I’ve been writing our Woman of the Month posts for 8 months now. 8 fantastic women who are so much more than the characters they represent. This month has been harder; our newest woman has so much grit to her that I want to get this right. The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2 will be out later this month, so there’s even more reason to talk about her, but, I want you to know her. She’s more than a book or a movie. Suzanne Collins reminded me that there was more to girls and women than sparkly vampires, dates, marriage, and babies. What if all of those options were taken away? What if another war broke out and ruined the world as we know it? Who would you become if you only had 2 options; fight or die? If I go into battle, this is one of the women I want to be on the same side as.
Yes, Mockingjay- Part 2 comes out later this month, and the timing was set for Katniss to be our Woman of November months ago, but, even if there was never a movie franchise, I would have wanted to tell you all about her and why she is so important to literature (and now movies). Women empowerment is something I wholly want HTFG to become. I don’t want you to be mindless zombies going from one series to the next and falling in love with characters for the most shallow of reasons. Those shallow reasons are meant to pull you in and dig deeper into the character, at least this is what I think. With the latest attacks on Beirut and Paris, I think we had better stop being so shallow and begin picking up our own weapons and learning how to survive.
Katniss is the ultimate survivor. She came from the coal mining District 12 of Panem. Her life was surrounded by coal factories and zero vegetation. She learned to adapt after her father died when she was 11. She had to. Her mother fell apart and couldn’t take care of Katniss or little sister Prim. On the brink of starvation, Katniss tried stealing. This is how she meets Peeta. Peeta shows her kindness when he gives her two loaves of burnt bread, which Katniss saw him take a beating from his mother for. While this kindness gave her hope and kept her family alive, she understood that she would have to find food on her own, without involving anyone else. Katniss cannot bear the burden of love and kindness. She does not want to be indebted to anyone.
She begins to learn how to hunt in the wooded area outside District 12. This area is forbidden, but Katniss must learn to hunt as her father once did in order to keep her family alive. Katniss uses a bow and arrows. She’s a perfect shot. She also finds a friend, Gale, and together they hunt for their families. Gale is Katniss’ only friend. Her mother eventually comes out of her depression and begins working again. Katniss says she only loves one person – her sister, Prim. She resents her mother for not having the strength to take care of the family when her father died. Katniss learns to adapt, she learns to hunt, she become proficient and leads as happy a life as one can lead in a world where no child under 18 is safe. She lives life a day at a time.
In post-apocalyptic Panem, the Capitol rules over all. As a way of life, in a twisted sort of tribute, which is only a major power-play, each year a child between the years of 12-18 must put their names into a lottery and be chosen to fight to the death in a battle called The Hunger Games. This is a major televised event in which all of Panem watches the chosen children being horrifically killed by each other until there is 1 survivor left. This survivor then leads a life of luxury for the rest of his or her existence. The point of the Games is to remind everyone what can happen when war breaks out. This “control” over each District reminds the people that the Capitol is in charge. Prim turns 12 and has to put her name into the lottery for the first time. Katniss is sick with worry, not only for herself, who has multiple tickets in the lottery, but also about her young sister. Prim is sweet and caring. At the District 12 choosing, Prim’s name is pulled. Katniss, in terror, cries out to volunteer in her sister’s place. This is the first time anyone has volunteered in another’s place. Katniss shows bravery and takes Prim’s place; she goes into battle beside Peeta, who has also been chosen.
Katniss is a brave fighter. She will not bend to the will of the Capitol. She must learn that in order to survive, there is a game to be played aside from the Games themselves. Through will and intelligence, Katniss wins the games. She allures all of Panem with her supposed love story with Peeta. At the end of the games, Katniss does something unprecedented: she saves herself and Peeta. This sets us up for books 2 and 3, which are every bit as good as the first.
Why does this matter? Why would I choose Katniss for the Woman of November? Truthfully, aside from the hope that we drive traffic to the blog, there is so much more. Would you happen to know any Greek Mythology? How about the tale of Theseus and the Minotaur? King Minos who was embarrassed of his wife, Queen Pasiphae, after Zeus sent a bull to impregnate her, Pasiphae birthed the Minotaur. Minos could not bear to kill the Minotaur and instead set up a labyrinth used to imprison his enemies and feed the Minotaur. In Athens, Minos’ son, Androgeus went to play the Panathenaic Games. Unfortunately, Androgeus was killed by the same bull that impregnated his mother during the Marathon. Enraged, Minos demanded Aegeus the king of Athens to send seven men and women every year to the Minotaur to advert the plague caused by the death of Androgeus. The third year after Minos’ demand, Theseus, son of Aegeus, announced that he would indeed slay the Minotaur. With the help of Princess Ariadne, Theseus did slay the Minotaur and found his way out of the labyrinth.
Sound familiar? Katniss is Theseus. As the books progress, Katniss finds herself taking on The Capitol, and President Snow – the Minotaur, if you will. And she slays him so perfectly that you cannot help but admire her. Katniss goes through traumatic loss. She has to make tough choices. Katniss is and was willing to die for her cause. Though Katniss and Peeta eventually do fall in love, this is only an aside. The story is about Katniss. A modern Theseus; I don’t know about you, but that alone should make her admirable. A man did not save Panem. An underage girl with a bow and arrows and more backbone than most men today did.
Like I said, if war erupts and everything changes, I plan on fighting. Katniss was not afraid to die. She was afraid to live in a world where the control of one man and one District manipulated an entire nation. All hail Katniss Everdeen.