Is It REALLY In The Books? Fanon vs. Canon

Welcome to our latest Guest Post which was supposed to be up last night but my sleep schedule is awful!

Today, Satsuma is taking us through the ropes of Fanon, aka the stuff fans generally believe to be true despite the books never specify and actual Canon plot points!

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So I’ve spent almost a year in the THG fandom at this point. And one aspect of fandom culture in general that amazes and amuses me, is the existence of “fanon”. While many of these widespread beliefs seem to be perpetuated by being repeated in many fanfics, some have become so established that I’ve seen them expressed by fans in replies to fansite questions, and many fans railed at the THG movie for “changing what’s in the books” when the idea was never actually in the books to begin with!

Now, I think some aspects of canon, such as why Katniss voted yes to a certain plan President Coin proposes at the end of MJ, were meant by Suzanne Collins to be up for debate, as to what the “real answer” is. But some other, more minor aspects, not as much. In no particular order, here are some widespread fanon assumptions that I don’t think are established in canon at all:

Hey look! Foxface's Dad!

Hey look! Foxface’s Dad!

1. Fanon: District 5’s official industry is Science. It’s a place where Dr. Frankenstein would likely feel welcome, where the muttations, purified tracker jacker venom, and other elements of biological warfare are dreamed up. (Popular corollary: Foxface herself was created in a laboratory, not conceived by normal means.)

Canon:

Unfortunately for fans who think “I’d love to live in D5 so I can unleash my inner mad scientist!”, the books never actually state what D5’s industry is. I am actually flummoxed as to where this came from. (Unlike, say, District 6, where I think it was quite plausible to conclude, as many fans did, that it was the Medicine district, based on their apparently widespread morphling addiction problem.) I realize that many fans do not accept the movie tie-in materials that present D5’s official industry as Power, not Science. But the fanon version of the official industry isn’t any closer to book canon, though it does make for interesting Foxface fanfics.

2. Fanon: Katniss is a horrible cook. Post-MJ, Peeta does all the cooking as well as baking around the house, because he knows that if he let Katniss try, she might just burn the house down. (Though he is comforted by the idea that at least they have two houses between them.)

Canon:

Katniss’s does state in THG that “I’m not much of a cook”, but that’s far from “I’m such a bad cook that any attempt to do so, will require the services of a hazmat team for the clean up operation”. Is it plausible that Peeta is a better cook than Katniss? Sure. He’s certainly a better baker, both due to experience and passion. But baking is a specific skill set, which Peeta has been practicing since childhood. It doesn’t mean that he’s just as much a whiz at making, say, an omelet, or a stew (especially from nonstandard meats). (Just like Peeta being a good liar doesn’t make Katniss a horrible one. She fooled plenty of people throughout the books, including Peeta himself.)

Also, there is a specific scene in THG, Chapter 5, in which Katniss describes, in detail, how she’d recreate a Capitol version of Orange Chicken back home. “I try to imagine assembling this meal myself back home. Chickens are too expensive, but I could make do with a wild turkey. I’d need to shoot a second turkey to trade for an orange. Goat’s milk would have to substitute for cream….” And on and on. As someone who’s done my share of cooking, this did NOT come across as the inner monologue of someone who can’t even warm up a bowl of Greasy Sae’s stew without causing a kitchen apocalypse.

By Manuelida Desrossy

By Manuelida Desrossy

3. Fanon: Cato and Clove were romantically involved.

Canon:

Certainly, Cato’s emotional reaction to Clove’s death, and the fact that his words, “Stay with me”, are later echoed by Peeta in both CF and MJ, suggest that he did have some kind of connection to her. But was it really a romantic one?  Or were they just good hunting partners?

My own take on Cato and Clove is pretty similar to the general take on the Career Pack dynamics posted on Victor’s Village under “Ch-Ch-Ch-Changes”:

“The Careers aren’t friends in The Hunger Games, but they have an understanding.At least temporarily, they’re a unit. They care about each other, though not as much as they care about themselves.”

But, many fans seem to see it as canon fact, that Cato and Clove were a couple; enough to rail on the THG movie for having Cato and Glimmer get cozy, “when in the books it was Cato and Clove!” I’ve even seen movie defenders state, not that “Clato is a popular ship, but that doesn’t make it canon”, but that “Isabelle is only 14, no way Gary Ross would have had her hook up with Xander, he’s way too old for her!” With the implication that this age difference was the ONLY reason the movie didn’t showcase Cato and Clove as the second set of star-crossed lovers.

If you ship Clato, I won’t stand in your way. But if you actually got upset at the movie for showing Glimmer flirting with Cato, I think you’re taking your ship a bit too seriously. Might Cato and Clove have bonded either in the arena, or before? Of course. Is it plausible that they were a couple? Sure. But unless Suzanne Collins herself confirms it, it’s not canon, sorry.

(Same goes for Gale/Johanna, Haymitch/Maysilee, and other pairings that are so popular in the fanfic world that even fans who don’t do fanfic, seem to believe these pairings MUST be what Suzanne Collins herself intended.)

And speaking of Glimmer…

4. Fanon: Every single Victor who ever lived was pimped out, not just by Snow, but by whoever was President before him. Everyone, including Mags, Haymitch, Beetee, Chaff, Woof, Blight, Cecelia, the morphlings…Every. Single. One!

Canon:

We don’t find out exactly which Victors were exploited by Snow in this way, and how often. However, while Finnick states he “wasn’t the only one”, he never states that all the Victors were involved. He does imply Cashmere and Johanna were approached, and perhaps this was an accepted part of the life of a Career Victor in D1; I can certainly see this happening to Glimmer if she had been Victor, since she did work the sexy angle in her interview. And that makes me sad, to see Glimmer not just as a girl who’s using a clever Games strategy, but as a girl choosing (or being persuaded) to sell her body as a way to survive; not that different, really, from what some starving Seam girls did in Cray’s house. A subtle reminder that even the Careers were still victims of the Capitol.

