Why I Seriously Dig Katniss Everdeen
WARNING: Spoilers for the entire Hunger Games series ahead!
For months, three of my friends were begging me to get into the Hunger Games. “You’ll LOVE Katniss,” they all told me. “She’s such a strong female character.”
I was skeptical. Quite a few of my friends think that just because a girl has a voice and a brain in a book or film that it makes her strong. Not that it’s their fault – they’re given slim pickings to choose from (I mean come on, Bella in Twilight? Daisy in The Great Gatsby? Every romantic comedy heroine ever?)
I instantly loved Katniss. She provides for her family by hunting with her best friend, Gale, breaking quite a few rules instated by the Capitol, the over-bearing government/big-brother government in post-apocalyptic North America, by doing so. She has loads of community links and support, not because she is flirty or ditzy but because she is smart, capable, and knows who likes fresh strawberries or squirrel meat and will pay a good price for them in town.
The Capitol forces citizens of each of the 12 districts to present a male and female tribute every year to compete in a competition to the death (The Hunger Games), where only one out of twenty-four come out alive. When Katniss’ younger sister, Primrose, is chosen, Katniss jumps to take her place. Considering this courageous act along with stories of Katniss’ dedication to her family – she helps her mother and sister after her father dies, takes care of everyone, provides food – it’s easy to understand her point of view and admire her tough shell.
But Katniss is not without compassion. In the arena, we see her give a touching funeral for her friend Rue, and the care she takes with Peeta and his (totally gross) leg after the Gamemakers say that two tributes from the same district can win the games together. When the Gamemakers try to take back their rule change, Katniss barely even hesitates before defying the Capitol (although she later tries to play it off as just an act of love in an attempt to save her own skin).
Katniss doesn't appeal to Peeta or Gale because of her physical beauty, or her daintiness. Katniss eats like a champion (I am drooling thinking of that Lamb Stew right now), and doesn’t put an extreme amount of effort into her looks – it stems from the quality of her personality and her character. Finally! Oh, and did I mention that she is badass with a bow and arrow?
As the books go on, I admire Katniss – and all the other female characters – more and more. Katniss goes from bewildered winner to Mockingjay icon, leading a revolution against the Capitol. She even takes down Rebel President Coin (a strong woman in power – although perhaps a little too strong) when she presents the option of starting another Hunger Games, but this time only for children of those who lived in the Capitol. When Katniss hears that Gale and Peeta are wondering who she’ll choose because she “needs them”, she angrily decides that she chooses and needs neither of them (although she does end up with Peeta in the end). Primrose goes from little “duck” to a nurse, and her mother goes from inept to capable and smart. Johanna goes from slut to morphine addict to a strong survivor. Even Effie Trinket has a bit of a character transformation, gaining perspective on how the Capitol really works. Every woman has a complete transformation, and we understand what drives them and what defines them as characters.
Katniss has her flaws, sure – as does everyone else in the books. But I’d rather have a terrific heroine that is a little too clueless as to when guys like her, a little too stubborn and head-strong, than someone fawning all over some sparkly dude in a meadow, eating ice cream with her gal pals because “he” didn’t call again”, or a shallow debutante.
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