Hunger Games Bookclub is back with another guest post!
Katniss Everdeen changes a lot of people throughout the series, but how have they changed HER? Katniss doesn’t seem to be affected by others as easily as one might think, but maybe there’s more behind that. Let’s hear HGBC’s theories!
Long before you were a glimmer in Suzanne Collins’ eye, Sheryl Crow was singing some lines that you needed to take to heart. You see, when we met you in The Hunger Games, you were a loner by choice. You’d had enough heartbreak for a lifetime and your response had been to wall your heart off from everyone and everything, except Prim. Prim was different. That’s because Prim was more wounded and vulnerable than you were. You’re a real sucker for people in pain… and we love you for it.
But, Katniss, in the real world, people don’t stay the same. Life experiences continue to shape them. Relationships change them. In order for you to be more than just a name in a book, your character needs to come to life for us readers. It’s this little ol’ thing we call “character arc”. The more you act and think and change like a real person throughout your story, the more you will live in our imaginations. You may start out in THG as a self-professed loner, but getting reaped for the Hunger Games will force you to form new relationships –with Peeta, Haymitch, Effie, Cinna, and President Snow. And with the addition of every book of your story, Catching Fire and Mockingjay, your circle of meaningful relationships grows.
I found this quote from the author’s introduction of Speaker of the Dead (second novel in the Ender’s Game quartet) by Orson Scott Card: “Most novels get by with showing the relationships between two or, at the most, three characters. This is because the difficulty of creating a character increases with each new major character that is added to the tale. Characters, as most writers understand, are truly developed through their relationships with others. If there are only two significant characters, then there is only one relationship to be explored. If there are three characters, however, there are four relationships: Between A and B, between B and C, between C and A, and finally the relationship when all three are together.”
Katniss, in your case, one set of major character relationship comes from District 12: Between you-Katniss (A) and Gale (B), between Gale (B) and Peeta (C), between Peeta (C) and Katniss (A), and finally the relationship when all three are together, which we finally get to see for the first time in Catching Fire when Gale gets whipped and Peeta comes to your rescue after you come to Gale’s rescue. Definitely falls under the relationship status of “It’s complicated”.
Here’s a bit more from Card’s Relational Character Theory (title comes from me, not Card)…“Even though this does not begin to explain the complexity—for in real life, at least, most people change, at least subtly, when they are with different people… Our whole demeanor changes, our mannerisms… our attitudes, our moods change depending on who we are with. So when a storyteller has to create three characters, each different relationship requires that each character in it must be transformed, however subtly, depending on how the relationship is shaping his or her present identity. Thus in a three-character story, a storyteller who wishes to convince us of the reality of these characters really has to come up with a dozen different personas, four for each of them.” (pgs xviii-xix)
Katniss, you have another three-character set of relationships that comes from the 74th Hunger Games: between you-Katniss (A) and Peeta (B), between Peeta (B) and Haymitch (C), between Haymitch (C) and Katniss (A), and finally the relationship when all three are together. For better or worse, you are “Team District 12” and you survive two (or maybe three) Hunger Games together. According to Card’s theory, you change because of your relationships with Peeta and Haymitch, and they change because of their relationships with you and each other.
In your relationship with Haymitch, we see him transformed over time. Haymitch starts as a pre-THG drunk not caring about anyone, to sending you messages through his arena gifts, to a mutual decision to keep Peeta alive, to rebel-comes-out-of-the-closet, to a moment of mind-meld when you both make a decision to put Capitol citizens in their own Hunger Games “for Prim”, to an crotchety—but teddy bear in disguise—occasionally sober guy that takes care of geese.
Yeah, I’d say you’ve changed him.
But has Haymitch changed you? Has Peeta shifted the direction of your life? Suzanne Collins takes us, the readers, on this rollercoaster of a ride watching you as “Little Miss Independent” become a Mama Bear who wants to take all these guys to the woods to escape from President Snow, to a willingness to sacrifice your own life because the world might need Peeta’s words to lead a revolution all the way to the end of Mockingjay when you decide you don’t need more revolutionary fire but the “dandelion in spring” that can only come from starting a new life. With Peeta. Together. No longer isolated.
Have you changed? Real or not real?
Hunger Games Bookclub