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  1. Esti
    Esti April 12, 2012 at 9:31 pm |

    I disagree with this pretty strongly. I think she does display some genuine romantic feelings for both boys throughout the three books, though they develop over time and she is confused and uncertain about them at various points.* She doesn’t allow herself to explore those feelings because she’s busy trying to survive and protect the people around her and incite a rebellion. But I think it does us all a disservice to suggest that her having romantic feelings would detract from what a strong character she is. Her romantic feelings are certainly not her primary motivator, and acknowledging their existence doesn’t diminish how awesome she is. If anything, I think it makes her moreso — she’s not kicking ass instead of mooning over boys because there aren’t any boys she likes, she’s making a conscious decision to prioritize other things above figuring out how she feels about these two guys she has sometimes felt more-than-friendship for.

    * Two quick examples: Her reaction to Peeta’s near-death on the hovercraft after they are airlifted out of the first games (if she only suggested the near suicide to get at the gamemakers and could easily live without Peeta, why would she have completely gone to pieces thinking he might die? In fact, she explicitly expresses uncertainty in a later book as to whether the berries were motivated by not wanting to be a pariah at home for killing a fellow District 12er, or actual love for Peeta, or a desire to rebel against the Capitol), and her reaction to Gale kissing her after she returns from the first games (she certainly describes it like she was into it, but then says she can’t think about it or explore those feelings because of the danger that would put them all in).

  2. Azalea
    Azalea April 12, 2012 at 9:37 pm |

    I read the entire trilogy. It goes without saying that Katniss Everdeen is a very different kind of heroine. She is brutally realistic; although she is brave and responsible she is still a scared girl who ultimately just wants to go home- something that all of the other tributes (male and female) want to do.

    ********************SPOILER ALERT*****************
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    I think the hints at a love triangle is coming from those who have actually read the trilogy.

  3. Brennan
    Brennan April 12, 2012 at 10:19 pm |

    Caperton, you are my hero.

    I didn’t think the movie itself was all that egregious, but the “buzz” and the marketing just drove me up the wall. I wonder if any of the execs saw the irony of marketing the movie in pretty much the same way the characters packaged the actual Games? The main thrust of the books was essentially that life is over-simplified and humanity is reduced when you turn it into a blockbuster event, so it’s been interesting seeing those characters simplified and reduced for the purposes of making a blockbuster.

    I’m not opposed to Katniss feeling the fuzzy, confusing feelings that teenagers often feel–scrounge the book and you’ll find evidence for either ‘ship. But, it bugs me when that becomes the main selling point of a movie and it bugs me when the movie over-simplifies that storyline. Because the film never drew the line between Katniss’s actions as performance and her actions as they reflect her true feelings, we miss out on the central internal conflict that drove so many of her subsequent development.

  4. alynn
    alynn April 12, 2012 at 10:20 pm |

    I agree w/ Azalea’s (SPOILER) assertion that these claims come from viewing the triology as a whole. Katniss Everdeen is one of the most well rounded, strong, and complex female characters I’ve encountered in a while. As such, I have no qualms w/ there being a romantic side to her…I think she can have all those other qualities of bad assery along with romantic feelings without either dynamic defining who she is. That’s realistic.

  5. Yan
    Yan April 12, 2012 at 10:21 pm |

    Totally Team Katniss.

    I’ve read and re-read the books (and not seen the movie yet), but I found myself not actually liking the character on a personal level — I didn’t want to hang out with her or be her friend. I couldn’t relate to her hard life.

    But I respected her from page 1, her ability to do what needed to be done despite her brokenness, caused by her society. What struck me most on subsequent readings was how incredibly media-literate Katniss was, how aware of the cameras, of being watched, of playing out what needed to be seen for her to survive. Of protecting her true self from all of the horror of not the Hunger Games themselves as much as a society that would create and sustain such an institution. And that made the rest of the trilogy, but especially Mockingjay, so much better and harder to read. As much as I’m aware that things in life frequently go to hell in a handbasket, it is sometimes so hard to watch a strong character get kicked, repeatedly, while already down.

  6. Latining
    Latining April 12, 2012 at 10:30 pm |

    I think it’s important to remember that Suzanne Collins wrote the script for the movie, and that was one of the stipulations of the movie deal. I think the books do an admirable job of showing how adverse circumstances and an unhealthy dynamic can really mess a person up, and how that carries into romantic relationships.

    As someone who grew up in a similar atmosphere to Katniss, and someone who made the decision as a teenager to put her life on the line to protect her siblings, Katniss’ confused feelings mirror what I went through as a teenager. I absolutely relate to the think-about-feelings-later-survive-now mentality, and the gut distrust of people claiming to help you, and how that messes with your perception of affection. Which is a really teal deer way of saying that Katniss is a complex character, and I think the romantic angle adds to that, rather than subtracting from it.

    Also, Katniss is pretty much Captain Daddy Issues, and I like how that realistically plays out in her love life. Also much love for realistic literary depictions of late-bloomers.

  7. artdyke
    artdyke April 12, 2012 at 10:35 pm |

    Having read the trilogy, it was so obvious to me that while she cares a great deal about both boys, and while she sometimes confuses that with maybe being romantic love, she was never in love with either.

