Wed
Mar 21 2012 6:35pm

The Hunger Games Roundtable: Peeta’s Pathetic (and Gale’s a Big Damn Hero)

Gale Carries Prim Away

Stop now if you haven’t read all three books in The Hunger Games series. No, seriously. Go no further!

***

Look, I’m not here to convince you that Gale should have gotten the girl in Mockingjay, or that Peeta shouldn’t have. Honestly, I am sure Katniss was as happy as it was possible for her to be with Peeta. I think we can all agree she deserved some peace, and it sounds like she got it. I’m baffled, however, by the fact that so many people consider Peeta to be their ideal hero while the word “sociopath” is bandied around with regard to Gale. I mean, what the what?

Despite the headline of this post—which, not gonna lie, is mostly for Chris’s benefit, and because I liked the alliteration—I actually don’t have much to say about Peeta. He’s a nice enough guy, and he obviously has a useful way with words. He’s just not my ideal romance hero, in large part because he’s just so b...zzzz. Sorry. Fell asleep for a minute there. He’s so BORING.

Peeta MellarkI never saw Peeta as an equal to Katniss, and for me that was the dealbreaker. He once gave a starving girl a piece of bread (congrats? you’re not totally heartless?) at GREAT RISK to his own personal safety (oh, right, NOT). She then had to rescue him about a ZILLION times in the series. I’m not exactly swooning here. Overall, Peeta’s being “thoughtful” and “sensitive” struck me as code for “useless in pretty much every situation” and “beta to the extreme.” I mean, his greatest skill in the arena was making himself invisible so that he could avoid all conflict. How do you NOT come out of everything smelling like a daisy when you never DO anything?

Compared to that, OF COURSE Gale is going look like a supervillain. Because he, not content to sit back and let Panem’s totalitarian government continue to starve and torture his people, actually DID something about it. If Peeta and Katniss had had their way, things never would have changed, and that’s the truth; I think it’s pretty clear that their highest priorities were the care and comfort of their immediate loved ones. Gale, on the other hand, thought about the bigger picture always, and as author Jackson Pearce writes in the essay “Gale: Knight, Cowboy, Badass”: “He’s the reason the series has a happy ending” (The Girl Who Was on Fire, p. 218). You’re welcome, Katniss, Peeta, and the rest of FREE Panem.

Liam Hemsworth as GaleI won’t sugarcoat it: Yes, it’s horrifying, absolutely horrifying, that people died as a result of a bomb that, if not the actual one Gale helped develop, was a lot like the one he worked with Beetee on. I have zero doubt that Gale felt the same way; Prim was like a sister to him too, and his goal was to give his fellow citizens their lives back, not take them, so the guilt over these deaths was something he’d carry with him until the day he dies.

The unfortunate reality of the situation, however, is that innocent people DO die in war, and if you really think about it, chances are that a long, drawn-out guerilla war would actually have meant MORE BLOODSHED in the end. What I’m saying is that Gale’s approach to the war actually SAVED LIVES.

So the way I see it, Gale—who sacrificed everything, including the love of his family and his best friend/partner/dream girl, for the happiness of the citizens of Panem—deserves at least as much compassion as the next Hunger Games character, if not more. I’d even argue the guy’s a Big Damn Hero. 

Oh, and Peeta’s still boring and pathetic.

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19 comments
tanyak
1. tanyak
Awesome post! I totally agree.
C Hunter
2. huntece
Killing innocents in the name of saving lives is the path to evil. I really dislike it as an excuse for killing people. Its like saying we bombed that hospital because the evil dictator who killed a lot of people was there.
If it had been Gale who went into the hunger games would he have stopped and sung over a dead little girl giving her death the respect it deserved or would he have just considered it a necessary casualty to surviving. I dont think Gale is a sociopath but the reason I choose Peeta and Katniss over him is because they oppose the idea that death is an excusable part of war.
tanyak
3. anna-lissa
I tend to waffle between the two males (depending on the mood I'm in) because both are so different. But to counter huntece, war is ugly. It's death, destruction, pain, and suffering. Largely due to the way Gale and Katniss have had to fend for their families, they both understand that. Peeta, on the other hand, hasn't had to endure as much, though he hasn't had a luxurious life either. So while death is never excusable, Gale and Kat recognize it's inevitability. Gale accepts it (not embracing it) but Kat is weary of its waste. As for a comparison of the different relationships, Gale and Katniss understand each other and view one another as equals. Peeta and Kat are very different and see themselves as the protector of the other. Ultimately, this is why I do choose Peeta- what woman wouldn't want a man who understands her, doesn't necessarily want to change her, and while he wants to protect her, he knows when to let her be? They complement each other beautifully.
Stephanie Treanor
4. Streanor
HAHAHA I love the JUMP LINE!!!

