Mar 19 2012 4:00pm

The Hunger Games Roundtable: Peeta Power

The Man With the Hot BunsAny conversation about The Hunger Games invariably leads to a discussion of the love interests. Like almost all other YA out there, there’s a triangle. In this book, young Katniss Everdeen must choose between long-time friend and co-hunter/starving child Gale, and skilled laborer and generally better off, Peeta. I fall in the Peeta camp. But before I can get into the why of it I feel that I should explain the how.

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

I came to The Hunger Games while interning at a Literary Agency that focused on YA. I hadn’t read a ton of YA before, only the ones that managed to make enough noise as to reach me in my lofty tower of SciFi/Fantasy exclusivity. (Oh, how I have branched out since…) So I’m mainly talking Harry Potter (Woot!) and the Twilight Saga (Kill it with fire!).

I decided to pick up the first one and quickly devoured every book in the series. (I started reading them the week that Mockingjay hit the shelves and finished all three by the end of the following week.) I never once fell into the Gale camp for a lot of reasons, more on that later, right now I would just like to share what exactly makes the Baker of District 12 unmatched in either love or war. So without further stalling, let me tell you why Peeta is really the only choice Katniss has in this crazy messed up world.

Now, I’m not one prone to swooning, and so my approach to this argument may be a bit more…male…than my competitor, in that I feel that I am at a disadvantage, but like a good Texan, I’ll fight to the death over a lost cause any day of the week.

Mainly my argument falls to one central theme: Brains Over Brawn. I’m partial to brainy heroes, I confess. But let’s strip Mr. Mellark down to his component parts. At his very worst, he is an emotionally manipulative con man. Playing the crowd’s emotions against themselves and guaranteeing a win. Now before you get all judgey, Katniss herself does this. She knows that the only way out of the first games is to play up the emotions. Haymitch knows it. Cinna knows it. Hell, even President Snow knows it. It’s just a matter of survival, and that is what this whole deal is about.

At his best, Peeta is a loyal, self-sacrificing, and fearless guy out to help the In it to win it!people he cares about, no matter what the personal cost. You simply can’t ask for anything more than that. He is there for Katniss when it counts the most and when the world is coming down around both of them he is there also, keeping his cool. Might as well be named Luke at this point. Pretty sure he could eat fifty hard-boiled eggs at any rate. Let’s see ol’ Gale manage that!

I’m looking for the movie to capture Peeta’s brains, and not turm him into just another bruiser. That’s not what Katniss needs, and that is NOT what gets people through the games, as Haymitch would be sure and tell you.

So let’s hear it—who’s with me? Vote Team Peeta (one vote per person, please, but comment as many times as you’d like!) in the comments and let me know why YOU love that delightful doughboy of District 12. And watch this space, ’cause on Wednesday, things’ll really heat up when Heather and I publish our rebuttals. (And really I could use all the help I can get...)

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2. aculver1
I am Team Peeta all the way. My problem with Gale is he gets to worked up over the government and the way they handle the people (and yes it is awful for everyone but the Capital). However Katniss does not need any overcharged emotional guy. She needs someone that she can depend on to be there to help her get through everything, not someone who will rant and rave about this and that.
Christopher Morgan
3. cmorgan
And the first blow is struck, Thank you Aculver1, thank you. It's nice to know I'm not alone.
4. Lucy D
I am Team Peeta all the way! Peeta was a much more substantial character. All that he does and sacrifices for Katniss during the games. He is all heart. He is smart, thoughtful and courageous. Go Team Peeta!
5. CCRead
Peeta !!

He gets the job done without any chest thumping or table pounding. He cares enough for Katniss he's willing to die so she survives - what more can you ask for than that!
6. KateNagy
I'm mildly Team Peeta, if only because only another victorious Tribute is ever really going to get everything Katniss has been through. I have to say, though, one of the Fug Girls referred to him as "Weeta" recently and I haven't stopped laughing yet. Poor Josh Hutcherson.
7. SandyH
I agree! I believe Peeta has the best qualities for a long term relationship.
C Hunter
8. huntece
Peeta because he was who Katniss needed and would always be there for her.
10. willaful
I'm a Peeta girl for sure... love those sensitive boys.
11. Missy Jane
At first, when I finished reading the series and was clearly on Peeta's team, I thought perhaps it was the author's fault. I feel she gave the reader more of Peeta than Gale in every book, even when he wasn't present. He certainly seemed to affect Katniss on a more emotional level than Gale. However, the more I think about it, the more I realize I agree with your assessment. I also prefer brains over brawn and will almost always vote for the underdog. Peeta made himself vulnerable from the start by revealing his feelings for Katniss, even if she thought it was all for show. He also remained loyal throughout, as much as he could, and in their world that counts for a lot. What kind of pissed me off about the ending (spoiler coming) was how Gale just drifted away from Katniss without making a real break. There she was broken down and he didn't even bother showing up to see if he could help? That's not love in my book.
Rachel Hyland
12. RachelHyland
Peeta, if anyone, though I am not sure Katniss needed to end up with either he or Gale; the story almost begged for a "I choose me" kind of resolution and I really don't think it would have left me unsatisfied. (But then, I'm not a fourteen-year old girl.)