    That’s why I found the epilogue, among other things, horribly depressing. It reinforced for me that YA authors should NEVER write epilogues.

  8. Norah
    Norah April 12, 2012 at 10:49 pm |

    Amen! Why are we so hellbent on a this slim potential for romance? Its not rare for people in traumatic or life-or-death situations for people to avoid or not engage in romance. Romantic type love was nearly unheard of luxury for centuries. Its like the heirarchy of needs….food and shelter first, family survival. Emotional energy is limited, and Katniss acts like a warrior – focused.
    Even if she WASN’T bearing the burden of her family’s survival, and the presidents ill will, its really not all that strange for a teenage girl with PSTD (from say, traumatic death of father, following the mental breakdown of her mom) to be emotionally walled off and/or not too concerned with crushing on a boy.
    Plus, in her heavy responsiblity at a young age, she may have never of figured out her sexuality. She is a minor in a stressful situation, let her be.
    After reading this, I agree, the excitement over a potential romance is ruining (especially for the movie-only crowd) the impact of her actions in terms of rebellion and the focus of her character. A shame.
    #teamkatniss

  9. EthelQ
    EthelQ April 12, 2012 at 10:52 pm |

    I have to admit, you’ve made me think about the purported love triangle in a different way. However, I still dislike the set-up of two boys liking and eventually fighting over one girl, because it reinforces the idea that “you’re nobody till somebody loves you”.

    I would have liked the books a lot more if Katniss had been allowed to develop without romantic entanglements, or the accompanying idea that being the object of someone’s affections grants you worth.

    And I realize that finding someone you can share a life with is a big focus for a lot of people, but I think it was given too much emphasis when Katniss’s attention would have been so focused on staying alive and then keeping her family safe.

  10. librarygoose
    librarygoose April 12, 2012 at 10:52 pm |

    Because the film never drew the line between Katniss’s actions as performance and her actions as they reflect her true feelings, we miss out on the central internal conflict that drove so many of her subsequent development.

    This.
    Full disclosure, I saw the movie then read the books ( I hate myself a bit ) and from my view point the intense conflict and confusion in Katniss wasn’t all that clear in the movie. I was confused by it, but I never got the feeling Katniss was and I think that really was a missed point they should have made clearer. I guess they can in sequels?

  11. karak
    karak April 12, 2012 at 10:54 pm |

    Katniss has proto-feelings for both Gale and Peeta. Katniss loves like… an adult. What responsibilities can you fulfill? What can you do? What kind of partnership is this?

    She feels gratitude towards Peeta and Gale, the only people she really trusts or views as equals.

    Only read the first book, but–in my mind, I see them trying to set up a love triangle where SHE MUST CHOOSE. And that depresses me a bit. Why does she have to choose? Why can’t she have both boys–either as friends, or life-companions, or lovers?

    She needs someone like Gale who is strong and clever like she is, more savvy and political, but also someone like Peeta, who is kind and emotional. Have both of them. You don’t have to choose!

  12. librarygoose
    librarygoose April 12, 2012 at 11:02 pm |

    My other comment is in mod mode but I forgot to ad, Fuck Gale.

  13. librarygoose
    librarygoose April 12, 2012 at 11:21 pm |

    The reason she has so much juicy internal conflict is that she doesn’t know how much of those feelings are romantic in nature, certainly not to an “alas, which shall I choose?” extent.

    Yeah, totally. I also got a feeling of almost obligation to entertain the idea of feelings for either, because they brought it up. She would have been cool with them as friends but both boys made moves and forced her consideration.

  14. de Pizan
    de Pizan April 12, 2012 at 11:38 pm |

    The epilogue just depressed and angered me. I wished Katniss had chosen herself in the end. It seemed she only chose Peeta because he hung around, and not because of any real love for him. And then the whole thing about him trying to persuade her for 15 years to have kids, and every time she looks at her children she gets frightened thinking they may still be in danger is just disturbing. If you have to be begged for 15 years, a) it’s a pretty clear sign that’s probably the wrong choice for you and b) it seems it’s not so much of a choice as giving in to make the other person shut up.

  15. Piper
    Piper April 13, 2012 at 12:57 am |

    My understanding of a love triangle from a brilliant professor was less of a love interest between two people but rather a power/competition between the two whom are interested in the same one. Katniss does not have to be interested in either male; the triangle is created by each male’s “challenge” to obtain her affection. But really, it’s not about obtaining her love at all! The triumph is beating the opponent in the challenge. I read the book with this view from the beginning, and admired Katniss for using this triangle to her advantage.

  16. Your Mom Uses Birth Control
    Your Mom Uses Birth Control April 13, 2012 at 2:08 am |

    I think it says a lot that a sea of commenters are talking about the admirable character traits of the female lead instead of arguing over which boy was the hottest. You know, like in Twilight.

  17. Ashley
    Ashley April 13, 2012 at 2:56 am |

    Yes, thank you! I loved The Hunger Games and Catching Fire specifically because Katniss always responded to romantic attention with a big “WTF?” It was frustrating to see Mockingjay go the other way, and for the whole series to become characterized as a romance just because the fans freaked out about a perceived romantic triangle. I think Suzanne Collins got(/was encouraged to get) caught up in the fan excitement, which is why Mockingjay and the Hunger Games movie had more of a romantic spin.

