Friday, March 25, 2016

Katniss v.s Peeta: Breaking Gender Roles

If you don’t know the trilogy The Hunger Games, stop what you're doing, and go to your nearest Barnes and Nobles and pick up the books. I believe the books are always better than the movies, but The Hunger Games, and Catching Fire, are pretty spectacular, so go watch them too. If you're too lazy to do either, here's a brief summary. Basically, North America has fallen to ruins during a revolution, and an awful President has come to power. In order to show who is boss, and scare the citizens, President Snow created the the Hunger Games, where a male and female from each of the 12 districts fight to the death. The last person alive becomes the Victor and gets to go home to their loved ones, and live in an awful world for longer. Doesn’t that sound great? To be honest, I could never imagine how I would handle living during this time, it scares the shit out of me. The main characters are Katniss Everdeen, a strong, young woman who cares for her mother, and younger sister, and Peeta Mellark, a baker’s boy. Both were picked to fight in the arena for their lives, but when they ended up the last two alive, they decided if they both couldn’t win, they would die together. President Snow did not like this, and decided to make both Katniss and Peeta the Victors of the game. Catching Fire picks up right at the end of games, when their lives are just beginning to go back to normal. I believe both survived the games because of their talents and experiences.Author Suzanne Collins, has done something that has hardly ever been done. It’s clear to see, Katniss Everdeen is not your stereotypical girl. She doesn’t go shopping, or paints her nails. Peeta Mellark isn’t your stereotypical male either. He spends his time baking, and painting. Many say that it is almost as if these characters were assigned the opposite gender role. I don’t think it has as much to do with gender, but just what their preferences are, and what they enjoy doing. Gender roles nowadays are not so black and white anymore. Men and women are free to do what they want.Women don’t have to be the ones to stay home and care for the house and children, go shopping, and be sissy. Males don’t have to be the breadwinners anymore either. They can be in touch with their feelings, and truly express who they are. I enjoy how this novel really pushes this belief and breaks gender stereotypes. Katniss Everdeen and Peeta Mellark are perfect examples.
Katniss Everdeen
Katniss isn’t necessarily your “girly girl”. She is a strong, smart, young woman, who in hard times, has had to provide for her family. Her father passed away in a mining accident, so she has filled the role as the provider. She feels most comfortable when she is tucked away in the woods, hunting for food. She is a natural born warrior, and knows how to use a bow and arrow extremely well. This has helped her a lot in the games. Katniss does what she needs to do in order to keep her family well, but she always has good intentions. While fighting in the games she never wanted to kill anyone, but she did what she needed to do in order to protect herself. Katniss has a good heart. In Catching Fire, you see Katniss as a leader to a whole revolution, trying to take down President Snow. Isn’t it usually a man doing such a thing? It’s so cool to see such an empowering character like Katniss. Both Katniss and Peeta understand that they are different, and understand the roles they pursue. “Peeta keeps all of us in fresh baked goods. I hunt. He bakes” (1,55). Like the stereotype goes, “girls are very emotional”, but not her. She is not very intuned with her emotions, and is kinda all over the place. She doesn’t obsess over boys, even though two are head over heels in love with her. Like a mature adult, she pays mind to things that are more important in life, like keeping herself and family alive. Someone else she has had to keep alive is Peeta. In the arena, Peeta either falls and hurts his leg, or walks too far and hits the barrier and is electrocuted. It is Katniss that has to protect poor Peeta from getting killed when he is down and hurt. It’s like Peeta is the Damsel in Distress and Katniss is the Prince coming to save him from the dragon. It’s so uncommon to see these roles switched, but it sheds light to how important woman truly are, and how our strength should not be taken for granted.
Peeta Mellark
I believe Peeta is a unique character. From the beginning he has handled every challenge so well, except the whole “try not to get killed” concept. He still needs to work on that. When he was picked for the games he was calm and collected. During the games, he was quiet and used his skills in baking to disguise himself to the end. Even when he's in love with Katniss, but she has feelings for Gale, he has always be cool and understanding. This may be a hard quality to find in a guy. Peeta is unique in that he exhibits traits typically attributed to female characters. Males in movies are supposed to be violent, possessive, and emotionally distant. Not Peeta. He’s a boy who enjoys baking, and painting. He’s sensitive, and attuned with his feelings, and knows what he wants.Usually it's the girl trying to talk about feelings to their man, but in Peeta and Katniss’s case, it’s switched around. Through the novel he is cared for and always rescued by Katniss. While making an appearance on Saturday Night Live, actor Josh Hutcherson, who plays Peeta, gave the following introduction: “I play Peeta, the brave young hero who immediately gets hurt and has to be carried around for the rest of the movie. It seems like he can not do anything right once the games begin in Catching Fire,you always see him get hurt, fall down, or need help from Katniss. When Effie Trinket announces that both Peeta and Katniss must return to the games you can hear in her voice that she truly does not believe he has a chance of surviving. You can tell she feels bad for Katniss but is more hopeful of her survival. Katniss watches over Peeta. Katniss stated,"If it is Peeta and me in the Games, this time we try to keep him alive." Katniss realizes that she may have a better chance of coming out of the games alive, but Peeta has been so good to her, and is such a good person, that he deserves to live, other than her. "Like you said, it's going to be bad no matter how you slice it. And whatever Peeta wants, it's his turn to be saved. We both owe him that." My voice takes on a pleading tone. "Besides, the Capitol hates me so much, I'm as good as dead now. He still might have a chance." (13.27-29). Katniss is talking to Haymitch after she finds out her and Peeta must return to the games. She truly cares and loves for Peeta. This is someone you really never see in books or movies, the girl saving the boy.
I believe Suzanne Collins wrote this characters this way to break stereotypical gender roles.

Genders do not need to conform to anything. Women can be strong, fight, and provide for their families. While males can be sensitive, and gentle. We live in a world where gender roles are fading away, and becoming comfortable in your own skin in seeping in.

Work Cited
Collins, Suzanne, and Elizabeth B. Parisi. Catching Fire. N.p.: n.p., n.d. Print.

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