I like Peeta as a character for all the reasons articulated here: he's kind, brave, loyal, strong and smart. I like him all the more as a romantic lead because hey, dude can bake! And at no point did anyone mistake him for a member of Katniss's immediate family.

I also believe that Collins always considered Peeta to be (for want of a better description - and sorry for the apparently abhorrent reference, Christopher) Katniss's Edward Cullen, and I was not at all surprised when that is where the story -- kind of -- took us. Even brainwashed and under heavy Katniss-aversion therapy, Peeta still seemed far more appropriate a match for her; Gale was simply portrayed as way too brother-y to be a convincing rival for her guarded affections, to my mind.

Hmm. As I mentioned over in the Team Gale comments: we may all be giving this just a little too much thought...
Regina Thorne
13. reginathorn
Hey, I think there might be some kind of anti-Peeta conspiracy going on here :P I posted a long comment last night, but apparently forgot to hit the *post* button or something.

ANYWAY: Team Peeta all the way - ever since the conversation that he and Katniss have on the roof before the first Hunger Games, in which Peeta says that he knows he's going to die, but he wants to die on his own terms, being himself, not twisted into some kind of monstrosity for the entertainment for others. I found that profoundly moving and that was the instant that I realized I'd be devastated if he DID die!
Christopher Morgan
14. cmorgan
You know Rachel, you probably right about the too much thought, but then again, where would be the fun if books weren't so divisive, as long as no one takes it personal and we all realize these are fictional people, mores the fun.

Also I see what you mean about Peeta being Katniss's Edward Cullen. I'd be curious how much of that similarity is editorial sculpting and how much of it was Collins's. You can certainly see the friend/fierce protector in Gale and Peeta is the more worldly gentleman. I'm just gald that Gale didn't "imprint" like a puppy on Peeta and Katniss's rapidly aging first-born.
15. Seleste deLaney
Team Peeta, no question. My problem with the entire love triangle was that I never once felt that Katniss looked at Gale with anything beyond friendship. It was like the Han-Leia-Luke non-triangle. And even there, Leia kissed Luke twice before she ever kissed Han--and they were brother and sister for crying out loud.

But I just never once saw Gale as a romantic interest. A "logical choice" for a husband maybe, but not a romantic one at all.
16. cnsjohnson
A few of my "reading friends" were so surprised I wanted Katniss and Peeta together, since apparently Gale is more my type...I jokingly told them that Jacob has been my type too, and I was still so traumatized by what Meyer did to him, I subconciously gravitated towards someone I wouldn't normally choose to avoid further But seriously, from the very beginning, Peeta just always seemed right for Katniss, he was just always what she needed, always there for her, and like someone else said, the only one who could ever really get what she was going through. There was never any choice there.
Rachel Hyland
17. RachelHyland
I know it's off-topic, but am I the only one who quite likes that Jacob imprinted on Renesmee? I have big issues with her name (as the guys over at RiffTrax say: DO NOT NAME YOUR CHILD THIS OR ALLOW OTHERS TO NAME THEIR CHILD THIS), but none with the concept of a werewolf/vampire-human hybrid relationship begun when one of them was still in the womb. In fact, I'd be all for a Jacob/Nessie-oriented sequel. Am I really such a lone voice in the wilderness on this one?

Back to things Peeta-related, however: absolutely, Seleste, Han-Leia-Luke. Except it never felt like Leia was merely settling for Han...
Mindy Belby
18. o2b5ft2
Team Peeta all the way. He is her contstant and steady when the rest of the world is not and always will be. He is her Captain Wentworth.
19. willaful
I've been thinking more about this (because who has a life, right?) trying to figure out why I'm Team Peeta. I think Gale is a great guy too and any straight woman should be so lucky to have two such great guys after her. And it's probably partially that Peeta gets more -- what's the book equivalent of screen time?

But mostly, I think -- keeping in mind that I'm not quite halfway through the third book yet -- that Peeta is totally focused on Katniss. Everything he does is for her sake. Gale has other feelings and agendas. Which is utterly normal, even much saner, but it's not exactly a sane situation.
20. willaful
Even moe importantly, now I think about it, Peeta's morality is in line with Katniss's. Gale is far too ruthless for her.
21. angylinni
I've been a Peeta fangirl from the very first. Gale and Katniss are just too alike to ever work as a couple. The ending of Mockingjay *spoiler alert* sums it up perfectly - she needed the dandilion in the field to remind her that life was going to go on.
Peeta anchors her to the world - he gives her the freedom to fly but also offers a safe place to roost when that world gets to be too much to bear.
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