What Does Peeta See in Katniss Anyway? (Part THG)

Welcome to another Guest Post Tuesday! This week’s guest post is part of a three-part series regarding Katniss and Peeta’s relationship from book analyst extraordinaire,  Hunger Games Bookclub!

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I’m not going to lie to you. Peeta is my favorite character in The Hunger Games book trilogy. He’s funny, strong, steady, sensitive, faithful, self-sacrificing, artistic, and knows how to whip up a cake. He is a bit of a Renaissance Man in the Panem world.

Sorry Katniss, it’s true.

Peeta is in love with Katniss, our heroine. We might admire her spunky resourcefulness and picture her as a brave fighter for injustice, but it’s impossible to ignore the fact that Katniss spends a significant number of THG pages being irritated and annoyed with others. Not exactly Dream Girl material. So what does Peeta see in Katniss anyway?

I tried to put aside my preconceptions, reread the THG series with fresh eyes, and let the results of my research speak for themselves. Did I have fun doing it? Yes. Am I a literature nerd? Proud of it!

The thing is – we don’t get Peeta’s POV (point of view) in The Hunger Games like we do Katniss’. Being the narrator, we hear her thoughts, but we just have Peeta’s words and actions. And while we, the outspoken and definitely opinionated THG fandom, may have varying interpretations on what those words and actions mean, I’m going to try to outline for you the reasons for Peeta’s crush that surfaced in my research. Hey, it WAS research. Maybe not PhD material, but I wrote notes all over my Hunger Games book. COPIOUSLY!

Anyway… why, why, why is Peeta in love with the girl? Before I launch into what I hope is a convincing argument, let me point out that I uncovered three reasons for Peeta’s crush that existed before he and Katniss ever stepped on that train bound for the Capitol. Hmmm, do I have your attention?

Reason #1: The Big “R”. Indulge me as I share a bit of family history. I promise that it’s relevant to Peeta and our discussion for today. My father’s version: it was love at first sight with my mother at camp. My mother’s version: this annoying 13 year old kid approached her at the beach and wouldn’t stop splashing her. His version: my dad decided to take Spanish as his language in high school just in case they someday got married, because my mom was bi-lingual. Her version: I think she forgot all about him.

However, by the time they met up years later in college, my father was bound and determined to get this woman for life. And he did. And they’ve been happily married for 40 some years. Go figure! I think it is safe to say that my dad is a real-life Romantic with a capital “R”. And I think Peeta might be built out of some of the same material. Take a little trip down memory lane and review pages 301 and 367 of The Hunger Games. For Peeta, it was love at first sight—or maybe more accurately— love at first song.

Reason #2:
He’s attracted to her. I couldn’t find a moment when Peeta actually says something along the lines of “I think you are beautiful”, but the big crush on her gave it away. In the cave, Katniss states at one point that “he smiles as if he’d be happy to lie there gazing at me forever”. (THG, pg 261) With all the “she has no idea the effect she can have” statements from Peeta, I’m putting my money on Katniss’ interpretation.

Lasting impression? Yep, he never had a chance!

Reason #3: He admires her. At various spots in the book, Peeta makes comments that he admires her hunting skills. He sees Katniss as capable and tells her, “Don’t underrate yourself.” (THG, pg 89) Considering how silly Delly Cartwright and the girls who follow Gale around their school can be, Katniss must stand out to Peeta. Or in his words, “I noticed just about every girl, but none of them made a lasting impression but you”.(THG, pg 304)

Lasting impression? Yep, he never had a chance.

The above reasons all existed in Peeta’s mind before he got on the Capitol’s train with Katniss, but I think that a few more reasons came into being as Peeta spent time with the object of his affection. For one, Peeta and Katniss have a humor-filled relationship, even in this dark situation. If you have only seen the movie, you’ve missed out! Run out right now, buy a copy of The Hunger Games, read it, and take a bit of time to enjoy the repartee on pages such as 68, 96, 252, 253, 257, 305, and 312.

For two, Peeta and Katniss think enough alike about some things that they are able to have unspoken communication and agreement at some critical moments of THG. What am I talking about, you ask? Think back to the scene when Katniss recognized the Avox and Peeta covers for her by saying the Avox looks like Delly Cartwright (which is one of the biggest whoppers Peeta has ever told). Remember the nonverbal looks exchanged between Peeta and Katniss when she hasn’t told her team yet what happened to the pig in her private session with the Gamemakers. This unspoken communication with each other is not the same as the way that Katniss and Haymitch communicate with each other (for example, in the arena via gifts) but it is equally important to the story arc as a whole. I’ll explore this further in my next post, “What does Peeta see in Katniss anyway? (Part Catching Fire)”.

Don’t worry, this bread isn’t done rising. There’s more Peetanalysis coming soon!
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28 comments

  1. “What does Peeta see in Katniss anyway”?

    A girl who is strong, brave, loyal, compassionate (even if she doesn’t think of herself that way, she shows it all the time), fiercely protective and devoted to her loved ones? Someone who’s single-handedly taken care of and provided for her family since the age of 11, while most of the other teenagers were gossiping around school? Someone who’s guarded and often unpleasant doesn’t open up easily, but who, once you’re in their heart, will fight for you passionately, protect you, be prepared to risk their life or die for you?

    Of course, I’m talking about why Peeta *loves* Katniss, not why he had a crush on her before he even really knew her. To an extent, it’s a part of his crush on teenage Katniss – I can see why he was impressed with her. It doesn’t, however, have anything to do with why he initially started crushing on her at the age of 5 – which I never found romantic, just sappy, weird, and sad, since I think the reason for his crush is what he learned from his father, and the fact that Peeta’s family life was so dysfunctional, his parents’ marriage unhappy and loveless, and his mother abusive to him – and that he built up this fantasy in his head about Katniss and her perfect family, and her parents’ beautiful romance, which he would have loved to repeat, only this time with himself and the girl from the Seam.

    There’s very little “real” in Peeta’s initial crush on Katniss, which is why I think it’s a legitimate question for discussion: when did Peeta really start *loving* Katniss? Certainly not before the reaping – even he was aware it was just a crush, although a very long-standing, obsessive one. But how much did the elements of fantasy and old obsession play a part in his love for Katniss as it developed in The Hunger Games and Catching Fire? This is why I think the hijacking plot in Mockingjay was necessary to have Peeta re-discover his love for Katniss as based only on her *real* qualities and what they have *really* shared. (Although I think he always remained obsessed with her – it’s why he could hate her so much while he was hijacked.)

    1. @timetravelingbunny, I agree with all of the reasons that you’ve given in your paragraph, “a girl who is strong, brave, loyal…” These are reasons that we can see from reading the books and summarizing everything that happens. However, the parameters that I set for myself when researching/writing this post were to find reasons that came specifically from things that Peeta said or did, or that Suzanne Collins wrote about him using Katniss as narrator.

      I completely agree that there is a big difference between the “crush” that Peeta has on Katniss going in to the Games, and the “love” that he develops for her over time as he interacts with her and develops a friendship with her. I explore that a little bit in Part 2 Catching Fire (which will get posted next week). You mention that he built up this “fantasy” about Katniss and her beautiful family. You might be right… no way for us to know for sure about that one. I would love to explore further the idea that Peeta’s abusive mother shaped Peeta as a person, whether that was in his fantasy life or toward Katniss as a object of affection, etc.

