1. Marthix2016

    Marthix2016 Active Member

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    Why Katniss Everdeen is a Passive Hero [SPOILERS]

    Discussion in 'Book Discussion' started by Marthix2016, Nov 6, 2018.

    I'm always a fan of seeing strong and capable women in books and film. I used to have a HUGE admiration and respect for Katniss Everdeen. She had way more guts than a lot of the men in her series. I loved everything about Katniss until that dreaded epilogue. Up till that point, I respected her as a super badass and awesome heroine. Then that all came crashing down when she talked about having kids with Peeta "because he wanted them". I lost a bit of respect for Katniss once I read that. She caved in to a male's desires. I remember in the first or second book, she stated she didn't and never wanted kids. I find Katniss as a passive character because she ultimately submitted to a male's commands or wishes. Just another example of how males are still dominant over females. I know Katniss kicked a lot of asses in her story but that epilogue was a major turnoff and I am very upset about it. I could never see Katniss as being a mother at all, that ending felt so forced. The author should have cut it off before the epilogue so then we could all imagine what Katniss' future was like. I always imagined her being childfree and maybe doing her own thing. I never wanted to see a male dominate her in such a way but she gave in to Peeta's wishes. I know I am not the only one who hated the ending. I wanted to love Katniss Everdeen, but the ending of her story left me very disappointed. She's just another example of a passive heroine in today's world of fiction. We need more girls who stand their ground against men 100% of the time. I hate seeing awesome female characters submitting to a male's desires. These girls need to stand up for themselves and not let social/cultural/family pressure get into their heads. Discuss.
     
  2. Nariac

    Nariac Senior Member

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    Reminds me of the mixed feelings people had for the Harry Potter epilogue. I think in both cases the stories didn't require one. There were no more loose ends to be tied up.

    I agree that in that case it's better to let the readers imagine their own epilogue, rather than shoe-horning them into "And then THIS happened!"
     
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  3. Wreybies

    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Supporter Contributor

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    I cannot pretend to have read the books. I only know the films, but the scene that is the counterpart to the written epilogue is also included in the film. She and Peeta are in that bucolic field in that gorgeous landscape that looks like unspoiled West Virginia (no jokes here, West Virginia is amazingly beautiful), and they've got the kids with them.

    It didn't bother me. She'd already made her choice and commitment to Peeta so long ago in terms of the story. And not just to Peeta, but being steered by Peeta's presence. The fact Peeta may have been the one to want these kids... shrug. Relationships are a give and take. I give in to my husband's wishes (two husbands, he and I) all the time. That's how it works. As much as she sacrificed, and in as many ways as she already threw her chips in for this relationship, to have it not work, to just be bitter and push him aside, that would have made so many of her prior actions pointless.

    I understand what you're saying, but at the same time.... If I were to say to you, "Yeah, we went with green interior paint. I know it's a little garish, but William (my hubby) loves it." I've not admitted a caving-in. I've told you that I love my husband. That's the takeaway there.

    Could the story have done without the epilogue? Sure. I'm always suspicious of epilogues and prologues from a story-telling pov. But does that particular epilogue bother me? No.

    ETA: And just to be clear about what I mean - I feel the thing you're talking about. About her making choices directed or guided by a man rather than by just herself. I feel that. I'm not saying that's not a valid thing to focus on. I'm saying, with respect to this story, and if the books are remotely similar to the films, it happened looooong before the epilogue. It was telegraphed from the beginning.

    I also don't think that necessarily makes her passive or to be discarded as a disappointment. She doesn't live in a vacuum. None of us do.​
     
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  4. ChickenFreak

    ChickenFreak Contributor Contributor

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    But having kids is much bigger than green paint. I think this is more like, “Yeah, I moved to a country where I can’t practice my vocation. I know it’s not the life I wanted, but he’s happy.”
     
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  5. Wreybies

    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Supporter Contributor

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    No, I disagree. My take may have been fluff, but yours is overly extreme as a comparison. Your comparison negates any possibility of her finding happiness in these children, in this life, and that's a wickedly false parallel. No.

    Again, my core point in all this is that the item of concern happened long, long, long before the epilogue. My mom gave up watching these films with me for precisely that reason. When I asked her why her zeal for this story had evaporated (true story), she holds up one hand and says "Do I fuq the pretty boy who doesn't need me," she holds up her other hand, "or the less pretty boy who I can be a mommy to."

