Back in March, Jill at Rhapsody in Books reviewed a YA dystopia book called Inside Out and she wrote: “For some reason, strong female teen protagonists in dystopias also tend to be self-absorbed, bristly, cynical, and defensive. In other words, they seem to be the teen equivalent of the strong female adult who is considered to be a witch for playing on the same field as men. I suppose if you’re trying to negotiate a dystopia, it won’t help you much to be an Anne of Green Gables, but I’d like to see a little more balance.”
In my comment on Jill’s post, I wrote: “Hmmm. I think I am going to take a pass on this one. Me and young adult dystopia don’t always get along. Though the image of Anne of Green Gables fighting in the Hunger Games just conjures up all kinds of ideas. I think I see a short story parody in my future!”
And so I finally got around to it. Here is my reimagining of The Hunger Games featuring Anne of Green Gables. Let’s see how it all goes down, shall we? (Note: If you’re not familiar with The Hunger Games or Anne of Green Gables, this post is probably not going to make any sense at all so move along. Nothing to read here.)
The Hunger Games … If Anne Shirley Was A Tribute
Cinna adjusts my costume one last time, but the cylinder starts to move and I’m rising upward to the arena. He pulls back and shouts “Love you, Katniss! Come back to us!!!” My hands are shaking. I can’t believe it is finally time. I can’t believe that I, Katniss Everdeen, am going to fight in the Hunger Games. The cylinder stops moving, and from the sky, I hear the announcement: “Ladies and Gentlemen, let the Seventy-Fourth Hunger Games begin!”
The cylinder opens and I’m standing on a flat field. A forest to my left, a lake to my right, and the Cornucopia straight ahead. We must wait sixty seconds for the gong to ring before we can move out of our cylinders. If we move early, we’ll be blown up by land mines. I scan the Cornucopia, trying to see if there is anything worth taking. Haymitch’s words echo in my head: “Run away from the Cornucopia area immediately. Don’t even attempt it.”
Each year, the first tributes are killed in skirmishes at the Cornucopia. I know it isn’t worth it, but the temptation to try and score an advantage over the others is strong. From my right, a flash of red catches my eye, and I turn.
In the cylinder next to mine stands the Tribute from the mysterious District 9 and 3/4—the one who never participated in the training or the pre-game ceremonies, the one only known as “Carrots.” In the tension of the Games actually starting, I’d forgotten all about her, but I know I should gather some intelligence on her before the gong sounds.
She has long red hair done in braids and freckles all across her face. She is looking about her with a look of rapture and seems to be talking to herself. In all honesty, she seems a bit daft and I’m almost ready to write her off as a threat when the gong rings.
All the tributes race from their cylinders. I hesitate—distracted by Carrots and whether I should run to the woods like Haymitch advised. My hesitation costs me valuable seconds and then I run straight to the Cornucopia for the bow and arrow I glimpse in the bounty. Just a few yards from the cylinder, I hear something moving through the air and manage to dodge a knife at the last second. It whistles by my ear, grazing it and leaving a thin trail of blood. I wheel around and run as fast as I can to the woods. Forget the Cornucopia. Haymitch was right … it is too dangerous.
I reach the relative safety of the woods and pause for a moment to look back. At the Cornocupia, I see the Tributes from Districts 8 and 4 fighting each other, blood running down their faces. The boy from District 6 is staggering with a knife in his back. There is no sign of Peeta or Carrots.
I run deeper into the woods, not wanting to stick around for the other tributes to pick up my trail. After twenty minutes or so, I stop to rest and take a drink of water. As I lie there panting, I hear the cracking of twigs and what sounds like a voice. I freeze and hide behind a bush—blood pumping in my veins. The voice becomes clearer and I hear this: “Isn’t it splendid to think of all the things there are to find out about? It just makes me feel glad to be alive—it’s such an interesting world. It wouldn’t be half so interesting if we know all about everything, would it? There’d be no scope for imagination then, would there? And oh my, look at the bird there! Is that the bird they call a mockingjay? Oh I so ever hope it is! If I didn’t see a mockingjay during these games, it would just so tragical!!”
I can’t believe it. It is the girl from District 9 and 3/4 and she’s chattering away to herself like she’s on a walk in the park and not in a fight to the death! I’m so surprised I stand up and she spots me.
“Oh my goodness. You startled me! Here I was thinking I was all alone and then here you are. I am ever so glad to see you. I was just horrified at the tragical things they were doing back there so I walked into the woods, hoping to find someone who might be my bosom friend. Do you think you could be my bosom friend? I don’t really want to go through these games by myself and I couldn’t find anyone else. But, oh Marilla would be so mad that I’ve forgotten my manners! Allow me to introduce myself. I’m Anne Shirley. That is Anne with an E. I don’t like it when people spell it without the E. I’m very particular about that. I come from District 9 and 3/4 but I don’t like to call it that. It is so very plain and ordinary. I prefer to call it Avonlea. That is ever so much more romantic, don’t you think? I suppose you’re staring at me like that because of my red hair. I don’t much like it, you know. It is the bane of my existence. People who haven’t red hair don’t know what trouble is. Mrs. Hammond told me that God made my hair red on purpose and I’ve never cared for Him since. But what about you? What is your name?”
I can’t believe she is prattling on like we are meeting on a street rather than in a life or death situation. Does she not know I could snap her neck right now, break it like a twig? We are enemies, she and I. Only one tribute will be left standing at the end of the games and she wants to be my bosom friend?!? I think my first assessment was right: she is daft. She stands there, with her blue eyes wide and friendly, looking at me expectantly.”I’m Katniss Everdeen. District 12,” I say in clipped tones.
“Oh yes … Katniss. I heard of you! Are you ever such good friends with that lovely boy Peeta? He is from District 12 I think. I just think he is such a darling. So cute. Those eyelashes!!! Of course, I have a boy I like myself named Gilbert. He has…”
I clamp my hands over her mouth and hiss “Quiet.” I hear something coming through the woods. It sounds like footsteps. I hear a voice say “I’m pretty sure I came from over there. It sounded like voices.”
It is the girl from District 2 who is deadly with knives and the boy from District 3 who can wire explosives from leaves and twigs. I know that Anne’s incessant chatter has given away our position. There are only seconds to make a decision. Looking into her eyes and feeling her mouth trying to move under my hand, I know what I need to do. Reaching into my belt, I take my knife and, without making a sound, I slit Anne’s throat. Blood gushes from her severed artery and she slumps in my arms. I lower her body to the ground and take off running, quiet as a cat. Tears prick my eyes as I think that I killed her, that I possibly committed the first kill of the Games. But with a chatterbox like that, I knew she didn’t stand a chance and she was putting me in jeopardy. I had to do it … I had to for Prim. And Peeta.
That night when the Horn sounds, Anne’s smiling face is projected in the sky, along with the boy from District 6. I cry with tears for the girl whose life I took—one of the first casualties of the Hunger Games.
I’m pretty sure that is how it would go down. No way Anne would last long in the teen-kill-teen world of the Hunger Games. After all, a YA dystopia is no place for Anne of Green Gables!