      I really like this particular sentence of yours: “This is why I think the hijacking plot in Mockingjay was necessary to have Peeta re-discover his love for Katniss as based only on her *real* qualities and what they have *really* shared.” A lot of fans do not like Mockingjay. Too dark. Too depressing. Too whatever. But, personally, it is my favorite of the books, partly because of the story arc and how redemption comes after times of great difficulty. (OK, that’s how I read the epilogue, and I know some fans will deeply disagree with me. But, as Adam Savage’s t-shirt says, “I reject your reality and substitute my own.”

      1. Mockingjay is my favorite, too. I’m a sucker for stories in which people go through hell and survive and find a way to rebuild after that. I love that Katniss’ and Peeta’s real relationship is not a sappy fairytale romance, as the showmance that the Capitol tried to sell, but something stronger and deeper as it’s survived through everything and didn’t come easy.

      2. HGBC, I think that the end of MJ is VERY important in terms of what message readers carry away from it. I also think that one of the major points that divide MJ readers, is whether Katniss has achieved any personal growth at the end of her story. I know you do, based on your previous posts on this. However, there are those who see Katniss as having learned nothing, and remained stuck at the same level of maturity (or lack thereof) as when she was a (relatively) naive 16 year old girl, or even having REGRESSED from that point. They see her as having survived with her heart still beating, but having basically turned into her mother, a weak woman who can only get through the day by leaning on a man for support.

        I am actually very curious as to how you think Peeta’s perceptions of Katniss change in MJ. Because many readers would say that they can’t understand why Peeta would ever want anything to do with Katniss post-MJ. That even without the lies the hijackers fed him, that the way Katniss acts toward Peeta in MJ makes her totally undeserving of his love. They tend to dismiss even her actions in their race to the Capitol as too little too late. For example, they interpret the “don’t let him take you from me” line as showing not any love for Peeta, but merely a wish to spite Snow by not killing him. That Katniss feels angry at Snow for taking Peeta’s love away from her, but that doesn’t prove she actually loves him back.

  2. Oh, and… Sorry, Hunger Games Bookclub, but it’s not true.

    I never thought that Peeta was a better person than Katniss. So there. Unpopular opinion.:) He just has better people skills and a calmer temper, but that was never the crucial standard by which I measure people’s worth. Mind you, I don’t think that Katniss is a better person than Peeta, either, although I like her better – they are both awesome people with their different sets of skills and qualities…and personal issues.

    BTW I also generally think that people “deserving” people is a silly idea. For example, I *do* think that Katniss is a better person than Gale, but if, hypothetically, it was Gale she was in love with, needed and wanted to be with, rather than Peeta, I’d be in favor of that pairing, because relationships are all about mutual love and sharing and how two people complement each other. Which is exactly why Katniss/Peeta are a great couple.

    1. @timetravelingbunny, one of the things I like about THG fandom is the debate, so I appreciate if you have a different opinion than my own. However, Katniss and Haymitch DO believe that Peeta is “better” than Katniss. Haymitch’s comment, “You could live a hundred lifetimes and not deserve him, you know,” comes from CF pg 178. The context of this statement is that Katniss’s first response after hearing the Quarter Quell announcement was to wallow in self-pity and think of herself (which is exactly what I would have done) but Peeta’s first response was to go to Haymitch and ask for the chance to protect Katniss. Katniss calls him the “superior” one of their trio. And later in CF pg 277, Katniss realizes that Finnick knows what she and Haymitch already know about Peeta “being truly, deep-down better than the rest of us.” Katniss sees that Peeta would have attempted negotiations or alliances rather than shooting to kill first.

      These are Katniss’ opinions, but we both know that Katniss is not the perfect judge. Is Peeta really “better” than her? I would have to agree with your comment that they are both great people with their own strengths and skills.

      I think that they both have some glaring weaknesses. And I like them MORE for it. I mean, a goody-goody character would be a little hard to stomach. But Peeta and Katniss are better together than separate… I think I can say that without hesitation. Had Katniss and Gale ended up together, I would say the same thing. The powerful (IMHO) message in the Mockingjay epilogue, is that Katniss gets to choose what kind of woman and partnership she will have. In the end, she chooses what is life-giving to her. A family with Peeta is what will be life in the next Spring “season” after the Hunger Games has been the “winter/death”.

      1. Like you said: those are just Katniss’ opinions, and Haymitch’s, not objective truths. Haymitch has always been harsh with Katniss, probably because he sees a lot of himself in her, and he’s got a lot of self-loathing and guilt for how things turned out when he won, and all the people he couldn’t save. Many people in the THG universe admire Katniss, but she tends to underestimate herself and doesn’t understand why people would like her. She’s an unreliable narrator in the sense that her thoughts about herself are often at odds with what she does. And as the series goes on, there’s more and more guilt that she feels and by Mockingjay, real self-loathing. On the other hand, she’s got a tendency to idealize Peeta. Conversely, Peeta, on his part, seems to think of Katniss as this amazing and special, while constantly underestimating himself. I don’t think he has a lot of self-esteem, and I think his mother is the reason why. He never believed he would be able to survive the Games after he was reaped and I don’t know if he would’ve been able to fight the same way for himself, if Katniss hadn’t been there – he had the idea that he’s weak and inconsequential instilled pretty deeply (that’s why he gets so angry and assumes this is how Haymitch and Katniss see him), that maybe he needed to have another reason to right – protecting Katniss – to show how strong, brave and resourceful he is.

        I agree that they’re much better together than separate – I really think they make each other better people and bring out the qualities in each other that were there but that they weren’t aware of.

  3. @timetravelingbunny, some really great points here. Perhaps YOU should be writing a post!

    I’ve thought before about how Peeta and Katniss are both this mixture of confidence and underestimating themselves, but I think that the way you worded it is SO clear! I especially like how you pointed out that Peeta was able to rise to his best self in the Games because he was fighting for Katniss, whereas if he was just fighting for himself, he tended to believe he was weak and unable to win.

  4. Timetravelingbunny: Please don’t think you’re alone! Though it does seem that many THG fans believe that Peeta deserved better than Katniss, and I know people who state that Katniss should have wound up with Gale instead because they deserved each other, and not in a good way. Even many K/P shippers seem to think that the ONLY bond between K and P was the shared trauma of the Games, that otherwise they had nothing in common, and that if there had been no Games, Katniss and Gale would have eventually married and been happy. I don’t believe this, though, nor do I believe that K and G had more in common than K and P, at least by the end of the story.

    Now, I agree with HGBC that Katniss believes Peeta to be morally superior, probably as early as that pivotal rooftop conversation in THG. Haymitch, who identifies with Katniss a lot, also likely believes this. He also likely believes what he tells Katniss in MJ when he’s reaming her out for how she treats Peeta post-hijacking. But I don’t think that means this is the objective truth.

    Unfortunately, many readers believe that every harsh thing Katniss says about herself is 100% true, such as that whole monologue in MJ about how the hijacked Peeta sees her as she REALLY is. While a different topic, it seems many THG fans came to hate and despise Katniss post-MJ, and come to the conclusion that she really is a horrible person who “doesn’t deserve Peeta”. I’ve even seen people declare that Katniss was as bad as Snow and Coin, that all of them were willing to lie, kill, and cheat in order to survive. (The assumption here is that Snow and Coin were both in situations where, if they hadn’t killed their political opponents, they would have wound up dead themselves.)

