Since being published, the Hunger Games books have been celebrated as important illustrations of feminism for young adult readers. The protagonist of the books, Katniss Everdeen, is a strong young woman who doesn’t shy away from defending herself or asserting her opinions. As such, she’s noticeably different from the female protagonists of many other young adult novels.
Even as Catching Fire begins, we find Katniss engaged in a stereotypically masculine enterprise: hunting for food in the woods. We later learn that Katniss is hunting because her friend, Gale, has been unable to do so himself, since he’s taking care of his family—a stereotypically feminine undertaking. The message is clear: strong women are more than capable of doing men’s work, and men shouldn’t shy away from performing roles most commonly associated with women.
Though her resourcefulness as a hunter and a Hunger Games victor proves that she’s as strong and capable as any man, Katniss struggles with implicit sexism and chauvinism at many points in Catching Fire. One sees this during the Victory Tour, which Katniss must embark upon after winning the Hunger Games. Katniss has to put up with hours of makeup, dresses, etc., before she makes public appearances on the tour. The sexism of this is aptly symbolized by a nightmare Katniss has during her Victory Tour, in which she runs through a forest wearing an enormous dress, and finds that the dress slows her movements. Evidently Haymitch, the government, and, for that matter, most of Panem, expect Katniss to be “pretty” and demure—in other words, the stereotypical woman. That Katniss struggles with these expectations suggests, firstly, that she’s a strong woman, and secondly, that Panem’s feminine stereotypes are nonsensical.
This isn’t to say that some remnants of sexism don’t persist in Catching Fire. Most notably, it seems clear that Katniss will “end up” with a handsome, compassionate young man, whether it’s Peeta or Gale, by the time the Hunger Games trilogy is over. This reflects the longstanding assumption in literature (and, unfortunately, life) that the young, beautiful female character is somehow “incomplete” until she settles down with a husband. Nevertheless, it’s important to recognize that Collins tells the story of the “love triangle” between Gale, Peeta, and Katniss from Katniss’s point of view, rather than from either of the two men’s point of view. Katniss isn’t being pushed or pulled into romance—here, as in the rest of her life, she asserts her independence.
Women, Femininity, and Sexism ThemeTracker
Women, Femininity, and Sexism Quotes in Catching Fire
People viewed your little trick with the berries as an act of defiance, not an act of love. And if a girl from District 12 of all places can defy the Capitol and walk away unharmed, what is to stop them from doing the same?
My time in the arena made me realize how I needed to stop punishing [my mother] for something she couldn’t help, specifically the crushing depression she fell into after my father’s death. Because sometimes things happen to people and they’re not equipped to deal with them.
The jabberjays were muttations, genetically enhanced male birds […] The jabberjays were left to die. In a few years, they became extinct in the wild, but not before they had mated with female mockingbirds, creating an entirely new species.
My mother has to save the strongest for the worst pain, but what is the worst pain? To me, it’s always the pain that is present. If I were in charge, those painkillers would be gone in a day because I have so little ability to watch suffering. My mother tries to save them for those who are actually in the process of dying, to ease them out of the world.
[Gale] must also know that if we don’t revolt in 12, I’m destined to be Peeta’s bride. Seeing me lounging around in gorgeous gowns on his television… what can he do with that?
All right, maybe killing Finnick would be a little premature. He’s been helpful so far. He does have Haymitch’s stamp of approval. And who knows what the night will hold?
There are six of us now. Even if you count Beetee and Wiress out, we’ve got four good fighters. It’s so different from where I was last year at this point, doing everything on my own. Yes, it’s great to have allies as long as you can ignore the thought that you’ll have to kill them.