    Brennan, your comment about the movie being packaged the same way in which the games were packaged in the book was spot-on! I hadn’t even thought of it like that, but it’s true!

  18. Shigekuni
    Shigekuni April 13, 2012 at 4:03 am |

    I think the hints at a love triangle is coming from those who have actually read the trilogy.

    SPOILERS

    but the ending is really a reason not to support the ‘katniss is part of a simple love triangle’ thing, because, fuck, that is one depressing ending, because (spoilers, remember) the book ends on resignation. On survival. i think somewhere on the last page, katniss re-assesses the rules for survival and like in the arena, looks for how to achieve this. confessing love to peeta is one way. I felt that Collins had thrown a wrench into the whole ‘love is the natural outcome of these stories’ thing. fuck no. it’s about survival and love is a gesture that helps us survive. with cameras or no. it’s a fucking depressing ending and probably one of my favorite parts of the book, because I did not expect the writer to have the balls to pull this off.

  19. Latining
    Latining April 13, 2012 at 4:54 am |

    WRT shipping and the ending, I have to wonder if Suzanne Collins is taking the piss at fandom and shippers in general, and has been from the beginning. I mean, what do you get with name-smooshing? Katpee? Peeniss? Ganiss? She had to know fans would try, and it seems like she’s deliberately frustrating their efforts.

    In a culture of advanced media exposure, the Peeta/Katniss relationship during the Games seems to be a straight-up lampooning of tropes from bad fanfic. Hurt/Comfort, Love at First Sight, I Did It For You, Death Before Separation. It’s written to make it clear that anyone falling for that narrative is a sucker, since that’s what Katniss is playing the Capitol (and the symbolic audience) for.

    Subtext is meta, yo.

  20. Azalea
    Azalea April 13, 2012 at 5:36 am |

    How exactly were WE the audience supposed to see her emotional conflict during the movie when the Capitol saw everything we saw andshowing conflict would mean Katniss and EVERYONE she knows and loves could be killed. The book was written allowing us a glimpse into her mind- first person perspective- the movie was written from a third person perspective.

  21. Azalea
    Azalea April 13, 2012 at 5:46 am |

    SPOILER ALERT

    Re: The Epilouge

    Depressing how? She realizes that Peeta is who she wants and needed do you remember in the beginning how she felt unsafe about having kids? Reread the epilouge. She completely changed the world as she knew it albeit being the face of the revolt was not her intentions she became part of history and made things significantly better for all. Peeta was not the best of help by the last book but he was who she loved.

  22. nuri
    nuri April 13, 2012 at 6:28 am |

    Spoilers:

    There’s one thing that I do like, as the romantic subplot gets stronger through the series; Gale and Peeta try to get along, and while they both want to be with her, they both understand that she is the one that has to chose, and they sort of get out of her way. Not perfectly, because they are teenagers and in a book, but enough so that she can sort herself out.

    I actually get that it takes years for Katniss to have children. She likes kids, but it was the Games and not wanting to pass down the terror she lived in that informed her decision. Once that is removed, things can change. It’s taken me ten years to get from a firm never to a “if it happens”. We don’t know what form that the cajoling takes, and I don’t see it as being inherently creepy, but more as a signal of how Peeta has been helping her move forward into living and not just surviving.

    I also love that it’s really an interesting play on the trope: Peeta wears his feelings on his sleeve, Katniss is more feelings-i-can’t-even-what-is-this? throughout. Very different from a lot of YA or even just adult-intended romances.

    (I also have a memory like a sieve, so if I’m forgetting something…well, then thats normal)

    I’m totally on Team Katniss’s mental health.

  23. Diana
    Diana April 13, 2012 at 8:36 am |

    I’ve only finished the first book, and I have to say, I read the ending and was absolutely elated. I lay a lot of my own unrealistic expectations as a late-teen/early-20s at the feet of the romantic behavior that was modeled for me in books… and I read a LOT, growing up. And to see Katniss actually ending the book bewildered and uncertain about *whether she had romantic feelings at all* was such a breath of fresh air. It’s not something you see much in YA, or fantasy/sci-fi novels, period.

    I’m hoping the next two books don’t disappoint me in how her feelings are resolved. Because, well, I’m sure they will be, and that she’ll end up paired off with one of the boys, because this is a romantic subplot and that’s how things happen. (I will be BOUNDLESSLY impressed if they *don’t* happen that way, but I won’t be disappointed when they do.)

  24. Lee
    Lee April 13, 2012 at 8:42 am |

    I remember that when I finished Hunger Games for the first time, it resonated enormously with me as a kind-of commentary on how forced and awful people’s expectations about love can be.

    She starts the book in a friendship with Gale, and that friendship is real enough, but it’s also something that she’s been forced into because she doesn’t want her mother and sister to starve. By sharing her hunting trips with Gale, she gets that much more assurance that Prim will be alive in a month, or a year. Gale doesn’t pressure her into a romantic relationship — but it also becomes increasingly obvious that, ultimately, he expected this from her. And that wasn’t necessarily nefarious on his part, but it was a natural, implicit assumption of the narrative that they had constructed around each other — boy meets girl, rebels with her, wants to run away with her … of course those things all point to romance, right?

