Intro: Some of my favorite quotes from The Hunger Games: Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins center around food…Peeta’s cakes. The bread he fed Katniss in the first Hunger Games book. The lamb stew she loves so well. In food and literature, nothing is a better indicator of what a dystopian world is about than the food that the characters eat or don’t eat.
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What’s Happening at the Table in Hunger Games Book 3?
In the coming months, as we see more and more Mockingjay trailers unveiled, we’re also likely to see Katniss walking around what’s left of District 12, including the Hob, where Greasy Sae used to make soup; Katniss at the hunt and everyone from twelve sampling the food in District 13.
According to a Guardian article by Margaret Atwood,
Many utopias and dystopias emphasise food (delicious or awful; or, in the case of Swift’s Houyhnhnms, oats), but in Brave New World the menus are not presented. Lenina and her lay-of-the-month, Henry, eat “an excellent meal”, but we aren’t told what it is. (Beef would be my guess, in view of the huge barns full of cows that provide the external secretions.) Despite the dollops of sex-on-demand, the bodies in Brave New World are oddly disembodied, which serves to underscore one of Huxley’s points: in a world in which everything is available, nothing has any meaning.
This certainly seems to be true of The Hunger Games and all the book quotes I’m featuring in this article. It might even be said that many of the love quotes from The Hunger Games: Mockingjay are odes to food.
The following book quotes are taken from various dystopian books and movies and deal specifically with the role of food in culture. Some of them will be familiar, some of them new. All of them will shed new light on food in literature and movies. You’ll find quotes from The Hunger Games, Divergent, The Lord of the Flies, and others. All of them highlight the role that food plays in these dystopian societies.
Food Quotes From Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
What must it be like, I wonder, to live in a world where food appears at the press of a button? How would I spend the hours I now commit to combing the woods for sustenance if it were so easy to come by? What do they do all day, these people in the Capitol, besides decorating their bodies and waiting around for a new shipment of tributes to rill in and die for their entertainment?
Sometimes when I’m alone, I take the pearl from where it lives in my pocket and try to remember the boy with the bread, the strong arms that warded off nightmares on the train, the kisses in the arena.
My mother and Prim would live there with me. No more fear of hunger. A new kind of freedom. But then…what? What would my life be like on a daily basis? Most of it has been consumed with the acquisition of food. Take that away and I’m not really sure who I am, what my identity is. The idea scares me some.
Other Food in Dystopian Literature and Films Quotes
That’s exactly my point. Exactly. Because you have to wonder: how do the machines know what Tasty Wheat tasted like? Maybe they got it wrong. Maybe what I think Tasty Wheat tasted like actually tasted like oatmeal, or tuna fish. That makes you wonder about a lot of things. You take chicken, for example: maybe they couldn’t figure out what to make chicken taste like, which is why chicken tastes like everything.
I have it on good authority that rat poison tastes better. It’s probably less harmful, too. But I, and the general public, wouldn’t know that for sure. I mean, you still see ingredients listings like “natural flavors” and such, but you never really know what that means. The upside? Food labels are very short. The downside? Who knows what we’re eating?
The Girl Who Fell Into the Sky
I gave you food,” said Jack, “and my hunters will protect you from the beast. Who will join my tribe?
The Lord of the Flies
Lenina Huxley: [Spartan encounters a burger grill in the underground world] Just don’t ask them where the meat comes from.
John Spartan: Huxley, what’s that supposed to mean?
Lenina Huxley: Do you see any cows around here, detective?
John Spartan: Que es este carne?
[What is this meat?]
Hamburger Stand Scrap: Este carne es de rata.
[This meat is from rats]
John Spartan: Rat? This is a rat burger?
John Spartan: Not bad! Matter of fact this is the best burger I’ve had in years!
Hamburger Stand Scrap: Gracias, Senor.
John Spartan: Prego. See ya later.
Det. Thorn: Ocean’s dying, plankton’s dying… it’s people. *Soylent Green is made out of people.* They’re making our food out of people. Next thing they’ll be breeding us like cattle for food. You’ve gotta tell them. You’ve gotta tell them!
Hatcher: I promise, Tiger. I promise. I’ll tell the Exchange.
Det. Thorn: You tell everybody. Listen to me, Hatcher. You’ve gotta tell them! Soylent Green is people! We’ve gotta stop them somehow!
Four nudges me with his elbow.
“It’s beef,” he says. “Put this on it.” He passes me a small bowl full of red sauce.
“You’ve never had a hamburger before?” asks Christina, her eyes wide.
“No,” I say. “Is that what it’s called?”
“Stiffs eat plain food,” Four says, nodding at Christina.
“Why?” she asks.
I shrug. “Extravagance is considered self-indulgent and unnecessary.”
She smirks. “No wonder you left.”
“Yeah,” I say, rolling my eyes. “It was just because of the food.”
The corner of Four’s mouth twitches.
The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, part 1 comes out Nov. 21, 2014 in theaters.
This is part of a series dealing with food in dystopian literature. Come back often for more quotes, recipes and interviews with people who know that the best books feature food and mayhem in the same pages!