hero and Heroine: Changing Archetypes from Odysseus to Katniss,” was published last fall in LURe, a peer-edited undergraduate research journal.
Paul Torres, who has since graduated, was struck by how the hero has evolved in literature (and movies) from macho warriors who excelled in battle to more flawed men and even women. “Odysseus was a great counterpoint to Katniss, so I ran with the idea of our changing views of heroes and heroes themselves changing as a result,” says Torres.
Ulysses (Odysseus) and the Sirens. Wood engraving, 1880. Photo Credit: Getty Images
In his paper, Torres writes that unlike the nobly born Odysseus from the epic poem The Odyssey, today’s heroes can come from bleak circumstances, struggle with realistic flaws, and are haunted by the traumas they undergo in achieving great feats. Katniss, he writes, “is a girl, born into abject poverty, who goes on to perform heroic acts on a quest to change an oppressive regime.”
But he also found a connection between the classic hero and the modern-day heroine. They both were reluctant participants in their journey and had a longing to return home. And they both used their wits rather than relying on pure physical strength. “Wits over muscle and reluctance over glory,” says Torres.
Torres’ professor, Heidi Bollinger (Hostos Community College, English), was so impressed with the work, especially from an undergraduate, that she encouraged him to submit it to the journal. “Submitting to the refereed undergraduate journal gave Paul a glimpse of the scholarly life. I also thought it was important for a broader readership to see the intellectual achievements of our CUNY community college students,” she says.
Torres was thrilled when he got the email informing him that his paper was accepted. “As a writer of many research papers, I have cited hundreds of sources. It is an amazing feeling to think that I could be cited too.”
Explore This Work
Hero and Heroine: Changing Archetypes from Odysseus to Katniss
Paul Torres (Undergraduate Student, English)
Colleges and Schools
Hostos Community College