I just think it goes against a lot of the points Collins was trying to make with the series. And also, Mrs. E. loved her husband to a ridiculous degree, so I can’t see her screwing around…
Because my interpretation of the series revolves around the idea of the characters finding their humanity through love and compassion. That’s why Panem was so easily stirred to a rebellion by Katniss and Peeta threatening to commit suicide together, instead of one giving in and killing the other. In Katniss the Cattail, one of the authors makes the point that what neither Katniss or Snow seem to get is that their being in love IS the rebellion. This is a nation that has stripped away every last ounce of its empathy, compassion and humanity, so the idea that two people would harm themselves instead of the other is a revolutionary one.
I also believe that the love triangle in the parents generation as well as the triangle between Katniss/Peeta/Gale is all symbolic of Panem’s fight against oppression. In the first generation, Mrs. Everdeen has the choice of continuing her safe life as a Merchant by marrying Mr. Mellark - or she could choose something potentially better, which was true love with Mr. Everdeen. She risked and gave up everything for her belief in this - and she lost him. Just as the first rebellion risked everything in the fight against the Capitol, and lost the war, resulting in the creation of The Hunger Games. Mr. Everdeen’s death is symbolic of this.
With Katniss/Peeta/Gale, we have the symbolic representation of the second rebellion. Again, Katniss, representing Panem, has the choice to stick with her Seam comfort zone in Gale. Who, while itching to strike against the Capitol, still represents rage, and an eye for an eye making the whole world blind. This is why he falls in line with Coin and 13, which isn’t much better than Snow and the Capitol were. Or, she can choose Peeta - who is completely outside her comfort zone, and would require a lot of risk to open herself up to, but ultimately he represents compassion and hope. Mrs. Everdeen going to the Seam represents the fallen dream of the first rebellion, while Katniss ending up with the Merchant represents Panem picking itself up from the dark place it had fallen and reaching for its humanity once more. Similarly, this is why Katniss and Prim are both distinctively colored by one of the two classes - Seam or Merchant - while the Mellark son and daughter are a mixture of both. Katniss and Prim are the divide cause from the failure of the first rebellion, and the Boy and Girl Mellark are the closing of that divide.
And that brings me to why I think it goes against the point that Collins was trying to make. The Everdeens were a family that were about love and trying to do the right thing, even when it goes against everything the Capitol wanted them to do. They may have fallen, but it was over something so incredibly important that it was worth it to take the risk at all. Katniss is shocked when she sees Mrs. Mellark strike Peeta for dropping the bread in the ovens, because nothing like that ever happens in their family. But based on everything, I definitely got the impression that Mrs. Mellark’s actions were the far more common ones in the society they lived in. The Everdeens were compassion and kindness in a world where it was scoffed at. Which is why kind people have a way of working themselves inside Katniss and taking root there, and why it was so important to her character arc for her to learn how to open up and do the same thing.
So I don’t think it makes sense at all in the context of this interpretation for Mrs. Everdeen to be screwing around with Mr. Mellark behind Mr. Everdeen’s back. Furthermore, from the technical standpoint of putting together a story, what does it even add to it? It doesn’t get built upon at all, or even really implied beyond a couple of things that can be interpreted in multiple ways. I mean, I pretty much have Seam coloring, and my sisters were both blonde with blue eyes - but there’s no question whatsoever that we have the same set of parents. And Prim wanting to look at the pasteries was exactly the kind of thing I loved to do as a little girl, and I’m pretty sure millions of little girls have liked to do, because they’re pretty to look at. I don’t think it implies any kind of hidden meaning, to be honest. Mr. Mellark being the father to Prim is a pretty big thing to be throwing in there with absolutely to building upon or resolution or even flat-out mention, IMHO.
And if nothing else, on a personal level, I’m just squicked out at the thought of Katniss and Peeta procreating when they have a sibling in common.
I turn and put my lips close to Peeta’s and drop my eyelids in imitation of Finnick. “He offered me sugar and wanted to know all my secrets,” I say in my best seductive voice.
Peeta laughs. “Ugh. Not really.”
“Really,” I say. “I’ll tell you more when my skin stops crawling.”
This could be a bit of a stretch, but considering the amazing amount of attention to detail Suzanne Collins put in these books, I doubt it. It happens in a conversation regarding Finnick and the secrets he takes as payment - which we later learn are secrets about Snow he gathered after being forced into prostitution.
The question of “real or not real?” is one of the major themes through out all three books; it’s no coincidence that it becomes the game they play with Peeta to help him regain his grip on reality. In the first book, Katniss spends the entire book not sure if Peeta’s feelings are real or a ploy for the show; in Catching Fire, they’re playing up a fake relationship just to protect their lives and the lives of the people they love. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that she chose these particular words for this scene, especially considering the context of their conversation.
I’ve been thinking for a while now that I’d like to give some insight on my take of what went down between Gale and Katniss at the end of Mockingjay. I’ve been in this fandom for close to six months now, but I have yet to see anyone offer perspective from someone who has actually gone through the grieving process in a similar fashion to Katniss. Unfortunately, I have been through something close to what she has, though on a much, much smaller scale, and so I’d like to offer up my opinion.
