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2012-03-02-cristinahartmann.jpegBy Cristina HartmannLawyer by day, writer by night

Tributes with disabilities competed in the Hunger Games just like any other tribute.

If you're between the ages of 12 and 18, you're eligible, no matter what. (The only way out is death.)

Evidence? In The Hunger Games, a tribute had a crippled foot and in Catching Fire, a tribute had severe hearing loss. So, I'd say that competitors with disabilities competed just like any other competitor.

The boy with the crippled foot survived for a long time, but the books never tell us what happened to him. I doubt that his story was "pitiable." A tribute with a disability requires more cunning and resourcefulness to survive, a great story to watch. The Capitolites, just like us, love stories of beating the odds. I wish we got to hear his story. (The nearly-deaf tribute in the second book wasn't as lucky.)[1]

Remember that the reaping is supposedly impartial, based on pure chance. The Games are an accelerated version of Darwinism--the fittest survive, disabled or not.

The presence of tributes with disabilities shows the power differential between the Districts and the Capitol.

The existence of disabilities in the Districts sets yet another example of the disparity between the conquered and the conquerer. In the Capitol, they have the technology to cure many of the physical disabilities and perhaps mental ones, as well. The Capitol cured Katniss' deafness in one ear. Chaff, an amputee, could've gotten a prosthetic, but opted not to.

Despite having medical technology to "cure" various disabilities, the Capitol withholds these technologies, even from victors (Woof). That's one element of the oppressive regime.

Moreover, Collins uses children with disabilities to show remnants of kindness in the Districts. Rue recounts a story of a boy who was "a bit off"--probably developmentally delayed--who was killed by Peacekeepers for an unknowing mistake. Conversely, a girl with similar disabilities also lived in District 12, but everyone took care of her out of kindness. The Capitol proves unforgiving and unyielding for human frailties.

Oh, don't forget these folks who developed mental illnesses because of the Games.

Disability and people with disabilities play an important role in The Hunger Games series in showing the Captiol's ruthlessness and inhumanity.
[1]: Woof, the deaf tribute, grated on my nerves because Collins used him as comic relief. She described how Woof would misunderstand directions and engage in funny antics. This was one of the low points of Catching Fire, I thought. Perhaps Collins intended to show his hearing-impairment, but it came off as somewhat mean-spirited. She could've handled it better.

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