Hanging Tree: Meaning behind the Song

Recently I went to see the newest installment of The Hunger Games movie, and there was a hauntingly beautiful song that Katniss sings (Ms. Lawrence did an amazing job at it). I was shocked to see how quickly covers of this song went up on Youtube shortly after the films release. I must admit, I haven’t read the last two books in the series, by the time I had found out about it the first movie was about to release and my library has a huge hold list on them. So this made me curious as to where the song came from and what it means. Did it come from the book or was this invented for the big screen? My search to the internet commenced! Then rewarded rather quickly with a well written and in depth article by The Vulture. They have a video of the song from the movie for those who are curious for the original version.

For those who don’t want to read the full article, I’ll put a little summary here. For those who have not read the books or seen the movies, there is a slight possibility of spoilers in the above link and this summary here: forewarning.

Are you, are you
Coming to the tree
Where they strung up a man they say murdered three.
Strange things did happen here
No stranger would it be
If we met up at midnight in the hanging tree.

Are you, are you
Coming to the tree
Where the dead man called out for his love to flee.
Strange things did happen here
No stranger would it be
If we met up at midnight in the hanging tree.

Are you, are you
Coming to the tree
Where I told you to run, so we’d both be free.
Strange things did happen here
No stranger would it be
If we met up at midnight in the hanging tree.

Are you, are you
Coming to the tree
Wear a necklace of rope, side by side with me.
Strange things did happen here
No stranger would it be
If we met up at midnight in the hanging tree.

At first this sounds like a man who was to meet his love by the tree where people are hung for crimes, to which it eludes he was hung there and wants his love to run away. Through the song, the hung man asks his love if she is still coming to the tree, as if too see him. To say goodbye? Alas, the last verse throws a dark reason for his wanting the lover to come to the tree. ‘wear a necklace of rose, side by side with me.’ This entails that he wants her to come to the tree so that they may both be together, side by side, hanging.  In the verse before that ‘Where I told you to run, so we’d both be free.’ Now doesn’t sound like they were to meet to run away together, but instead as a current tense of running to the tree so they can be free of the world through death. Had his lover been there at midnight, perhaps she would also be hanging beside the man, yet since she was not there he calls out for them to come to the tree.

A twisted love song indeed! It has a lot of meaning standing on its own, yet to the characters Katniss and Peeta is holds so much more. I won’t give anymore away in case those reading this wish to see the film or watch the movie. For you who were curious though, I hope this was helpful!

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2 thoughts on “Hanging Tree: Meaning behind the Song

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