    Katniss’ relationship with Peeta is even more forced, and both of the are explicitly conscious of the narrative that they’re setting up around their personal lives. I think you’ve done a really good job of explaining the dynamics at play, so it would be a little useless to restate them, but I think it’s worth mentioning that it seems that a lot of Katniss’ emotion is forced upon her. When Haymitch tells her to kiss Peeta, to share her most intimate personal moments with him, and to make herself genuinely vulnerable because the cameras are watching, all of this triggers a very real surge of emotion in Katniss — but the path that led her to open up to him is not necessarily one that she would have chosen for herself in a million years. Once she’s in that position of emotional vulnerability, the expectations of a hundred million spectators are pushing her not to stray from her star-crossed narrative, on pain of death — and, of course, Prim’s safety and survival can’t be far from her mind.

    There are, however, relationships that Katniss does have agency and choice in — her relationship with Rue is the best example. I’m not suggesting that Katniss and Rue are romantically involved, but it’s clear from the beginning that there is actual chemistry (in terms of friendship, not sexual chemistry) between the two, and when the two form an alliance, it is one that goes against every expectation that is put upon them. Katniss chose to open herself up to Rue … and she acts very differently with her than she does with the people whom she was forced into a relationship with. But because this was the relationship that no one expected, and that no one constructed as more or less than it was, it was, probably, the most emotionally powerful and resonant love in the book. When that’s acknowledged, first by Rue’s district, and then by Thresh, I think that it’s a validation of the worth of love that exists without power and coercion.

  25. Athenia
    Athenia April 13, 2012 at 9:03 am |

    I love, love the scene in the third book where Katniss basically says the boys are idiots for fighting over her. That perhaps she will choose neither of them (I think that’s how it goes, maybe I’m making it up). Talk about the Power to say No.

    Because of this many people don’t like the ending, but I still like it. Katniss can’t fight in the hunger games anymore, the struggle isn’t against someone else now, but within herself. I don’t get the sense that Katniss feels that the decisions she makes at the end of the book are redemptive–which is why I think she rejected those decisions for so long. Perhaps for Peeta they are redemptive, but maybe not for her. And I still think that makes Katniss a hero.

  26. Emily
    Emily April 13, 2012 at 9:30 am |

    I have not read the books or seen the movie but I am loving this discussion and seeing a series with such a strong female lead get so much attention. I’m glad the author insisted on script approval.

  27. auditorydamage
    auditorydamage April 13, 2012 at 9:53 am |

    I skipped over most of the comments to avoid massive spoilage of parts 2 and 3. I saw the movie with my partner a couple of weekends ago, and read the book over the past three nights.*

    My take: Katniss, for all of the incredibly strong and forceful aspects of her character, is still a sixteen-year-old, with all of the associated emotional confusion that takes place at that point in life. Her discomfort with her possible feelings, or lack thereof, for Peeta, and her struggle with her unspoken, unadmitted feelings (again, or lack thereof) for Gale, read as perfectly natural to me – I sure as shit was still figuring out the difference between romantic and platonic feelings at that point, and wouldn’t know what to say about anyone I had feelings for. Mind you, anyone trying to flip that aspect of the plot into the major driving conflict of the first part is, IMHO, wrong.

    I may have pumped my fist at moments when Katniss engaged in acts of rebellion. Her struggles to keep herself and her loved ones alive, while finding ways to engage in rebellious (maybe even revolutionary?) acts of compassion and mutual aid, warmed the cockles of my burned-out, cynical heart. And oh Kosh, the gender and class analysis I can engage in with my partner while discussing this work! It’s also good to see a story where the lead female protagonist saves the lead male protagonist’s life and is portrayed as a stronger individual, without any negative implications tacked on to reinforce the gender hierarchy or some stupid last-minute male-saves-the-day twist (looking squarely at The Brave One here…). The people complaining about the violence and suffering in the work are desperately trying to ignore the violence and suffering take place every day around them, and their children will have no hope in hell of developing improve societies without confronting those parts of reality. I’m happy to know youngin’s are being introduced to the idea of resisting an unjust system imposed by people who should have known better, with all of the associated complexity that comes with the struggle for a better world. If the grotesque competition portrayed makes people uncomfortable, good – it’s supposed to! Instead of hiding from it, they should be asking “what would I do to end this injustice?” and discussing that with their kids.

    In conclusion, The Hunger Games is, to me, the anti-Twilight, and if kids and teenagers identify more with Katniss than that creepy abusive-relationship allegory presented as a love story, I’ll be a happy person. I’m sick of one-dimensional pablum being promoted everywhere.

    * We’re going to try to watch the movies first, then reading the associated books. We did this with the Swedish Millennium trilogy, and I think I enjoyed both screen and print works more as a result. My brain didn’t spend the movies making comparisons between the two versions of each story.

  28. Emma
    Emma April 13, 2012 at 10:03 am |

    That’s why I found the epilogue, among other things, horribly depressing. It reinforced for me that YA authors should NEVER write epilogues.

    At least I wasn’t the only one.

