Book: The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
Synopsis: A dystopian post-apocalyptic society called Panem is divided between 12 districts and the Capitol. Each year, two young representatives, known as tributes, from each district are selected randomly from a lottery, which has all of their names, to participate in a televised fight-to-the-death competition known as the Hunger Games. In order to control future rebellions against the governing systems, the Capitol forces them to participate in the brutal games that only one, out of the pool of teens and pre-teens, selected will win. The games are broadcasted on television for all of Panem to watch. The book centers around Katniss, a 16-year-old girl from District 12, who volunteers for her 12-year-old sister, Prim after her name is chosen. Katniss is joined by fellow District 12 tribute, Peeta.
Character Highlight: Rue was a girl of color from District 11, where most of the black people in Panem reside (this is visualized more in the movie). She was also the youngest and smallest tribute in the games. Her small stature made her fast and agile, which she used to her advantage in the arena during the games. Rue was also very knowledgeable about nature and outdoor survival.
Interaction with the Main Character: Katniss sees a resemblance between Rue and her sister Prim, because of their size and age. Katniss and Rue agree to form an alliance, after Rue sees Katniss' MockingJay pin as a sign she could be trusted. She and Katniss help each other survive and devise a plan against the strongest alliance in the arena. When Rue is killed after a being speared, Katniss sings to her and places flowers around her body. She also gives a 3 finger salute from her district. Katniss was crushed after Rue’s death, and never fully recovered from losing Rue.
Impact and/or Contribution to the overall story: Katniss is seen from the Capital’s standpoint as committing an act of defiance, because she decorated Rue’s body after her death. It threatens the spirit of the Hunger Games, in which tributes are supposed to show no mercy for one another as they must be ruthless and kill to win. Katniss continues to have flashbacks of Rue’s death in her dreams.
In the sequel, Catching Fire, Katniss and Peeta go on a tour as Victors (winners) to visit the other districts. District 11, where Rue was from, is first. Katniss and Peeta give very heartfelt speeches, offer to donate money, and express sincere emotions to the families of Rue and the other tribute from District 11, which is out of the traditional order. After their speeches, an old man whistles Rue's four-note mockingjay tune, which Rue taught Katniss in the arena, and the citizens offer their thanks and salute Katniss. The man is killed by Peacekeepers who feel this is an act of rebellion on the rise. Katniss and Peeta realize at that moment, just how powerful the President and Capitol is and how far they will go to oppress the citizens of Panem.