Mar 19 2012 3:00pm

The Hunger Games Roundtable: Gale is THE BEST

Liam Hemsworth as Gale Hawthorne in The Hunger GamesWhen I first read The Hunger Games a few years back on a recommendation from a friend (thanks, Tara!), I was all about the triangle: Who was Katniss going to pick, Peeta or Gale?

(Warning: Beware of possible SPOILERS for all 3 books in the series.)

I was Team Gale then, naturally, as I’ve always been a sucker for the friends-to-lovers trope, and Katniss made it clear pretty early on in The Hunger Games (on page 6, in fact) that there was potential for this, at least: “In the woods waits the only person with whom I can be myself. Gale.” There were other great moments, too, like in Catching Fire, when Katniss thought to herself: “Gale is mine. I am his. Anything else is unthinkable.” *happy sigh*

By the end of Mockingjay, however, I was really frustrated with Katniss. Her fragility (how many times did she have to get tranquilized?), her inability to just make a decision (did you really need to keep both boys on the hook for so long?), her misplaced blame (how was Gale evil for doing his part in the same war you were fighting?). It all drove me nuts. In the end, she turned out not to be the character I’d thought, or hoped, she was. Of course, now, in hindsight, I can see she was never interested in becoming the badass revolutionary I’d hoped she’d become. But Gale? He totally was! (As was Johanna, even though she got robbed in the lead-up to the last battle, but that’s a whole other post.) And so my interest in the trilogy shifted, and I became Team Gale for a different reason.

Liam Hemsworth and Jennifer Lawrence as Gale and KatnissI loved learning more about Gale in Mockingjay. Loved that he’d managed to get himself, his family, and Katniss’s family all out of District 12. Loved that he’d taken care of his family for years before that and was obviously so smart and resourceful. Loved that was not only idealistic but brave and ready to back up his beliefs with words and actions. Loved that no matter what, he had Katniss’s back.

He was angry, sure, by why shouldn’t he have been? He lived in an awful, awful world, and until the revolution was powerless to do much more than survive. But when he got the chance, he channeled the anger into being a good soldier to win the war and ultimately make the world a better place, and man, do I admire that.

Gale got screwed over in Mockingjay, he really did; maybe that’s why I love him even more now. Whatever the reason, though, I know what I’m most looking forward to in The Hunger Games movie: More Gale!

So let’s hear it—who’s with me? Vote Team Gale (one vote per person, please, but comment as many times as you’d like!) in the comments and let me know why YOU love him. And watch this space, ’cause on Wednesday, things’ll really heat up when Chris and I post our rebuttals.

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1. Taragel

You know I feel much the same as you, my braintwin.
Heather Waters
2. HeatherWaters
*high fives* Team Gale FTW!

Can you remember what, specifically, drew you to Gale in the beginning?
Stephanie Treanor
3. Streanor
TEAM GALE ALL THE WAY!!! I'm sorry Peeta is way to sappy for me. Blah Blah i like you Blah Blah i give you bread Blah Blah.

I remember when he grabbed Katniss in the woods and kissed her. LOVED IT. They had so much more passion as a couple.

Peeta is like a sick puppy that follows you everywhere. Yeah its cute and fun to snuggle with but I'm not going to sleep with it!
Heather Waters
4. HeatherWaters
@Streanor Right on! Even Chris had to admit that you WIN THE INTERNETS, Stephanie.
5. KateNagy
I like Gale well enough and feel like he's always gotten a bit of a raw deal, although I can see why Katniss couldn't end up with him -- even though he had no way of foreseeing how things would shake out at the end, I find it entirely reasonable to believe that she could never get past the fact that things did, in fact, shake out exactly that way. (I'm being deliberately vague out of respect for the three people who don't yet know the full story.) Although, why does he have to shoulder the full blame -- you never hear anyone saying "Oh EFF that Beetee," and Beetee arguably bore the greater responsibility.*

Anyway, in the fanfic reel in my mind, he and Johanna Mason are off living a fabulous life together in -- District 2, was it? -- doing fabulous things and having a fabulous time.

*For the record: I love Beetee! He was the only one of my favorites not to die.
6. jessn1017
Maybe this isn't the right place to pose this, but I have a question: is it possible to adore the character of Gale, but not necessarily think he is the best person for Katniss? And vice-versa: Can you love Peeta and not necessarily think he is the best choice to be with Katniss? Or, can you love all three chracters and yet believe that Katniss should have just stayed single?
Christopher Morgan
7. cmorgan
@jessn1017 Heather and I have actually had this conversation. Collins does a good job leaving the reader feeling as emotionally drained as the characters which makes the ending of Mockingjay so contraversial.
8. SecretAgent
I am definitely team Gale, all the way. Katniss has way more in common with him, they share the same history of struggle and hardship. They have a deeper, more honest relationship built on an actual friendship. Katniss's relationship with Peeta is all a lie. In fact, she has to constantly council herself against her gut reaction to Peeta- leave him there to die- because it will make her look bad. Everything she has with Peeta is based on her saving her own skin! Which, admitedly, doesnt really make her look that good.
9. Seleste deLaney
I like Gale. Actually, I adore Gale.