But just as not all girls in the Seam became prostitutes, I never got the impression that forced prostitution was part and parcel of the standard Victor compensation package in Panem. I think that if it had been, and 73 Victors had being prostituted around the Capitol for 75 years, the reaction to Finnick’s revelations would have been, “Yeah, yeah, Snow makes the Victors whore themselves out to wealthy Capitol patrons, what else is new?” As opposed to being a shocking scandal that even served as a distraction from a certain rescue mission…

wedding17f

Because when your parents own a small business, you MUST be rich and privileged…

5. Fanon: The Merchant Class of D12 all have arranged marriages.

Canon:

This theory seems quite popular as a way to explain why the apparently kind, decent Mr. Mellark wound up with such a “witch” for a wife. However, Katniss says that one of the few freedoms allowed in D12 was the ability to choose who to marry, or to marry at all. Now, the small population of D12 likely meant that many people wound up “settling” for a spouse out of practical considerations such as whether they could be helpful in running the family business, instead of having some grand epic romance. But that’s not the same as having parents or matchmakers choose your spouse for you. Even Katniss realizes in Catching Fire, that many people in the Seam had assumed she would eventually marry Gale. That might have been a marriage more of convenience than passion, at least on her side. But it certainly wouldn’t have been arranged.

This theory also lets Mr. M off the hook for his actions, or lack thereof, in terms of protecting his children from their mother. “It wasn’t his fault, he was stuck with this horrible wife who his parents made him marry!” The sad state of the Mellarks’ domestic life doesn’t mean they were forced to marry each other. Maybe Mr. M just got swept up in a classic rebound relationship with Mrs. M, shortly after his disappointment that his true love “ran off with a coal miner”. Maybe she got pregnant, leading to a “shotgun” marriage.

I think this is quite plausible, actually, considering how the Mellarks’ eldest son is too old for the reaping, and hence at least 3 years older than Peeta, even though both sets of parents (the Everdeens and the Mellarks) seem to be around the same age. But even if he was pressured into marriage due to pregnancy, that’s far from the kind of arranged marriage where he didn’t even see her until the day of the wedding.

6. Fanon: When Peeta has a flashback, he experiences everything he did during his initial episode of tracker jacker venom induced psychosis…including his homicidal thoughts and behavior toward Katniss.

Canon:

JekyllandHyde!Peeta is a popular interpretation of post-hijack, post-war Peeta in many “post-MJ” fanfics. But though nothing in canon specifically rules OUT this possibility, I think that Peeta’s recovery by the time he returns to D12 is meant to be much more advanced than this. Note that he tells Katniss that Dr. Aurelius didn’t let him return earlier. Now, Dr. A’s ethics as a psychiatrist might be slightly shady, but SC doesn’t portray him as a total quack, either. I think she meant for the reader to know that Peeta had been declared by a competent mental health professional, to no longer be a threat to society. SC, through Katniss, refers to “moments” when he clutches the back of a chair until the flashbacks pass. Moments. To me, this suggests these flashbacks last a few minutes at most. Not hours, or even days, the way some fanfics have it.

Besides, would Peeta really have returned to Katniss’s side, and her bed, if he had any doubts about whether it was safe for her to be around him? If he was really having flashbacks that lead him to try to choke Katniss again every week, like some fanfics have it, would he really allow himself to get anywhere near her, even if Katniss does her best Bella Swan impression and proclaims that she loves him enough to accept the risk that he could kill her? I just don’t see this as consistent with Peeta’s character. Peeta, who cried after inadvertently killing Mitchell, a mere acquaintance, and asked to be killed because he feared “It’s only a matter of time before I kill someone else”. If he was so concerned about squad members who he’d earlier dismissed as just “guards”, why would he risk the life of someone he actually loves?

All this is speculation, of course. But I think it’s important to differentiate between speculation and fact. (Though, of course, good ol’ SC left a lot of ambiguity about what’s Real or Not Real, anyway.) Also, I’d love to hear from YOU! What are other “fanon” theories you can think of that are widely believed, but aren’t really supported by canon?

Satsuma

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31 comments

  1. Thank you, thank you for addressing the fanfic notion that Peeta was not safe for Katniss/his moments of flashbacks post MJ. I think you’ve provided a very strong argument that to stay in character, Peeta wouldn’t have come back to District 12 if he thought he was still a threat.

    I confess, I have never heard of most of these fanfic notions. However, I think the one about “every” victor is approached to sell their body is common. I agree with you that the fact that Finnick shares it as explosive secret means it w asn’t happening with every Victor. The Games were meant to serve as a reminder, but to prostitute the Districts Victors strips them of “honor” and exposes the dark underbelly of the Capitol.

    What do you say to the fanfics who wanted “more” of Effie and Haymitch (as a couple)?

  2. You forgot the fanon #5 and go directly to the canon. A bit hard to guess at first what it was. Then you can kind of figure it out, but it’d be cool if it was there written! Thanks.

    About the article itself, I pretty much agree with you Satsuma. Never shipped these theories (except maybe Haymitch / Mayselee, but never cared much about it).

  3. Thank you for bringing up your last point, about Peeta repeatedly choking Katniss after he returns to District 12. That has bothered me for so long. I have always found it a little disturbing that people would think (and find it ok) that either of them would allow that to continue happening,and they would just resume going about their normal day after he tries to kill Katniss multiple times.

    1. I could probably actually have made an entire post out of what I think about this fanon theory. Since I came into the fandom in 2012, I really don’t know how this became the standard fanfic interpretation of post-MJ Peeta’s mental status. But I wonder if perhaps it began with Gale fans who thought Katniss made a mistake in choosing Peeta, and Peeta relapsing was meant to be a plausible reason why Katniss would leave Peeta, or even have to kill him in self-defense, and provide an opening for her to “rekindle” a romance with Gale.

      But I find that kind of fanfic to be much less disturbing than fanfics that are advertised as Katniss/Peeta romance fics, that show Peeta trying to kill Katniss multiple times. I can think of a number of reasons why this happened, some much more disturbing than others.

      (1) People have come across this so often in other fanfics, that they assume it must be for real, and include it in their own fanfic, without putting too much thought into whether other interpretations might be more plausible.