    Her words. Not mine. She was done. I loved the story and watched to the end. My mom did not.
     
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  6. ChickenFreak

    ChickenFreak Contributor Contributor

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    She might find happiness in her new country and vocation, too. I really see my example as a smaller sacrifice than having children she didn’t want.

    Now, if your argument is that maybe she wanted them, for herself and not just for him, that’s a different matter.
     
  7. Wreybies

    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Supporter Contributor

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    No, I'm not arguing that. Only that she'd made her choice long before that last scene to which the OP takes exception. To me, given everything she did prior, it was an inevitability. Again, I'm not arguing that the core idea that a female character, sold as the Original Kick-Ass Warrior™, bending to the will of a male presence isn't a problem. I think it certainly is a problem when that template gets treated as de rigueur. My issue is with not having seen it coming from book one. It was already there, at the start.
     
  8. ChickenFreak

    ChickenFreak Contributor Contributor

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    I find it incredibly sad, but, it sounds like there’s not much more to discuss. :)
     
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  9. Wreybies

    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Supporter Contributor

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    I don't think you and I are in disagreement. My mom and I were both hoping to find an Ellen Ripley, a character we both worship. That's not what we found. My mom dipped out (she had no engagement with YA tropes to that point), but I hung to the end because I realized it would be a shippy story, and that's what was delivered.
     
  10. Iain Sparrow

    Iain Sparrow Contributor Contributor

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    @Marthix2016, it seems you're looking for a superhero in this Katniss woman. Oh, how it pains me to even type that ridiculous name! Katniss, it's not even a real name, for heaven sake it's almost an adjective: The quality of being a cat. The character, the story, the movies, the whole bloody thing is so utterly stupid it deserves not a moment of debate. What's next, we have a serious discussion over Captain America's unflinching patriotism, or Batman's weird relationship with the Boy Wonder? You read three books that are glorified comics. With comic book heroes and comic book villains and a comic book story, and you unexpectedly got a less than comic book epilogue.

    That said, I loudly and proudly state that I never read the books, watched the movies, or was ever caught up in the Hunger Games phenomenon. And believe me, I have my own guilty pleasures, but I know they're just that. We all like an occasional wallow in the mud.
     
  11. jannert

    jannert Member Supporter Contributor

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    Here's the thing. Marriage is a lot of compromises, and some of them can't be split. If both of you come from different countries, you can't settle in both unless you want to be batting back and forth all the time and not settling at all. If your spouse gets a good job someplace far away, then you might need to give up your job to go with them, or force them to turn the job down. If one of you wants children and the other one doesn't, that's another issue that one of the parties has to give in to. Both parties can't have it their own way on that one, for sure.

    If Katniss wanted to always have things her own way, she should not have agreed to marry. Or she should have made it clear to Peeta that she would NOT have children, and let him make the decision about whether the relationship was more important to him than having a child. Instead, she knew he wanted children, and because she loved him she decided to go with it. That's not weakness. That's strength. Putting your loved one's dreams before your own is not always bad.
     
    Last edited: Nov 6, 2018
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  12. BayView

    BayView Contributor Contributor

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    In terms of being disappointed in the character - I think this is one of the problems we have when we don't have a large enough pool of strong female characters.

    When we have so few strong female characters, I think we have to expect a lot from the few we have. If strong female characters were a dime a dozen and one of them demonstrated her strength by compromising on something to make her partner happy, I'd have no problem with it. It might be the right decision for that character, I think it's important to treat characters as individuals, not representatives of their group identity, etc.

    But when we have so few strong female characters, and when one of them makes a decision that seems to be in correspondence with a lot of the pressure real-world women feel to conform, I can understand the concern.

    The answer, obviously? More strong female characters so we can allow each of them to be their own person rather than fulfilling all our Strong Female Character needs.
     
  13. jannert

    jannert Member Supporter Contributor

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    I know that I had made up my mind as an adult in my early 30s that I didn't really want children. I like kids, but I didn't have the strong urge to have them myself, because of the 24/7 dependency thing. I'm not good with clingy dependency. I would have been fine with older children or teenagers, but babies? No. Just no. Not me at all.

    However, when I got married at the age of 36 I decided that if my husband wanted children, I'd agree to have them (until I got too old for childbearing to be a good idea)—because there was no other way for him to have them. I would have done it wholeheartedly. However, he didn't want them either, so that worked out a treat! But we didn't know we both felt the same way about children till I'd already made the committment to marry him and had moved lock, stock and barrel to Scotland. I don't consider myself weak for having made the decision I did, prior to my marriage. It's just the kind of thing you do for somebody you love.

