Girl on fire

PUBLISHED : Friday, 06 July, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 06 July, 2012, 12:00am


'No one will forget me. The girl who was on fire'

A fully formed hero

Katniss Everdeen ticks all the right boxes needed to be a movie hero. Her role is signalled strongly in the first moments of The Hunger Games. She is going to own the film. Movie directors sometimes take their time to tell us that their lead character will be a hero, but this isn't the case when Katniss first comes onto the screen. She has the words 'potential hero' clearly stamped across her forehead. There is no slow character development for her in The Hunger Games. She doesn't go from being an innocent victim to an all-fighting survivor. The Hunger Games is the catalyst that brings Katniss' courage and bravery to the fore and shows the lengths this young woman is prepared to go to for what she believes in.

Hope is the only thing stronger than fear

Katniss has many sterling qualities that see her through the horror of The Hunger Games. She is courageous, physically strong, intelligent and she is a good watcher and quick learner. But Katniss' strongest quality is hope. She never gives up hope that she will get through and see her family again. Strong, caring, scared or defiant, she knows what has to be done and she does it. Fighting in The Hunger Games requires physical strength and bravery, great mental attitude, and a lot more. When President Snow says, 'Hope is the only thing stronger than fear', he doesn't realise he is referring to Katniss Everdeen. But he is. Katniss may be afraid of what she is forced to face, but it is hope that turns her into a hero, not fear.

The set-up

In Panam, a rich and powerful city called the Capitol rules over the rest of the impoverished land. Every year, a group of the county's teenagers is randomly selected to fight to the death as entertainment and a reminder to the nation that those living outside the Capitol have to stay in their place. Katniss Everdeen lives with her younger sister and mother in District 12, where most of the people have given up hope. Katniss has no time to think about trivialities because she has to survive. Her relationships with Peeta and Gale, the two young men who obviously care for her, are complicated and not what either young man would wish. Katniss is stronger than both of them, and she knows that she has to get through the difficult competition on her own.

A scream for help

When she volunteers to take her young sister's place at the Games, Katniss is fully aware of what is going to happen and she steps in without hesitation or question. This is how a hero behaves. The Hunger Games begins with a scream as Katniss' younger sister has a nightmare about the Games. For a moment we see Katniss' caring nature as she comforts Prim, but the next moment Katniss has taken up her bow and arrow and morphed into a stalking huntress. If this is what it takes to ensure the survival of her family, then so be it.

A lot of hope is dangerous

Katniss is the glue that holds her small family together, and she accepts her responsibilities without question. But what is survival worth? What is a family worth? Katniss suddenly finds herself in the middle of a terrifying situation fighting for her life. There is very little softness about Katniss, just a dogged determination to do what has to be done even if that requires bad things like killing a cute little deer to provide her family with food or ultimately slaying a fellow teenager if that means she is going to survive. Hope is only dangerous to people like President Snow who are afraid of its power. To Katniss, hope is the key to survival.