      (2) People realize that it’s unrealistic to show Peeta to be completely restored to his pre-hijack mental state, but aren’t comfortable writing a Peeta who is mostly, but not completely, mentally healthy, since the MJ canon really doesn’t show us much of that Peeta. So they write post-MJ Peeta as alternating between a “Dr Jekyll” phase in which they can base his character on the THG and CF versions of Peeta, and a “Mr Hyde” phase in which they can base his character on the fully hijacked MJ version of Peeta.

      (3) People think Katniss didn’t do right by Peeta when he was fully hijacked in MJ, and are trying to give her a chance to redeem herself by showing her to be in total, Bella-like Stand By Your Man Even When He Wants to Kill You mode during Peeta’s “episodes”. (A word that I’m sure many fanfic writers would be surprised to find is never actually mentioned in canon!)

      (4) People actually think Katniss was such a “word that rhymes with witch” in MJ that she DESERVES to be physically abused. Obviously, this is what disturbs me the most of all. I also think that the movie version of MJ will need to handle the Peeta hijacking very sensitively, to not invite protests from anti-DV activists.

  4. Other really popular “Fanons”
    1. That Haymitch and Effie were previously in a relationship.
    2. That Peeta and Katnis name their children after dead characters. (ie PrimRue for the daughter)
    3. That Foxface committed suicide.
    4. Madge and Gale got together while Katnis and Peeta were in the 74th Games
    5. Prim is really Peeta’s sister. And Mrs. Everdeen and Mr. Mellark had an affair.

    1. Yeah, the Gale/Madge relationship theory is so popular – though I haven’t heard specifically when fans think they got together. The 5) on your list is one I have particular issues with, so much I’d love to write a debunking blog post one day. I wonder if it was really fanon before the Panem Companion book was published?

      Which reminds me of some other fanons relating to characters’ ethnicity, such as that Katniss, Gale etc. are mixed race or Native American, even though there’s nothing in the books that specifically points to that; and, one I found particularly baffling at first, the fanon that Johanna is Hispanic, which apparently some people were so convinced was canon that they called Lionsgate racist for casting Jena Malone. I was puzzled since I couldn’t see anything in the book pointing out that Johanna was Hispanic, until I realized that it was all about the stereotype of “sassy Latina”… which makes it rather ironic, I think, that people would cry racism because the casting didn’t conform to an ethnic stereotype they are attached to.

      I’m starting to think that there’s a fanon (or at least fanon in my opinion) that book!Katniss is physically unattractive and pretty much built like a stick. Now, Katniss was not supposed to be as tall or as curvy as Jennifer Lawrence, but I’m sure she’s considered attractive at least when she’s dressed up and made up – or else the shallow Capitol audience would hardly be likely to be going so gaga over her and so obsessed with her wedding dresses; and while people are not talking about her looks all the time like they would about Finnick, there are a few times people do call her pretty or beautiful, while the only times she’s called unattractive are 1) a joke by Finnick while they’re teasing each other, and 2) hijacked Peeta’s statement that she’s not very pretty – although CF Peeta called her beautiful. And while the Capitol wanted to give her breast implants, there was no mention of hip or butt implants, and there many women of normal or curvier build that have average sized or relatively smaller breasts; if Capitol tastes are anything like the current Hollywood standards of female beauty, 90% of women would probably be deemed “lacking” in that area.

      From Satsuma’s list, I was aware of 3 and 6; I didn’t know the others were that widespread, and I had never even heard of 1, but that’s all probably because I rarely read fanfics.

      1. For some reason, I love shipping Gale / Madge, probably because I ship Katniss / Peeta but still like Gale and would like to think he was happy with someone other than Katniss during The Book Years. I know it’s NOT REAL, but it makes me smile.

        The Mr. Mellark / Mrs. Everdeen thing did exist before Panem Companion. No matter the source, it DRIVES ME NUTS! Katniss describes the love her parents shared to juxtapose the changes in her mother after his death, so I don’t think that love was fake (nor do I think it was guilt). I realize Panem is dramatic, but it’s not a soap opera where everyone is lying about whose fathering their children!

      2. TTB: I figured I wouldn’t stir up the tracker jacker nest in my main post with race and ethnicity based theories, but I will say that I sometimes wonder why it’s considered horrible and racist to complain, for example, that the movie casting choices for Cinna, Beetee, etc., were “wrong” because they went against your mental image of the characters as white, but that it’s perfectly legitimate to complain about Katniss and Gale’s casting was “wrong” because they went against your mental image of the characters as non-white. Especially when, such as in Johanna’s case, the reasons people had for their mental images in the first place, were bordering on racist anyway.

        I also don’t think “Katniss is a Person of Color” quite achieved fanon status in the general fandom, but many people who complained about the movie casting stated things like “I wish they cast someone who was brown like she is in the books”. Uh, actually, Katniss is OLIVE in the books, which can indicate a “brown” skin shade, but, people from Greece and other Mediterranian countries, who are considered “white” by most, also have olive-toned skin.

        (Note I’m not including the reaction to Amandla-as-Rue because she is specified as having dark skin in the book, AND Collins has stated that she and Thresh were meant to be African-American. So people who protested that were actually showing their own misreading of canon. I also realize that some people who were disappointed by the Beetee casting DID make blatantly racist statements, and I’m not supporting that at all).

        This is not to say that people who see Katniss as a Person of Color are “wrong”, BTW. Just that they’re not “right”, either. I think this is a legitimate topic of discussion. I’d say the same about the “Book!Katniss is as thin as a stick” idea. There is evidence supporting that interpretation, but there is also evidence that doesn’t support it.

        What I don’t like is when people become so convinced they are right, that they become arrogant and rude about it, instead of admitting that it is a theory.

  5. Hey everyone! I’m glad I was able to stir up some discussion! (I must admit I was a tad disappointed by the lack of reaction to my prior post, but I figured that I probably just made it too long and verbose.)

    HGBC: I thought about mentioning Haymitch/Effie, but to me, it doesn’t quite reach the level of fanon, because most who ship the two seem to make it clear that this is a “movieverse” pairing more than one they think definitely happened in canon. My list is based not just on what occurs often in fanfics, but what has been referred to as fact by fans outside the fanfic realm.