    I also know that if I had been dead set against having children and he'd wanted them, he would not have forced them on me. And when we were discussing the issue he said that if I'd had my heart set on children he'd have agreed to having at least one. So it's give and take.

    We also discussed the option of adopting an older child, but that didn't really appeal at the time either. Sometimes I think it might have been nice to have adopted an older child, to give them a good home, but it's one of those things we didn't do. And I can't say I regret it, really.
     
    Last edited: Nov 6, 2018
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  14. ToDandy

    ToDandy Senior Member

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    Eh...I actually think Katniss is an active protagonist in the beginning. She makes significant choices like volunteering for her sister, choosing if she will ally with people, her pre-game interviews and such, and how she chooses to play the game.

    She gets progressively less active as the series goes on.

    In the second book, her advisor (forget his name) and the new game master kind of make all the significant decisions behind her back and she never has a choice to go into the games because it's rigged to put her back in them. However she still does make choices within the game itself.

    In the last book she's a VERY passive character who does little and makes no choice of her own until the last third of the novel, which has no narrative impact (everything would have turned out the same had she not tried to sneak into the capital) and just served to get everyone killed.
     
  15. ChickenFreak

    ChickenFreak Contributor Contributor

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    I just realized that I haven't mentioned a large part of my issue here: The kids. Kids deserve to be wanted. Many of them aren't--birth control failures, regrets, etc. But deliberately creating a child as a sacrifice for the other parent--I can't approve of that. A human being shouldn't come into existence as a sacrifice.
     
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  16. dbesim

    dbesim Contributor Contributor

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    I actually read all the books and agree with what @Marthix2016 is saying in the opening post. Katniss lost a lot of the dominance she had in book 1 and became a passive character by book 3. In book 1 she took the initiatives herself and made all the decisions but in book 3 someone else was deciding things for her. I also noticed that a big part of what made her fiercely independent in book 1 is she consistently rejected Peeta and was suspicious of him for being so nice to her. Also, she was a single girl in book 1 and wasn’t in a relationship and that also made her an independent woman. In book 1 Katniss is committed to being the one who survives the Hunger Games and doesn’t care for Peeta’s niceties even though he would rather sacrifice himself so that she would live. He was generous and she was not and she constantly turned him down. Also, she couldn’t understand why anyone would sacrifice himself for her when it was a battle to the death. She was out to win the Hunger Games - that meant everyone had to die so that she could live and be the last who survived.

    In book 3 Peeta lost his mind and turned against Katniss when he was brainwashed by the state who made it evident to him that she would not have made the same sacrifices. Katniss did not forgive Peeta for being brainwashed against her but eventually he came around and those two became a couple again.

    When Katniss lost her sister a lot of her sanity went with it because her sister’s survival was the reason why Katniss volunteered to enter the Hunger Games (Book 1) in the first place. To save her. Losing her sister was a bummer and it transformed Katniss from a fighter to a nervous wreck. She became passive and Peeta eventually became her only salvation and the reason why she could heal her heart and repair her broken world.

    So yes, she was a fighter who became a passive character but that’s also because of all the turmoil she went through and losing her sister until it became a world that she wasn’t in charge with any longer. Perhaps if she hadn’t gotten together with Peeta and become needy of Peeta, she may still have been fiercer and more independent like she was in book 1, but eventually he became the only reason she could heal.

    Note: The movies aren’t actually the same because they don’t present this transformation in Katniss the same way. The agony she felt losing her sister and then Peeta offering her salvation in the end (and having kids with him) isn’t captured by the movies in the same way. I think the end is sugar-coated in the movies but Katniss’ broken world cannot be repaired since losing her sister.. so actually the end is a lot sadder in the book.
     
    Last edited: Nov 6, 2018
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  17. Wreybies

    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Supporter Contributor

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    This description makes the book version of the epilogue even less of a surprise to me than its depiction in the films.
     
  18. jannert

    jannert Member Supporter Contributor

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    I think you're right, if the initially reluctant parent actually sees it as a 'sacrifice' and resents the children. (And will probably resent the spouse as well.) That's awful. However, if a person decides they want to make their spouse happy by having children—and does it wholeheartedly—I see no problem.