Are there war zones set up in the H&H bull pen?
Christopher Morgan
5. cmorgan
@Streanor It's gettin' a little hairy, I'm confident we'll pull through though.
Rachel Hyland
6. RachelHyland
@ huntece

Love it! I had never thought about Gale in the Arena before now, but yes, you're right, he would have been in there with a definite kill-or-be-killed mentality, wouldn't he? After all, he was the one who told Katniss that killing people was the same as killing animals; it took me the longest time to come to the conclusion that he wasn't simply trying to bolster her courage with those words, wasn't simply trying to bring her back to him alive, but that he actually believed it. It made me respect him more but love him less, if you know what I mean.

@ redline_

You talk of being a beta as though it were a necessarily bad thing. I think sometimes a beta can actually be the romantic ideal; as anna-lissa said, Peeta and Katniss (an undoubted alpha) complement each other nicely; he fits himself around her needs rather than expecting her to conform to his. I like that.
Christopher Morgan
7. cmorgan
Wait...He DID say that didn't he? How am I the bad guy for calling the boy a sociopath?

Signed - The Gale Troll...
tanyak
8. JUSTIN
I REALLY THINK THE BOK IS GOOD BT I REALL THNK THE MOVIE IS GOIN TOO BE BETTER
tanyak
9. La Mala
i love Peeta . Why is it wrong to have a hero who's not the strongtest alpha male around ? Someone who's actually not a badass but a normal guy , an artist , a person who succedes through words .... Is it really that bad to change the ALPHA RULE? I actually think that Peeta is a breath of fresh air . I mean, c'mon! , was about time that the "LOSER" got the girl!! (And not just any dumb-naive-girl , but a truly BADASS gal like Katniss)
tanyak
10. Star Renikai
@La Mala

I think your perspective is wrong. True, guys don't have to be badass, but it's quite certain that Peeta has enough fans to take over the world. Gale's a lot better though, he knows Katniss better, even looked after her poor family while taking care of his own at the same time. Noble guy, but Peeta hasn't done anything THAT tremedously difficult. Katniss has to save his ass everytime he gets into some stupid thing anyone in the Hunger Games can avoid. And why is it that a Peeta fan is on here, shouldn't you be drooling over him in an annoyingly airheaded manner? Sorry if this offends you, but most fangirls just do that for some reason. This guy totally sucks. Without Katniss, he would be history. No wait, he wouldn't be in history. He'd be stuffed into some box and shipped off to District 12 while being on television about him dying. And it's not true he is a loser, but he's not exactly the best person you'd run into in life. And I haven't seen the movie, I'd doubt it would be better than the book. So, yes, it is high time that the loser-like guy you explain got a girl, but it shouldn't be someone way out of his league. Gale has more experience in everything Katniss does in hunting, and he understands her better. I personally think Peeta is a somewhat stupid blonde because he always gets into SOME kind of trouble. I'm not criticizing him like crazy, but it's my opinion. He's so stupid, he can't even fend for himself. To make it short, Peeta's just plain pathetic. He has to have a GIRL to watch out for him. And I'm not a fan of bread boys for some reason. Gale's quite noble, and even if Prim died, it wasn't his entire fault. I mean, he looked out for her but in the end she died. We just have to forget all the times he protected her, gave her food, and helped her out. Personally, I think Peeta is wimpy. Hey, don't judge me, but he is. He's somewhat Gary-Stu, considering he is 'good-looking' and 'kind' and all that other crap. I think the romance between Peeta and Katniss is unbelievable. Katniss didn't have any feelings for him until he just announced out randomly that he liked Katniss, then she just suddenly likes him too? Pfft, yeah right. To put it simply, does every bone in his body have to be cheesy? Bold guy, but it doesn't make me like him any more. I laughed at the part where he got chased by the tracker jackers, I even yelled out "Go Katniss!" Yeah, I was immature. But he honestly doesn't deserve Katniss. She's so much more mature, so much better at Hunger Games, and just... BETTER. Gale's better too. I think he looks better too. And I am proud to announce I am a Gale Fan. So?
tanyak
11. La Mala
i understand your point and i'm not judging you at all so calm down . This isn't a Twilight war were we have to choose a team , we're not crazy-fan-girls . I was just saying how tired i was of the damsel-in.distress- act that we read in every YA book . I think it's refreshing to read about a WOMAN saving a MAN's life . I don't think that's pathetic . We live in a sexist world so ,yeah , i understand that a lot of people think it's unmanly when a girl it's stronger than a boy , when the GIRL saves the day instead of waiting like a regular BELLA to be rescued.