    Also, while “Hayfie” it is a popular ship, I’ve also seen Haymitch shipped with Hazelle, with Chaff, or even with Katniss herself! Or, to be a lifelong bachelor out of permanent mourning for either Maysilee, his unnamed canon girlfriend killed by Snow’s order, or both. On the other hand, I really don’t recall any Cato or Clove stories in which they had any other romantic relationships. (Not saying that they’re not out there, of course.)

    VV: I don’t have any issue with people like you shipping Gale/Madge, because you state that you know it’s NOT REAL. While it seems to me that Gale/Johanna has become more popular than Gale/Madge, likely because Madge was confirmed dead in MJ, it does seem that most fanfics written between CF and MJ that shipped Peeta/Katniss featured the side pairing of Gale/Madge. Personally, I think that Gale and Madge having some kind of romantic history is a bit more plausible than Gale/Johanna, since Katniss herself gets a tad jealous and suspects a Gale/Madge pairing when she brings him the morphling.

    I suspect that if Madge had lived, Gale/Madge would still be the most popular pairing for Gale, since there’s more canon support, and it does provide Gale with some character development, of acknowledging Madge as an equal partner, not just a rich girl who doesn’t have to worry about being reaped. Well-written Gale/Madge fics does show Gale opening his eyes when he realizes that, far from not being touched by the reaping, Madge basically lost not just her aunt, but her mother to the Games, since Mrs. Undersee seems to have taken her sister’s death even worse than how Katniss takes Prim’s death. (Both eventually marry and have kids, but there’s no sign Katniss wound up a morphling addict like Mrs. U seems to have been.)

    Gale/Johanna, on the other hand, seems to be based on little more than the idea that Gale and Madge have similar personalities, at least superficially, and that pairing them up provides a neat ending for two characters that lack that in canon. It’s not that I haven’t come across well-written Gale/Johanna that does deal with the mental scars they both have from the war. But a lot of the time, it’s just thrown in on the side in a mostly Peeta/Katniss centered story as a way to give Gale his own happy ending. I’ve also seen fans mention Gale/Johanna in posts and comments as if this is established canon that Gale and Johanna got together, got married, and had kids. That’s why I mentioned that, not Gale/Madge.

    As for the whole “Prim is really Mr. Mellark’s child and Peeta’s half-sister” theory; I realize that it was around before the Panem Companion, but it seemed that most people saw it as a plausible, but mostly crackpot theory. I definitely think that book gave the theory much more legitimacy in the fandom, and consequently more fan support, than before. I’ve discussed my many issues with that theory before.

    Also, I wonder if V. Arrow deserves credit for the “District 5 is the Science District” theory becoming so popular that it achieved fanon status, because her commentary for her map of Panem (posted on her livejournal years before TPC came out) does mention that, as well as TPC itself. I might give her credit for the “Cinna did NOT come from the Capitol” theory that also seems to be near-fanon these days.

    BTW: I’m not trying to slam V or her theories, since I’ve been accused of that before. I actually think her take on Annie as a strong survivor is quite insightful, for example. I just don’t think that she deserves to be quite as much an Authority Figure on All Things Panem that many fans seem to have made her into.

  6. Satsuma, here you are stirring up all sorts of controversy. Again. 🙂 Thank you for addressing with insight this fanon vs. canon topic.

    First of all, I want to point out that I enjoyed your previous post immensely. The only problem that might occur with the length is that you discuss so many different points that it is difficult to choose which to discuss. I think I meant to stick in a few more comments and it got lost in the shuffle. However, in my mind, your post just reinforces the fact that you have a lot of well-stated, clearly argued opinions about The Hunger Games. Which, is why we are all here. Or at least, most of us – referring to the Victor’s Village fans who discovered this site with search words that weren’t “Katniss Everdeen naked” or whatever! (For those who have no idea what I’m talking about, I’m referencing the VV post from earlier in the year that outlines all the creative ways people found their website.)

    I usually dismiss these fanon theories quickly, which is why the Haymitch/Effie one was the only theory to come to my mind. Now that so many others have commented, I remember some of these other ones as well.

    I am a romantic at heart, to be sure, but I find it strange that some fans must have every single person in THG hooked up with someone else. Gale and Johanna? Please! He can’t stand her. Gale and Madge? He was so mean to her about her dress on reaping day that I find it a very unlikely romance. I like Gale as a character and as a person with a deep and meaningful connection to Katniss, so I understand the temptation to pair him off with somebody… to give Gale his one little happy ever after moment. But with everything we know about him, isn’t it the most likely that he just went off to District 2 and sowed some wild oats with quite a few gals over there? That’s what Katniss seemed to think would happen, so why doubt her assessment?

    And the whole “Prim is really Peeta’s sister” thing just pisses me off, quite frankly. I think you and TimeTravelingBunny have addressed this one sufficiently enough in the past, so I don’t feel like I need to argue the debate points… I just want to express my indignation! Ugh! Why are these people ruining the one relationship (between Katniss’ father and mother) that was pure and good? I haven’t read the Panem Companion so I can’t address it’s role or lack of it in propagating this particular theory.

    On the other hand, I agree with you that while Suzanne Collins seems to have purposely made some moments in the trilogy ambiguous and begging for interpretation – such as why Katniss voted the way she did at end of MJ – my guess is that she would be truly astounded to hear all of the various theories and interpretation about her various characters that have developed over the years.

  7. Prim and Rory as a couple. They never interacted in the books, there’s no mention of them even being friends but about 99% of fics have them as a couple.

  8. The only “fanon” I like is that D5 is science/biotechnology, but obviously, we were never told what D5 was. I think it makes sense as the Capitol is not all that huge, and for all their experiments (especially how mutts got a kick start after the dark days), a second location that’s devoted to laboratory space wouldn’t be implausible. My head cannon says that initial development takes place in the capitol (also “high level classified” stuff), and the more large scale testing/implementation is performed in D5, but again, just my head cannon.

