"For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name. I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge —that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.

Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen." -- Ephesians 3:14-21 (ESV)

Saturday, May 21, 2011

When Is a Love Triangle Not A Love Triangle?

Before I read The Hunger Games novels, I had heard a few complaints about the love triangle between Gale-Katniss-Peeta. So I went into them cautious about that aspect of the story, maybe with a jaded eye. I came out of it thinking that there really wasn't as much of a love triangle as readers may have thought.

***The following is spoilerish to all three of the novels. You have been warned. Also, those who have not read the books can move along - most of this will make no sense to you.***

In the first book, Katniss and Gale are best friends with nothing romantic between them. She is aware of Peeta only as the boy who gave her bread and then as her fellow tribute in the arena. We the audience are made aware of Gale's potentially not so platonic feelings for Katniss at the station before she is on her way to The Capitol - when he yells out at the last minute, "Katniss, I l--." It's broken off. We assume he was going to declare his love.

Then she and Peeta are thrown together in a sense, but things take a turn when he declares his love for her in the interview with Caesar Flickerman before they go into the arena. She's completely taken aback by this news. And also suspicious because it could be a game tactic he can use against her. That Haymitch encourages it doesn't help.

So Katniss and Peeta go through their time in the arena, trying to survive against the other tributes, pretending to be in love to help their case with their mentor, the game makers and the audience, and ultimately prevail by surviving together. Then they're thrown back to reality at home, grappling with what occurred in the arena still, and the expectations of the people to whom they have returned. But they are not the same people who left. Everything has changed.

Now we get to the second book. I believe it is in this one that Katniss states clearly and more than one time, that she never intends to marry or have children because she doesn't want to bring kids into that world, ensuring their chance of being reaped for the hunger games and certain death. But she's now dealing with the complicated feelings of and for Peeta from their time in the arena and also from Gale, who has made it clear that he loves her, too.

So here's where we get to a sort of love triangle in the story. Peeta loves Katniss. Gale loves Katniss. Katniss loves who? She loves both, differently, but I believe equally. And while it may read to some as a love triangle, I don't really believe that it is in the classic romance novel sense. First, she isn't interested in a mate. Second, she is in survival mode and has been since her sister's name was called in the reaping.

As I read the story, I didn't really care if Katniss ended up romantically tied to either one of the boys. I liked them both and thought they both were important to her. Each has a role in her life. To me the story was more about their battle for survival and victory over the evil of The Capitol, which is where the third book, Mockingjay, took me. For me, The Hunger Games was more about good versus evil than Gale versus Peeta.

Of course, then we get the epilogue, which wraps up the romantic bow neatly (for some). But I would have been fine without that postscript, too.

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