Nalini combines her love of meaning, analysis, and critical thinking with movies, media, and discussion to bring a different perspective.
When I first read Mockingjay, I was frustrated and disappointed with the story but as time has passed, I have been able to think back to the story without the cloud of frustration and disappointment that I was left with after reading the book.
This article will not discuss all of the things that I was frustrated and disappointed with in Mockingjay, but one of the things that bothered me about the ending of Mockingjay was how Gale was conveniently and easily removed from the ending and how Katniss never chose Peeta but rather accepted him in her life.
After all that lead up and conflict, I thought what the heck is this? Gale is removed from the story, Katniss goes back home, Peeta follows her, and they have a questionable ever after.
This is your spoiler alert.
"Katniss will pick whoever she thinks she can't survive without.
A chill runs through me. Am I really that cold and calculating?
Gale didn’t say, “Katniss will pick whoever it will break her heart to give up,” or even “whoever she can’t live without.”
Those would have implied I was motivated by a kind of passion. But my best friend predicts I will choose the person who I think I “can’t survive without.”
There’s not the least indication that love, or desire, or even compatibility will sway me. I’ll just conduct an unfeeling assessment of what my potential mates can offer me.
As if in the end, it will be the question of whether a baker or a hunter will extend my longevity the most. It’s a horrible thing for Gale to say, for Peeta not to refute. Especially when every emotion I have has been taken and exploited by the Capitol or the rebels.
At the moment, the choice would be simple. I can survive just fine without either of them."-Mockingjay, Chapter 23
This Ending Is the Outcome of an Earlier Writing Choice
When I read the scene where Gale and Peeta are discussing who Katniss will choose, I felt the flow of continuous reading stop. The scene felt out of place; it did not belong in the story.
This scene could be argued to "belong" in the story because it shows that as much as Gale and Peeta care for Katniss and "see" Katniss, they still do not truly see her for who she is. It also shows how no one really knows Katniss as she is, even those in her life who know her better than others; which is a painful realization for Katniss.This scene highlights how despite their strengths, compatibilities, feelings for, and relationships with Katniss, Peeta and Gale are both self-absorbed and focused on their own wants with respect to Katniss, without taking Katniss into account. But these things are not built upon later in the story.
But while the scene can be argued to belong it simultaneously does not belong.The way in which Gale and Peeta discuss who Katniss will choose did not fit. They were discussing her choice as if they were discussing the weather or what Katniss was going to choose for dinner the next day, and they did this while in the middle of a war and while Katniss was in the same room. The way they felt entitled to this discussion and the manner in which they had it was bizarre, especially given the time and place of their discussion, and also that this discussion was coming from two people who were supposed to care about Katniss. In the significance of all that was supposed to be going on in Mockingjay, Peeta and Gale stay up at night not talking about war, if they will survive, what it will mean if they die, what they fear of losing, what life might be in the future, or if to follow the "love triangle" theme, how they are upset that Katniss has feelings for both of them but how they recognize that that cannot be dealt with now, they instead stay up at night talking about who Katniss will choose as if they know or as if it matters.
In addition, this scene reduces Katniss to someone who is unfeeling and focused on her own survival, no matter what costs.
Talking like he knows, Gale says that Katniss will choose the person she "can't survive without" and he says this as truth. Peeta's lack of refute of Gale's statement is an acceptance of Gale's statement as truth.
With romantic choices like that, who can refuse? And if you guessed Katniss, you guessed right. She mentally tells them to go fly a kite by asserting to herself that she can survive without either of them and this is the closest we get to her making a choice between Peeta and Gale.
More on Why Katniss Does Not Choose
Katniss is meant to end up with Peeta, and even though I make the argument that he is manipulative and that there is more to him than meets the eye, I recognize that Katniss was meant to end up with him or at least that she was written to, but this becomes a problem for Collins at the end of Mockingjay.
By the rules of writing, character development, and overall themes, and by the lead-up through the trilogy, Katniss should make a choice. Katniss should make one choice that she has full say in and has control over and that leads to something other than heartache, manipulation, exploitation, and tragedy and what other area or what better area than for her to have it in her personal life? After everything she has been through, after spending most of the trilogy as a pawn, and after everything the trilogy builds on between her and Peeta, why should she not have a say in who she gets to share the rest of her life with and who she gets to grow, heal, learn, cope, and hope with? Why does she not get a say even if her choice is not Peeta?
