Aeris, who covered the fun of Cannes for us last week, is back for another guest post! We know you’ve missed her too.
This time, The Girl With The Flowers (it’s a Final Fantasy reference! Who knew?!) is doing a little study on Peeta’s hijacking and how “real or not real” it makes his character throughout Mockingjay!
It has come to my attention that some fans (and I use the term loosely) truly believe that the jungle scene in Catching Fire is the last time we truly see the “real” Peeta. Real as in, not hijacked, not hating Katniss’ guts, not trying to kill her when they finally reunite, and of course still completely in love with her.
Yeah. I’m not getting it. See, first of all, Peeta is still very much his old self in the beginning of Mockingjay. He’s suffered at the Capitol’s hands, sure, but he’s still trying to protect by warning her about the bombing, undoubtedly risking his own life in the process. And he appears multiple times on the Capitol broadcasts during the first part of the book (let’s just assume Lionsgate makes the cut at when he tries to strangle Katniss), hurt, thin, but still the boy with the bread that we have all grown to love (or if we’re being honest, all fell in love with as soon as he was introduced in The Hunger Games). So there’s that.
But mostly, I want to talk about what happens in the second half of Mockingjay. Peeta has been tortured in such a way that everything about Katniss triggers his worst fears, and understandably, he wants to make that threat disappear. Moreover, he now sees her without the love-goggles (what, beer-goggles can exist but love ones can’t? The image isn’t very poetic I know, but it was the best way I could find to express it!), and sees her for what she is. The “real” Katniss. As Suzanne Collins puts so heart-breakingly puts it:
“All those months of taking it for granted that Peeta thought I was wonderful are over. Finally, he can see me for who I really am. Violent. Distrustful. Manipulative. Deadly. And I hate him for it.”
And yet, as Katniss realizes she’s being unfair, and they start playing the beautiful but tragic “Real or Not Real” game, Peeta is gradually brought back to us. He remembers. He bakes. He responds. He jokes a little. He puts everyone’s life before his own, because he’s conscious that he’s still dangerous. But what’s most important is that is he brought back by the one person who “made” this new version of him. Because deep down, he knows who she is and still loves her.
Before the epilogue, this new Peeta is still fragile, but he’s working on it. He isn’t the hijacked, scary version of himself. He isn’t the steady baker either. But he’s getting close.
And after the epilogue, Katniss and Peeta slowly heal, helped by one another. I don’t like to say they “grew back together” because that would imply they went their separate ways, and I don’t believe they did. They went through a lot, they got separated, yes, but physically, not mentally. The Capitol tried to turn Peeta into a customized Katniss-destruction weapon, but they failed. Katniss was devastated and almost destroyed by Peeta’s temporary loss, but they never ceased to be the Girl on Fire and the Boy with the Bread.
So I truly believe the “real” Peeta was shining through all along. Sure, sometimes it was only very short peeks, but he was there. Somewhere, deep inside.
Which is why people saying we don’t get to see him ever again bug me. Have we actually read the same books? I mean, if we take that logic, shouldn’t they also claim that Catching Fire is the last time we see the “real” Katniss? She may not get hijacked by Trackerjacker venom in the aftermath of the district 13 rescue mission, but she does a complete behavioral 180 nonetheless.
That being said, I have to admit I don’t look forward to seeing Peeta hurt. If I’m perfectly honest, I’m probably going to bawl all through Mockingjay Parts 1&2. But then again, who isn’t, right?
“You love me, real or not real?”
I Am Not A “Hunger Games Fan”, But A (Real) Tribute,
Aeris (or, if you’re a Final Fantasy fan, “The Girl with the Flowers”)