    What I don’t get is how D9 is grain and D11 is ag. Grain IS ag, so thus from the books/my head cannon, I think D9 is something else, though I don’t think it’s hunting (another very popular fanfic theory).
    I’ve toyed with the idea that D9 does some of the further processing of the products produced in D10 and 11, as I doubt all the processing of picked plums and butchered lambs into a can of lamb stew like they found in MJ is all done in the Capitol, and having a district be responsible for the production AND the high level processing of goods doesn’t seem very feasible. Again the capitol isn’t all that huge, so they probably out source a lot of the factory processing.

    1. Rue’s Melody: I actually understand why District 9 would be grain and D11 would be agriculture, because while grain farming is part of agriculture, there is much more to agriculture than just grain farming. Rue talks about climbing trees and picking fruit, not planting wheat. Also, I think that D11 is meant to be in the Deep South; this is a definite if you count the Hunger Games Adventure map as “canon”, though many fans don’t. And the Deep South has a totally different environment than the Midwestern states that grow most of the grain in the US today. While Panem is affected by climate changes, I think that SC didn’t mean for the changes to be so radical that it completely changed where food crops are most suited to grow.

      Also, in CF Chapter 5, Katniss describes the rest of the Victory Tour after the D11 stop, and talks about, “Sometimes a brief tour: a glimpse of the sea in one district, towering forests in another, ugly factories, fields of wheat, stinking refineries.” So it seems that SC herself meant for the “fields of wheat” to be in a District other than D11.

      As for the “stinking refineries”, that may refer to oil refineries , and would actually be an indication that the movie-verse District 5 industry, Power, was taken from SC’s own concept of what District 5’s industry would be. But, it could also refer to a corn refinery (as corn can be processed into ethanol for fuel as well as corn syrup as a sweetener), and I think your idea that D9 is a food processing district makes sense.

      Also, where Districts are concerned, just because a District has an “official” industry, certainly doesn’t mean that everyone in the District works in that industry. This is true for D12 being the coal mining district, but obviously supporting other businesses as well (such as the Mellark’s bakery).

      I guess I should also say that I am not begrudging anyone their personal “headcanons” and theories, at all! I just get a little annoyed when people seem to think that just becaue a theory is really popular among fans, means it must have come from some definite quote in the books. Because that’s not always the case.

  9. HGBC and Sandy: I think many of the popular fandom ships like Cato/Clove, Haymitch/Maysilee, Haymitch/Effie, and Rory/Prim, come about from this idea that not only does every character need to be paired off to have a happy ending (since that only applies to Haymitch/Effie out of all the ships I just listed), but that any meaningful relationship between two people of the opposite sex (and sometimes even the same sex) HAS to be a romantic one.

    The popularity of Clato, Haysilee, and…well, Rory/Prim (because I haven’t come across any cute ship names for them), also suggests that many people assume that if you mourn someone’s death, and that someone happens to be of a gender you are attracted to, that means you MUST have had romantic feelings for that person! Not because you were close friends, or felt guilty about the circumstances of their deaths, etc. Maybe some of us Katniss/Peeta enthusiasts contributed to this by using Katniss’s mental breakdown over “losing” Peeta as proof that she loves him. But Katniss certainly mourns Cinna’s death, without feeling any romantic feelings for him at all.

    I include Rory/Prim in this, because while he’s never seen mourning her death in canon, many fanfics show him doing that. In some, he actually mourns Prim’s death for the rest of his life and never dates or marries anyone else, which I find quite unrealistic. Prim and Rory are the same age at the start of Catching Fire, and we know Prim is still only 13 when she dies (this fact is a key reason Katniss suspects Coin plotted to get Prim killed by over-riding the standard D13 “draft eligibility” age of 14.) So the oldest Rory could have been is 14 (if he was a few months older than Prim), and I doubt that, even if they had dated, he would have been so attached to her that he was unable to get over her for the rest of his life. That’s the main pet peeve I have about that particular pairing.

    Now, we do see examples of older characters remaining single for a long time after losing someone they love, in Haymitch and Mrs. Everdeen. But I can see Haymitch not wanting to get involved with someone else because of fears that the Capitol would target that person too, more than because he never got over the girlfriend killed on Snow’s orders when he was 16. And while Mrs. Everdeen is also around Haymitch’s age, Mr. Everdeen died when Katniss was 11, only 5 years before the start of THG, so Mrs. E was far past her teenage years when she was widowed. She was also kinda busy battling clinical depression, then trying to help support her family, and help others as well, with her apothecary/healing business. Same goes for Hazelle Hawthorne.

    1. Just to clarify, I think you mean Hazelle was a little busy trying to keep food on the table, not that she was depressed. Right?

      Even though the Haymitch/Maysilee hook up is a fun fantasy, I agree that the canon leans more toward an interpretation that Haymitch’s girlfriend and family were killed, therefore he drinks and keeps everyone at arm’s length until K/P comes arpund.

      1. Oops! Yeah, I meant that Hazelle was a little busy trying to keep food on the table, and this might be why she didn’t remarry. Not that Hazelle was clinically depressed. I also think that, considering what I’ve already surmised about the practical realities of marriage in D12, that there were likely not too many men around who wanted to take on the burden of being even partially responsible for feeding a bunch of stepchildren. I’m sure some of the women (and men) widowed by the mine accident did eventually remarry, though.

        As for Haysilee, it seems to me that the main piece of “evidence” for that ship is pretty much the same as the “evidence” for the Clato ship; “He really got upset when she died in the Games, and he stayed with her until she died, so he must have been in love with her!” The funny thing is that based on that evidence, we can argue that Peeta must have had a thing for the morphling woman, but no one does that.

        “Well, of course that’s different”, I’m sure many Haysilee and Clato shippers would say, “we all know Peeta loved Katniss!” But I think we can make a case that Haymitch loved his girl back home, too. But I guess it’s easy for fans to overlook a nameless, faceless girl from the Seam who would likely have lived out a standard D12 life, if she hadn’t been involved with Haymitch.

        Now, I do suspect that if she’d died of natural causes, then Haymitch would have been been better able to make peace with her death, and he wouldn’t have had that worry that if he took up with another girl, she’d be a target of the Capitol, too. But that doesn’t mean he didn’t really love his girlfriend from his teenage years. Also, it seems young marriage is considered socially acceptable in Panem in light of the reactions to Peeta and Katniss’s engagement and “marriage”, so I can see people taking teenage relationships much more seriously in Panem than we do now; though I still do not think this means 13 year olds like Rory and Prim are capable of being in such a serious relationship that Rory was unable to move on for the rest of his life after her death. (Besides, even though Katniss admits to having overlooked Prim in D13, I doubt she would have overlooked her precious little sister starting to date!)

