I've noticed that a lot of the symbolism in the series is based on something from real-world history, or is supposed to reflect it. For example, the way that Panem is laid out is similar to the Roman Empire. Does the salute have any kind of historical counterpart, or is it completely fictional?

enter image description here

  • I think it's a homage to this.
    – Möoz
    Dec 8, 2014 at 20:51
  • 1
    Physically, the gestures are similar, but the meanings are different. I'm not sure which aspect OP is more concerned with.
    – phantom42
    Dec 8, 2014 at 21:20
  • In a sense, both. I'm looking for a physically similar counterpart with a close enough meaning to clearly be related.
    – ewkochin
    Dec 8, 2014 at 21:31
  • 1
    An homage to the Agincourt Salute perhaps? Dec 8, 2014 at 21:38

1 Answer 1


The three finger salute as used as a sign of revolution as it is in the Hunger Games, does not have a precedence in most cultural popular hand signs or salutes.

Similar in Appearance to:

  • The salute does bear some resemblance to the three-finger sign of the Boy Scouts, that sign is used solely in greeting with a specific in-group meaning:

    1. Honour God and the King
    2. Help Others
    3. Obey the Scout Law

REF: Baden-Powell, Robert (2005). Scouting for Boys. Oxford. p. 37.

In the Hunger Games:

  • To better define what the salute is supposed to mean, we have to look at it in context.

From Chapter 2 of the first book:

To the everlasting credit of the people of District 12, not one person claps. Not even the ones holding betting slips, the ones who are usually beyond caring. Possibly because they know me from the Hob, or knew my father, or have encountered Prim, who no one can help loving. So instead of acknowledging applause, I stand there unmoving while they take part in the boldest form of dissent they can manage. Silence. Which says we do not agree. We do not condone. All of this is wrong.

Then something unexpected happens. At least, I don’t expect it because I don’t think of District 12 as a place that cares about me. But a shift has occurred since I stepped up to take Prim’s place, and now it seems I have become someone precious. At first one, then another, then almost every member of the crowd touches the three middle fingers of their left hand to their lips and holds it out to me. It is an old and rarely used gesture of our district, occasionally seen at funerals. It means thanks, it means admiration, it means good-bye to someone you love.

After Rue dies:

They’ll have to show it. Or, even if they choose to turn the cameras elsewhere at this moment, they’ll have to bring them back when they collect the bodies and everyone will see her then and know I did it. I step back and take a last look at Rue. She could really be asleep in that meadow after all.

“Bye, Rue,” I whisper. I press the three middle fingers of my left hand against my lips and hold them out in her direction. Then I walk away without looking back. So Katniss makes this symbol and as the movie shows, the first riots and protests of the uprising against the Capitol begin.

From then on, the significance of the gesture completely changes and it becomes a symbol of the revolution - effectively, a way for the citizens of the Districts to say goodbye to the overbearing force and power of the Capitol. REF: Movie and TV Beta Stack Exchange

It appears the symbol has more to do with revolutionary concepts than its original funerary symbolism and as such it's closest allegory would be the closed and raised fist used by revolutionaries in more modern societies.

enter image description here

John Carlos (on right), Tommie Smith (centre) and Peter Norman, who wore an Olympic Project for Human Rights badge in support of their gesture. When he died in 2006, Carlos and Smith were pallbearers at his funeral. Photograph: AP AP/AP

  • 1968 Black Power Salute: was an act of protest by the African-American athletes Tommie Smith and John Carlos during their medal ceremony at the 1968 Summer Olympics in the Olympic Stadium in Mexico City.
  • 2
    I disagree that it has more to do with revolutionary concepts. Within the series it never evolves past the original "thanks, good bye, I'll miss you." Dec 8, 2014 at 21:47
  • 3
    Thank you for giving credit to Peter Norman, who is often overlooked (or even derided for "refusing to join their gesture") in modern accounts. On a side note, my initial guess, not having really read the books, was that it had to do with archery, the first three fingers often being used to draw the arrow.
    – FuzzyBoots
    Nov 19, 2015 at 19:28
  • Have to disagree with @DaveJohnson In the series it comes to very much be a symbol of the revolution, and people showing their allegiance with the Mockingjay. Jan 19, 2016 at 2:56

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.