Also , I actually like the three characthers a lot . I like Gale too , i think the autor made an fantastic job whit this revolution-boy and that is something we don't get to see nowere .

Again , this is not a War , we're just discussing a book ...
tanyak
12. Moss
FINALLY SOMEONE WHO UNDERSTANDS WHY I DON'T LIKE PEETA!!!
I get that people like Peeta because he's all sweet and stuff but when its in a dystopian trilogy/novel you usually expect the more courageous and rebellious one to be a favorite. This book was an exception for me because I usually like the more sweet guys but Gale for me just one me over in a heartbeat.
tanyak
13. mystique
I kinda hate people who criticize Gale and Peeta in a way to promote the other one. They are very distinctive. Gale is certainly a war hero and I think Katniss loved him in the first book and most of the second book while feeling uncertain about Peeta. I thought Katniss and Gale should have been together. I do like Peeta better than Gale after reading the third book. I think rebellion is in Gale's blood . He knows what it takes to win a war. But I have this annoyance and almost resentment fowards Gale because he is willing to kill innocent people. In the beginning of Mockingjay, he said if he had a button that can wipe out the Capitol, he would do it. There are certainly people like Cinna and Tigris in the Capitol, do they deserve to die? Another example, in District 2, he would be willing to flush the Nut while innocent people were still in there. And remembering while Beetee and Gale was developing new weapons, they were following President Snow's footstep when he hijacked Peeta, first the victim, second, the rescuer. Sympathay, in my opinion, is an extremely important quality of the human race. That's one of the most important reason I thought he and Katniss should not be together. Again, the bomb issue is what actually seperated them. Clearly, Gale and Beetee developed the bomb. A lot of people said it wasn't his fault. But honestly, if any of your family being killed by something you invented, unintentionally, would you feel guilty? I would, at least. But Gale's answer just made me angry. "Does it matter? you'll always be thinking about it" with no sense of guilt. I do think he should be partially responsible for Prim's death because of his excessive hatred toward the Capitol. Other than that, I think Gale is an awesome person, always nice to Katniss, taking care of her family and so on. Then, there's Peeta, He is so unrealistic, I have to say, although I do believe this kind of person exist. He loves Katniss more than his life. He's nice, sweet, blahblah...(save that). But I really admire his ability with words and speech, and more importantly, his love for Katniss. To be honest, in a relationship, or even marriage who would actually sacrifice themselves for their loved ones? And again, hope, sympathy are what Peeta represents. Therefore, symbolically, Katniss and Peeta's marriage portrays that it is hope and sympathy keeps life going, not hatred. Realistically, I think Katniss loves both Gale and Peeta wholeheartedly and she would choose Gale. But personally, I would choose Peeta because he would sacrifice his life for Katniss. I do like Gale, his life in District 12 shows the goodness in his heart, but the war has shown the other side of him(which I think represents the dark side of humanity). Overall, SC wanted us to embrace hope and sympathy instead of hatred. For people who disagree with me, I just want to say that I think this trilogy is about humanity and how SC want the kid to understand the goodness in human heart is what keeps life going.
tanyak
15. What!!!!!!!!!!!
Are you serious! Peeta Is Gorrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrgggggeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeouuuuuuuusssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssss.

(ok and kind of pathetic... But still you see what I mean?

And I qoute
"Peeta Is so damn hot"
Yet pathetic
And btw I am more obsessed with the hunger games than you!
tanyak
16. Tamara89
I think if the author really wanted to challenge conventions and show a nice, normal guy getting the girl for once she should have left out the part where Peeta's supposed to be good looking. Then see if his (supposedly) non stereotypical and progressive thinking fan girls still like him.

I do find Peeta pretty pathetic but I can see that he is a better hero and a better role model than Gale. In real life I can see Gale being a lot more attractive to most women though (including myself) but in the end it's right that Katniss didn't choose him after what he had done. But I don't think realistically she would have gone for Peeta unless she had no other choice and for someone of Katniss' personality I think it would have made more sense for her to have ended up alone, or with someone else. In real life I don't think someone like Katniss would have found someone like Peeta appealing.

