Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

Michelle Beissel Heath

Committee Members

Todd T Holm, Megan Hartman, Susan E Honeyman, Kirklin J Bateman


Battle Royale, Hunger Games, Koushun Takami, Neal Shusterman, Scythe, Suzanne Collins


The works of Suzanne Collins, Koushun Takami, and Neal Shusterman present a unique subset of young adult literature in which young adults are forced to kill one another. My thesis argues that the presentation of child gladiators in these stories is a form of weaponization conducted by the fictional governments as deterrent weapons against the parents of these fictional dystopias. This weaponization is accomplished through the creation of spectacular events that are meant to draw the attention to the power of the government, also as a form of deterrence against rebellion. Next, my thesis demonstrates how the human body is devalued and transformed into a weapon in various ways. Finally, my thesis focuses on how the characters in these stories are stripped of their individual personalities and reassociated with weapons as a final step in their weaponization. This dehumanization culminates in the loss of human identity and the creation of an identity that is based on their usefulness as a tool and not their value as a human being. I will argue that these acts should be read as warnings of the dangers of exploitation of childhood by adulthood, and these novels challenge readers to use these fictional examples as ways to identify potential real-world exploitative threats to children.



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