The Hunger Games Trilogy: Writing Sibling Relationships

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Back when the Hunger Games was big, I remember a friend complaining about Prim’s character. She said Prim was a prop because she and Katniss never talked to each other ‘like real siblings do.’ Just recently, my sister was complaining that siblings are too friendly in books and talk to each other too much. I happen to think Prim and Katniss have a super realistic relationship, and agree with my sister on the state of siblings elsewhere.

(Spoilers ahead)

Now, my friend happens to have a super close relationship with her siblings, so I see why she thought Hunger Games was unrealistic in that respect. Often, though, siblings rarely interact. Even when they love each other, they’re not going to have a full conversation every day, or even every week. Katniss is willing to die for Prim, but she only talks to her now and then.

Their relationship is far more important to the overall arc of the series than Katniss and Gale’s, or maybe even Katniss and Peeta’s. Prim kick-starts Katniss’s journey, and her death leads to its culmination- Coin’s death and Katniss’s refusal to play the Game. I can feel Katniss’s love for Prim, even when they rarely interact.

Often, fantasy stories show siblings thrown together with little else to rely on, which would naturally foster a closer relationship. And like my friend is proof of, it’s not unrealistic to have close siblings in a normal setting, either. But that doesn’t mean that’s the only true sibling relationship out there.

Many siblings…

…Aren’t best friends. Honestly, I love reading about ones that are, but agree with my sister that those are overused.

…Don’t hate each other. On the opposite side of the spectrum, too many siblings (especially in middle grade fiction) seem to hate each other. The stuff they say isn’t ‘playful banter’ or ‘just teasing,’ it’s vicious. Those shouldn’t be the expected interactions between siblings.

…Stay constant. Friends come and go throughout life, but siblings stay constant. They may never be the top of the list of acquaintances, but they always make the list. Of course, not every family is like this. Some people lose their siblings, or need to cut ties with them. But many go through life, if not side-by-side, at least within sight of each other.

There’s no one-size-fits-all when it comes to siblings. Some can’t get along. Some are best friends. But there are many like Katniss and Prim, who love each other fiercely but don’t show it every day. I want to see more like them in stories.

What are some of your favorite sibling relationships?

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