But this is a novel. Katniss does whatever the author tells her to do. I think the author was trying to make Peeta out to be this intelligent hero with great qualities that are not immediately apparent but which don't involve brawn - which is great - but I don't think she executed it very well and it ended up with him just being BLAH. If he had had a really sharp mind and tactical qualities then yeah I'd be able to see it. Just sloppy writing I think.
tanyak
17. Taspam
I used to hate Peeta. Seemed pathetic and stupidly romantic.
until I re read the books and realized he is REALLY smart. The way he plays the Capitol people on the first book even outsmarts the host Ceasar F and Haymitch, He joins the careers. He plans the lovers facade. Yet he is mature enough to understand, he does love katniss, but that doesn't mean she loves him,n she has to make the decision herself. This freedom to choose, gale never allows Katniss to have! It's true gale is amazing. He's smart and fast and understands Katniss. But you can see them slipping away from each other. Realizing, they've both outgrown the kids they once knew. I think Katniss does love Peeta, when she wants him so badly to comfort her in a way Gale just can't.
i think the good guy isn't stupid or boring, he's real, he's mature.
and the alpha isn't always the one to follow, cause he can be wrong.
tanyak
18. Jazsy
I know I'm late, but I have to comment on this. Some of the other posters-and even the article writer-almost seem as if they haven't read the book. I mean, it's clearly THE WRITING that makes Peeta seem helpless and not the character himself. Think about it: First book, Peeta is sliced in the leg, and has to be protected for the rest of the book. 2nd book: Once in the games, Peeta can't swim, so they have to go and get him. Then their not in the Games for 30 minutes, then Peeta gets blasted by a forcefield. After that he has to be carried around, for quite some time. Then, of course, he's captured and Katniss is saved. Third book: The capitol has made it to where the guy has to be restrained in handcuffs THE ENTIRE BOOK. So any abilities he might have had are useless. It is clear to me, and anyone who really reads the books and pays attention, that THE AUTHOR was trying to keep Peeta incapacitated so that Katniss would look like this badass who's always saving him. But, just think about if all that I've mentioned happened to Gale. Or Haymitch. Or any man who you think of as an ALPHA. Now, tell me is that guy pathetic? Or has he just had a series of unfortunate events happen to him? Was Gale pathetic when he was whipped to within an inch of his life? No. Something bad happened to him and he had to be helped. Not to mention, it is an extremely sexist viewpoint, to label him pathetic for being shown as doing precisely what "damsels-in-distress" have been shown doing for decades: needing help and being helped. Doesn't make them pathetic.

Aside from that point, if you read the books and paid attention to Katniss and Peeta's interactions outside the arena, and Gale and Katniss's interactions, it is clear that Katniss is attracted to Peeta's personality and not Gale's. Not only is he "the boy with the bread" but he is kind, smart, funny, noble and sensible. To someone who commented about why Katniss suddenly falls for Peeta consider this: before the games, Katniss never knew Peeta, but she's known Gale for years, she falls in love with Peeta and yet she's only ever looked at Gale as her friend. Plain and simple. She struggles with not wanting to betray Gale to some "strange boy", but other than that, the only person she wants to hold her is Peeta. The only kiss she "hungers" for is Peeta's. The only one who she wants to "sleep" with her, is Peeta. Need I say more?

Now, the author kinda screwed us over with the ending, imo, by having Katniss say "Gale has fire, but I have enough fire of my own" and that probably made people think that Katniss ONLY chose Peeta because he is essentially, the Anti-Gale. But, if you paid attention throughout the entire story, you would see that Peeta actually comes to mean a lot to Katniss, is her friend and she falls for him early on in Catching Fire, because of his kindness, and personality, etc. And every other character in the books can see that Katniss is clearly in love with Peeta, early on, but doesn't understand it and won't accept it.

So basically, The fact that Peeta always needed to be saved, had little to do with his abilities, and more to do with the author's own desire to make Katniss, a Badass who's always saving her man. But to call him pathetic, is just a bit over-the-top, when you think about what actually HAPPENS TO him in the books.
Hyper Cube
19. hypercube
I also have to react to this ;-)

SUMMARY OR STAR-WARS ANALOGY:
Gale is undoubtedly a (big damn) hero, but he turned himself to the Dark Side. Only Peeta remained faifthful to the true nature of the Force, and saved Katniss by doing so.

