What Does Peeta See in Katniss Anyway? Part Catching Fire

Welcome back to Guest Post Tuesday! Today we’ve got Part 2 our of 3 from guest writer Hunger Games Bookclub that examines the relationship between Katniss and Peeta from book to book! Dig in!

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Katniss Everdeen Peeta Mellark The Hunger Games Catching Fire wedding photo

The Girl of His Dreams?

Caesar Flickerman: Peeta Mellark, come on down! So, Peeta, it looks like you DID get the girl.

Peeta: Yes, I suppose I did.

Caesar Flickerman: I must ask you—now that you are engaged to the Girl on Fire— what do you see in Katniss anyway? Inquiring Capitol minds want to know!

Peeta: Well, some people might say that I have an eye for beauty… a weakness for beautiful things, at least when it comes to Katniss.

Caesar Flickerman: Yes, yes, no surprise there. She is quite the beauty.

Peeta: She still has no idea about the effect she can have on me. We had this one perfect day all to ourselves: a daylong picnic where we could just enjoy being together. I keep wishing I could freeze that moment and live in it forever.

Caesar Flickerman: The Hunger Games must be a real damper on the whole romance thing.

Peeta: Definitely not ideal. You know, Caesar, my first memory of Katniss was when she was five years old. I noticed other girls, of course, growing up, but I compared them all to her. Still, I never worked up the nerve to talk to her until we were in the Games together.

Caesar Flickerman: I find that very surprising! You—suffer from insecurity? Peeta, say it isn’t so! You are such a charming, confident and handsome young man.

Peeta: Sure, I can get along with anybody and most of my schoolmates would think of me as being popular at school. But when it came to Katniss, I suppose my courage failed me. Since returning from the Games last year, we’ve had more than a romance, we’ve become friends too. For instance, in the past year, we worked together on the Everdeen family’s book of plants. Katniss described the plants and I painted them. It was the first opportunity we’ve had to do something normal together.

Katniss Everdeen Peeta Mellark The Hunger Games Catching Fire Beach Scene

Unforgettable

Caesar Flickerman: Normal is not a word that describes you and Katniss…

Peeta: No, not with a year sandwiched between two Hunger Games. I suffer from nightmares as result of our time in the Games, but being with Katniss is a great comfort to me. When we’re together, it feels like we guard one another from the dangers of the past and the future.

Caesar Flickerman: Friend. Lover. Fiancée. Comforter. If you had to rank them, what is the number one quality you see in Katniss?

Peeta: Well, Katniss and I share a… for lack of a better word, like-mindedness. There are many times that she has spoken what I have already felt. I don’t have enough fingers to count all the times in the last few months that we have been in agreement without saying a word. Sometimes it feels like we can read one another’s thoughts. Without any discussion about how we would face the Quarter Quell procession, we found each other’s hands and knew we would go into this as one. To give you another example, although I can’t go into detail, I can tell you that when Katniss and I compared notes about our Quarter Quell private sessions with the Gamemakers, you’d have thought we planned the whole thing (even though neither of us knew what we were doing before we went in the room). I don’t know, Caesar. Finding that compatibility with someone, with Katniss… it makes me brave.

There’s more to Peeta than meets the eye. But then, you already knew that, right?
Hunger Games Bookclub

Editorial Note: For those of you book-nerds that want to know where I got this from, here are some of the page references that shaped my opinion of Peeta’s favorite things about Katniss from Catching Fire: Romance – CF pages 245-6, 352; Friendship – CF pages 160, 162, 167, 276; Comfort/Safety – CF pages 72, 159, 193, 222, 244, 260, 335, 345, 366; Like-mindedness – CF pages 59, 79, 80, 212, 235, 241, 243, 244, 257, 258, 304, 366.

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11 comments

  1. HGBC: I applaud your efforts AND creativity! I especially liked how you emphasized Peeta and Katniss’s like-mindedness, since much of the Peeta-Katniss theories out there, even those that support their romance, focus on their differences. I think you mentioned in a post, perhaps on another site, that Peeta is just as much a rebel in his own way as Katniss is, and I agree.

    Though I did find their Gamemaker private sessions to show their differences as well. While they are both engaging in acts of rebellion, Katniss wants to intimidate the Gamemakers by her staged hanging of Seneca Crane, reminding them that their lives, not just the tributes, are also subject to the whims of the Capitol.

