Compassion, Intuition and Good Aim: The Feminine Power of Katniss Everdeen

Katniss Everdeen of The Hunger Games offers nothing to criticize: she’s fiercely loving, sufficient, and cunning. She’s beautiful, but not vain.

I haven’t read Suzanne Collins’ trilogy, as I’ve always been turned off by cult novels. I haven’t read Harry Potter. I couldn’t get through the Twilight Saga. But I’ll be reading this one as soon as I can get my hands on a copy.

** WARNING: PLOT SPOILERS*****

And as a blank slate, the movie was beyond riveting.

I felt invincible walking out of the theatre. Especially since I went alone, on a whim. I haven’t been to a movie solo in awhile– and it seemed impossible that I wouldn’t enjoy this one. It ended up being a perfect choice, as The Hunger Games revolves around a impervious young girl– who survives largely on her own skill and intuition.

The way Katniss accepts her reality and carefully makes decisions is enviable.

If Breaking Dawn: Part I made me twitch, The Hunger Games is the anti-dote. Katniss upstages Bella at every turn. Finally!

Most striking, Katniss is a huntress. From the very beginning, she is a protector. She volunteers to take her 12-year-old sister’s place as  Tribute, and does so with unflinching conviction. She commands her own mother to keep it together, forbidding her from getting emotional when saying goodbye. Even the male Tribute of her district, Peeta, looks up to her and makes it clear he expects that she will be the survivor between the two of them.

It’s interesting to see a male character praising a female as stronger– and doing it in sincerity. Without resentment or admonishment.

But what I enjoyed most about Katniss was not just her considerable athletic prowess with a bow and arrow and survival instincts. What makes Katniss a true hero is her willingness to embrace the power of her femininity.

She is not brash. She considers the scenario first, observes, and plans. Then she makes a choice, and acts upon it with strategy. Although there are clear moments of physical agony, disorientation, and inner turmoil over the violence she must enact upon her peers– Katniss prevails.

Yet, she is vulnerable. When a young female peer dies, Katniss stops worrying about herself. She cradles the girl during her last moments, as a mother would a child.  Her affection for the girl is undeniable, as she then gathers flowers in the woods and pays respect by marking her grave. She does not have time to bury the girl, but she sacrifices time to give the girl the only semblence of a funeral possible– when her peers would have left the girl without a thought.

But finally, Katniss is equally ruthless. She realizes that to survive, she must kill.

She doesn’t choose brutality– and only targets those who are cruel or a direct threat.

She does not dissolve into a mess of anxiety, guilt, or indecision. She strikes, takes their ammunition, and keeps going. It is she who saves the male Tribute, Peeta. It is she who refuses to abandon Peeta– several times– and will only accept victory if he can share it and be spared.

The fundamental rules of the The Hunger Games are changed by the stalwart morality of Katniss: namely, her compassion.

Now THAT is a female heroine I am happy to cheer on.

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