OK, by now we’ve all seen the opening salvos. There is the obviously superior Peeta Mellark, and then there is that other guy, his name escapes me at the moment and I don’t feel I should devote too much thought towards it, the name may come to me, but it may not. The important thing is that we make it clear who is the WRONG choice for Katniss. I’m pretty sure we all know who that is.
To fully explore the inferiorities of the competition, I am going to have to warn all those that choose to go forward from this point that SPOILERS will fly, the arena clock will tick, and some folks may even die. It will all be sad, but like the Hunger Games themselves, it can only be endured.
Much like I did with Peeta, I’ll lay this out as plainly as I can. At the very worst, Gale Hawthorne is a sociopath. He cares little for human life and then feigns sincerity as much as possible. At the very best he is a naïve little man-child playing at war without fully understanding the ramifications of his decisions. Of course we all know which point I’m going to illustrate first, right?
Gale designs traps. It’s what he is good at. We aren’t talking clean kills. We are talking things designed to give the hunter the advantage. To kill at leisure or to maximize efficiency. Works great when you’re hunting rabbits in the woods with snares, works even better when you’re hunting doctors on the battlefield. In Mockingjay he describes his double-bomb trap as having the intention of causing debilitating wounds with it’s first explosion, leading to people rushing in to render aid. Then the second explosion goes off, maximizing the death toll and enemy casualties.
This isn’t “just being a soldier.” You know who tried the excuse of “just following orders”? Nazis, at the Nuremberg Trials. Didn’t work then, not going to work now, sorry, Gale.
But then what if he isn’t psychotic? I mean Katniss, is his friend, right? Gale gets so wrapped up in the romance of war that he blinds himself to what things really are. When bombs start flying and things hit the fan, the boy is no more than a coward who likes to look nice in a uniform. What’s his first instinct when Katniss gets chosen for the games? Run. What’s his first instinct when he and Katniss encounter refugees in the woods? Hide. What happens after his design kills Katniss’s sister? He is shocked that a BOMB killed LOTS OF PEOPLE. He likes stacking the enemy like cord wood but gets sticker shock when it’s time to pay the butcher’s bill? Don’t work like that, son. The kid is either stupid or willfully ignorant, neither of which are attractive qualities.
Gale is designing arenas, people. That is what he is good at. That is his skill. You wonder why he is not a good fit for Katniss? One of the only things the boy is good at is what caused her severe PTSD. What happened when they wanted Capitol residents to go through similar Games? Did Gale rebel against them as strongly as Katniss? Nope.
The guy knows nothing but bloodlust and romanticized conflict. He wants to win medals and get the girl. He is the action hero, the image that Collins is trying to deconstruct. Peeta is the quiet survivor. He is there to support. He BAKES! Lame, I know, but at least you can eat bread… This is the fundamental reason Peeta is better. Gale refuses to see the truth of what Katniss has been through. All he sees is the Mockingjay, the girl who defied a tyrant, the woman on fire. Peeta knows what Katniss is. He’s been there in the trenches. He has seen what Katniss will never be able to forget.
I rest my case.