    Peeta, on the other hand, while certainly wanting to shame the Gamemakers by painting Rue’s dead body, also seems to be appealing to their better instincts, asking, nonverbally, “Is this really who you are? Do you REALLY find the death of an innocent child to be entertaining?” It seems that in his pre-game interviews as well, Peeta is appealing to the Capitol citizens’ better selves. His THG interview is asking them, “Do you really find it acceptable that I might have to kill the girl I love, so you can be entertained?” And in his CF interview, he confronts them with, “Do you really find the death of a pregnant girl and her unborn baby to be entertaining?”

    So, while Katniss assumes that Snow ordering the torture and hijacking of Peeta to be aimed at her specifically, I wouldn’t be surprised if Snow realized that Peeta HIMSELF was a threat, because he has the power to get the Capitol citizens to question the status quo. Whereas Katniss, while certainly giving inspiration to the rebels, doesn’t seem to have that influence, at least not until her actions in District 2, in which she really does channel her inner Peeta.

    As for Peeta’s surface popularity, and his inner insecurities: it seems that while Peeta was popular and knows how to charm people, in terms of having really deep, meaningful relationships, he isn’t that far different than Katniss herself. Katniss doesn’t disagree (except for stating SHE is the exception) when Peeta says that no one really NEEDS him. Also, while it’s a realm of total speculation as to whether Peeta ever dated any of the other girls he “noticed”, he certainly doesn’t seem to have the ladies’ man reputation that his rival Gale has.

    1. @Satsuma, thanks! I thought listing the reasons might get stale, so this is my effort to kick things up a notch. FYI, as much as possible, I tried to make Peeta’s dialogue come from things he actually said or that Katniss said about him, and to put as little of my own interpretation into it as possible. (Although, on a funny note, when I read this post to my husband, he stopped me on a few sentences and said, “that doesn’t sound like Peeta.” Which funny because he’s never read the books and seen the movie once. But he was right…)

      I, as well, was pretty surprised to see how many times I found that Katniss and Peeta had this like-mindedness. You refer to the individual sessions with the Gamemakers and point out that there were differences, not just like-mindedness. I agree (and especially like part where you describe Peeta’s non-verbal “Do you REALLY find the death of an innocent child to be entertaining?”). However, in that part of the post I was quoting a line Katniss says… so she and Peeta see in that moment the similarity in their response to the Gamemakers.

      I confess I never thought about the fact that Snow might see Peeta as a threat, not just Katniss, but it makes perfect sense. If Katniss and Haymitch are smart enough to realize that Peeta can say the right thing at the right time and manipulate or direct people with his words, why not Snow?

      My personal opinion on Peeta is that he never dated other girls. I think he was popular and enjoyed other girls’ attention, but he strikes me as being a “once in a lifetime” romantic sort. If he really watched Katniss as much as he says (everyday) then I think he would feel like he was two-timing someone else if he dated them while that interested in Katniss.

      Also, agree that Peeta didn’t have much experience in deeper meaningful relationships. The only one I can see from the books prior to Katniss and Haymitch is his father. But since his father didn’t talk much, I don’t think there was a consistency to meaning conversations between the two of them. And I don’t get the impression that Peeta’s dad stood up to his mother on Peeta’s behalf.

      1. All that to say, the insecurity thing is an interpretation of Peeta’s actions, like the fact that he was always looking at her and then looking away. But he only mentions twice, I think, that he never worked up the nerve to talk to her. Not much in the way of Peeta’s dialogue to help us understand this part of him.

  2. Hmm, for some reason (maybe because of the holidays) this post has seen much less traffic than your last one, HGBC! But it occurred to me that Suzanne Collins actually sets up a LOT of parallels between Katniss and Peeta in the story, even ones the characters themselves don’t notice or comment on. For example:

    In THG, Katniss kills a Career Tribute, Marvel, who has just killed Rue, a Tribute from District 11. She seems to act from a combination of instinctive self-defense and vengeance.

    In CF, Peeta kills a Career Tribute, Brutus, who has just killed Chaff, a Tribute from District 11. Though we don’t find out he did until MJ, and Katniss does not provide us with his word-for-word description. But I recall a reference to him having lunch with Chaff, and I can easily see them bonding over the mutual amputee status. So perhaps the killing wasn’t just self-defense, but had an element of vengeance in it.

    Also, in THG, when Katniss kills Cato, a Career Tribute from D2, that is the last death in the 74th Games. When Peeta kills Brutus, a Career Tribute from D2, that is the last death in the 75th Games,

    And further along, in MJ, you can also argue that, as Katniss seems to channel her mother’s worst traits as she falls into depression after losing Peeta, and later, an even worse depression after she loses Prim. Peeta seems to channel HIS mother’s worst traits, as he becomes very harsh post-hijacking and, some would argue, verbally abusive; while I don’t personally think he crosses the line into abuse, he does seem to be, in the lunchroom scene, deliberately using his words in a way designed to hurt or at least offend pretty much everyone there.