        I guess another reason Haysilee is popular is because it adds to the already present parallels between Haymitch and Katniss. Both have a tendency to push people away as a defense mechanism out of fear of getting attached to people only to lose them, and both were punished for essentially “showing up” the Gamemakers, and by extension, the Capitol, en route to their victories. But I don’t think this means “Oh, Haymitch was in a love triangle, having feelings for both his girl back home and his District Partner, just like Katniss!”

        1. Yes, people trying to make that “parallel” between Katniss and Haymitch is quite a stretch – especially since, for it to actually work even if Haymitch have had feelings for Maysilee, Gale would have to actually have been Katniss’ boyfriend (as some movie viewers apparently thought he was)…. Although it seems that many fans, particularly Katniss/Gale shippers, think that close friendship between people of the opposite sex equals a romantic relationship, and that Gale was therefore literally Katniss’ boy(friend) back home – based on the same idea that two people of opposite sex can’t be just friends. The idea that Haymitch was in an actual relationship but still fell for Maysilee during the short time they spent together before and during the Games, but that their bond wasn’t strong enough for her not to decide to break their alliance or for him to let her do that, is, of course, possible, but not something I would see as the obvious conclusion. Maybe that’s just me, I would think that the available evidence, i.e. the breaking of the alliance, would be seen more as evidence to the lack of a stronger connection between them, than the opposite.

          And if a person getting upset at their district partner dying is seen as evidence of a romantic relationship, then surely the most obvious conclusion would be that Annie was in love with her district partner, since she actually went insane when he was decapitated – now, that’s a much stronger reaction than Cato or Haymitch showed. Yet I don’t see that crackpot theory anywhere. I guess that’s where the difference between Finnick and a nameless girl back home comes into play! Of course, Finnick/Annie is the relationship that the book portrays as a true, pure love that nobody can question -but so is Mr Everdeen/Mrs Everdeen.

          On another note, I agree with what you say, but I have problem with the idea that characters staying single – after they lose a lover, or generally – is something that needs to be justified by really strong reasons, like being busy or the lack of available men who would take care of four kids, or that remarrying is the only way a person can prove that they’re “moves on” and continued with their life. Couldn’t a person, say, just prefer to stay single, either because they have no interest in a relationship, or if they know nobody that they would want to have as a romantic/sexual partner (which would be a particularly strong possibility for someone living in a very small community where, as you pointed out, there just aren’t as many people to choose from{? I know you weren’t trying to imply that, but there’s a popular assumption that everyone always has to be in a relationship, that the only reason not to is the lack of opportunity, and that there must be something wrong with someone who stays single for any longer period of time despite having available and interested potential partners (whether or not one has any interest in them), and it’s something that’s always really bugged me.

    1. Hey TTB: I believe that if you want to submit a guest post, all you have to do is e-mail it to the VV admins at thevictorsvillage@gmail.com 🙂

      Re the popularity of the “Mrs. E cheated with Mr. M and he’s Prim’s father” idea; I don’t think this is anywhere near fanon status, but it does occur to me that one subjective reason people might think it plausible, is that a lot of fans *hate* Mrs. E and think she’s a terrible mother, and I guess find it easy to make the leap that she was a cheating wife as well.

      I certainly didn’t mean to imply that “characters staying single – after they lose a lover, or generally – is something that needs to be justified by really strong reasons”. I agree that many assume that everyone always has to be in a relationship as a default, and that “the only reason not to is the lack of opportunity”. I’m currently single myself, and not actively looking, and there are a lot of people who think that’s odd of me. It also seems that many widows and widowers are urged by well-meaning friends and relatives to jump back into the dating pool, even if they don’t feel ready.

      However, I was just trying to debunk the popular fanon idea that Rory Hawthorne, in particular, stayed single after Prim died because he was in love with her and couldn’t get over her death. Not because I think that’s impossible, or that something would be wrong with Rory if that happened, but because the whole “if you die I’ll never be happy again” approach to the possibility of losing a lover just strikes me as unhealthy, especially for a teenager.

      (And yes, I know Peeta said that in CF, but as you know, I’ve never seen Peeta as perfect, and I think this statement is either deliberate emotional blackmail on his part, or, if he sincerely felt that way, a little unhealthy for him too.) There actually are cases of teens committing suicide after a breakup (not even a loss through death) because they feel this way, and I don’t think that’s a good message to send to teenagers.

      That being said, I do know someone who lost her boyfriend in a very traumatic way (he died in a car accident, and she was the driver who basically walked away without a scratch), and she was never quite the same. She did eventually date again, but not for a long time. But even before she returned to the dating scene, it’s not like she was unable to be happy, was constantly sitting around crying about her boyfriend, etc.

      That’s the part about “Rory mourns Prim’s death for the rest of his life” fanon idea that annoys me, I guess even more than the “Rory never dates or marries” part of it. Because that’s how Rory is presented in fanfics a lot, which I think is quite unrealistic, because even Katniss, who I think most would agree loved Prim more than anyone, eventually comes to terms with her death for the most part. I do agree, though, that it’s possible to recover from the loss of a loved one without necessarily “moving on” into another relationship.

      While I’ve stated this before in a slightly different way; I’m not saying that all these fanon theories are totally wrong, ridiculous, or anything like that, or trying to shame people who believe them. It’s just that many who hold them seem to think they are obviously true, and get quite rude when the theories are challenged. (Especially the race and ethnicity based theories, where many believers have implied, or even outright stated, that if you don’t believe them, you must be a racist!)

