The Training of a Career Tribute
My head is full of thoughts!
So, here’s the meta — and I’m really thinking I will fic this up later. These are obviously just my feeling and suppositions and speculations, extrapolating from what little we know about the Careers.
- These Districts, like the Capitol, have more of a Roman feel to them than the outlying Districts do. For that reason, I’m basing a lot of my ideas about the training on both Sparta and on the Roman gladiatorial training.
- Training begins young. Really young. I imagine there’s a certain level of separation from the family — though clearly not entirely, as Gloss and Cashmere from District 1 have a sibling bond that seems fairly strong. But I imagine they’re eventually separated from outside influences — perhaps kept in special dormitories or something — and not encouraged to have a lot of emotional bonds with other human beings.
- Pride in their District, however, is clearly fostered.
- And, they do seem to have a certain attachment to their District partners and to the other Careers — otherwise the pack mentality wouldn’t be so easy to form, and we see pretty strong evidence of a bond of some kind when Cato’s begging Clove to stay with him in the book. So what do their mentors tell them about how to end the alliance? We never really see that, since Katniss is never part of it (nor anyone from D12 that we hear about). What happens in a typical Game when the Career alliance has eliminated everyone else? How do their mentors prepare them for that shift? And how are they meant to handle it if it comes down to just them and their district partner? I want to explore this.
- They identify candidates early and then weed out the unsuitable. Non-lethally at first. Rejects go into training as Peacekeepers, or back into the mines or the boats if they turn out just way too embarrassing.
- I suspect abuse is systematic. They’re probably taught to endure pain, from beatings to heat and cold to other types of non-lethal wounds.
- It seems really strange to me, though, that they aren’t taught either basic survival skills or basic first aid. I mean, you would think at least some of the trainers would recognize that as important to increasing the chances of survival. So what’s going on there? Do they focus, instead, on getting their tributes to end the Games before survival really becomes a problem? Is it sheer arrogance?
- Speaking of the trainers, I assume many of them are Victors themselves — since they literally don’t know how to do anything else but kill, and since they turn out the majority of the Victors, it’s not like those Districts lack for mentors.
- I wonder if there’s a lot of competition between the Victor-Mentors, then, to get their trainees through all the levels and to get to be the volunteer.
- I wonder if the system somehow punishes Victors when their trainees don’t win the Games.
- I bet District 2, at least, covers up the training of Career Tributes as Peacekeeper training, if anyone were ever to call their methods into question (since technically tributes are supposed to arrive totally untrained). But they’ve got an easy out, since they basically have to train a fighting force anyway.
- For that reason, it is no surprise to me that District 2 seems to turn out more Victors and overall more bloodthirsty tributes than even the other Career districts.
- I find District 4 a really odd one to be a Career district, and I wish we knew more about it. It isn’t industrial like 1 and 2. You would think it would share more in common with 10 and 11, the other food-providers. I wonder if more goes on there than we know — like how 2 is theoretically Masonry but really weapons and Peacekeepers. Is 4’s fishing industry a front as well?
- Career Tributes have probably killed before they ever make it into the Arena. I imagine that’s somewhat the final exam for getting to be the one who volunteers at the Reaping. Whoever’s made it to the last stages has to face off. Because I really feel, if they hadn’t been blooded before they hit the Arena, at least some of them would shock out the first time they actually take a human life.
My overall point is this: it is a mistake to see these characters as villains. Antagonists, yes; we are clearly meant to root for Katniss and to be on her side and to want her to win. But they are victims as much as she is, just in a very different way. They enjoy privileges, to be sure. But they are also stripped of their basic humanity in a way Katniss is not. They are given no opportunity to become anything other than brutal killing machines. If they look likely to turn in any other direction, that’s it, they’re out. The system is abusing them terribly, and they need to be freed of it as much as Districts 11 and 12. They are not evil; they are the pawns of evil, the tools of evil. And they are still children themselves, which I think is almost the harder thing to remember (but which I think Cato expressed really well in the movie).
And now I’m thinking about writing fic about Clove’s training and eventual selection as volunteer.