First, on the fact that Gale's approach to the war actually saved lives, and his attitude, etc. This is not the case, if President Snow can be trusted (hum...), but Katniss does in this case (they promised they won't lie to each other). He said to Katniss he was going to surrender. So the bomb was not necessary to win the war. This is exactly what differentiates Gale and Katniss. Katniss was always against the idea that the end justifies the means. She showed it multiple times. For instance, during the bombing in the District 8. She was really revolted against the attack from the Capitol against the Hospital, and risked her life to prevent that. Again, in District 2, where she was against the idea of trapping the people to death in the "Nut", and risked her life to obtain a cease of fire. Then of course, Prim's death in the end. Later, she asked Gale: "That was your bomb?" Of course that was not Gale doing it, because he was there in street with her, but still the message was clear. Gale's approach to war killed her sister, and clearly she cannot accept it. Later she explains that human must be particularly twisted to sacrifice children to achieve their goals, and that living in a world where such things are possible doesn't benefit to anyone. Clearly, she and Gale have a different level of morality.

Next, on Gale being the alpha baddass trying to do something and Peeta the boring beta, doing nothing (but throwing a piece of bread), falling in traps after traps. I cannot but disagree. Don't take me wrong. I of course appreciate Gale, and all the efforts he did. But he's in fact quite clumsy, although not physically. First, in Katniss' own words, he's a coward. The perfect example (but there are others), is when Prim died. He did not try to apologize, or share his guilty feelings (if he had any), or stay close to Katniss to comfort her. Instead, he fled to District 2. Fleeing is a natural attitude to him in such circumstances. Next, as already said by some commenters above, he was Katniss' close best friend for years, and all he managed to do, is to be... his best friend?!? How pathetic is that? So sure, Gale is a splendid hunter, fighter, even capable of taking risks to save other, but on the emotion side, he's lagging behind.

Peeta on the other hand, is the real game changer. Of course, he cannot fight, hunt, or do whatever things Gale is doing so well. But he has guts, and probably more than Gale. First, he's the only one who positively changed the life of Katniss. He literally saved her, thanks to his love for her, revealling it at the unique opportunity he's given in his life, and by doing so publicly, making her more attractive than the ruthless machine/shallow girl she was so far. He saved her by saying he wants to remain true to himself, despites the Games. That he doesn't want to be a pawn in the leaders' hands (here the link with Katniss and Coin, being the pawn until she kills her). He saved Katniss, even against her own will. At first, she rejected him, even rejected what he represents, projecting to kill him, but then, she slowly understood everything that Peeta was doing, and discovered her own emotions and feelings that she always pushed aside in the past. It's even because of him that Katniss started to ask herself about love, Gale, etc. Peeta is the only one offering a better future. It's only in the arms of Peeta that Katniss calms down, and sleeps without nightmares. We have a (almost dull) (ok, I'm pushing a bit) character that main ability is to be a good bow shooter, but is as cold as steel, and then comes the bread maker, who in a few actions is capable of completely transforming her inner thoughts. Thanks to Peeta's influence, Katniss progressively reveals herself, and becomes much more interesting. How can this be boring?

To continue on Peeta's having guts, he had to have some to warn the District 13 about the imminent attack. He basically saved several hundreds of people, if not thousands. He probably saved more lifes than anyone else did by this simple action. He actually saved Gale and Prim, who were late because of them looking for Buttercup the cat. He did this despites the atrocity, the tortures he was enduring by the Capitol. Next, Peeta is probably the one that suffered the most in the books. Of course, everyone had his (big, too big?) share. But Peeta, not only did he suffered physically (fire, etc), was tortured, almost lost his mind and humanity, but he also lost all his family. Despites this, when proposed to get a revenge against the people of the Capitol by organizing another Hunger Game, he said a clear "No!". In this case, we don't know what would have been Gale's decision (and Katniss pretended to agree to better kill Coin), but clearly it takes guts to say no in such situation. That's because Peeta is much "higher" on the human morality scale. For him, there is no sense and never will be in such madness, even against his own worst enemies. Because that would destroy himself. Clearly he's living by much more demanding standards. The big difference between Gale and Peeta is that Gale was motivated to either flee the system, or destroy the system, at whatever costs. Peeta's only motive is to save Katniss, even risking his own life, and his own humanity. Because he cannot imagine a life without Katniss. The same way Katniss cannot imagine a world where bombs killing innocent people makes sense.

To conclude, I would say that the real hero is Peeta. He saved Katniss by showing her the path of real Love and of real Life. By giving her the motivation to fight for a really better world, and become a better person. By showing a direction, despites all the suffering and difficulties, that was at the complete opposite of where the world was heading to.
tanyak
20. Nona
I agree with everything you said. Peeta constantly needs saving, and winds up being a burden more times than not. I too have called upon the example of Peeta painting himself to look like a rock as the ultimate sign of passive pansey. Im not saying he has to be King Dingaling all the time but at the very least, try not to die every 5 minutes and slow people down. Ugh.
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