    Anyway, I am really looking forward to your thoughts on how Peeta sees Katniss in MJ!

  3. @Satsuma, yes, I think many people were engrossed in holiday celebrations. Or maybe no one is quite sure how to respond to this since it is an interview. Well, the MJ post is “out of the box” too, so not sure how that will come across. Hopefully you will be able to pick up my thoughts on how Peeta sees Katniss, since I wrote it from his POV.

    I like how you have found these parallels between Katniss and Peeta. I’m sure there are more if I did a re-read looking for them.

    So I have a new little theory about Katniss, Peeta and Gale. I don’t know if you happened to hear the HG Fireside Chat maybe 2 weeks ago where they did a book review on the dystopian trilogy, Matched. Savanna said that she heard/read an interview with the author Ally Condie. Ally took the best characteristics of her husband and divided them into two people, creating her two male main characters romantically connected to Cassia character. It made me start thinking about Peeta and Gale. They really (IMHO) reflect different sides of Katniss’ character. Gale is the part of Katniss that is more driven, in charge, protective, fiery, hunter, connected to the earth and to the town as a whole. Peeta reflects the part of Katniss that is more sacrificial, peaceful, romantic, etc. Anyway, they both have a very deep and real connection to Katniss, which is why I think it is not a simple choice for Katniss and why so many fans get into a Team Gale or Team Peeta mindset.

    This is a bit like the process of interpreting an ancient manuscript, in that you have to read the words themselves, then you must interpret what it means, and finally apply it. Somehow in those last two steps, our individual personalities and experiences shape the way that we see those words, how we interpret them and the meaning we find in them.

    I’d appreciate your feedback about anything that doesn’t seem clear in the MJ post, which I think should go out today. I tried to stick with text as much as I could so I’m not sure how much is actual paraphrased quotes and how much is my interpretation.

    1. Hey HGBC! I’ll definitely comment on your MJ post when it gets put up! I actually thought up yet another parallel between K and P from MJ, but I’ll save that for the MJ post.

      I did listen to that Fireside Chat, and found it very interesting! I do tend to agree that Gale and Peeta are meant to represent different sides of Katniss. Many people seem to think that “Katniss is Gale with tatas” while Peeta has nothing in common with Katniss other than their shared Games experiences, but I think that’s way too simplistic. I am hoping to get the chance to address this in my own blog post at some point.

      Also, I thought about your contention that Peeta did not date anyone except Katniss. I really tend to agree with that. He might have “noticed” girls and even enjoyed their attention, perhaps gone on some “group dates”, but I really can’t see him having any actual relationships. I also think that Katniss had been watching him closely enough that she’d have noticed if he did! But while she often refers to Peeta being surrounded by friends, she never mentions him having an actual girlfriend (as opposed to a girl-who-is-a-friend).

      It seems many people assume that Peeta MUST have dated other girls before Katniss, and even done sexual things with them, not based on anything about Peeta himself, but just because they find it “unrealistic” that a 16 year old boy hasn’t dated anyone yet. (Even though, if you’re talking about “unrealistic”, I think it’s MUCH more unrealistic that Peeta fell for Katniss at the tender age of 5 and never looked back.)

      Yet, much fewer people have suggested that there’s something abnormal about Katniss being a 16 year old girl who hasn’t dated anyone yet. It really does smack of a double standard. Even though I knew plenty of male “late bloomers” who didn’t date until their late teens, even older. Not because they didn’t “notice” or have crushes on girls, but because they had other priorities, were afraid of rejection, or simply because they just weren’t lucky enough to “like-like” a girl who actually liked them back.

      Anyway, looking forward to your out-of-box MJ experience!

  4. “…if you’re talking about “unrealistic”, I think it’s MUCH more unrealistic that Peeta fell for Katniss at the tender age of 5 and never looked back.” – HA! I agree, not many 5 year old crushes continue for that long. My kindergarten crush lasted about 1 month, until Michael Finnegan did that one thing that really ticked me off!

    I knew lots of people in high school that didn’t date. They might have had unrequited crushes. They might have had other priorities. They might have hung out with a pack of friends – boy and girl – and not had the emphasis on “dating” that most of our culture does. Or just wanted to wait till they found a person worth the trouble. But I’ve been to my 20th (yikes!) high school reunion, and let me tell you that almost everybody eventually found a mate, even the geekiest of the geeks.

