I read something here that I think sums up the Peeta/Gale/Katniss “love triangle” perfectly:
“What really bugs me about Peeta is that he basically changed Katniss to fit what he wanted. He thought that she was pretty, but her personality at the beginning of the series was not to his liking. She was a hunter, and absolutely not a romantic. He wanted a romantic. Then they get put into the Hunger Games, and Peeta starts manipulating her, surprising her, catching her off guard with things like his declaration of love, then throws in an ultimatum by somehow convincing the Gamemakers to “allow” two tributes to survive. (I put that in quotes because the Gamemakers try to undo it later.) By the end of the Games, she is beyond confused, because she has had to pretend to be Peeta’s Romantic Katniss for so long but she really isn’t Peeta’s Romantic Katniss. Gale loves Real Katniss, but Real Katniss has been so warped by the end of the series, and Gale himself has been warped by the war, and the thought that he may have aided in killing Prim, that they can’t be together anymore. “You love me. Real or not real?” Not real, Peeta, but you made it happen.”
Just thought I’d share this with Tumblr, and I’m really interested to hear other people’s thoughts on it.
(In case anyone’s wondering, I’m ‘Team Peeta’, but I recognize his character flaws as much as Gale’s and Katniss’s.
So, I read the linked discussion at TV tropes, and I really couldn’t disagree more with the TV Tropes OP. Like the tumblr OP, I fully recognize that Peeta is a flawed character, but his flaws are not those asserted by the TV Tropes OP. As a further caveat, I do find Gale interesting, and I do think that he can get a bit of a bum rap in the fandom.
The succinct response is provided magnificently by a respondent at TV Tropes:
Actually, it was Katniss who changed herself. It’s called Character Development.
But, in terms of the TV Tropes OP, I do think that there are so many faulty premises, but this one is glaring:
“What really bugs me about Peeta is that he basically changed Katniss to fit what he wanted. He thought that she was pretty, but her personality at the beginning of the series was not to his liking.
I really don’t think that there is anything in the text that supports this reading. In fact, it’s flatly contradicted by Katniss herself in Mockingjay (page 229):
All those months of taking it for granted that Peeta thought I was wonderful are over. Finally, he can see me for who I really am. Violent. Distrustful. Manipulative. Deadly.
Of course, the irony is that Peeta’s “insight” is nothing more than the Capitol-inflicted brainwashing, but only the most mentally violent and sustained of tortures could get Peeta to think badly of Katniss.
Also, this is kind of absurd:
Then they get put into the Hunger Games, and Peeta starts manipulating her, surprising her, catching her off guard with things like his declaration of love, then throws in an ultimatum by somehow convincing the Gamemakers to “allow” two tributes to survive.
Peeta, as a tribute, had no power over the Gamemakers. Not to say, it’s kind of hard to say that he was manipulating Katniss when she turned against him after finding about his alliance with the Careers, and she was very accepting of his possible death when she was plotting her tracker jacker hive attack. If anything, “romantic Katniss” was largely the construct of Haymitch and Katniss-Peeta was febrile, on the point of death, and actually resigned to death. Plus, the irony of Peeta being characterized as manipulative is evidenced by the fact that Katniss has to drug him in order to do something to benefit him (fight at the feast). If anything, Peeta’s actions make clear that while he was trying to craft a narrative, it was always for Katniss’ survival, and until the medicine was procured, he never expected to survive the games.
Next point that I have an issue with:
By the end of the Games, she is beyond confused, because she has had to pretend to be Peeta’s Romantic Katniss for so long but she really isn’t Peeta’s Romantic Katniss. Gale loves Real Katniss,
I have a problem with the “Real Katniss” label. Pre-Games Katniss isn’t “Real Katniss”-she is simply who Katniss was before the Games. People are shaped by their experiences, and the experiences that mold Katniss after her reaping can’t be discounted so blithely. My sixteen-year-old self is not a more real version of me than my eighteen-year-old self. People change, and one of the strengths of the books is that the characters aren’t static. One of the struggles for Gale/Katniss and Katniss/Peeta in Mockingjay is this very acceptance of change: Katniss and Gale grow apart, Katniss and Peeta grow together, and the changes that happen to Katniss aren’t somehow wrong just because she ends up with Peeta.
Lastly, I really disagree with this:
“You love me. Real or not real?” Not real, Peeta, but you made it happen.”
I still don’t understand how it is asserted that Peeta had so much control that he could somehow make Katniss fall in love with him, but somehow he couldn’t make her be nice to him in the aftermath of his hijacking. Peeta might have been able to manipulate the public narrative (although the TV Tropes OP seemingly forgets that Haymitch and Katniss were also complicit), but he was truthful with Katniss. Katniss, throughout the books, has always struggled with being true to herself, and it’s kind of contrary to everything that has happened in the three books that she would deliberately choose something that was not real once she was finally free to make a choice.
I like what you said here about “manipulative” Peeta. I’ve heard that argument against him before and never understood it. Yes, Peeta knows how to play people. It’s to his credit that he knows when to use that talent and when to refrain. He manipulates the oppressive Capitol, not Katniss. He does change Katniss, but it’s through his example of love and integrity. He inspires her; he doesn’t control.
And as far as the “real Katniss,” Katniss at 16 is guarded, quiet, and lives for her family’s survival, at the expense of fun, beauty, and love beyond her family members. Is that more real than the younger version of Katniss who would sing, play, and speak her mind, the Katniss Peeta was first drawn to? Furthermore, sometimes people need to change. It’s not abandoning “who you are.” It’s growing up. It’s choosing for yourself the kind of person you will be rather than being defined by your society, family, environment, etc. I think that’s exactly what Katniss did.