    *SPOILERS*

    I agree with the post in that Katniss seems to be more confused about her feelings to Gale and Peeta, perhaps caused by their romantic interest in her more so than her, as she always suggests that she does not know how she feels. Her reactions when she believes that Peeta is in trouble and when it becomes apparent, I think stems from her guilt. She feels responsible for everyone she loves (not necessarily romantically) due to the environment she was raised in and the kind of person she is.

    I love her and I’m re-reading this weekend. Fantastic female lead. Best I’ve read in a long time.

  29. NC73
    NC73 April 13, 2012 at 11:04 am |

    *spoiler alert for the next two books*




    So the whole time I was reading this, I was thinking, “ok, she’s right that there’s no real love triangle in the first book/movie, but I guess she hasn’t read the trilogy.” But then I got to the part where you said you didn’t want to spoil the next two books. So if you have actually read the books, how can you possibly deny that this is a classic love triangle, especially in the third book? She clearly has romantic feelings for both. She kisses them both and feels passion for them both and outright tells the reader she’s confused and distraught about who to pick. The guys themselves have a conversation about it, wondering who she’ll pick.

    How is that not a love triangle, by your very own definition?

    I hate that people are reducing the books to a love triangle, for sure – this is a political, pro-democracy story of war and justice and all kinds of things, it’s so much more than a love story – but I mean, a love triangle is part of it. It surfaces more evidently in the second book, but it’s absolutely there.

  30. Emily
    Emily April 13, 2012 at 12:09 pm |

    I definitely agree with this post!
    It’s funny because I just finished reading the third book today.
    Although at some points Katniss briefly contemplates the idea of having an actual relationship with Peeta and Gale, that is certainly not her main concern.
    In that sense, this is not a love triangle. Katniss doesn’t even have time to be “in love.”
    When I was reading the third book I stopped wondering all together who she was going to end up with, it didn’t seem to matter anymore. Katniss concentrates on staying alive and keeping those she cares about (her family, Peeta, Gale, ect.) alive.
    By reducing this character and story down to a love triangle, viewers are missing the greater complex picture and it’s implications about the realities of society.

  31. emily
    emily April 13, 2012 at 1:16 pm |

    I agree in part. The Hunger Games movie and the Hunger Games book is not a love triangle. However, the book was one of a series, which does include a love triangle, so I really don’t see why it matters that the first one doesn’t. Everything that you said about Katniss in the first is still true. I don’t think letting people know of romance to come (as the movie foreshadowed) takes anything away from her or makes her any less of a heroine.

  32. librarygoose
    librarygoose April 13, 2012 at 2:24 pm |

    Perfect solution to the problem of first person P.O.V in movies: Narration. Stick with me people, now what movie isn’t better with Morgan Freeman? Katniss in the arena and “Get busy living, or get bust dying” fits so perfect. Problem solved, I’ll take that Nobel now.

  33. gwyllion
    gwyllion April 13, 2012 at 3:53 pm |

    DISAGREE – i loved the melancholy sorrow of the epilogue – it played out exactly as it should have – she chose the dandelion – the bright spot that gave her hope and steady solace in all life’s storms – and that was Peeta. i have lived that life, and i have had a Gale and a Peeta and for the very reasons she did i chose Peeta – you can’t live your life alone, and untrusting you just CAN’T and he was the only rock steady person in hers – he always believed in her, supported her and more importantly always steadily loved her EXACTLY as she was. He was the one soft place she could lay her head, in nightmare and in life, the only person she could have trusted to have children with. Peeta was hope and trust to her mistrust and despair. i live this every day – if i did not have my own leveling, perpetually hope-filled Peeta (i call them bright people) i would be a scary SCARY person. The ending was perfect – and i say this as a 50+ woman who has put my Peeta to the test almost daily for 25 years. My gratitude for his hope and steadfastness has been YEARS in the making – and something i often scorned. Wait until you are my age – then read the end again – and then tell me how it fits.

  34. gwyllion
    gwyllion April 13, 2012 at 4:00 pm |

    …and for another analogy – i thought that the Peeta/Katniss relationship was very close to that of Sam and Frodo in LOTR – the whole time i was devouring the books i kept shouting to (my) Peeta – “My god i haven’t been this excited about a book since i read LOTR at 13!! This is a Sam and Frodo story!!!”

  35. Politicalguineapig
    Politicalguineapig April 13, 2012 at 7:59 pm |

    Esti: I think it does us all a disservice to suggest that her having romantic feelings would detract from what a strong character she is.

    I don’t. I am kind of annoyed that the author decided to mess up a good science fiction book, and ruin a good heroine by shoehorning romance into her life. Male characters can live quite happily without romance, we should expect no less from female characters. Women need permission to be violent, and need permission to give up mushy weak feelings- and showing heroines who get along without romance, without anything more than a distant guarding sort of love, will encourage them along that path.

  36. Sparky the Wonder Girl
    Sparky the Wonder Girl April 13, 2012 at 8:46 pm |

    I read the books, and I totally support this interpretation. Throughout the whole trilogy, I found the boys MADDENING. They were trying to get her to love them when she had more important shit to do, and messing with her head when she was just trying to survive.