      1. Thanks.

        I’m aware of the “I dislike Mrs. Everdeen, so it’s plausible she was a cheating wife” train of thought – it was exactly what someone said on HG Fireside Chat when they were discussing that crackpot theory, which they, to my surprise at the time, thought was plausible. It’s an example of “either/or” thinking, based on the idea that, if someone is flawed in some ways or if we dislike them, they must be bad in every other way as well and can’t have any redeeming qualities. Even though in canon, Mrs Everdeen is not portrayed as a woman who doesn’t care that much about her kids or anyone, she’s portrayed as someone who was deeply in love with her husband and fell into a deep depression after his death, and her bad mothering is due to her illness. It’s also established that she is using anti-depressants, which she didn’t have at the time shortly after her husband’s death. I find it hard to see how this implies she must have cheated on her husband, or why falling into depression and not being able to take care of herself or her children out of guilt would be more plausible than the same happening because of a loss of a loved one.

        Another thing that strikes me as odd is that Mr. Mellark is never subject to any such criticism. I’ve never seen any of the people who believe in this theory state that cheating on his wife with a married woman would make him a bad man (not to mention that it would mean he was up for an affair with Mrs Everdeen, but didn’t do anything to help her after her husband’s death), or that it’s plausible he would do that since he was a bad father – and I’ve never seen him called a bad father, even though he also failed his child, by not protecting him from abuse. And I think you’re the only one who ever pointed out that this theory would make Mr. Mellark a deadbeat dad who let his own biological child starve. I suppose “he was afraid of his wife” is seen as a strong enough justification, much stronger than Mrs Everdeen’s depression.

  10. TTB: Unfortunately, I think much of the double standard about Mrs. Everdeen being judged much more harshly than Mr. Mellark when this theory is discussed, is exactly that, based on the traditional sexist double standard that it’s no big deal for a man to cheat or sleep around, but that it’s horrible and disgusting for a woman to do so. Because supposedly, men are just slaves to their hormones and just going along with natural impulses when they act out sexually, while women aren’t supposed to like or enjoy sex, and so any woman who does, is abnormal, going against her true nature as a virginal angel, and must be shamed and shunned.

    I think another reason is that people think Mr. Mellark is a “nice guy”, so he must be a “good guy” whose every action is beyond reproach, or can be excused away. (Kinda similar to how many fans see his son, Peeta!) So, his cheating on his wife can be excused because (1) he didn’t really love her, and he cheated with his true love and (2) She’s a “witch” who deserved it! I think many people have confused being nice with being compassionate. It goes the other way too; I agree with what you’ve said before, that Katniss is meant to be “not nice, but compassionate”, but many Katniss-bashers interpret her surface prickilness as a sign that she doesn’t care about other people, except maybe Prim.

    Also along the same lines, I’ve also always been perplexed by how popular Caesar Flickerman is with many fans, who extol his virtues as a caring, compassionate guy, simply based on the way he conducts his interviews. I’ve even seen people speculate that he was a secret rebel. News flash — that’s his JOB (and likely a very well-paid one, if the net worth of real life talk show hosts like Oprah carry over to Panem) to come across as caring and compassionate on camera. It says nothing about how he treats, say, his kids (if he has any), friends, etc. For all we know, he’s a total jerk when off-camera.

    Even on-camera, Flickerman collaborates with Snow’s propos using Peeta, and I find it hard to believe he didn’t know Peeta was being tortured in some way. I guess his defenders would say that Snow was obviouly running those and likely gave Flickerman an offer he couldn’t refuse, unless he wanted to end up like Seneca Crane. While that’s plausible, it’s also quite plausible that Flickerman was happy to support the Capitol status quo and the Games that brought him much fame and fortune. It seems the movie version of Flickerman as not just hosting pre and post Game interviews, but teaming up with Templesmith to do live play-by-play, leans more towards the “active participant in the Games, not just a neutral observer” impression that I have of him.

  11. I’m not really one to comment on blog posts, but I do heartily agree with each of the points made regarding the six fanon theories in the main posts, as well as the subsequent discussion about other fanon in the comments. And, really, I’m quite glad to see that I’m not the only person who doesn’t subscribe to the Jekyll/Hyde!Peeta in District 12 theory. I do tend to think that it is prevalent in fandom as an attempt not to paper over the torture and other suffering that Peeta endured (yet, oddly, the annihilation of his family is rarely mentioned), but I do think that each of points (1)-(4) in your 8:01PM comment also have traction. Personally, based on his reaction to the video of Mitchell’s death and his very explicit comment that he needed permission to return to District 12, along with all of the other points mentioned, do suggest to me that not only would have Dr. Aurelius not given him the go-ahead if he thought Peeta would be a risk to Katniss, but Peeta himself wouldn’t have taken that chance. Basically, I think it is possible to show that Peeta still struggled with his recovery without necessarily invoking violence towards Katniss.

    Another fanon theory that might be considered related to your commentary regarding certain fanon ships is that Mr. Mellark still nursed an unrequited love for Mrs. Everdeen. While it is certainly possible, I also think that it is just as likely that he had moved on. To me, Mr. Mellark’s observation could have simply been an offhand remark that, unexpectedly, had an outsize effect on his son’s life. I think that this fanon theory might touch on the same tendency that leads to the “if you die I’ll never be happy again” trope regarding other fanon ships, that somehow the first attachment formed when you are very young is somehow the truest form of love. I just don’t think that that is the message of the books: I’ve got to assume that Collins knows her Shakespeare because I think that Romeo and Juliet is rarely read by a mature reader as the epitome of romance rather than as a treatment of destructive passion. I don’t think that Peeta’s statement in that beach scene IS particularly healthy, but I think that he also explains part of his motivation in that first interview with Caesar Flickerman in Mockingjay when he notes how the entire world collapses to a narrow focus in the arena. As much as I don’t like love triangles, I do think that it was important to show that it was okay for Katniss to explore other romantic possibilities (and that it was ALWAYS a possibility for her to reject all of her suitors and to choose to be single). To me, Peeta is very much the exception and not the rule, and even Peeta freely admits that he checked out other girls. Additionally, as much as the Everdeens must have loved each other, I don’t think that we’re meant to think that the Hawthornes’ marriage wasn’t as strong simply because Hazelle didn’t have a breakdown afterwards.