    Now, I really do NOT think that Suzanne Collins meant for Katniss to be just as bad as Snow and Coin. As for her treatment of Peeta post-hijacking: One question I’d like to ask everyone who finds Katniss’s behavior to be cruel, selfish, and unforgiveable is, so what do you think she SHOULD have done instead?

    I’ve also read accusations that Katniss is abusive to Peeta, and that while she may not be as bad as Snow and Coin, that she’s at least as bad as Peeta’s mom; and that Peeta being drawn to her despite her outward cold and/or angry demeanor, is far from healthy, but a sign that he’s replicating the same kind of abusive relationship he had with his mother. That as much as Katniss’s childhood taught her that “if you love someone, he’ll leave you”, Peeta’s childhood taught him that “if you love someone, she’ll hurt you.”

    While I do NOT think Katniss is abusive, I can see how her fear of commitment really comes down to a fear of abandonment, that anyone she falls in love with is going to abandon her eventually, much as her own parents did. Now, Mr. E didn’t do so intentionally, and you can argue that Mrs. E didn’t either. But many kids whose parents “abandon” them, even by dying, assume there was something wrong or unloveable about them that made them do that. That if their parents really loved them, they’d have found some way to survive.

    So, perhaps Peeta’s inability to let go of Katniss, even when it seems there’s no chance that she’ll love him back, might suggest that he has similar issues with his mother. Either that he keeps holding on to a hope that she’ll someday love him back, or that he believes that since his mother doesn’t love him back even though he loves her, this must be the case for all women in his life. The idea of moving on with someone else doesn’t seem to occur to him, not just because he’s fixated on Katniss, but because the idea that any other woman would want him, doesn’t jibe with what life has taught him about his ability to gain a woman’s love. (The closest he comes to implying that he’s moved on, is his odd remark about Annie in MJ, that I think was meant more to be a jab at Finnick than a real declaration of feelings for her.)

    He also seems to really believe that Katniss prefers Gale. He makes a snide remark about “your boyfriend” after Katniss pushes him into the vase after his THG interview. When he apologizes to Katniss in CF, he states “I knew you had something going with Gale”. And after Gale is whipped, Peeta really seems to buy into the narrative of “Katniss loves Gale, not me”, enough to put Gale’s picture in the locket for the QQ, enough to tell Gale this towards the end of MJ. While some of this might just be jealousy, I wouldn’t be surprised if Peeta really thought Gale was the “better man”, not because Gale objectively was, but because Peeta never saw himself as superior to anyone, morally or otherwise.

    1. ” I’ve even seen people declare that Katniss was as bad as Snow and Coin, that all of them were willing to lie, kill, and cheat in order to survive. (The assumption here is that Snow and Coin were both in situations where, if they hadn’t killed their political opponents, they would have wound up dead themselves.) ”

      When I see these kinds of posts (and god, I sure have seen many “Katniss is a selfish sociopath incapable of love” posts), I must say that, despite art being subjective and all, I really can’t dignify them with treating them as just another acceptable interpretation as any other – I’m unable to see it as anything but reading comprehension failure. it just makes me wonder “what books were you reading”? It strikes me as really absurd, since it’s a character who is risking her life or even willing to give her life to protect those she loves throughout the trilogy, and whose entire story is based around the moments she is refusing to kill innocent people and “protecting the helpless” as Johanna would put it. That’s why she captured the imagination of the people of Panem, from her first Games when she volunteered for her sister, covered Rue’s body with flowers, and refused to kill Peeta/let Peeta die, and forced the Capitol to accept two Victors by threatening double suicide (and she was ready to go through with it if the bluff didn’t work). If she were yet another Tribute ready to do anything to survive, she’d have been just like anyone else. And that’s without even going into the other books, and her actions in the Quarter Quel, or during the battle in District 2 in MJ. If being prepared to “lie, kill and cheat” is enough to make one as bad as Snow or Coin, than EVERYBODY in the trilogy is as bad as Snow and Coin. Well, maybe not Prim, but she’s a child who’s never been in the Games or been in a situation where she had to kill, lie and cheat to survive or protect her loved ones. (Correction: she did lie to the Peacekeepers in CF about where Katniss was, didn’t she?) But Peeta, for instance, is totally prepared to lie, kill and cheat ,from the start (and it’s not like he ever pretended he wasn’t, in his speech on the rooftop he says outright he’ll kill people if he has to) and does those things, yet I don’t see people saying he’s as bad as Snow or Coin?

      Maybe those readers got Katniss confused with someone like Enobaria. Who, BTW, gets a bad rap – I was just thinking about the Careers the other day, I think I even wrote some of my thoughts about them on Mockingjay.net (under the name Ivana2804 which I’m using there). For instance, imagine in what kind of desperate struggle someone has to be to rip another person’s throat with their teeth? It must have been a close hand-to-hand combat where she was left without weapons, fighting for her life. And then the Capitol, which made you into a killing machine in the first place, glorifies (and probably sexualizes) that moment and celebrates you as this fascinating exotic savage (were the steel teeth really her choice or something the people of Capitol wanted? The public was fascinated with the teeth incident, and I imagine that there were wealthy Capitol citizens who were interested in her the same way others were in Finnick or Cashmere, and who found her all the sexier that way). The Career Pack in Quarter Quell don’t know about the rebellion plan to interrupt the Games, so although they probably also hate Capitol, but they think that only one winner comes out, so when push comes to shove, they’ll kill people mercileslly to survive, as they always have, even if those are now people they know. Here’s an idea for a fanfic: rewrite The Hunger Games and make Enobaria the protagonist, tell her story of ultimate survival through a combination of ruthlessness, opportunism and sheer dumb luck, make her a relatable antiheroine. This is, ironically, the narrative that some people want to read into THG, one that’s about survival at any cost rather than about finding humanity, compassion and interdependence in the most unlikely of circumstances, and this is how they want to see Katniss, despite the fact that Katniss is nothing like that, and if you were to judge her from a “ruthless survivalist” perspective, she utterly sucks, doing things detrimental to her own survival, over and over, and being preoccupied with ethical worries and concerns about her own supposed selfishness, which a real selfish opportunistic survivalist would never care for.

      The only reason I can think of why so many people declare Katniss awful and selfish etc. etc. is because she dissects her every motivation and says in her internal monologue that selfish and awful etc. and apparently, a lot of people are very literal. That despite the fact that her actions so often contradict that, or that it doesn’t make sense that someone so awful and selfish is even worrying so much about being awful and selfish in the first place, let alone blurting out “How are we going to kill these people?” or feeling that it would be somehow wrong to not include Enobaria on the immunity list, or feeling, without ever having learned about things like ethics of warfare, that there must be some kind of rulebook that says which things one human being isn’t allowed to do to another.

      I think it’s why you’ll see people saying that Katniss is “more likeable” in the movie, despite there being nothing but minot differences between what she does in the book and the movie: they just see her actions and see the emotions on JL’s face, but don’t hear her thoughts about how bad she is etc. etc. I suspect that this will continue to be the case with the subsequent movies.