  37. ginmar
    ginmar April 14, 2012 at 11:04 pm |

    SPOILERS for the second two books…..
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    Katniss is ultimately an amazingly moral character, and she’s tormented by some of the decisions she has to make to survive, because she’s very aware the Capital is not giving her any other other options. While Gale is a rebel at heart, Katniss just wants to survive. (Both boys have some rebellion in their souls, but Katniss has seen one of the district Peacekeepers choosing starving young women to use and then discard. It’s easier to rebel when you’re a guy, even in a futuristic dystopia.) Peeta supports her; Gale demands clarification, but this comes after he sees her in the Games, and he doesn’t, you know, take into account she was fighting for her life. Before seeing of Peeta’s feelings for her, he was just a friend.

    She’s genuinely grateful to Peeta—-first for the bread that saves her life, and then confused, because his feelings are her are pretty simple. They’re both very young, but Peeta is a decent guy. Gale, in my opinion ultimately is not. They’re both survivors, she and Gale, but Peeta gives her hope and support, and Gale in the end almost destroys her when he takes almost everything away in the third book.

    BIG SPOILERS HERE FOR THIRD BOOK

    She turns to Gale to save her family in the first book, but Gale’s primary survival mechanisms are rebellion and anger, and in the third book he does exactly the opposite of what he did in the first book: he destroys her family so the rebellion can win. I was particularly horrified at the set up and then the execution of his plans, because in both the US and in the Middle East, bombers have used the exact same one-two punch. Peeta and Katniss ultimately want the same things; they want to be more than the Capital lets them be. Gale, I think, has become twisted in his anger at the Capital; Peeta and Katniss have become wounded by it. Gale’s anger matters more to him than anything; both Katniss and Peeta struggle to cling to their humanity, because the Capital wins if they lose that.

    Peeta almost fulfills the traditional female (fictional) role here; Katniss is strong and he’s the one who loves her first. He’s very people smart and almost cunning, but he’s also a higher social class than she is—-a merchant, not someone from the Seam, where people routinely starve to death. He’s never had to fear starvation, while in the first book it’s like another character, so much so that it’s really food, Peeta, Katniss, and Gale. Gale is the one who cynically dismisses Katniss in the third book, something Peeta doesn’t contradict—-but Peeta’s been tortured to the point where he wants to kill himself in the third book, because the Capital has implanted horrible false memories of Katniss in his brain. In the second book, he’s her emotional support, where she’s been playing that role for others her whole life. Her mother checks out after her father’s death and leaves Katniss vulnerable, and so she’s held herself away from her mother ever since, and by extension, other people. Watching the other children die in the Hunger Games—and being forced to kill others—-only increases Katniss’ vulnerability. When Gale says good bye to her in the first book, he tells her she’s killed before. “Animals,” she says. Gale, it seems, is capable of being reduced to the point where he can see other people are lesser creatures, but Katniss is not, and she’s honest when she’s wrong about this.

    The act with the berries is more than just rebellion against the Capital or cynical manipulation of the audience. (There are cameras everywhere in the arena. Katniss has come to appreciate Peeta—to the point where he causes her horrible confusion—–but the horror of the arena makes her say that she’d rather die than ‘never leave this arena.’ There’s no winning the Games, ultimately; Haymitch lost everyone he loves, and as the portrait of him gets added to in the books, the web of tragedy expands till no can escape it. That is what the Capital wants the districts to know. You cannot win no matter how many people you kill. (Katniss is haunted by everyone she knows who’s died.) Haymith lost the girl he loved and also all his close relatives. He never married—-like Katniss is afraid to. He never had children—–because before Katniss and Peeta he mentored dozens of kids who went on to die painfully, year after year. The horror of that has broken him, and Katniss herself comes very close to breaking repeatedly—-like the Capital breaks Peeta. At the end of the third book, she’s kept alive against her will. She’s still only eighteen.

    I loved the epilogue. It’s Katniss realizing that Peeta represents the hope of spring to her, rather than Gale’s anger and willingness to do anything. (And Gale employed the classic terrorist strategy of setting two bombs…one for the victims, the second, later one for the first responders. That’s bad enough.) He’s part of a cynical plan that uses a Capital ship to drop the bombs, disguised as those parachutes from the Games, on children, and to kill still others—-including Rebel medics—–when they rush in to help. Snow makes the perfect person to blame this on, but it’s really Coin that planned it. Gale, the son of miners like Katniss, has no problem with inflicting on other people the things that haunt Katniss, either, even though they both lost their fathers in the same mine accident. And finally, there is the vote on what they say will be a ‘final Hunger Games’. Katniss cannot inflict on others what has been done to her; with Gale, there’s hints that he’s eager for revenge, or at least indifferent to the harm he causes as long as he gets the job done.

    I’ve read all three books repeatedly over the last few weeks and grown more impressed with them over and over. Katniss Everdeen is one of the best female characters I’ve ever seen, and her hopes at the end are probably the first she’s ever felt in her life. (The movie is so over simplified I was profoundly disappointed.)

  38. My Two Cents On The Hunger Games | Lynley Stace

    […] is that old love triangle thing. Or is there? Feministe argues that the relationship model in The Hunger Games is not your cliched love triangle at […]

  39. Politicalguineapig
    Politicalguineapig April 15, 2012 at 3:02 pm |

    Ginmar: see ‘mushy weak feelings’ above. Hope isn’t a needed thing. Hope is the carrot on the eternal stick we all chase. Anger needs to be carefully tended and nurtured. Hope should be ignored.

