Thoughts on : The Hunger Games: Mocking Jay

I have to give credit where credit is due. I really think the last book is a masterpiece, especially the ending. Suzanne Collins did an amazing job keeping the end realistic and not falling under the pressure of the public. These sorts of books tend to have a fairy tale ending, that pleases everyone but doesn’t even come close to what happens in real life.

This book teaches us about the effects of war. War is always destructive. Once the shots are fired, no one is out of harm’s way. For every drop of blood, all of humanity will have to pay the price.

Most young-adult books tend to have this sick notion of heroes. After they won the war, they just go back to their lives as if nothing has happened. You can’t just kill someone and then forget about it. You can’t watch hundreds of people die a horrible death, and then somehow you manage to close your eyes and sleep at night. No one comes out of a war in one piece.

You will be broken, probably for the rest of your life. And, things will never be the same. It doesn’t matter whose life you’re taking, unless you’re one of those brain-washed, blood-thirsty animals that fight in the middle-east, you will have nightmares that will wake you up in the middle of the night, sweating and screaming as if you’re hanging on for dear life. You’ll never be able to focus, because those flashbacks will haunt you day and night, triggered by the slightest thing.

“There are still moments when he clutches the back of a chair and hangs on until the flashbacks are over. I wake screaming from nightmares of mutts and lost children.”

I really think it’s sick to teach children, that taking someone’s life is OK if you’re fighting for the right cause. This notion is reinforced by every american war movie I’ve ever seen. It’s revolting and frankly quite scary. Have you thought about the effects of such indoctrination on kids? You’re basically creating an army of future adults that don’t value human life. Does this ring any bells? You’re creating ISIS.

I am not saying that a war is not justified. In many cases, it is. You would never hear me discourage people from fighting against evil, terror and dictatorship. I’m just saying, you shouldn’t be happy about it. No matter who it is, this person you’re about to kill, he still remains a human being, and you’re still ending someone’s life. You know how much power that gives you: deciding someone’s fate? That should be the choice of God, not a mere human.

Fighting for a great cause is noble and the right thing to do. But, you should mourn every soul, every child that was orphaned. Taking someone’s life should be the last resort. The least amount of people killed, the better. Don’t just throw a bomb from your plane and hope it fell on the right people. Don’t get involved in a war, if you don’t know for sure that violence won’t make things worse. I’m fed up to the ears with old men dreaming up wars for young men to die in.

And, once the war is over, pray each night that you won’t have to go through it again.

“What I need is the dandelion in the spring. The bright yellow that means rebirth instead of destruction. The promise that life can go on, no matter how bad our losses. That it can be good again.”

“But one day I’ll have to explain about my nightmares. Why they came. Why they won’t ever
really go away. I’ll tell them how I survive it. I’ll tell them that on bad mornings, it feels impossible to take pleasure in anything because I’m afraid it could be taken away. That’s when Imake a list in my head of every act of goodness I’ve seen someone do.”

 

Bomber – Len Deighton

Len Deighton is most definitely the greatest war novelist of the century and this book is believed to be his master piece. Bomber isn’t:

  • Your typical shallow Second World War story where the British noble gentleman fights the evil satanic emotionless Nazis and wins after a brave fight to return to his wife and live happily ever after.
  • Bias, it doesn’t portray the superiority of the British and their sanctity nor does it defend the Nazis and their beliefs. It’s fair and just to both sides uncovering their misdeeds making it a real historical master piece.

 

  • “We are fooling only ourselves if we pretend we are bombing anything other than city centres”

These are the words of a British pilot named Cohen who dies at the end of the book after a air-raid on a German city. The pilots know that they aren’t bombing any factories instead they’re killing innocent civilians, destroying their houses, burning their crops. These aren’t soldiers who were trying to harm the British Empire. They are children, women and elderly who have done but minding their own business. Then why are they bombed? Aren’t they humans or did the British adopt Hitler’s main ideas: do they believe in the superiority of the British race? Lambert, one the main characters, believes that the pilots have been corrupted; they’re now mere pawns who are used to achieve Churchill’s goals. But isn’t that loyalty? No, loyalty doesn’t mean using another man’s morality instead of your own: this is anarchy.  And that leads to the next point.

 

  • “Dictators gain power by offering pattern, ranks, common purpose, and men in formations. Men want order, they strive for it.”

People think the British aren’t easy to regiment but haven’t they already when men line up to dig up their own graves? I think Deighton has voiced his thoughts throughout Mr Cohen when he accused the British of gaining a “sense of national identity and purpose… History is being quoted and patriotic songs revived”. What separates them from the Nazis? They both have been fed lies about national pride, both mislead into doing the dirty work of their leaders. All they need is a Fuehrer and a racial minority to attack.