But because Collins wrote that scene between Gale and Peeta, Katniss can never choose Peeta even though that would be who she would have chosen based on how the story was written. Because if Katniss chooses Peeta, then what Gale said is true and Katniss is the cold, calculating, unfeeling, and survival-focused person that Gale made her out to be and the person she chose to be with would be the person that she thought she could not survive without (regardless of whether she chose Peeta or Gale). And if Collins had Katniss make a choice between Peeta and Gale after the conversation that Gale and Peeta had had, then she too would have been confirming that that was indeed who Katniss was and that would be the Katniss that she would be closing the trilogy with. Since ultimately that is not who Katniss is and that is not who Collins made Katniss to be, and since Collins felt that the scene between Gale and Peeta discussing Katniss' choice was necessary to the story, Katniss can never make an active choice between Gale and Peeta. (Katniss can also never choose between Gale and Peeta based upon what I have written here.)
So then what? Gale is indirectly involved in the killing of Prim and he and Katniss part ways. No anger, no development; just conveniently and easily removed from the story because he was not the one Katniss was supposed to end up with. And Peeta comes back to Katniss. No growth, no development, no journey. Just something close to a flat-line ending that can be argued to be varying levels of hopeful, realistic, and bleak.
Her Lack of a Choice Can Be Argued to Be a Choice
The way Katniss seemingly just accepted Peeta into her life, and the way the ending with respect to this/them was thrown together makes for an ending where Katniss' lack of a choice can at best be argued to be a passive choice, which may or may not be a choice.
But for it to have been more recognizable, Gale would have had to stay in the picture somehow and some development had to occur before he was removed. Making Gale dispensable, having Katniss end up with Peeta without her actually choosing him, and taking into account the life they share afterwards, sends a conflicting message about Katniss' and Peeta's relationship and about the overall themes in the trilogy; which may or may not have been the messages Collins wanted to send.
By not having Katniss choose between Gale and Peeta, Collins saves Katniss from validating the "truth" of her character that Gale asserted and that Peeta accepted, but in doing this Collins sends ambiguous and somewhat ambivalent messages about the nature of Katniss' and Peeta's relationship at the close of the trilogy.
© 2014 Nalini Marquez
Nalini Marquez (author) on December 10, 2015:
Thank you for your comment and for reading the hub! I am not totally decided if accepting someone into your life is choosing them, especially in Katniss’ case. Katniss did have a choice not to have any partner and she went back to District 12 by herself (choosing NOT to have a partner), not looking for anyone but Peeta goes back to her. There are several things worth noting in this.
By the end of the trilogy, Katniss is done fighting; this includes fighting against having a relationship with Peeta and later fighting against not having children. She is broken, she has lost everyone she loves, she has undergone significant trauma, and she is done with everything. Peeta can’t let Katniss go (he admits to this when he doesn’t let her take the nightlock) and Katniss comes to expect Peeta (she suggests as much when she reflects that she “seems to be waiting for something” when in District 12). So Katniss and Peeta are tied to each other. The inevitability of their coming together (as when Katniss says that it would have happened anyway) does not entirely support a beautiful or meaningful coming together. Katniss’ worldview is that it’s futile to fight against things that can’t be changed (when contrasted against Gale’s worldview that wants to fight against the way things are in order to change things). Katniss starts and ends the trilogy with the worldview that contrasted against Gale’s. Even though through some of the trilogy she tries to fight and change things, she still goes back to her original worldview. So when she says that it “would have happened anyway” she is reflecting on her acceptance of something that can’t be changed. Further into that passage she talks about how “what she really needed was the dandelion in the spring…” and it reads as if she is selling/convincing herself on her situation while it potentially also being what she “needs.” What DOES change is that her original worldview is now combined with Peeta’s in that she dares to hope for a future in the world that exists.