      (There’s another reason I suspect causes a lot of Katniss-hate, and it’s the same thing I’ve seen in a lot of fandoms with the way that female characters, particularly female protagonists, are seen, compared to male protagonists. It’s particularly obvious when I see posts by people whose main issue with Katniss is that she’s “leading on two guys” and similar type of accusations, which they treat as the biggest crime there is. )

      1. TTB: Re Enobaria and the Careers in general: I think that while it would be overkill to say that anyone who’s willing to lie, cheat, and kill to survive is equivalent to Snow and Coin, I think that it’s just as unfair to suggest that unless someone IS as bad as Snow and Coin, then they’re totally innocent victims who had no free will, but were just brainwashed and manipulated into doing what they did. Which is what you seem to be suggesting.

        Now, this is a defense I’ve seen used not just for the Careers, but for Gale’s actions as well, painting him as a victim of Coin and the rebels. (And I’m sure it’s been used to defend RL soldiers accused of war crimes.) The problem is that we see in people like Finnick, Mags, and Annie, who many forget were from D4, a Career District, that not all Careers bought into that “winning/survival at any cost” mindset. So we can’t say that all Careers were totally brainwashed victims of the Capitol who had no choice but to act as they did.

        It’s certainly possible that Enobaria’s extreme application of cosmetic dentistry was something she was pressured into having done, but I don’t think there’s any proof that it was. Though she does show, at the very end, that she was not as much of a Capitol supporter as she seemed to be earlier in the story, when she votes for Coin’s Games and states “give them a taste of their own medicine”.

        Back to Katniss: I agree that the “Katniss is a sociopath” theory really is based on a very literal reading of the books, almost like a fundamentalist approach to Bible reading. Katniss says she’s horrible and awful, so she must be so. Katniss’s stated thoughts that she thinks Peeta is morally superior, also seems to be taken as proof, even with fans who are not fundamentalists, that he objectively is; even though he also, as you point out, is willing to lie and kill people (and DOES), and never denies that.

        I’ve also seen this approach used by some Team Gale fans to dismiss Katniss’s love for Peeta. They point out that it’s only Gale who Katniss admits to loving, even though she questions what that means, and that it’s only Gale who she consciously chooses. Even though Katniss never decides to sacrifice her life for Gale, the way she does for Peeta in the QQ. Because she doesn’t ever state that she loves Peeta, she must not. And hence, Gale must be the true love torn away from her by war, and Peeta merely a second choice that she settled for.

        Back to Peeta’s alleged moral superiority: While Haymitch and Katniss interpret Peeta’s reaction to the QQ announcement as indicating this, I think SC herself didn’t mean it this way. Yes, Peeta runs to Haymitch to selflessly “volunteer” to be the D12 male tribute, expecting to die so that Katniss can live, while Katniss is freaking out and feeling sorry for herself.

        BUT, isn’t this just the reverse of what happens in their first Games? Didn’t Peeta cry after his reaping, grouse about how his own mother doesn’t believe in him, while Katniss selflessly volunteered for what she thought would be certain death, to save Prim? What this may show is that at this point, Katniss doesn’t quite love Peeta as much as Prim, since in Prim’s case, she didn’t even have to think about sacrificing herself for her. Where Peeta is concerned, she does have to think about it. But once she does, she is willing to sacrifice herself.

        Also, note that both K and P tend to take responsibility for things much more than an objective observer would. Peeta blames himself for Mitchell’s death in MJ, even though he actually WAS brainwashed by the Capitol into the actions that led to that. As opposed to Gale, who we never see take any responsibility for his part in Prim’s death. And many of his defenders would say that he’s NOT responsible. But I think that if Peeta, or Katniss herself, had done what Gale did, they would have both blamed themselves for what happened. Another reason why they’re compatible, in the end. (To actually bring this back to the original topic!)

        1. “e Enobaria and the Careers in general: I think that while it would be overkill to say that anyone who’s willing to lie, cheat, and kill to survive is equivalent to Snow and Coin, I think that it’s just as unfair to suggest that unless someone IS as bad as Snow and Coin, then they’re totally innocent victims who had no free will, but were just brainwashed and manipulated into doing what they did. Which is what you seem to be suggesting. ”

          No, that’s not what I’m suggesting. They were victims, but they were not innocent and they were also killers. They were shaped by their upbringing, but they had free will and they made the choices they made. There’s no doubt they were bad people, you may even say evil. But what I’m saying when I say “bad rap” is that there is no evidence that they were (all) psychopathic sadists etc. – and that they were, IMO, no different than many other people would be in that situation. What percentage of people is open for discussion. But I suspect that people like Peeta and Katniss are an exception rather than the rule, and that there are far more Enobarias, Brutuses or Cashmeres out there than people would like to admit. It strikes me as very hypocritical to demand that every character put in such inhuman circumstances should be a perfect saint, and then even someone like Katniss is “as bad as Snow” just because she isn’t such an impossibly perfect saint. While people like Cato or Enobaria are, I guess, some sort of inhuman monsters that have nothing to do with the rest of us the human race, rather than a realistic portrayal of what many people would, and do, behave in such circumstances. Look at the historical cases of war crimes and mass executions: just how many soldiers are known to have refused to carry out the order to execute civilians and prisoners of war?

          Re: the first Games vs Quarter Quell: These were, however, very different situations that are hard to compare 1:1. Prim was being reaped that very moment and if Katniss hadn’t volunteered, she would have had no choice but to watch her die in the Games. When the Quarter Quell was announced, one thing she knew for sure was that she was going to go back to the Arena (and that the Games were obviously designed to kill her). It wasn’t even sure if Peeta would go or it would be Haymitch, until Peeta made it clear he would volunteer for Haymitch. Regarding Peeta’s motivation, I think that, besides wanting to protect Katniss, at this point he also wanted to die because the situation he was in with the fake marriage to Katniss was unbearable to him. At this point, Peeta believes that Katniss loves Gale rather than him, but they are both forced to play a happy couple. By going to the Arena, not only does he get to help Katniss instead of staying home and maybe watching her die, he also gets to get out of this situation the only way possible.

          Anyway, as much as one can make arguments for Peeta’s moral superiority over Katniss, one can make the opposite arguments as well; for instance, I’ve seen people say that Katniss was unworthy of Peeta because in the first Games, he offered to die, while she thought he was going to attack her and was ready to kill him. But, we can look at it this way: in the first Games, he’s doing everything to save Katniss, the girl he’s been obsessing for for most of his life; before he even knew her; however, there is no evidence that he would have done something similar for someone he didn’t feel that way about. Katniss, on the other hand, didn’t have that kind of crush on him and her motivations and decisions regarding Peeta were mostly based on his actions and on recognizing his qualities as a person.

  5. @Satsuma, in answer to your question about how do I see Peeta’s perception of Katniss in Mockingjay, I’m in process of researching that right now! I could give you a first gut answer… but I’d prefer to write an entire post about it after I’ve gotten to read MJ with Peeta’s POV in mind and consider the evidence I find. (Admittedly, being verbose runs in my family, so I have to write an entire post about my opinion, not just a comment. I blame it all on the genes.) It has been a very different experience reading THG trilogy looking for someone else’s POV other than Katniss’. Someday I might try to re-read the series through Haymitch’s eyes or Finnick’s just for the heck of it.

    But in short, yes, I do think that Katniss changes over time, matures, has a full story arc, whatever you want to call it, and I think Peeta does too. As timetravelingbunny has eloquently pointed out above, Peeta’s relationship with Katniss before the first Hunger Games was mostly based on his own fantasy (and two or three distinct memories). But the Katniss that Peeta gets to know in Catching Fire is based on more substance. It’s real. A real friendship develops during that year, with some moments of romance, but mostly friendship. Don’t worry, you can comment on all sorts of aspects of that when my CF post comes out on this topic next week!