  40. BFR
    BFR April 15, 2012 at 5:44 pm |

    WORD. So hard. I have opted not to read the last 2 books in the trilogy for now, and possibly for ever, exactly because one of the things I loved best about the first book is its insistence on not being a love story. I think it says some really important things about romance in the public eye and the commodification of love. That doesn’t mean Katniss should never experience romantic love, but … there are lots of stories about romance. This shouldn’t have to be one — much like, in a just world, Katniss wouldn’t have to pretend to feel romantic love when she doesn’t.

  41. PrettyAmiable
    PrettyAmiable April 15, 2012 at 8:10 pm |

    BFR, there’s a hair more romance in book 2, but I think you’d like it if you enjoyed the first. I strongly disliked book 3, though.

  42. Revolver
    Revolver April 16, 2012 at 9:51 am |

    Reading the Hunger Games series brought up an everlasting internal struggle for me. On one hand, I feel like I’m conditioned to want a Disney ending for the stories I read, which means crazy love and sacrifice. On the other hand, I want my ladies to be strong, independent women who may or may not decide to partner with someone, but that partnership isn’t the beginning or the end to their story.

    One of my favorite authors growing up was Tamora Pierce, whose books feature pretty kick-ass female characters who get shit done AND are sexually active with multiple partners. When I was younger, I loved that all of Pierce’s female characters meet the loves of their lives and settle down and pop out some babies. Now, however, after many many many rereadings, my favorite character BY FAR is Kel, a girl who (like me) is built on more masculine lines, is a loving person, but decides she isn’t going to settle for an okay person and have some kids, because dammit, she has a lot of life to live. She’s not emotionally crippled, or broken, it’s her choice.

    SPOILER: So while the epilogue of the Hunger Games series satisfied my yearning for a romantic life-long love, it was also really disappointing that Katniss caved in and had kids because her partner wanted it. I wish it was a more common (and accepted) narrative for women to choose not to have children, just as others have expressed the wish that it was more acceptable for women in stories to be portrayed as doing just fine without romance. There are many more paths than Girl + Boy = Love + Marriage + Babies.

  43. gwyllion
    gwyllion April 16, 2012 at 3:19 pm |

    hope IS a needed thing – i would not be here without it

  44. Cagey
    Cagey April 16, 2012 at 3:28 pm |

    Huge Spoilers for the whole series
    *
    *
    *
    *
    *
    *
    *
    *
    *

    I actually feel like there was never any triangle for the simple fact that Gale never actually felt like a viable option. She initially resists Peeta for a multitude of reasons, one of which being that she feels like she owes it to Gale to be with him, which is Katniss being her usual “I must protect others and survive” self. But as the novels go on and she and Peeta have more and more experiences away from Gale, the idea of Gale as a love interest seemed increasingly forced. To me, if she was going to choose anyone, it seemed obvious who she would choose about halfway through Catching Fire.

    I just don’t know how one observes the sheer amount of time Peeta and her spend comforting each other and dealing with their respective PTSD through most of Catching Fire and some of Mockingjay and then thinks that Gale ever stood a chance. Even leaving romance out of it, Gale would honestly just never understand what she had gone through in the way Peeta could. That he became so comfortable with brutality was a sign of this. Katniss had experienced more than her fair share of pointless bloodshed by that point and really saw no point in continuing it. That coupled with her exposrue to people within the Capitol allowed her to humanize them in a way Gale had never had the chance to. I don’t think this makes Gale monstrous, his rage is that of any person in his situation. But it becomes a point where he and Katniss differ too greatly.

    That’s why I feel like what ultimately makes the choice for her is a combination of her and Peeta increasingly relying on each other for comfort throughout the series and her not being sure if it was the plan that Gale designed that killed her sister. It was yet another choice motivated by survival–emotional and psychological survival in this case.

  45. Angel H.
    Angel H. April 16, 2012 at 3:36 pm |

    SPOILER: So while the epilogue of the Hunger Games series satisfied my yearning for a romantic life-long love, it was also really disappointing that Katniss caved in and had kids because her partner wanted it.

    I just finished reading Mockingjay, and I was disappointed in that epilogue, too. Since the end of the last chapter wrapped things up pretty nicely, it was just so unnecessary. I have a feeling that the publisher pushed for it.

    Would there be any interest in a book club-style discussion, giving the non-readers a chance to read them and then chewing through them as a group?

    YES!! Count me in!

  46. Shoshie
    Shoshie April 16, 2012 at 3:43 pm |

    Would there be any interest in a book club-style discussion, giving the non-readers a chance to read them and then chewing through them as a group?

    YES!! Count me in!

    Me too!

  47. ginmar
    ginmar April 16, 2012 at 9:43 pm |

    Hope is a carrot, politicalguineapig? Speak for yourself.

  48. librarygoose
    librarygoose April 16, 2012 at 10:53 pm |

    Would there be any interest in a book club-style discussion, giving the non-readers a chance to read them and then chewing through them as a group?

    YES. I recently read them and I haven’t nerded out properly.

