The Reality of District 5
All Districts had some level of inequality even within the giant walls that enclosed them, but some had more inequality than others.
Districts 1 and 2 were (comparatively) relatively equal—no one was starving, at least, and while some in the District were literally treated better than any other District resident they were still restricted by being a District resident.
District 9 in comparison, was disturbingly homogenous—what differences there were in lives were comparatively minute.
District 5 was somewhere between the two.
Most of the residents in the District to the south of the Capitol worked ten hour jobs, lived in nearly identical houses in grids that stretched across the region, and fully expected that their children would do much the same when they came of age.
Some jobs were better or worse than others, of course; you would always be made to live near where you worked, so living near windmill farms was never popular. Other jobs, including working for a nuclear reactor, tended to pay just a bit more to make up for the additional level of skill necessary.
In general, though, you could walk for hours down rows of houses and not be able to see more than a few extra square feet worth of difference.
District 5, compared to most other Districts, was not only more equal, but also better off.
That did not mean they liked their position.
There was variation, of course—the neighbors of the Dursleys, for instance, strongly suspected that they believed every word they said—but most knew just as well as everyone else that Panem was not a very good place.
That in an ideal world they would have a different government.
Sometimes these feelings swelled—after workplace deaths, usually—and sometimes they dampened, when nothing much had happened in a while and everyone just kept shuffling through their days.
In truth, the average day of a District 5 resident did not push them to rebellion.
It told them, instead, that their life was 'good enough', that the suffering of the other Districts and those within their own which weren't deemed "useful" was not their problem, that they had their own problems to deal with, that it wasn't worth the risk.
And so District 5's rebellions, though they did occur, tended to be quite subdued and verbally harangued by those who didn't want to rock the boat.
And then the Centennial Censure came.
If the Reaping had happened any differently, then perhaps the tenth Game day would have been different.
Instead, though, Hugo—or as he called himself 'Harry'—stood, unspeaking, on the stage.
The eleven and twelve-year-olds were sobbing as quietly as they could, already perfectly aware that they wouldn't see the New Year.
The older kids shuffled in their pens, terrified of being selected and increasingly aware that one of them might need to volunteer.
The adults, particularly those who relied on the tesserae their children raised to make up the last gap, the last bit of food they needed to live comfortably (it was possible, actually, for the vast majority to live without minimal tesserae and with the two children that were typical in District 5. But then the family would be able to afford absolutely no luxuries and the sheer amount of District 5 culture that surrounded the flaunting of said luxuries made such an impossibility in the mind of many) were now worried that their tesserae would be cut.
That their lifestyles might suffer too.
And the thirteen-year-olds just stood very, very still.
And then it passed, and the fourteen-year-old and fifteen-year-old and sixteen-year-old and seventeen-year-old were each selected.
And then eighteen.
And then, as Bless Dyvine felt increasingly burdened to complete the Reaping, the volunteer.
They got their tesserae, but theirs was the only District without a thirteen-year-old volunteer.
The effects began to be felt the next day.
Total imports to the District were restricted, stricter regulations ground new home building to a halt, lessons in school turned increasingly to District 5's historical failures and how comparatively terrible they and their lives were to the Capitol and the lifestyles enjoyed by the citizens.
Stricter deadlines were set, more demands were being made, and all the while they had to sit and watch as Cicero and Luxe banged on and on about how crappy every District 5 member looked, about how—given that the District only had two victors to begin with—they'd be down to one in mere days.
District 5's reasons for leaping to their feet on the tenth day, for moving to actively destroy the massive powerplants that held up the entire country, may have been more self-involved, may have been more basic.
But they existed.
They had, for decades, survived perfectly well by listening happily to Capitol propaganda and dutifully learning how important it was to Keep Up with the Joneses.
They had, for decades, passed by almost unnoticed, thought about as minimally as possible by the other Districts, by the citizenry, by the government.
They'd slid into a, if not happy, satisfactory day to day.
They were not, on the whole, ready to rebel.
And then the Capitol had seen fit to show them again how easy it would be to throw it all away, how much they could be punished for something they could do nothing about.
The Capitol had—however inadvertently—stoked the fires of rebellion, long diminished into a half dead glowing ember, and by chance or luck or some unseen force, set it to a blaze.
The Capitol had massive batteries the size of buildings to act as backup should anything happen to their energy sources.
The vast majority were held inside District 5.
Those who worked with the batteries had been taught for years exactly what to do and not to do to keep those batteries in perfect shape.
They were destroyed in minutes, in massive explosions and quiet leaks and blazes and sparks and invisible devastation.
The powerplants were not long behind.