The Hunger Games Avoxes, Decoded

Av oxen, silent servants of the Capitol, function as the most powerful social commentary in The Hunger Games on the mistreatment of the underprivileged class by the dominant class.

The Complete Guide to Avoxes in The Hunger Games

An Avox in the background in The Hunger Games

There are many horrors in the post-apocalyptic world of The Hunger Games that have not been translated to the screen. From prompting children to sGameTopic up for tessera to enforcing mandatory viewing of the Capitol’s visual propaganda, the government of Panem ensures social order in several other ways apart from holding the Games. However, the films miss out on showing the full extent of its cruelty — especially as they reduce Avoxes to background characters more or less.

Punished for defying the Capitol, Avoxes are meant to highlight Panem’s dictatorial regime in The Hunger Games — but they also serve as a motivator for Katniss and her own resistance.

Who Is an Avox?

An Avox is an individual who has been found guilty of treachery or rebellion by the government of Panem, and is punished by having their tongues cut off, rendering them mute. By literally silencing the supposed transgressors, the Capitol discourages the districts from spreading dissent or challenging its power. Avoxes serve as a reminder that the Capitol will not hesitate to use fear and violence to maintain its control.

With their identities virtually erased, Avoxes are forced to serve the Capitol’s wealthy citizens or the government. Their duties can range from performing menial tasks (like daily maintenance) to providing service to the tributes. Since they form the lowest class of society, no one is permitted to speak to them apart from giving orders. By stripping them of their autonomy after their brutal mutilation, the Capitol reinforces its social hierarchy, emphasizing the authority of the ruling class. As Grandma’am says to a young Coriolanus Snow:

Tongueless workers made the best workers.

To mark their subservient status, Avoxes are required to wear white tunics. In the first film, however, they wear crimson robes with gold flats, but wear white tunics with cages around their faces in the second film.

Unsurprisingly, Avoxes are subject to constant abuse in the Capitol. For instance, just before the 10th Hunger Games, Coriolanus comes across glass cases housing Avoxes with animal parts grafted onto their bodies in Dr. Volumnia Gaul’s lab — most likely another grotesque experiment by the Head Gamemaker. There are also jabberjays perched above them, “creating an echo chamber filled with the Avoxes’ pitiful wails”. During the Second Rebellion, Avoxes have to make their way around the dangerous pods that the Capitol has planted throughout the city for its defense, just to carry out their tasks. When lizard mutts are released in the sewer network to hunt down the remaining members of Squad 451, the Avoxes’ “thick, guttural” screams can be heard as they are killed first.

Avox in the background in The Hunger Games: Catching Fire

Notable Avoxes in The Hunger Games

Although these characters have prominent roles in the books, only two are included in the movies: Lavinia (Amber Chaney) and Pollux (Elden Henson).

Lavinia

In the first installment of The Hunger Games, Katniss and Gale are said to have witnessed a strange event while hunting in the woods outside of District 12: a redheaded girl (later revealed to be Lavinia) and an unknown boy — both having a “Capitol look” to them — are running in terror. A Capitol hovercraft appears, and the boy is struck and killed with a spear, while Lavinia is scooped up by a net. While both are being lifted to the hovercraft, Lavinia locks eyes with Katniss and calls for help, but the latter is unable to do anything.

During the 74th Hunger Games, Katniss recognizes Lavinia (now an Avox) when she serves her at dinner at the Training Centre. Later, when Katniss has a breakdown and smashes dishes around her room, Lavinia walks in and cleans the blood off her. Katniss apologizes for not saving her, but Lavinia gestures in response that nothing could have been done, and she would only have ended up an Avox like her.

Lavinia is also present during the third Quarter Quell, and is captured when it unceremoniously ends. She is tortured by the Capitol with electric shocks, and immediately killed when the guards accidentally use too much voltage.

Darius

Darius is a young, easygoing Peacekeeper in District 12, whom Katniss states to be on friendly terms with: “As law enforcers go, he’s one of my favorites. Never really throwing his weight around, usually good for a joke.”

The new Head Peacekeeper, Romulus Thread, who is introduced in Catching Fire, publicly whips Gale for illegal poaching soon after his arrival. Darius intervenes but is knocked to the ground by Thread. He is not seen again until Katniss arrives at the Training Centre and discovers he is now an Avox. She believes he has been deliberately appointed to serve her so as to unnerve her.

He is also arrested along with Lavinia by the Capitol’s guards, and Peeta witnesses his “grisly” death:

It took days to finish him off. Beating, cutting off parts. They kept asking him questions, but he couldn’t speak, he just made these horrible animal sounds. They didn’t want information, you know? They wanted me to see it.

Pollux

Pollux works in the Transfer (a network of tunnels built underneath the Capitol for transportation) as an Avox for five years, before his brother Castor buys his way aboveground. Both of them eventually escape and work as part of the camera crew that films ‘propos’ for District 13 in The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2. A particularly notable incident is when Pollux asks Katniss to sing when they spot mockingjays during their visit to District 12 — a moment that makes him quite emotional.

He also proves to be quite useful when he leads Squad 451 through the underground passages, where he formerly worked, to President Snow’s mansion. However, they are intercepted on the way by muttations, which kill several members of the squad (including Castor). Afterward, when the survivors set out again for their mission, Pollux and Cressida (the film director) get separated from Katniss and Gale. He survives the final battle and joins Cressida to cover the wreckage of the war in all districts.

Conclusion

The role of Avoxes in The Hunger Games may have been downplayed in the films, but in the books, their suffering and importance are made clear. These individuals, their tongues cruelly taken from them, represent the Capitol’s ruthlessness and the lengths it will go to maintain control. With their stories and sacrifices, Avoxes serve as a reminder to Katniss and the readers that resistance is necessary and that the fight for freedom is worth it.

Q&A Section

Q: Are Avoxes only found in the Capitol?

A: While Avoxes primarily serve in the Capitol, they can be found in other districts as well. However, their numbers are significantly lower outside the Capitol, as the districts are less likely to challenge the Capitol’s rule.

Q: Are there any instances of Avoxes escaping or seeking revenge against the Capitol?

A: Unfortunately, there are no known instances of Avoxes successfully escaping or seeking revenge against the Capitol. The Capitol’s control over them is absolute, and any attempts to defy or resist their oppressors would likely result in severe punishment or death.

Q: Are Avoxes born into their role, or are they chosen from the population?

A: Avoxes are not born into their role. They are selected from the population based on their alleged acts of treachery or rebellion against the Capitol. Once chosen, their tongues are cut off, and they are forced into a life of servitude.

Q: Are there any organizations or groups working to free the Avoxes?

A: In the books, there is no specific mention of organizations or groups working to free the Avoxes. The resistance movements primarily focus on overthrowing the Capitol and ending the Hunger Games. However, it can be assumed that a free Panem would seek justice and reparations for the Avoxes.

Q: How do the Avoxes communicate without their tongues?

A: The Avoxes communicate non-verbally through gestures and facial expressions. Over time, they develop their own silent language, which allows them to understand and convey messages among themselves.

References:Hunger Games: The Capitol, ExplainedHunger Games: District 13, ExplainedHunger Games: Quarter Quells, ExplainedHunger Games: Morphling, ExplainedThe Ultimate Guide to The Hunger Games

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This article was originally published on The Games and has been adapted for a more lively and engaging reading experience.