Peeta versus Gale? Oh, please. No contest.

27 Nov

As you all know, I am a huge fan of the Hunger Games and I could not be more excited about the upcoming film of the second part of the trilogy, called Catching Fire.  I can’t wait to see the magnificent Katniss Everdeen back in ass kicking action, protecting her man and her pseudo-child (really her sister).

And yes, kids, there will be spoilers.  Here are some pictures from the set of Catching Fire, currently filming in Hawaii.  The story is that Katniss and her much older mentor Haymitch get selected to participate in the 75th Hunger Games, but Peeta steps up and shoves Haymitch out of the way, because there is no way in hell he will let Katniss go back to the arena without him.

And Gale?  Gale is not even in the running.  He’s back at home, sulking in the woods as Peeta goes and puts his life on the line.  The conflict between Peeta and Gale is really just a metaphor for the social pressures girls face to make terrible choices regarding their life partner.  The story is set up as if Katniss must choose between them, but she makes her choice in the first book (Peeta) and the rest of the trilogy is about her resisting the pressure to betray Peeta.

Gale is presented as the Alpha Male choice. He helps Katniss hunt and feed her family, although he did it rather begrudgingly at first.  He tries to get Katniss to run away with him, abandon her sister and mother.  “We could do it,” he tells Katniss, “take off and live in the woods. It’s what we do anyways.”  Obviously, Katniss is having none of that.

Gale goes on to resent Katniss’ relationship with Peeta, guilt-trip her about aligning her interests with Peeta to keep them both alive and sulking over her deep emotional bond with the man who saved her life.  Basically he’s an asshole.   The crystallizing moment for Gale’s character comes when someone asks Katniss if she has ever shot a hummingbird. She finds the question absurd.  Why would anyone shoot a hummingbird? They’re too small to eat, and such beautiful little creatures anyways.  Who would do that?


Okay, he doesn’t shoot them.  But he immediately comes up with a plan for how you could use a baby hummingbird to lure the older birds and trap and kill them all.  For Gale, winning is all that matters.  He will make any sacrifice, pay any price, take any life, as long as he can win.  When Gale says to Katniss “I love you”, what he means is “I love me, and I want you to love me too”.

Peeta feeds Katniss, too.  His family owns the bakery in District 12 and when they are just children and Katniss is on the verge of starving to death, Peeta gives her some bread, which inspires her to learn how to forage and find the food she needs to feed herself and her little sister. And then Peeta steps back.  He just watches Katniss, lets her learn and grow and develop confidence and a sense of her own self and power and he waits for her to remember.  When they are both selected to go to the Hunger Games, Katniss DOES remember and she chooses.  She chooses Peeta.

When Peeta says to Katniss, “I love you,” what  he means is “I see you, Katniss Everdeen.  I see your beauty, I see your flaws, I see everything about you and I want to walk through life with you.  I will soothe you when you are hurt and rely on you when you are strong and together we can face anything.  Trust me.”

What Peeta offers is security, safety and leadership.  It’s Peeta who is the Alpha Male.  He will be the Captain of their ship, and he will do anything to keep Katniss safe.  Even safe from herself.  As the story goes on, Katniss and Peeta are physically separated and Katniss must confront herself without Peeta’s leadership.  It isn’t very pretty.  She descends into madness, essentially, and Gale pushes her along the very worst path she could choose.

Of course, Peeta and Katniss triumph in the end, and Katniss learns to allow Peeta to decide how best to live their lives together.  The fact that the decision was so difficult and fraught says a lot about how young women in our culture are invited to view men and relationships.  Women are taught to fear men’s natural leadership instincts.  Peeta is quite literally a bread-winner.  He bakes bread.  That’s his JOB.

Once women have children, the vast majority of them realize that having a bread winner husband and a wife at home full time is the ideal family situation. And most of those women will discover that they have not made decisions that allow for that.  Our entire culture is set up to actively PREVENT men from taking on their roles as the head of a family.  The school system is geared to fail boys, especially white working class boys from the get go.  The workplace has outsourced traditional male jobs that paid a family wage and kept women’s low paid work, ensuring that women have to work to pay for the basic necessities of life.

It all rests on the assumption that most men are selfish, bad monsters who will abuse and take advantage of their poor downtrodden wives trapped in monotonous, meaningless lives in a sea of bungalows and concrete.  The old Betty Friedan story.  The problem with no name, she called it.

Oh, it has a name, all right.  It’s called being a selfish bitch. The real crux of the matter is that women WANT a man to provide for them, but they don’t want to pay any price for that.  We have set up a society that forces ALL men EVERYWHERE to pay for women,  all the while demanding NOTHING from the women.

And that right there is bullshit.  The price for having a Captain on your ship is to carry out orders as you are directed.  The Captain will listen to you, take your advice under serious consideration, respect your expertise and experience, but at the end of the day, he accepts the responsibilities of command and you accept the obligation to trust the Captain.  That’s how great societies are built, and how families survive and how women, men and children “have it all”.  That intertwining of responsibility and obligation is what love IS. Katniss loves Peeta because he feels responsible for her.  He WANTS to be responsible for her.  It is only when she accepts that Peeta’s love comes with an obligation of trust that she finds peace and happiness, and sees the future and believes in it.

Pick the boy with the bread.  Choose love.  Team Peeta all the way.

Lots of love,


6 Responses to “Peeta versus Gale? Oh, please. No contest.”

  1. JP September 2, 2013 at 20:12 #

    Not sure if I agree with how you are depicting the conflict between Peeta and Gale, especially considering that Gale is the one feeding Katniss’s family while she is gone (and was expected to continue to do so if she died). I -sort of- get what you are saying, but I really don’t agree.


  2. JBfan October 6, 2013 at 13:55 #

    She’s got a point though on societal pressure, there are quite a few jokes on HISHE & honest trailers of “Why Peeta? Gale is like, totally hot omigod” which kinda misses the point.


  3. Erik Norén October 20, 2013 at 21:36 #

    Not read the books so no comment there. Just wanted to say that the outsourcing likely has nothing to do with feminism at least directly.


  4. Denise March 13, 2014 at 02:38 #

    Just finished the trilogy yesterday and loved it and completely agree that Katniss is a great example. Interesting take on Peeta vs. Gale. Perhaps a little harsh on Gale’s motives–as JP said, he was feeding her family while she was gone and was responsible for his own as well. But still, it only became increasingly clear that the nature of the love between Peeta and Katniss was the spousal kind.

    I did want to do a post on why Peeta is presented as the “Beta-male” when, really, his character and actions should suggest otherwise. I think it might simply be that Peeta is kind and gentle and not a jerk, and also self-sacrificial, and we have feminized those traits and called them weakness in men.


  5. Zack July 22, 2014 at 19:04 #

    WARNING, SPOILERS FOR BOOK THREE (for the two people who haven’t read it yet)

    I know I’m extremely late to the party on this one, but there’s also the fact that Gale is heavily implied to have come up with a plan that results in the straight-up murders of Prim and a bunch of other young girls in an incredibly cynical move meant to capitalize on their deaths. It’s dressed up to look like the bad guys did it, if I recall.

    Go with Team Not-a-Sociopath. Hell yeah, Team Peeta.


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