Category Archives: Peeta Mellark

The Hunger Games: Peeta Mellark, the boy with the bread

Spoilers for all three books below.

The use of a sword or mastery of a bow and arrow isn’t necessary to fight a successful battle. Peeta Mellark manages to manipulate the Hunger Games without the use of spears, maces or other weaponry. Instead, he uses the mind.

A good love story pulls at the hearts of many. Peeta’s heartfelt revelation of his love for Katniss creates the ultimate helpless situation. There’s no way he can win. (Check out the clip of Peeta telling Caesar here.)

Peeta’s revelation not only creates sympathy for him, but Katniss as well, which was the point. Peeta hold no hope to win the Games. He wants Katniss to survive. Throughout the book, Peeta does various acts to play on the “star-crossed lovers” ploy he cooked up, probably with some advice from Haymitch. It’s not hard to believe that Peeta truly loves Katniss through his actions and words.

Because the story uses Katniss’s point of view, readers don’t know what all Peeta does during the first part of the Games. Capitol replays some of his actions at the end of the book, but not all of them.

Katniss uses her own forms of manipulation on the Capitol crowd, frequently playing off the love story once she figures out that’s what Haymitch wants. During The Hunger Games, Katniss has not realized how she feels about Peeta, aside from feeling as if she owes him and that they have some sort of past connection. It’s easy for readers to put the pieces together, though, to learn before Katniss does.

Peeta’s work on Capitol’s crowd added to the foundation Katniss laid down by her own actions to that point. The two of them fought against Capitol not with the intentions of inciting a rebellion, but to save someone they loved. Neither character believed their actions would stop future Hunger Games from occurring or stop Capitol.

Peeta takes the star-crossed lovers theme one-step further in Catching Fire when he announces that not only did he and Katniss wed already, but also that she is with child. On the surface, this move seems like a cheap shop to top Peeta’s reveal in the first book. It works even though Katniss and Peeta don’t play on the idea constantly throughout the Quarter Quell. The pregnancy claim stirs the hearts of the Capitol citizens once more, possibly forcing them to ask if it’s right to throw a pregnant woman in the area to die. Given how obsessed with the self the citizens are, it’s doubtful.

Because of the rebellion plot occurring, the pregnancy bit doesn’t seem as relevant as a reveal. It’s necessary, however, given how Peeta behaved in the first Games. He must continue to play on his true need to keep the woman he loves alive. As explained later in the trilogy, Katniss and Peeta did not know about what the plan the other allied tributes were following. To drop what Katniss believes is a ruse puts their lives in even greater danger, quite a feat given Katniss and Peeta’s participation in the Quarter Quell. Capitol made it clear with the scores that they want Katniss to die. The convenient use of the previous tributes is another strong indication of this, whether a reader believed that the card actually read what it did or that Capitol changed it.

Peeta’s personality and determination to keep Katniss alive makes him a very likeable character. He doesn’t play the victim, something easy to do in the situation. He shows frustration with everyone, even Katniss, taking away the thought that he is a pushover. One of the best Peeta scenes occurs in Catching Fire when he finds Haymitch and Katniss the morning after the Quarter Quell announcement. He comes up with a strategy and puts the plan into action.

Peeta’s injuries in both Games can make him appear as a hindrance to Katniss. However, Katniss’s caring side had to come out during the Games to remind readers of the type of person Katniss is. Aside from a survivor, she takes care of those she loves.

Capitol’s torturing of Peeta is heartbreaking. To see such a caring individual reduced to madness is hard to endure.  It’s easy to feel anger towards Peeta during the interviews in Mockingjay and his subsequent behavior, but it’s necessary to keep in mind what had happened to him.

Being unable to determine what’s real or not real leads to a terrible existence. The woman he loved would cause pure terror rather than help him recover. His family was dead.

Peeta complements Katniss’s character without becoming a flimsy or transparent person. He maintains a true presence through the trilogy, something not all love interests manage to do. Peeta’s masters of manipulation deserve applause, for he helped beat Capitol at their own game.