    So if you get to ask me a question, I get to ask one back. You are able to describe these other people’s viewpoints who think that Peeta/Katniss relationship (by the time we reach the MJ epilogue) was abusive, or sick and twisted, and so on. But what do YOU think about it?

    1. Hey HGBC: Sorry for the delay in my answer to this; I actually have been working on that “Real Katniss Everdeen” post you’ve nagged me about 😉 and I just sent Part One to the admins! (There will be at least a Part Two, and perhaps more, depending on how busy my mind gets!)

      Anyway…while I understand how some people (especially those who sadly have RL experience with abusive relationships) interpret the K-P relationship, I do NOT personally think either of them were abusive to the other. Where Peeta is concerned, the last time we see him lose control in MJ, is the flashback that results in him attacking Katniss and kill Mitchell. After this, he is shown to be able to control himself, even if the way he does so, distracting himself through physical pain, isn’t a practical everyday strategy. I think that Dr. Aurelius likely helped Peeta work on better coping strategies. He also is shown being very angry when K and G suggest Katniss give herself up to Snow to set up his assassination, and saving Katniss from suicide in a situation in which, by shooting Coin, her actions actually fit the Capitol script of Katniss as a murderous mutt out to kill everyone in sight.

      Also, considering how Peeta asked his squadmates to kill him in MJ, not just because he felt he deserved it, but because he was afraid he’d kill someone else, I don’t think he’d ever have let himself near Katniss if he thought he was still a danger to her. I think that, going back to the idea brought up by TTB, that some readers interpret the books much too literally, many who see post-MJ Peeta as still a danger to Katniss, took the statements made by many characters, including Katniss herself, that Peeta “will never be the same”, as gospel truth. Even though these statements are made very early into their attempts to rehabilitate Peeta.

      As for Katniss’s actions; for some reason, many people have taken her reaction to Peeta’s hijacking as cruel and selfish, and perhaps you’ll address this in your own take on MJ. One example that some Peeta fans feel they can’t forgive Katniss for, is during the scene in which they talk for the first time post-hijacking, when Peeta asks “did you love me” and her reply is “other people say I did”. However, I don’t think Katniss was being deliberately cruel or abusive to Peeta here. She later reminds him (when he starts asking about whether she liked kissing him and Gale) that people are watching them, though Peeta doesn’t seem to care.

      So, I don’t think her answer (or lack of one) was meant to cause Peeta emotional pain, even though it may have. I think it was meant to protect both of them from having this information used against them, if she’d admitted her feelings for him in public. This is the same Katniss who earlier thought Plutarch capable of staging a wedding between her and a still-hijacked Peeta for propo purposes (and isn’t too far off). I guess people can still argue that “even if Katniss didn’t mean to be abusive, she still was!” But if that’s the case, someone who accidentally backs over a kid playing the driveway is just as abusive as someone who deliberately throws the kid out the window.

      To make a Twilight reference, her actions here remind of how Bella, after James starts hunting her, tells her father, Charlie, that she wants to leave, and even purposefully uses the same words her mother used when she dumped Charlie, knowing that this will break him, so much that he won’t object to her leaving. I’m sure her actions caused Charlie a lot of emotional pain. But was it abusive? No, because that was not her intent, her intent was to protect Charlie.

      I’m not saying that Katniss’s reaction was ideal, but I don’t think it’s something that’s unforgiveable or abusive. Also, she often contemplates reaching out to Peeta in MJ, such as right before she heads out on her mission to the Capitol, and reconsiders because she thinks it wouldn’t be a good thing “for either of us”. I think Katniss really had no idea what she could do to help Peeta, and was afraid that being in contact with him would just make his condition worse. I think that if someone she trusted had told her “if you do X, it will help Peeta”, she would have done it. But no one really does, not even Haymitch.

  6. @Satsuma, I’m really looking forward to your “real” Katniss post/s! I’m sure you’ll start some raging debates 🙂

    As far as why Katniss says what she says in some of the instances you pointed out, I have a different interpretation. First, Katniss is not very good at expressing herself with words (at least in her own mind) ESPECIALLY when it comes to emotions. She mentions this many times throughout the books; she has a hard time talking about how she feels.

    Second, Katniss is having so many emotions at one time with hijacked Peeta. Have you ever laughed when someone got hurt? There is a nervous laughter that is totally inappropriate but it happens like a knee-jerk response. I think that some of Katniss’ verbal responses to Peeta are a knee-jerk response to all the emotions flooding her. She’s confused (where’s the guy that swore undying love to me?), scared (what did they do to him to make him forget his love for me?), embarrassed (everybody is listening to us talk about our “romance”), unforgiving (she knows its not right but we’ve known this personality quirk about Katniss since the beginning of THG), and hopping mad! It’s not logical, but I think she is having this knee-jerk response of anger. Just two paragraphs before Peeta tries to strangle Katniss, she is fantasizing about their reunion. This is the FIRST and maybe ONLY time I ever remember Katniss allowing herself to have a normal romantic fantasy or desire. Part of romantic desire is that you make yourself vulnerable to that object of desire. Well, her object of desire TRIES TO KILL HER! So she puts up wall so high and so fast that it takes a long time for her to take them back down again… in my opinion, not until the last chapter of MJ prior to epilogue. And contributing to that anger is what she later recognizes in herself as the taking of granted of the love that Peeta offered her, and now – she believes – it is gone forever.

    Is this abuse? I don’t think so. I don’t think it is mature, or helpful, or healing… but I also don’t think her response is crazy or out of the bounds of normality. Abuse, in every form, is deplorable. I think we can all agree on that. But of all the survivors I know of domestic and sexual abuse, the abuse had an issue of manipulation in it. Not that Wikipedia is the infallible source of all knowledge, but I found it’s definition of abuse to be enlightening: “Abuse is the improper usage or treatment for a bad purpose, often to unfairly or improperly gain benefit.”

    I don’t think Katniss “did right” by Peeta. I agreed with Haymitch calling her on the carpet saying that Peeta would have never treated her that way and that she should be trying to help him find his way back to himself, not punish him. But I do think that over time, Katniss does make efforts to rectify what she says and does and how she sees Peeta.

    I also think pg 269 of MJ is very telling about Katniss’ state of mind: “Realizing with shame my fixation with assassinating Snow has allowed me to ignore a much more difficult problem. Trying to rescue Peeta from the shadowy world the hijacking has stranded him in. I dont know how to find him, let alone lead him out. I can’t even conceive of a plan.” It is these lines and just Katniss overall that convince me you are right in your assessment that if someone, like Haymitch, had just told her “do this thing and it will help Peeta recover”, Katniss would have gladly done it. But the problem being so big and so emotional completely overwhelms her and so mentally she retreats to the thing that is “easier”, which is to assassinate Snow. She mentions earlier in MJ that she did something similar with Prim (pg 149) where her preoccupation with the Games and the rebellion has left “little attention for [Prim]. I haven’t been watching over her the way I should, the way I used to.” If Katniss could tune out Prim, whom we know she loves more than anybody, she could certainly ignore dealing with Peeta, with whom she doesn’t know if she loves.