    It can also happen the other way. Parents can be enamoured with the idea of having children, but when they find out what being a parent actually entails, or discover that being a parent doesn't quite turn out as they expected, they can become resentful, neglectful, indifferent or even cruel.

    On the other hand, there are parents out there who had never planned to be, but now wouldn't trade their kids for anything else in the world.

    One platitude that gives me pause, however is: "It's always different when they're your own."

    What if it's not? Yikes.
     
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  19. Lemie

    Lemie Contributor Contributor

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    Marriage might be about compromise, but children is not.

    I'd take a bullet to the brain over a kid any day of the week and I would not even start dating someone who wanted children, and even less so marry them. And if they'd change their mind suddenly wanting kids I'd be out the door. It's something I could never compromise on.

    I can't speak for the Hunger Games. I read the first book when it came out and didn't find it memorable. So I don't know if her becoming a mother makes sense or not. If it makes sense the ending would seem sad, if it didn't make sense it would be straight up disappointing.

    Women are expected to want kids and not wanting any you won't be taken serious, you'll be called selfish or treated like you're either out of your mind or just don't know what you want. So yes, having a heroine changing her mind to fit the norm feels... sad and disappointing to me.
     
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  20. big soft moose

    big soft moose All killer, no filler. Contributor Community Volunteer

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    I think it's reading things into the situation that aren't there to say that she has kids with peeta only because he wants them. The point about Peeta wanting a family is that he's not an action hero, he's just a quiet guy who wants to settle down and raise a family - the conclusion is that Katniss choses him over Gabe because "I don't need someone with Gabe's fire, I have plenty of fire of my own"

    Katniss's character is such that if she didn't want kids they wouldn't have any - she is the alpha in their relationship - but she chooses to have a family with Peeta because that's the future she wants. She may not have wanted kids under the old system but after all the trauma she's been through, she just wants the quiet life that Peeta wants not to continue being the mockingjay/kickass heroine that everyone looks to - there are also plenty of indicators that she does have a maternal instinct e.g she's pretty much brought prim up since her mother went strange when their father died, and her relationship with Rue where she takes care of her rather than just making her the logical easy kill.

    Also we need to remember that this is post apolcalyptica, life in the districts is only one step removed from a survival situation, even after the fall of the capitol. in those sorts of societies you pretty much have to have kids to a) continue the very small gene pool and b) to ensure there is someone to look after you when you get old
     
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  21. Iain Aschendale

    Iain Aschendale hostis humani generis Contributor

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    A) I haven't read the books.
    B) I only vaguely remember the last movie, something about the government making the stupid decision to turn the defense of the capitol from a military engagement into a reality TV show, and the Dictatoress-in-waiting not having the common sense to stay out of the line of fire of someone with questionable loyalty.
    C) I'm an antinatalist.

    However, I think it's possible (if not stated, see (A) above) that some of Katniss's reluctance to have kids might have been due to state-sponsored ritual murder being a known cause of juvenile mortality, and with that threat removed, she might be more open to the possibility of reproducing. Still morally wrong in my view, but plausible.

    [​IMG]
     
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  22. Edward M. Grant

    Edward M. Grant Contributor Contributor

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    Ditto. I haven't read the books, only seen the first two movies, but all the active stuff she did seemed to happen in the first half of the first movie. So, unless the books are very different, I'm surprised that anyone is surprised to be told she's a passive 'hero'.

    But then, it's basically a remake of Battle Royale, which had the same problem. You can't make the hero win by actively killing other kids, or the audience lose sympathy with them.
     
  23. Steerpike

    Steerpike Felis amatus Contributor

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    As long as she's the one making the decision, she's exercising her own agency. It's not submitting to commands or wishes unless she somehow has no real choice in the matter or is the victim of some kind of inappropriate coercion. Saying that she's no longer strong and capable because she made this decision is every bit as dismissive of her agency as it would be to criticize her for deciding differently.
     
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  24. Edward M. Grant

    Edward M. Grant Contributor Contributor

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    Making a decision to hide and let other people save you isn't exactly what I consider 'active'.

    If merely making a decision was enough to make a character active, then it applies to pretty much every character in every story ever, to the point where it's essentially meaningless.
     
  25. Steerpike

    Steerpike Felis amatus Contributor

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    We're talking about a specific decision that involves her actually going forward an affirmatively doing something. It's not equivalent to hiding and letting other people save you. It's taking on a serious responsibility, and making a conscious decision to do so for the sake of another person.
     
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