Justification for Teaching

Mockingjay is the third and final installment of Suzanne Collins's Hunger Games series of dystopian young-adult novels. One of the best reasons to teach this novel is that many students truly enjoy reading the Hunger Games series; even reluctant readers have little trouble entering the world of Mockingjay.

Like the previous books in the Hunger Games series, Mockingjay is an excellent example of dystopian fiction; the world Katniss and Peeta inhabit is one in which the government brutally suppresses its citizens, freedom of any sort is nonexistent, and the wealth gap between rich and poor is massive. Dystopian fiction often reflects real-world fears through a sort of warped funhouse mirror — students should read Mockingjay and consider what the text says about the world we live in today.

Author Suzanne Collins structured Mockingjay as a story told in three acts ("parts" in the novel); thus, although Mockingjay is not a play, students can use it to study dramatic structure — comparing and contrasting Mockingjay with three-act plays could be a rewarding exercise.

Key Literary Elements & Techniques

  • dystopian fiction
  • suspense
  • figurative language
  • symbolism
  • three-act structure

Themes and Motifs

  • War and ethics — The Hunger Games series is a series about war — is there such a thing as a "just" war? Should violence be used as a tool for change?
  • Power — Several types of power are on display in Mockingjay. Katniss has the power to inspire the citizens of Panem. President Coin has the power to manipulate Katniss into taking actions that further her (President Coin's) goals. The struggle for power is a theme that seethes through the entirety of the Hunger Games series.
  • Trust — Trust has also been a huge issue throughout the Hunger Games series. In Mockingjay, Peeta is brainwashed by the Capitol and tries to kill Katniss, and Katniss has to determine whether she can trust President Coin, who may be manipulating Katniss for her own gain.

Key Facts

  • Length: 400 pages
  • Lexile® Measure: 800L
  • Recommended Grade Band: 5 – 8
  • Publication Date: 2010

External Resources

Mockingjay (Wikipedia)

Film Trailer (YouTube)

Movies

The theatrical treatment of Mockingjay was split into two disparate films — Part 1 was released on November 21, 2014.

Potential Objections

Mockingjay is quite violent; some students may be disturbed by its imagery.

Your Students will love:

  • The sense of closure given by the ending to the Hunger Games series
  • Katniss's sense of right and wrong
  • The novel's unrelenting action and fast pace

Students may have problems with:

  • The deaths of some important characters
  • The bleak, hopeless tone of much of the book
  • The plotting, which may strike some as a little haphazard

Available from Prestwick House

Books:

Mockingjay — Paperback

Teaching Guides:

Literature Teaching Unit:

Teaching Unit

Downloadable Teaching Unit

30 Books + Teaching Unit

Other Prestwick House Teacher's Guides to Literature

mockingjay.jpg