    OK, that is real life, but in Panem world, I think it is simpler in Katniss’ case. SHE WAS WORKING HER BUTT OFF TO FIND FOOD! No time to think about that kind of thing. And she didn’t want to get in a relationship that would lead to sex, marriage, family because she didn’t want to ever watch her own children go to the Hunger Games. I don’t know why that seems unrealistic to people. It makes complete sense to me. Personally, I love that little line when she talks about Gale: “a good hunting partner is hard to find.”

    I think when it comes to Peeta, that there is a big difference between having the normal romantic and sexual desires, and between acting on them. I have no doubt that Peeta was a full-blooded romantic teenager. But he’s also more patient than the average young man, and I think he wanted to wait for Katniss to be interested in him as much or similar to he was in her. I can’t see him trying to force the physical aspect of the relationship, but I think if Katniss had been ready earlier, he would have been all for it. Even with Gale, we know that he was physically interested, but even he didn’t want to kiss Katniss when she wasn’t fully present (he said kissing her when she was numbing herself out was like kissing someone who was drunk… it doesn’t count). If Gale could have that much self-control, then it follows that Peeta would have more so in the physical realm because Gale was the one out kissing all the girls in school (according to him).

    Re: the “Gale with tatas” theory, I don’t buy it. In Mockingjay, there are a few points when Katniss gets contemplative about her relationship with Gale, saying that there’s not much left of what they had in common. That their relationship is not withstanding the pressure of the rebellion with District 13, etc. She wonders if they would have gotten married had she never been reaped or if they would have eventually drifted apart anyway. I can see it going both ways. But no matter what COULD have been, they DID drift apart. They did begin to have different values or priorities and a different way of looking at life… Gale wanting to fight back and Katniss wishing for that “dandelion in the spring”. Of all the common interests, the shared trauma of their fathers dying in the same accident, the bond of becoming the provider for their families, apparently there was something still missing.

    1. I think many of the “it’s unrealistic” comments come from people who have had different experiences growing up themselves. We tend to assume that what was the norm for us, and our family/friends, is a universal norm. So, people who started dating early, and “kissed a lot of frogs” before finding the right one, likely assume everyone else did, too. But both me and one of my best friends growing up didn’t start dating until age 17, even though we both had our share of crushes before that.

      So it never struck me as odd that K and P haven’t been into the dating scene much at age 16. Katniss because she’s focused on day-to-day survival, and Peeta because of his Katniss fixation. Also, to bring up another K and P parallel, I think they’re both shaped by the examples of their parents. Katniss is afraid to love romantically partly because she saw what happened to her mother when she lost her beloved.

      On the other hand, I think Peeta sees his parents’ marriage as a cautionary tale. He spends much of the story convinced that Katniss prefers Gale, and I think he hates the idea of being with Katniss, but being her “second choice”, like his mother. I also think that, considering his kind, compassionate nature, he wouldn’t think it was fair to put another girl in his mother’s position by dating her while secretly pining for Katniss.

      “I think when it comes to Peeta, that there is a big difference between having the normal romantic and sexual desires, and between acting on them…I think he wanted to wait for Katniss to be interested in him as much or similar to he was in her. I can’t see him trying to force the physical aspect of the relationship, but I think if Katniss had been ready earlier, he would have been all for it.”

      Well, I also think it’s quite possible that Peeta himself didn’t feel ready; he’s the one who stops their first real kiss in THG, even though he has no inkling at the time that Katniss isn’t totally sincere. (Though I’m sure the whole “we’re on national TV AND her head is bleeding” also played a part.)

      That being said, while this gets into MJ territory, I always interpreted Peeta’s bitterness about the “nights on the train” to be an indication that he DID see their bed-sharing as a physically intimate act, even if Katniss herself doesn’t. Not just that he’s making insinuations he knows are completely false, just to tick her (and Gale) off.

  5. ” Whereas Katniss, while certainly giving inspiration to the rebels, doesn’t seem to have that influence, at least not until her actions in District 2, in which she really does channel her inner Peeta.” Just a quick question… what do you mean by this? What happened in district 2. I have read the books before and Twice in the past couple of weeks but I think I just may have missed something in the point you are making here. If you dont mind elaborating a little more. Thanks so much.