Katniss didn’t choose Gale but she also didn’t choose Peeta. She settled for Peeta. Even up to the end of Mockingjay (pre-epilogue) she is still having thoughts of Gale when she is back in District 12. I think the feelings and actions you mentioned between Gale and Katniss regarding the bomb are a factor but it is a major cop out. It does save Katniss from having to hurt Gale and as evidenced in the trilogy, Katniss responds to suffering by wanting to end it (but is not one to inflict it) but it is still weak given how much of a presence SC gave to the Katniss-Peeta-Gale development.
You make an interesting point where you say that “If Peeta had agreed with Gale's assessment of Katniss as choosing the one she can't survive without, it's likely he didn't think that was himself. But with Gale gone and Katniss laid low, Peeta thought he might have a chance.” The key is in your last line: “with Gale gone and Katniss laid low.” That essentially translates into: “with Katniss out of options (or without the option she might have wanted) and not having the strength/energy/desire/etc. to fight for what she wants” that is when Peeta might have a chance. And as the ending would have it, that IS when Peeta has a chance and because Katniss is “laid low,” the nurturing role is what works for him because like in Catching Fire, Katniss is still struggling with the instability and brokenness of trauma.
So in that sense, yes, it is a realistic ending and the books were leading to that conclusion before Peeta was hijacked. It’s not an active choice, but it is a passive one and passive choices are often made in real life as well.
KrisCol on December 09, 2015:
I think accepting someone into your life is choosing them. Katniss had a choice not to have any partner, which was her original plan. Most of us, when we choose a partner, don't have a couple of men conveniently lined up to pick and choose from.
I think what SC avoided was having Katniss tell Gale that she didn't choose him. Gale took himself out of the picture by avoiding Katniss and telling her that she would always associate him with Prim's death. Katniss silently agrees with him although the difficulty was equally on Gale's side - Katniss would always remind him of what the bomb he designed had done. It is a cop out in a way, but it did save Katniss from having to hurt Gale. During the course of the trilogy, and even with a speech ready to go, Katniss avoided giving Gale a definite answer. I think it was partly motivated by Katniss not wanting to inflict pain - other people's pain being a cause of distress for Katniss eg. the kiss in bombed D12.
I wonder if Peeta would have followed Katniss to D12 if had known that Gale was still in the picture. Peeta's confidence that Katniss would still want him would probably have been very low at that point and perhaps he would have seen himself as no rival for Gale. If Peeta had agreed with Gale's assessment of Katniss as choosing the one she can't survive without, it's likely he didn't think that was himself. But with Gale gone and Katniss laid low, Peeta thought he might have a chance. So he slips into the nurturing role that had worked before and plants primrose bushes, bakes bread and provides comfort from nightmares. It's really a repeat of how he wooed Katniss in Catching Fire right down to the memory (plant) book.
Katniss says it would have happened anyway and I think it was leading to that conclusion before Peeta was hijacked. Why I think it doesn't quite satisfy re. Gale is that it's an anti-climax. But I found that realistic.
Nalini Marquez (author) on February 25, 2014:
Hi brutishspoon, thank you for your response and for taking the time to read my hub! Before Prim died, Katniss' feeling focus and feeling development was on Peeta and so everything pointed to the fact that she chose or was going to choose Peeta (or that there was no choice to be made since it was clearly Peeta) but Peeta and Gale were still in the story up until Prim's death as possible paths for Katniss and as an unresolved argument to be addressed by Katniss.
By removing Gale from the story, the unresolved argument is not addressed by Katniss as would be supported by a choice or decision (as Gale and Peeta do not live in Katniss' internal dialogue but in the outside world where people have to talk to each other) but rather is addressed by Collins, even if Peeta was the better choice. Prim's death makes Katniss' choice easier because she and her dialogue were focused on Peeta and because she never has to vocalize her choice and she never has to address the argument. Gale is given a moral/ethical/conflicting character flaw/role and is removed from the story and the one she would have chosen is the one she ends up with. It makes what would have been a clear and assertive choice for Katniss a passive one (as it looks like she just accepts Peeta at the end even though her dialogue was leading up to choosing him and even though dialogue is included at the end about her positive feelings for him), and it makes for a quick tying of loose ends/story resolution for Collins.
Amy from Darlington, England on February 25, 2014:
She did make a choice, it was just made easier for her with the death of her sister. And as it says in the book Peeta is the better choice but I would have loved Katniss to get with Gale.