Yeah, Suzanne Collins uses symbolism to an insane degree. The series is littered with it; it’s in places where a lot of readers may not even realize it is. Take the line towards the end of the first book, when Katniss notes that Peeta is “a whiz with fires.” Or the part where say says that she has always hated being burned, even little ones she’s gotten from taking bread out of the oven. Neither one of those lines are coincidental — both are describing the dynamic between them in their relationship.
Ok, I just made the weirdest symbolic connection. Remember how Effie said early in the first book “if you put enough pressure on coal it turns to pearls”?
Well… it kind of did. Symbolically.
District 12’s main activity was coal mining. Katniss was the daughter of a coal miner. What gift Peeta…
It’s not at all far-fetched. This was the point of their relationship; this was why they HAD to end up together.
Thank you! I could not agree more that these books are richer than they’re given credit for. And yes, I (this is a solo operation, right now at least) would LOVE to take a look at more reflections from you, if you want to send them in!
I basically see this place like a Tumblr version of an English class. I was an English major, so that’s definitely my comfort zone, haha. But the more people who contribute to the discussion, the better our understanding will be. :)
Katniss continues to show us just how large the walls she’s built up are, by telling us that her younger sister is the only person she’s allowed herself to love. Our heroine has been burnt, losing her father to the mines, and then, however briefly, her mother to the depression she fell to from losing her husband. And given the society she lives is, compassion is likely not an easy thing to come by with its citizens. It’s no wonder that Peeta’s act of saving her and her family’s life in the face of his own punishment made such an impression on her.
She is also basically laying out for the reader the truth of what she feels for Gale: unlike Peeta, who she was basically drawn to despite her own intentions, she and Gale did not click right away. And the way she mentions that he was practically a man when they met also speaks volumes for their relationship. Gale is like an older brother to her, or maybe even a pseudo-father figure. She does not view him romantically.
And while Katniss may have a great propensity for denial, her wondering here suggest that she may not be as clueless as she likes to think she is. She’s starting to suspect that Gale’s feelings for her are romantic. But as a part of building up those walls, she does not want to think about something that makes her uncomfortable. So if anything, it’s a chosen denial she’s subjected herself to here. She knows how Gale really feels.
The thing that stuck out to me when reading this part was the line, “where did this stuff about having kids come from?” Katniss is all mad at Gale, but she’s the one who brought up having kids. Sure, Gale said the word “kids” first, but he was talking about siblings. It was Katniss who turned the conversation, and her thoughts, in the direction of parenthood and romance. She seemed a little too eager to seize on every opportunity to say that she DOESN’T like Gale that way and she DOESN’T want kids, which, of course, made me not believe either claim.
This was my initial opinion as well, but I don’t think it matches up with the rest of the series. I think it’s possible she may have felt a basic attraction, or maybe some unresolved sexual/romantic tension that developed after all the time they spent together. But it never seemed as strong as it is with Peeta, who she seems completely incapable of squashing those feelings for. And I think that sometimes people feel an attraction to people, without actually having any true romantic feelings for them. It happens to me, and I think it’s probably the case with Katniss towards Gale.
Hope that makes sense; I haven’t had my coffee yet.
ETA: I think it’s also possible it was a deliberate red herring on Collins’s part. The first time I read this book, I knew there was a bit of a love story involving the arena, but I didn’t know much beyond that. So I thought for sure, with all the talk of odds and the slips they had in the reaping ball, and this part especially, that Katniss and Gale were going to be thrown into the arena and develop their feelings from there. When Peeta showed up, I was like, “WHOA, where did THIS come from?!” And I actually wanted her to end up with Gale, until I got to know Peeta’s character better. So I think it’s entirely possible Collins was deliberately trying to throw us off in the beginning.
Sometimes I look at those Hunger Games confession blogs and I’ve read many times that Katniss settled for Peeta and that she didn’t really love him. Well, I don’t agree with that.
The thing is that most of us are used to be bombarded with those stories that speak of an all-consuming and sudden…
Maybe it’s just me overthinking connections, but… Peeta & Katniss got scores 8 & 11 … and the first districts to get openly rebellious were… 8 & 11. Plus, Peeta had that off-screen, yet significant moment with girl from 8 and Katniss had Rue..
This is brilliant. I never made the eight/Peeta connection but you are absolutely right.
I’ve noticed that the numbers all tend to mean something in this story (later we’ll get into how often the number 12 is used), but I had never picked up on this one before. Good catch, OP!
Katniss is explaining to us a part of the class system of District 12. Later we find out that the other districts are kept under tighter control. For whatever reason (probably because 12 is the least threatening to the Capitol at this point in time, ironically), they are not kept under quite so harsh conditions when it comes to enforcing the rules. The Peacekeepers themselves contribute to the black market, right under the Capitol’s nose, though they are still richer than most.
District 12 may not have it so bad, but they are not thriving. Just as the whole concept of the Hob is further expanded upon, the question of whether or not 12 will be willing to leave its comfort zone for the possibility of a better future is also going to be raised. It’s a question that actually runs quite parallel to the question of whether or not Katniss will choose Gale or Peeta.