  6. OK. Katniss isn’t the only one having an effect on Peeta, it’s also the other way round. I mean Peeta is the only person whose words instill themselves in Katniss’ mind. It’s like after the games, there’s a part of Katniss that’s amused and impressed with Peeta. His ability with words, his reality and ingenuity, his kindness and selflessness and morality fascinates her. If Gale kindles her fire then Peeta stirs it. There were many times when what Peeta said affected Katniss conscience. Many decisions she makes are mostly repercussions to Peeta’s opinions on the task at hand.
    What he says about her decision to run away, she remembers the whole thing completely. What his opinion was in the quell, his words when he tells her that he doesn’t want the capitol to change him. When in his interview with Flickerman he points out that there will be no winners in the war that is no decent species would take over. When he stands against Coin’s decision, Katniss later on contemplates over his words. How she ALWAYS thinks what Peeta would do in a situation. Like how she knew Peeta would negotiate, even during the bombing in district 2 , Katniss remarks about how Peeta would think of it as wrong. I mean, Peeta DID leave everlasting effects on Katniss.
    However you don’t see that in Gale’s case. She starts behaving squeamishly when he mentions how killing tributes would be no different than killing animals, and when he wants to start a rebellion and speaks harshly about how he doesn’t accept ”capitol products”
    When he makes the similar brutal point when he makes a death trap to blow the nut. When he CONTINUOUSLY gets agitated with Katniss’ constant denials to everything he says.
    When he makes a point of asking Katniss whether he should kill Peeta first? His actions were always kindled with revenge and hatred for the capitol. Gale is fiercely protective yes, but he lacks humanity. I mean he’s a great character and sometimes I think this triangle wouldn’t have been formed if Gale hadn’t confused Katniss with his confession.
    Oh and I also think, I might be wrong but, the love Peeta had for Katniss was true and pure. Love is about patience and acceptance. Peeta waited so long for her and even planned to risk his life for Katniss’ future even if it was with Gale.
    Whereas Gale’s love for Katniss was realized through jealousy when Darius flirted with her. I mean okay people fall in love in mysterious ways but I always felt as though Gale felt a sense of territory when it came to Katniss. She was the person he knew longest and deepest. They shared many moments but love is different. Even if Katniss had chosen Gale, he still wouldn’t be able to contrive the patience to bear her nightly screams and nightmares. Heck, he wouldn’t even understand that part of Katniss that would always be afraid and not as brave and steady as the part he loves. He would soon get agitated like he always got when Katniss didn’t comply with him mostly in MJ. THAT is not how love grows right? Katniss loves Gale in her own way but always platonic, like a friend. It was Gale’s confession that confused her and she didn’t tell Gale or Peeta her true feelings because he loved both of them selfishly and knew that if she chose one she would lose the other. I realized that when I read the scene in CF when Katniss leads to Peeta’s room after a nightmare and before he can ask her to do pushups she hugs him and that hug was described by SC so intimately. The way she felt when his lips touched her neck and for a moment she was relieved and relaxed because Gale wouldn’t mind her doing this with Peeta since she was gonna die anyway. I still think Katniss always had a soft spot for Peeta. It’s just she links the feeling of love with protection. When she says she always feels safe in Peeta’s arms and how she needs him. It’s almost as if she’s confessing how much she depends on Peeta. Once when he asks her about nightmares and how she’s coping with them. She makes a mental word to herself saying ”Not without you” I mean love is needing someone like? I always found love to be the most unconditional, selfless but at the same time a very selfish feeling to be honest and Katniss feels all of it.
    Peeta adored Katniss as a fan because he saw the strength of independence in her which he certainly lacked. There is also a point of psychological curiosity if we consider the time when his father told him about how Katniss’ mother left him for a coal miner . I mean telling such clandestine stuff to a 5 year old is pretty bizarre and a 5 year old who’s already besotted with that girl. I think that confession made Peeta more curious about her, he kept on wondering whether the same would happen to him too if he asked her out? Would his father’s fate be somehow is too if he tried to talk to her? Then there’s a point of his physical abuse as a child too. I mean that sensitive kid was beaten for doing anything that would displease his mother. So insecurity is pretty much clear the case with Peeta. He always felt abused and unwanted. Then to his horror Katniss met Gale. The rough, dark and handsome older guy who was a heart breaker back in 12. He clearly found his life a parallel to his father. It was as though another Mellark had been defeated in his quest for love to a coal miner and he found himself drifting to the shadows of insecurity. Katniss’ equivocalness left him no haven either.
    So over all, I’m terribly sorry to leave such a long note but I love your literature debate and it’s just despite being breathlessly awesome, the hunger games trilogy leaves many blank spaces which if filled would make much more sense. And SC REALLY needs to clarify them or write another book sometime :’)

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