    Which brings me to my final point about Katniss: she doesn’t know she loves Peeta until end of Mockingjay, IMHO. Maybe it’s her fear of abandonment, fear of loving someone who might leave. Maybe it’s her preoccupation with staying alive when she’s jerked around by all these other people’s Games. Or perhaps it is the fact that she is close to two very wonderful guys who in some ways reflect a part of her (but completely opposite parts). But Suzanne Collins makes such a point of emphasizing that last conversation between Katniss and Peeta – you love me, real or not real? Real – that I think it is the first time Katniss can identify for herself the emotion she has for Peeta. So how could she have said it to Peeta before if she didn’t know it to be true?

  7. OK, so laundry is now switched and I can address the allegation (from other fans) that Peeta is abusive to Katniss in Mockingjay. Hello, this is crazy talk! First and foremost, Peeta is BRAINWASHED! What part about that do they not understand?! Our initial introduction to Peeta throughout the book of The Hunger Games is that he is solid, steady with self-deprecating humor, protective, comforting, gentle, good natured, kind and strong. (I actually went through the book and counted how many times he was described as. such, so I can back up my assertion here!) Then Peeta gets hijacked and he is violent, cruel, unstable, and destructive. I think that Suzanne Collins went to great lengths to establish how different and UNLIKE HIMSELF Peeta is after his torture/being hijacked.

    Peeta is absolutely miserable when he realizes that he is the reason for MItchell’s death and sees himself going hijacked on video. His response is to ask them to kill him rather than to let him endanger anyone else. Does that sound like someone who is manipulative or abusive?

    But another quality about the Peeta that we know and love is that he can be very stubborn! (Think about when he tells Katniss he will follow her to the Cornucopia if she doesn’t promise to stay in the cave with him and not risk her life.) This stubborness shows up in Mockingjay as we watch a progression of his recovery. He is not at the same place at end of MJ as he was at the beginning.

    The stages of Peeta’s recovery, as I see it, are thus:
    Stage 1 – Fear of Katniss and anger at her for all the things he perceives to be her fault resulting in violence and efforts to kill her in what he perceives to be self-defense
    Stage 2 – The Real vs. Not Real period where Peeta tries to distinguish what is real and what isn’t, eventually being helped the most by the “game” Bogg’s team plays with him where he asks questions that they try to answer
    Stage 3 – Transition phase – When someone has a baby, the transition stage is the third and last stage of labor before pushing out the baby. It is the most painful but usually doesn’t last super long. I see this as being near the end of the team’s assault on the Capitol. Peeta has begun to distinguish the “shiny” hijacked memories that have been tampered with from the real ones. Starting with the time that Katniss kisses him and brings him back from losing control, Peeta begins to do that for himself using his handcuffs, etc, to the point where he becomes useful while they flee the lizard mutts (“Can’t help him. Can’t!”).
    Stage 4 – By the end of MJ, Peeta is described as still having flashbacks where he has to clutch the back of a chair until they’re over, but I don’t see him described as ever getting violent again.

    To me that says that Peeta has recovered his torture to the point that, while it still causes him momentary discomfort or pain, the hijacking is NOT in control of his life anymore and for the most part, the “real” Peeta is present. We never see Katniss think anything like she is still afraid Peeta will kill her after the explosion that killed Prim. In fact, Peeta prevents Katniss from killing herself with the nightlock pill after she has assassinated President Coin. To me, that is symbolic of Peeta coming full circle through recovery. He might be a bit damaged on the other side, but I think he beat this thing. He never wanted to be a piece in their Games… he wanted to stay himself… and I think eventually he came back to himself, which is why he was safe and steady for Katniss to love and to start a family with. If Peeta at the end of MJ represents the dandelion in the spring, and rebirth, and a promise that life can go on and be good again, then I’m confident that the hijacking’s power of destruction over him has been broken!

    1. I think for the first time this go-around, I totally 100% agree with you! 😀

      I think that most of the people who think Peeta’s abusive or dangerous at the end of MJ fall into one of 6 camps:

      1. People who have had personal experiences with abusive and/or violent relationships, and are just very sensitized to any depiction of violence against women. Their condemnation of Peeta comes from a very personal, highly emotionally charged place, and while I disagree, I can understand it.

      2. People who are Team Gale and believe that Gale was who Katniss really loved, even though fate dictated they couldn’t be together. They truly believe that SC meant for this to be the case. They then feel free to continue their Peeta-bashing, in which they interpret all his actions in the most negative light possible.

      3. People who either believe themselves that “War is hell and turns decent men/women into murderous monsters”, or think SC wanted to send this message. Many such people believe BOTH Katniss and Peeta are incapable of real, self-sacrificial love by the end of MJ. They interpret their post-war relationship as one born out of desperation, in which they’re basically just using each other for their own selfish purposes. That Katniss is using Peeta simply as an emotional crutch to prop herself up, and Peeta is using Katniss to achieve his dream of a happy family complete with children…and doesn’t care whether Katniss really wants that herself, as long as he can manipulate her into going along with his wishes. They see his querying Katniss about love right after physical intimacy not as anything romantic, but just deliberate, selfish manipulation into getting what he wants.

      They see SC’s message to be, not that love and compassion can overcome hate and selfishness, but just the opposite. That there IS no way to recover from the ravages of war, torture, etc., and the only hope we have is to prevent them from happening in the first place.

      4. People who believe Plutarch’s cynical take on whether humanity can learn from their mistakes, or are doomed to repeat them. Those who see Panem as being doomed to repeat a cycle of tyranny, violent rebellion, perhaps a minute “honeymoon period” of relative peace, before the reformers inevitably become corrupted into tyranny themselves, and other rebels rise up against them. And then those rebels become tyrants themselves, and so on…

      They see SC herself as having this POV into Panem, and that she meant for the fates of her characters to mirror the fate of Panem itself, She meant to imply that, much like Panem itself, he is similarly doomed to continue the cycle of abuse and violence. And that Katniss winds up emotionally dead/numb and unable to truly bond with her children, much like her own mother. There is a lot of crossover between Camp 3 and Camp 4. While I don’t agree with either, I can also understand this interpretation.

      5. People who believe Katniss’s behavior toward Peeta in MJ, or even earlier in the story, was horrible, cruel, and selfish, and either believe she should be punished for it, or given a chance to atone. So, Peeta continued to be violent toward Katniss, and Katniss chose to accept this treatment of her, showing that she really did love him unconditionally after all, or knew that she deserved this treatment as payback for her being abusive to him earlier. I hope not too many people are in this camp.

      6. People who base their opinions about Peeta’s recovery process not on canon, but on fanfics that have been written by people in Camps 1-5. And it seems almost 90% of all fanfics dealing with Peeta and Katniss post-MJ depict him as Panem’s version of Jekyll-and-Hyde. The good, decent THG/CF Peeta for most of the time, but falling right back into homicidal insanity every time a flashback hits, calling Katniss a mutt, and physically attacking her. (Others tend to err in the opposite direction and ignore the effects of the hijacking completely in favor of generic romantic fluffiness.)

      Unfortunately, I think this depiction of post-MJ Peeta is approaching “fanon”, though I don’t think it’s at all supported in canon. I agree with you that canon Peeta is at a quite different place at the end of MJ compared to when he first makes an “in-person” appearance.