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Filed under Katniss Everdeen, Peeta Mellark, The Hunger Games

Where’s the love? A look at the lack of romance in the EU

Romance is a fickle thing in writing. Too much will make the story seem too soppy or distract from the main plot while too little leaves readers unsatisfied. Finding that balance is one that many writers struggle with. When it comes writing romance, I shy away from the long, love-filled speeches. I prefer to use actions and gestures, like a touch or favor. There’s no set formula, though, about how much or how little a story needs.
Romance plays a vital role in so many stories we love. Think about Empire Strikes Back. The love story between Han and Leia was phenomenal. It wasn’t drippy or character killing (go Harrison Ford’s improvising). It wasn’t awkward. It was believable. Their actions made sense for the characters, making their love easy to see. It was a vital chain in the story, not some silly side plot.
Take Harry Potter as another example. While love is a major theme of the book, it’s not romantic love. The romance in Harry Potter is much less than some fans wanted to see. Hermione and Ron don’t have grand, loving moments. In the books, we don’t even see their first kiss. The movie handled that scene well. It was the moment we were all waiting for—and expressed the same amusement as Harry did about the situation.
Romantic pairings come into play in Harry Potter. The Ron and Lavender incident caused severe friction between the three. And who can forget about the Yule Ball fiasco? Bill and Fleur’s wedding and the pairing of Remus and Tonks added not only a touch of romance, but hope to the latter books.
Even Harry’s crush on Cho and feelings for Ginny were rather muted. He pined for them, but it wasn’t as if they were the focus of the books.
When it comes to Harry Potter, I don’t think that the books needed more romance. It wasn’t about Harry’s relationship with Ginny or Remus learning that he can have love too. The romance added a bit of flavor to the book, the topping if you will.
Romance is something severely lacking from the Star Wars EU. It didn’t used to be. The best example of this recent problem is the Fate of the Jedi series. It started with great romantic interactions with Jaina Solo and Jag Fel. These continued through the series until Backlash. There was nothing in Backlash. No real Jaina and Jag or Han and Leia. Allies? Yeah right. Vortex, a sliver. Conviction? Not really. Ascension? I’ve already expressed my feelings on the “romance” in that book.
What doesn’t make sense with FotJ is that there was a love story right there to work with and expand upon. Jaina and Jag were prominent characters in Outcast, for one. After that, their roles dwindled. It’s important to maintain some type of character balance in a long series, but it was lost along the way.
When I think of romance in Star Wars, I don’t think of chats in the starlight or candlelight dinners. It’s more action orientated and animated. It’s possible to have a romantic interaction without gooey language or even a kiss. It’s all in the wording and the character point of view. A person’s reactions are more telling than anything else is. Look at the Hunger Games trilogy when Katniss thought Capital was going to torture Peeta. She wanted to kill him to save him. Even though she didn’t realize it, it was clear she loved him.
The EU books need romance to balance out the story. Think about a book or story. Now categorize what is going on in the book. Each piece acts as a building block to make the perfect tale. Too much of something and the story feels odd.
Romance is something that most can understand. Most people want to love someone or already do. It’s an emotion we can understand, even if we don’t have any experience with the situations or emotions the characters are feeling. I’ve never been hunted, or as good as dead, but I understood Peeta’s need to keep Katniss alive in The Hunger Games, for example.
Star Wars is a space opera. Love plays such a vital role in the overall Saga. Anakin’s obsessive love for Padme influenced his decisions to go to the Dark Side. Would Anakin have fallen had he not fallen in love and married Padme? It’s very possible, but the story wouldn’t have been the same.
Romance also appeals to everyone. We all know the arguments about romance novels and “chick flicks.” They’re for “women.” Plenty of men enjoy these types of stories. The concept that romance is only for women is a pointless, old stereotype.
One of the many questions I’d love to ask the editorial team and writers is where the romance went. Including some aspect of it would not only make the books feel more “Star Wars,” but would also make the stories more appealing to a wider audience. Without Mara and Luke, the content falls mainly on Han and Leia’s and Jaina and Jag’s shoulders, yet we don’t see too much of either.
When writing, I can’t put the number of pages or romantic interactions into a calculator to determine how much more or less I need. Reading the story and finding feedback is the only way to accomplish this. Receiving feedback from multiple sources is even better. That way, it’s possible to see multiple views of the scenes in question. Some stories only need three or four romantic moments or bits while others need a chapter’s worth of content.
The argument for balancing romance is similar to angst, tragedy, comedy and other genres. Each has a place in a story—and a certain amount called for. While not every story needs romance, that factor was established as a key factor of Star Wars during the OT. It’s time for it to come back.

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Filed under Han Solo, Harry Potter, Jagged Fel, Jaina Solo, Katniss Everdeen, Luke Skywalker, Peeta Mellark, Princess Leia, romance, Star Wars, The Hunger Games, writing