Mar 09, 2022 Uncategorized

Morale Killing in The Arena Paper


After learning about metaethics, I want us to think more deeply about killing in relation to relativity. I imagine all of us would say that if I went outside and killed my neighbor, I was acting in an immoral way and should be punished via our criminal justice system. That is a pretty easy scenario.

But, let’s shift the context and think about the question of morality again. We hear such shifts in our political discourse when we discuss war. Is it moral, for example, to kill another human being when one is acting on behalf of a government who is at war with another nation? Some would say it is morally acceptable because the person is not acting on her or his own, but as a representative of a nation. On the other hand, some would say it is still immoral, that killing for whatever reason is wrong. So, throughout our history we have had the option for conscientious objectors.

We can see this isn’t an easy question. So, let’s turn our attention to The Hunger Games as a way to help us think this through a bit more.

Consider the Following:

Does the arena that Panem has created change the moral rules?
Is it morally acceptable to kill in the arena?
Is it okay for Katniss or Peeta to kill because they have been drafted into this game?
Or, regardless of what has happened to them, should Katniss and Peeta refuse to kill because it is morally unacceptable? In order to make your argument and answer these questions, I want you to utilize what you have learned about ethical theories so far.
Assignment Prompt:

Decide to take the point of view of either Peeta or Katniss and pretend that you are them. In other words, take on the voice/character of either Katniss or Peeta, putting yourself in their shoes. Pretending to be one of them, write again to a general reader who has not read the books or watched the films.

Tell this general reader why you think it is either morally acceptable or morally unacceptable for you to kill in the arena by answering the questions above from your chosen character’s perspective. Seek to be as thorough and convincing as you can, and apply what you have learned about ethical theories so far.

TIP: You may want to study the dialogue between Katniss and Peeta when they are on the roof prior to the Games. What are they thinking about killing? Do they have different perspectives being hinted at here? (In the paperback version, this is on pg. 141-142).