  49. librarygoose
    librarygoose April 16, 2012 at 10:55 pm |

    @ PGP

    Speak for yourself, hope is what keeps me from rage quitting the planet when my anger and frustration overrun.

  50. Politicalguineapig
    Politicalguineapig April 16, 2012 at 11:13 pm |

    Hope is basically a drug to trick one into believing that one more effort, one more struggle will make it all worth it. I like the Katniss of the first book better, because she’s much more practical and knows to live without needless things like hope and love. Both of those are just tricks the brain plays. Trust me, I’ve managed to trick my brain chemistry enough to.. ya know, live, but it’s a hard sell some days.

  51. ginmar
    ginmar April 18, 2012 at 12:05 pm |

    Yeah, tell people who suffer from clinical depression that hope is silly and stupid. Christ.

  52. Shoshie
    Shoshie April 18, 2012 at 12:28 pm |

    Wait, your impression of Katniss from the first book is a Katniss who doesn’t believe in love? I’m not entirely sure how you get that from a character who basically does everything she does, not for the sake of her own survival, but so she can get back to her sister.

  53. Emie
    Emie April 19, 2012 at 2:14 pm |

    BFR, you should definitely read books 2 and 3 anyway. They are still very good. Despite the epilogue at the end of Mockingjay, which was kind of a let down, the rest of the series is still worth it!

  54. julie
    julie April 19, 2012 at 8:45 pm |

    Spoiler alert for book three….
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    What do you all think about Katniss agreeing that the children of the Capitol should have to participate in final Hunger Game?

    I felt that was waaaay out of character. She is miserable about people she’s responsible for killing, “haunted” even as a commenter mentioned above. She works so hard to end suffering and death, so how does she move from that to saying yes to another round of Hunger Games? I know this ultimately doesn’t happen, but I’m still unnerved that her character chose that when it seemed SO unlike her. It’s been bugging me. Thoughts?

    Also, about the epilogue… I’ve decided that I don’t LOVE it mainly because it’s not a fairy tale happy ending. It’s tough and real and gritty and I should have expected nothing less from a character suffering from severe PTSD. Wanting to be with someone who will care for you and love you despite/because of your fear of life, I get that. I guess I just wanted more rainbows and sunshine…

    Katniss for life.

  55. dusty_rose
    dusty_rose April 20, 2012 at 3:27 pm |

    Julie, I felt the same way about Katniss’ decision. It felt jarringly out of character for her.

  56. librarygoose
    librarygoose April 20, 2012 at 3:47 pm |

    SPOILERS
    @julie

    I think her decision to have another hunger games was ruse, she already came to the conclusion nothing was changing and that she was going to kill Coin, in that instant. I think that’s why she agreed, to make Coin trust her enough to still let her kill Snow and be near when Katniss did it.

  57. Melissa
    Melissa April 21, 2012 at 3:41 pm |

    Yes, I agree that she voted for the final Hunger Games as a way to gain Coin’s trust. But I wish this had been stated more explicitly–yeah, yeah, I know, flat-out SAYING everything instead of showing/implying the information isn’t the greatest literary technique, but still. Some hint would have been nice.

  58. Skye
    Skye April 22, 2012 at 9:55 pm |

    That’s what I thought, too: Katniss only agreed to the final Hunger Games as a way to gain Coin’s trust, knowing that once Coin was gone, the decision on the final Games would likely be thrown out.

    As for the whole love angle: Suzanne Collins does a masterful job of displaying how nuanced and layered human emotions can be. There’s many shades of grey between “neutral feelings” and “OMG I LOVE YOU”, and she’s done that with Katniss.

    Katniss may not be totally in love with Peeta, but there’s many times throughout the book where she wonders if she maybe does have feelings for him. She states, at one point, that she “does not want to lose the boy with the bread”; on the train ride home she thinks she might like him, just not as much as he adores her.

    It’s another reason I’m Team Katniss: her emotions are complex and confusing even to herself, and it’s all so very natural and damnit, real.

  59. Skye
    Skye April 22, 2012 at 9:55 pm |

    That’s what I thought, too: Katniss only agreed to the final Hunger Games as a way to gain Coin’s trust, knowing that once Coin was gone, the decision on the final Games would likely be thrown out.

    As for the whole love angle: Suzanne Collins does a masterful job of displaying how nuanced and layered human emotions can be. There’s many shades of grey between “neutral feelings” and “OMG I LOVE YOU”, and she’s done that with Katniss.

    Katniss may not be totally in love with Peeta, but there’s many times throughout the book where she wonders if she maybe does have feelings for him. She states, at one point, that she “does not want to lose the boy with the bread”; on the train ride home she thinks she might like him, just not as much as he adores her.

    It’s another reason I’m Team Katniss: her emotions are complex and confusing even to herself, and it’s all so very natural and damnit, real.

  60. Shoshie
    Shoshie April 22, 2012 at 10:27 pm |

    Skye- that was my impression too. I don’t think Katniss ever intended for there to be another Hunger Games. I actually loved the Epilogue. I thought it really showed how healing from trauma is a slow, difficult, painful process, and often never actually completed, but easier if you have somebody alongside you to help you find your way. And I thought it made perfect sense for Peeta to be that person for Katniss, and vice versa.

  61. The part of the film Hunger Games 1 (fan setting)

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