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.
I 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.
I 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.