    1. I think it is quite plausible that perhaps Mr. Mellark, since his marriage was not happy, started looking back on his youthful first love and idealizing “the one that got away”, maybe thinking “If only I had a marriage like the Everdeens”…

      Off-hand remark or not, I don’t think it’s a healthy thing to say to your 5-year old son, which makes it even weirder that he would make such a remark off-hand. And I think that Peeta started idealizing the Everdeens family because they seemed happy and loving, with a couple that was really in love with each other and loved their children.

      1. Oh, yes, it’s plausible but not necessarily a given. Although I do wonder how much Mr. Mellark could have actually known about the Everdeens’ marriage, even if he did trade with Mr. Everdeen, although I suppose one might have assumed that any marriage would be happier than his own (but that it is still an assumption). I just think back to this scene in Catching Fire:

        “We go back to the square. I buy some cakes from Peeta’s father while they exchange small talk about the weather. No one mentions the ugly tools of torture just yards from the front door.”

        This is my own personal reading/headcanon, but I do think that the Mellarks were skilled at avoiding/diverting from difficult topics, and a truly unrequited love would have been one of them.

        And I do agree that that was a weird thing to say, but, to me, it’s just as weird if he DID idealize/mourn his first lost love as it would be as if it were offhand-why wallow in it especially when there is any chance that it could get back to your wife? And I think that Peeta’s idealization (if it existed) could have only gone so far-even in the cave, he acknowledged that there still would have been the Seam/Merchant divide that would have proven to be an obstacle for them (but would be removed if they were both victors). We know that Peeta encountered Mr. Everdeen at least one time, but it seemed that Peeta’s objective was to listen to his singing. Katniss’ observation that his gestures in the cave reminded her of her parents doesn’t necessarily mean that he actually saw them; to me, it is akin to her wondering how he knew about the dappled light effects in the camouflage station when she thought that he could only be aware of the scraggly apple tree in his yard.

  12. Wow, I can’t believe this will be comment #30! 😀 Thanks to everyone for your thoughtful comments! Hawthornehedge/Christine, I think your comment about the idea of Mr. M forever nursing unrequited love for Mrs. E, that “it’s plausible but not necessarily a given”, is pretty much in line with the main point I was trying to make about fanon theories in general. I’m not saying any of the theories I brought up for discussion AREN’T plausible, just that they’re far from the ONLY plausible interpretations of canon.

    It seems some people assume that just because a large number of fanfics or fansites support a theory, that by itself is proof that the theory is correct. And so they sign onto the theory as well, assuming “so many other fans can’t be wrong”, and, especially when it comes to fanfic, is strikes me as almost lazy. (It also reminds me of TV commercials that say something like “500,000 happy customers can’t be wrong.”)

    As for the Mellark family dynamics; I think this is pretty much open to speculation, because SC left it that way. I also don’t know how seriously she meant for us to take Peeta’s recollections, 11 years later, of something that happened when he was 5 years old. Katniss herself doesn’t seem to at first, asking, “So, since we were five, you never even noticed any other girls?” and then Peeta admits he did. Certainly I don’t think the idea that “Mr. M forever loved Mrs. E, to the point that he cheated on his wife with her, and Prim was the result”, is ever established!

    We really don’t know how abusive Mrs. M really was, or how miserable Mr. M really was in his marriage. Katniss observes one episode of physical and verbal abuse, and Peeta references one episode of verbal abuse. Mrs. M also seems to have a general reputation as a “witch”. But that doesn’t mean Mr. M had no love for her at all and only wound up with her because of an arranged marriage. In the real world, MANY women date, marry, and will profess undying love for men who are abusive to their partners and kids. They make excuses for the abuse, and would find the idea of cheating on their partner repugnant. So, I don’t see any reason why it’s a given that a man married to an abusive woman would happily cheat on her, anymore than a woman married to an abusive man would.

    As for why Mr. M would ever tell his son that he’d wanted to marry another woman; I think your “offhand comment” theory and TTB’s theory that he was idealizing his first, lost love, are both plausible. I do think that Mr. M’s behavior is actually plausible in that in many abusive or unhappy marriages, parents will turn to their children, not the spouse, for emotional support, and often complain about the spouse to the kid. Mr. M doesn’t actually do that. But note that Peeta’s response to his father’s confession, is “A coal miner? Why did she want a coal miner if she could’ve had you?” I’m sure that comment gave him an ego-boost, and maybe that was his motivation (conscious or subconscious) for sharing the story, that he knew Peeta would respond that way.

    As for the Seam/Merchant divide, I think another significant component of the “Prim is actually Mr. M’s child” theory is an assumption that the Everdeens were the first cross-class couple to ever exist in D12, and that there’s no way Mr. Everdeen might have had blonde, blue-eyed ancestors who passed on those genes to him, and whose genes he eventually passed to Prim. I re-read the part of THG where P and K discuss that, and Peeta actually doesn’t seem to think it was a big deal:

    “I’m sure that would thrill your parents, you liking a girl from the Seam,” I say.
    “Hardly. But I couldn’t care less. Anyway, if we make it back, you won’t be a
    girl from the Seam, you’ll be a girl from the Victor’s Village,” he says. (THG Ch.23)

    Note that this discussion is about Peeta’s parents, not “everyone in the Merchant class”. Peeta’s mother expressed anti-Seam bigotry when she tries to chase Katniss away, and Peeta’s father had a personal reason to dislike people from the Seam, or at least not want his sons marrying someone from there. But that doesn’t mean *all* Merchant families would have thrown a fit if a child dated or married out of their class, disowned them, etc.

    While Katniss doesn’t mention any other cross-class couples, she never says that Mrs. E and Prim were the *only* blonde, blue-eyed people who lived in the Seam, and she says that “most”, not all, families in the Seam resemble each other. It also doesn’t exclude relationships that might have resulted in children without marriage. Such relationships (which were unfortunately often exploitative, much like Cray’s dealings with Seam women were) were certainly not unheard of in the US between people who were *definitely* seen as from different races, and were even prohibited from marrying by law in some states. We don’t have any definite evidence that the Seam and Merchant people themselves saw themselves as belonging to different races. Note that Mr. M talks about Mrs. E running off with a “coal miner”, which doesn’t reference his race, ethnicity, or even Seam origins.

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