  8. Hey HGBC: That quote from MJ page 269, I agree, tells us a LOT about Katniss’s state of mind. Many people have accused Katniss of abandoning Peeta in his hour of greatest need, and I concede some of this is warranted. But this wasn’t because she was a selfish “word that rhymes with witch” who stopped caring about Peeta the moment he wasn’t worshipping the ground she walks on, as some anti-Katniss people think. It was because she really didn’t know what to do!

    I suspect that the hijacking also hit Katniss hard because this wasn’t the first time she “lost” a loved one to a mental illness. I’m sure she also felt completely overwhelmed when her mother was lost in her own shadowy world, after Mr. E died. I doubt Katniss had any idea how to help her mom out of that, either, and it’d be unfair to expect any 11 year old to take on that burden. But I’m sure that if someone had told her “if you do this your mom will get better”, she’d have done it. Since no one does, she focuses on the easier task of meeting her family’s physical needs for sustenance. She also winds up resenting her mother and walling herself off emotionally from her. Also agree about her tuning out Prim in a somewhat similar way to tuning out Peeta, but few people have questioned Katniss’s love for Prim or her mother.

    I think I should also clarify my example as to why Katniss can’t bring herself to give Peeta a straight answer, at that point, about whether she loves him. I didn’t mean that the wish to protect both of them was the only reason for how she responded the way she did. Her uncertainty about her feelings likely also played a role. But I do think that conversation might have gone very differently if they had been afforded more privacy. But I think we’d both agree that her response was not deliberately cruel, even though many anti-Katniss types think she was.

    As for when Katniss realizes she DOES love Peeta; I think the “she didn’t know until the very end of MJ” theory has a lot going for it. But I don’t quite agree. I think she didn’t know she loved Peeta as a MATE until that point. But she makes that Freudian slip earlier in MJ about Haymitch loving Peeta too, and I think she’d accepted by then, that she loves Peeta at least in the way Haymitch does, which is as a surrogate family member or close friend. But, in that scene with hijacked Peeta, in front of witnesses, she knew that if she said “yes” to Peeta’s question, everyone would have interpreted it as a specifically romantic love. And that was not something she was ready to admit she felt for ANYONE at that point.

    I think that if Katniss didn’t have SOME kind of love for Peeta, then it wouldn’t even have occurred to her that she had any obligation to rescue him from his hijacked state of mind. You could argue that she might feel obligated to help out of guilt that her actions led to his capture and hijacking. But in that case, why didn’t she consider doing anything to help Johanna overcome her water phobia, since her actions led to Jo’s torture as well? She never considers that, though she does give Johanna the pine needles as a show of support and friendship. But while she might consider Johanna a friend, I don’t think she considers her the kind of close friend that she actually loves.

    Another example of Katniss saying something that I’ve seen interpreted as cruel/abusive, is that she “threw Gale in Peeta’s face” with her remark about Gale “not being a bad kisser”. However this ignores the fact that it was Peeta who brought up the whole kissing topic in the first place. The truth (IMHO) is that Peeta is being deliberately provocative both in that scene, and in the lunchroom scene in which he ticks off a whole bunch of people, including Delly, who is described as liking everybody.

    Now, you can certainly argue that Katniss should have realized that Peeta wasn’t in his right mind, and tried to defuse the situation instead of adding more fuel to the fire. Yeah, she should have, but I can understand why she didn’t. I also wonder, why aren’t the people who are so hard on Katniss equally hard on people like Johanna, Finnick, and Delly, who weren’t exactly being kind and compassionate to Peeta in the lunchroom scene, either? Were they all being abusive to him too?

    I realize that “everyone is doing it”! has never been considered an acceptable excuse for anything after around junior high. But I think it’s no accident that SC shows Delly specifically to chew Peeta out for the way he’s treating people, when her sweet temperament really gives her less excuse to lash out at him, instead of realizing that Peeta’s not in his right mind and deserves compassion and support, not a lecture.

    BTW, I’ve seen real mental patients, and many of them, when being angry and hostile the way Peeta was for much of MJ, either bait others to get that way too, or make them run away scared or repulsed. The few people who CAN defuse such a situation really are exceptional. So, I hope Josh Hutcherson really goes all out in this scene (as well as other hijacked Peeta scenes) for MJ, to the point where the viewer can understand why so many people (not just Katniss) would react the way they did to him.

    1. @Satsuma, Yes! Now that you put it that way, I think that you are right that there are different kinds of love. Katniss might not have been clear on whether she loved Peeta in a romantic sense or as a mate, but she definitely had strong feelings of love toward him like a close friend and surrogate member of her family while the romantic part was murky for her. Finnick refers to this when he tells Katniss about how he realized he had misjudged her after Peeta’s heart stopped. That is when Finnick sees that Katniss genuinely cares for Peeta, and Finnick is quick to note that Katniss may not be able to define that yet but it is genuine. In my research for the “what does Peeta see in Katniss” post, Catching Fire edition, which I think will get posted tomorrow, I tracked how many times Katniss referred to Peeta like a family member… and it was several. Now Peeta, along with Haymitch, is included in Katniss’ thinking of all the people that she needs to escape District 12 with – her mother, sister, and Gale & his family.

      I also think you’ve made a great point about Katniss’ relationship with her mother, and how the trauma of the 11 year old Katniss watching her mother become distant and unresponsive may have played in to the 17 year old in this situation with Peeta. (But really, I wouldn’t know how to handle that scenario with my loved one and I’m more than twice Katniss’ age.) It really would take an exceptional person to handle that situation gracefully.

      Also, as far as Peeta provoking Katniss about the kissing and then Katniss responding with a Gale kissing comment, this is not the first time that Katniss and Peeta get into it tit for tat. That happens, in my opinion, all through out the books, it’s just that the Peeta who is hijacked is more cruel and biting and Katniss is more angry and confused.

  9. I am in complete agreement with your points. I’ve had lots of debates about Katniss and hijacked!Peeta with people who thought she was unforgivable etc. I must admit that, when I was reading Mockingjay, it never occurred to me to think of Katniss’ behavior that way. I just really felt for her and thought she was in an incredibly traumatic and unenviable position where she was lost as to what to do. I would add that Katniss herself, while one may call her mentally healthier relative to Peeta, really isn’t that mentally healthy herself, and seems to be suffering from severe PTSD and depression (depression is something she and her mother have in common). Peeta’s accusations and hatred touched a nerve because she had a lot of guilt and self-loathing. That’s why she doesn’t see his attitude to her as just a result of brainwashing, or confused memories and jealousy (which Gale recognized because it reminded him of his own feelings), but instead feels that she really is that awful and Peeta hates her because he sees her for what she really is.

    In addition to the reasons you mentioned, I really don’t think that a conversation in front of a bunch of people was the right time and place for Katniss to make any declarations to Peeta about her feelings for him, considering their history, and the fact that Peeta had already accused her of being a liar that she shouldn’t have trusted (and that in this scene, he goes on to accuse her of having pretended to love him). If she had said she loved him or tried to explain her feelings, he might even have seen that as another lie.

    I find it hard to see Katniss’ replies to Peeta in their first conversation in MJ as “abusive”, when Peeta is the one who’s in control of that conversation and setting the tone from start to finish, while Katniss is being defensive: he starts by antagonizing her – and she can’t help responding to his verbal attacks with counterattacks (and wonders what’s wrong with her); when she starts to leave, he tells her something nicer for a change, about the memory about the bread, and she responds honestly telling him that she wanted to thank him but didn’t know how. Then he starts questioning her about her feelings for him and it quickly turns into an uncomfortable interrogation full of accusations, and he again successfully antagonizes her. I remember someone suggesting (maybe it was you?) that he was maybe, in part, doing it out of a subconscious need to confirm that Katniss was bad and that he shouldn’t love her.