 

  • “Eventually everyone in the world would become an expert at the modest words, kind smiles and bland assurance that gloved the iron hand of ambition.” Here, Deighton refers to the effect of war on men. Throughout the book, he treats the issue of man and machine. The war has pushed men on both sides to develop magnificent and brilliant new technologies; the fear of loosing the war extended the limits of the brain and unleashed a main stream of inventions and machinery. But what are the consequences? The machines are now used to kill humans in the most ferocious and appalling way: phosphorus bombs, magnesium bombs, stalling bombs… It has made life harder for the “Huns”, but hasn’t it also taken the lives of so many British soldiers as well. Besides, it has made life troublesome for the latter for their conscience is rarely at peace. And how can it be when they became sadists who savoured torturing humans such as themselves before killing them. The machines have deprived them from humanity, brainwashed them into thinking they were the saviours of mankind. Of course, the Nazis have had their fair share of disgraceful acts, but what Deighton uncovered in this book is that nobody is innocent. Both sides are criminals and both should take responsibility for the death of millions. The writer thinks that men shouldn’t have settled for this, they should’ve quit the war just like Sam Lambert: He couldn’t handle another flight and so he quit even though he was one of the most skilled pilots in the squadron.  This has created a new Man “frightened that machines might dominate him and overawed by mechanical performance, was becoming mechanical in his emotions and reactions. We can notice this aspect during the bombing of a German city called Altgarten, a fire-fighter called Ilfa Johannes “was finding it easier to reject the pleas of those too far gone to be saved. It was right to do so and logical too”. He’s right if humans were computers, then that should be the proper way of acting but we are not machines -not yet.

 

  • “You and I might be able to see the virtue of chaos… muddle and inefficiency are man’s only hope of freedom”

Is this the only solution? Will man only be liberated if he abandons every aspect of modernity: technology, societal organisation… and adopt chaos as a way of life? Well that is the question of the century and Deighton foresaw this issue in 1972. Personally, I don’t think the answer resides in chaos, there is another solution probably but I have no idea what it is.

P.S:

The book is a work of fiction, it starts on the 31st of June 1943 which makes absolutely no sense. The writer made a huge effort to collect the historical data and the book is filled with it. But still, he created all the characters and even the city of Altgarten. That’s why Deighton earned his reputation both as a war novelist and a historian.

528 pages: the timeline of the story is 24 hours which makes this book unique for we would expect the writer filled the book with boring details that in no way affects the plot in Honoré De Balzac’s way. But, unsurprisingly it wasn’t the case, the book is thrilling and breath taking as it climbs towards the climax.

The Nazi system didn’t turn out to be as expected, in fact it somehow resembles the British system. Its society is organized: hospitals, nurses, fully equipped Fire-fighting department, City hall…

Deighton argues that the war could have been avoided easily: what would Hitler or Churchill have done if they didn’t have the blind support of the public? Governments shouldn’t decide the fate of men, people should be conscious of its acts. If they have, 50 million lives could have been spared.

 

Pay the Devil – Jack Higgins

These are some quotes from the book accompanied with my analysis.

  • “Take care for after raising him, it becomes necessary to pay the Devil his due”

In 1865, Ireland struggled under the reign of Aristocrats who were faithful to the kingdom of England. Like French, the Irish peasants tried desperately to establish the Republic of Ireland and they had their reasons for rich men like Sir George Hamilton of Drumore and Hugh Marley of Kileen were shameless tyrants. They owned the cottages inhabited by the farmers and thus were free to impose their own set of maniacal rules. The fees they demanded from the poor Irish exceeded by far their abilities: most of them struggled to make end’s meet and whoever failed to pay the rent was evicted without pity. Furthermore, Hamilton and Marley couldn’t care less about the state of the cottages which were stinky, moist and infest rat holes. Many children died from consumption and other diseases due to the carelessness of the aristocrats who saw Irish men equal to “negroes”. And as if this wasn’t enough, Marley indulged in a sickening habit: he took young away from their families and ruthlessly used them to please himself. In the end, these tyrants must pay for their acts and pay their dues for the atrocities they commited.

  • “No man can stay on the ledge forever”

No man can stay neutral forever after witnessing the horrors of Drumore. Even, Colonel Clay Fitzgerald, who came to Ireland looking for peace after fighting for many years in the American cival war between the south and the Yankees, he will be forced to take sides: either he fights with the peasants or joins Hamilton and his group. Of course, being the protagonist of the story, he chose the good side exposing himself to many dangers and making an alliance with the Rogan family who was funding the republican movement and stood against Sir George Hamilton. In the end, Clay will join the battle where two of the Rogans lost their lives and they manage to kill Hamilton and the bullies he hired to frighten the tenants. What pushed him to choose sides was Joanna Hamilton, the niece of the tyrant. He fell deeply in love with her after seeing that she disagreed with her Uncle’s acts and after she saved him from death.

  • Fate always dealt the last card- that was life. By accepting it, a man saved himself a great deal of pain”

Clay Fitzgerald didn’t know what he was getting himself into when he came to Ireland. He thought he will be spending his days in peace washing the smell of war that stuck to him after fighting for the south. He didn’t know that old habits die hard: he had to try and bring justice to these poor men even though he knew he  was fighting for a loosing front: the Irish won’t get their independence for the mighty kingdom of England would never let that happen, but still he fought and almost got hanged for it. But fate also presented him with the lovely and brave Joanna Hamilton who turned out to be the love of his life. He escaped from America but was forced to go back because the cavalry was looking for him to hang him however he took with him Joanna to live happily ever after.

P.S: Higgins presented the issue of racism in this book: Clay had a black man serving him, but nonetheless, he considered him as a close friend and he even taught him his profession: surgery – Clay studied surgery in France and joined the confederate army as a surgeon.