But as far as the love triangle goes, I never saw him as a real potential threat to Peeta. The friends-to-lovers trope is a great one, but in book 1 we only see Katniss and Gale as friends and hunting partners--almost more brother and sister (in my mind) than romantic partners. At best, I felt like she thought she *should* end up with him. Book 2, he grabs her and kisses her, but... I still never felt a deeper connection with them. (I describe it on the Peeta Power page as being kind of like the Han-Leia-Luke non-triangle in Star Wars, and I stand by that.)

Is Gale awesome? Yes. Did he get a raw deal in the whole story? Yes. Was he the right person for Katniss to end up with? No. They were too much alike. Katniss needed Peeta in her life for balance.

But a happily-ever-after for Gale in fan-fic? Sign me up!
Rachel Hyland
10. RachelHyland
I am with Seleste. Gale is great. But is he great with Katniss? No.

And like Kate (carefully, vaguely) said, it is perfectly reasonable that Katniss would blame him for the Unfortunate Event We Shall Not Mention for Fear of Spoilers. I mean, I do. And to answer your question, Kate, I think he has to shoulder the full blame because he is her friend, and it therefore feels like a betrayal. As he himself says: "That was the one thing I had going for me. Taking care of your family." She expected better of him, and it hurts that she was wrong. (Meanwhile: Gale and Johanna, huh? Am I sensing a spin-off?)

You know what else? Increasingly, I am in agreement with jessn1017's last contention, that "Katniss should have just stayed single." At the very least, I could have done without the Epilogue.

But basically, Heather, while I am also a fan of the lovers-to-friends trope, I think at some point if the friends haven't become lovers it's because there's just nothing there. If Katniss truly felt anything for Gale beyond comradeship, she'd have been with him long since. (President Snow bedamned.)

Also, we may all be giving this just a tad too much thought...
Heather Waters
11. HeatherWaters
@KateNagy -- It's SO funny to me that you mention Gale/Johanna, because that's actually how things play out in my head too! And we're not the only ones; there's even a LiveJournal community for the pairing.

@jessn1017 -- Oh, this is totally the right place for a question like that! I'm not in favor of Katniss/Gale myself, and I think it's totally valid (obviously) to wonder if Katniss should have ended up with either of them. I mean, maybe staying single would have been good for her. Who knows?

@cmorgan -- Yep!

@SecretAgent -- Agreed--especially in the first two books, I loved the idea that any romantic Katniss/Gale relationship would have been built on a foundation of friendship and respect, etc., whereas I could never tell what was real or not (heh) with Peeta/Katniss. After finishing the third book, though, I confess I was kinda glad Gale did not end up with the girl.

@Seleste deLancey -- Regarding Katniss/Gale, that's fair enough; these things are so subjective, aren't they? As for wanting to see Gale get his HEA in fic, I am so with ya! I've read a few really, really good Gale/Johanna stories, so that's how things go down in my head.

@RachelHyland -- You can't help what you feel, so in that way of course Katniss is justified in blaming Gale. Just as of course Gale is going to feel responsible, as anyone in his shoes who loved Katniss and Prim as much as he did would. And just as I am justified in feeling that Gale got screwed over and deserved a little compassion in the end too.

I'm totally with you on the idea that Katniss might have been better off single in the end. In hindsight, I have to wonder if that would've been the healthier choice.

I also agree that at a certain point, if the friends haven't become lovers, there's nothing there. That said, I believe Katniss and Gale were 16 and 18, respectively, and with a lot on their plates, so as I was reading the first two books, at least, I never felt it was odd that they hadn't already given things a go. Again in hindsight, though, I have to wonder if she was even ready for a real relationship (with anyone) by the end of the third book.
12. Ain020596
Team Gale, definitely.

I have a theory that the Pro-Gale fanbase are the readers who really wanted Katniss to assume the role of the Mockingjay while the Pro-Peeta fanbase, besides being suckers for their sappy romance, better understood that Katniss never wanted to lead the revolution. The Team Gale fans wanted a power couple because Katniss and Gale's abilities complimented each other. I personally felt that Gale could provide Katniss with his strength and Katniss could help Gale with her political standing to further lead the rebellion. It was entirely my fault for wanting Katniss to truly assume her role as the Girl on Fire and the Mockingjay, because I always wanted love and hope to truly win out in Katniss in the end. After all, the most defining attributes of Katniss from the beginning was her unwavering love towards her family and her cunning determination.

The fact that she ended up with Peeta in the end didn't nearly bother me as much as the subject of what Katniss had become. I thought that the main question that really should be debated is whether it was wrong in us wanting Kaniss to assume her role as the Mockingjay. Because no fan can actually be justified in saying that the ending of the last book sucked because it did not go the way he/she wanted. It's a debate on whether it was wrong in projecting what we wanted of her onto her character. I've always felt so conflicted about it, because throughout the last book I just never accepted that she didn't want to be the Mockingjay. Perhaps after reading too much of Selfless Harry Potter and Determined Frodo Baggins, I've always assumed that the hero would always be the one leading the wars and rebellions. And in this case, Katniss couldn't have shied away any farther from it. And that just made me angry at her. Angry at her for being weak, selfish, broken, uncaring and indecisive.
Heather Waters
13. HeatherWaters
@Ain020596 -- I really could not agree with you more. You've described exactly how I feel now, with Mockingjay in the rearview mirror. I see now that Katniss never wanted to be the revolutionary I wanted her to want to be and the person that Gale DID end up being. I've only got myself to blame for that. Well, and maybe Starbuck and Apollo, and Mal Reynolds at heart too.
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