The Guard Dog

The Guard Dog

Hidden Meanings in Rue’s Name

Lauren Kaskey, Editorial Board

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It’s obvious that Suzanne Collins has put a lot of thought into naming her characters in The Hunger Games, but have we all overlooked the many hidden meanings in our beloved young Rue’s name?

The first and perhaps most obvious symbolism of Rue’s name is the plant. The Rue plant refers to a small green shrub and a perennial herb, meaning it lives for several years. The plant’s full name is Ruta Graveolens and is commonly known for bearing bluish leaves. The relationship the character and the plant share is simple. Rue lived in District 11, the agriculture District, untill she was reaped. Furthermore, Rue was an understandably skillful plant expert, always knowing which plants were safe to eat, as well as which plants to use for medicinal purposes, such as soothing Katniss’s tracker jacker stings.   

Another allegory for Rue’s name is the definition of the word rue; which means bitter regret or repentance. Regret means to feel sadness or disappointment over something that has happened, especially regarding a missed opportunity. Katniss feels regret over the loss of Rue, and blames herself for not being able to save her ally from her imminent fate. Katniss mentions several times throughout all three books that she wishes that she could have done something to save Rue, and that her inability to do so haunts her for a while after.

A popular phrase involving the word rue is when one might say something like, “He will rue the day he ever stole from me!” Katniss, at this point in the book, might say something similar, in that she feels so remorseful and regretful about the tragic event to the extent that she wants revenge. In the following books, Catching Fire and The Mockingjay, Katniss thinks of Rue and her death often, and states that she will kill President Snow for murdering many of the people she loved.

The final representation of the name Rue relates to roux, a homophone to the word rue, which is equal parts of fat (usually butter) and flour mixed together, most commonly used to thicken sauces in cooking. While roux is used to thicken sauces, Rue’s death thickened the plot of the story in the Hunger Games.

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