    I agree that Katniss had no idea what to do to help Peeta – and I think that nobody else had any idea what Katniss could do to help him, either. If they had, they would have asked her to at some point while she was still in District 13. But none of the doctors seemed to think that there was some such thing Katniss could do, and Haymitch didn’t suggest anything, either. They were trying to avoid bringing her name up at first; when any mention or thought of her would only trigger a violent attack; but even later, they only called her to see him once, when he requested it, and nobody, including Haymitch, ever suggested that she should try talking to him again. There were certainly good reasons why Katniss to conclude, as she did, that it might be better for him (as well as her) if she stayed away from him.

    I have a different view about Haymitch’s words to Katniss: I don’t doubt that he meant some of it (Haymitch would certainly think that Peeta would try to help Katniss – though I think the entirety of his belief was probably “…and Peeta – unlike Katniss, or me – would know how to help”) but I don’t think he was just 100% expressing his honest opinion. If he really thought all that time that Katniss could help Peeta but had just chosen not to, he would have said something to her while she was still in D13. But he only said it after Peeta, instead of having a team of doctors around him in 13, was assigned to the mission to Capitol, obviously because Coin wanted him to kill Katniss. Haymitch had no other choice but to make Katniss make some steps towards Peeta, and hope for the best for both of them. And I think that Haymitch knows what makes Katniss tick and that the best way to make her do that was to guilt-trip her and use the “what would Peeta do” argument. That Haymitch never explained what exactly she should do gives further credence to the idea that he had no clue himself.

    1. TTB: I had a feeling you’d want to chime in. I think that the counter that many anti-Katniss people would say in response to you (and me) pointing out that Peeta is really being the antagonist in this scene, is “Poor Peeta has been HIJACKED and has no idea what he’s saying”, and that Katniss should know that, and that by reacting to him as if he’s in his right mind and knows what he’s talking about, she is being totally unfair to him. To that, I’d say, “I guess you’ve never really had to talk to a psychotic, paranoid person yourself!” Because I have, and I think SC must have as well.

      I also agree that anti-Katniss types often fail to realize that Katniss herself is not very emotionally healthy during Mockingjay. I agree with the PTSD, though I don’t think she really sinks into clinical depression until she loses Prim (and with her, both Gale and her mother.) I think the hijacking confirms Katniss’s worst fears, that at the core, she is a horrible person unworthy of love. Even as far back as THG, when she first breaks Peeta’s heart, she states that even if she’d tried to make things work, he’d have just hated her later rather than sooner, implying that she assumes Peeta hates her even back then, though I don’t think he did. (Though IMHO, I don’t think he ever really HATED Katniss while hijacked. At least, not much more than, say, Gale did when he first had to watch K and P necking for the cameras.)

      I also think that part of her still is that bereaved 11 year old girl who perceives both her parents to have abandoned her, and that if not even her own parents can love her, then no one else can. It’s not just “If Mommy REALLY loved me, she wouldn’t have been so sad Daddy died that she stopped taking care of me”, but “If Daddy REALLY loved me, he would have run faster from that explosion, found some way to come home to me.” And while she’s fairly upfront about resenting her mother, I’m sure she feels quite guilty about any resentment she feels toward her father.

      I don’t recall if I’ve ever actually posted that Peeta is trying to confirm that Katniss is a bad person he shouldn’t love. But I do think the reason Peeta wanted to see Katniss is because he did remember loving her, remembered that bread incident specifically, and found that memory, and other positive ones, to be totally at odds with the false memories of “Katniss the evil mutt” planted by the hijacking.

      His opening comment about her not being that big or pretty, makes me think that the venom-influenced memories of Katniss was not just of her as a monstrous mutt, but also of this femme fatale that seduced him into doing her bidding. (Much like “Riddle-Hermione” from HP, “more beautiful and more terrible than the real Hermione”.) When he sees the real Katniss in front of him, she looks more like an ordinary girl, and he realizes that vision was NOT real.

      But anyway…I agree that some of the Katniss-hate is based on this idea that she COULD have helped Peeta and selfishly chose not to. I think the Katniss-hate is also based on this stereotype that all women are naturally compassionate and emotionally intelligent. That from “woman’s intuition” they all know just what to do or say when a loved one is suffering, and a woman who DOESN’T offer emotional support is just being selfish, because she could do it so easily.

      “If he really thought all that time that Katniss could help Peeta but had just chosen not to, he would have said something to her while she was still in D13.”

      As for your take on Haymitch, while I’ve never thought of it quite that way, I think it makes sense. While many fans have described Katniss as “Gale with tits”, I think it’s much more accurate to say that she’s “Haymitch with tits”.

  10. TTB: I noticed that I overlooked your reply to me about the Careers. Thanks about the clarification. I agree that they were both victims AND antagonists, who did have free will and bear some responsibility for their own actions. It seems some people seem to not comprehend that you can be both, such as an abused spouse who in turns abuses their kids. And that compared to them, never mind Snow and Coin, Katniss really does come out smelling like a…I’d like to say “rose”, but I get a feeling she’d NOT want to be compared to one. Maybe a primrose? The problem, I think, is that Peeta’s presence, and the way Katniss sees him as an ethical role model to look up to, winds up casting a shadow on Katniss herself.

    As for your take on why Peeta is so eager to go to the QQ; my point I really don’t think he found the “Love Games” re his forced marriage to Katniss and his feeling that Gale was her true love, to be so intolerable that he wanted to die so he could get out of that situation. I just don’t see that as in-character for him, considering how he’s so optimistic in general, I think he hoped that Katniss would eventually grow to love him in time. The idea that Katniss would go home to Gale, I’m sure helped him resign himself to death, but that’s quite different than an active wish to die to end his own suffering.

    It’s true that in THG, Katniss has almost no time to think before she makes the choice she does, to volunteer for Prim. But while Peeta does technically have lots of time to think about his decision after the QQ announcement, it seems (if you believe Haymitch) that he didn’t actually need that time. Instead, his very first reaction, without even thinking about it, was to convince Haymitch to let HIM be the tribute.

    Now, the reader doesn’t know until the actual Reaping, as to whether Peeta actually WILL be the tribute. But the whole “you could live a thousand lifetimes and never deserve him” comment by Haymitch, which Katniss agrees to, seems to be based on this idea that Peeta was so good, that his instinctive reaction to the announcement was to sacrifice himself. And I think that IS somewhat analogous to how Katniss decides immediately that she should volunteer for Prim, which at that point she DOES see as an act of sacrifice. She doesn’t have any confidence that she can actually win. And even if it’s not a perfect analogy, I think it’s close enough to cast doubt on this idea that Peeta is on such a moral pedestal compared to Katniss that she doesn’t deserve his love.

  11. I think that when peeta “dies” in book two katniss really is in love with him but won’t admit to it! I mean come on, even the sex symbol aka finnick (sorry finnick) can see it, and he covers for her by saying her reasons for crying are her hormones, which by the way is kind of a dumb excuse, considering that she isn’t really pregnant in the first place

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