Saturday, 2 January 2010

Team Gale: A Shipper's Defence

Many moons ago, the smashing Amy (organiser of BBAW) and I agreed to disagree on our ‘shipping allegiances in The Hunger Games trilogy. She’s a vocal proponent for the baker’s son, Peeta, and I am just as vehement for the miner’s son, Gale. We have even tweeted numerous times about holding a debate with both of us posting our defence for our boy...then life happened and we kept tweeting about it but not actually doing anything.

With Catching Fire topping many ‘Best of 2009’ YA lists, there are many people swimming into Panem’s murky romantic waters for the first time. It’s the renewed conversation about ‘ship support that prompted me to finally state my case for Gale.

When one starts brainstorming an argument you run into some immediate snags. Both are great guys with the heroine’s needs, wants and survival of prime concern. There is no bad choice here and as such Katniss still hasn’t committed to a direction. We want the best for Katniss and she has two good choices sitting on shiny platters begging to be picked.

The boys on first glance are very similar, don’t believe me...
• rubbish given names
• grew up together
• brave
• good looking
• love her
• difficult home lives
• Katniss has strong and conflicted feelings for both
• Would die to save her
• Chemistry
• Fight to have Katniss survive

I connected with Gale straight away and this is the brilliance that is Suzanne Collins. She gave the guy with the most history with the heroine a stronger first impression but even this was far outweighed by the sheer page weight of the Peeta connection. But for those of us in Team Gale those first two chapters were enough to seal the deal. Katniss’ entire perspective of Gale is that he’s definite in everything he does (with an exception to his feelings for her because she’s less aware than we are). He hunts hard, he talks hard and he lives hard...he’s had to, his life doesn’t allow for soft edges. Like Katniss he’s a product of their environment, hard as a rock and just as uncompromising. This does not mean that he is manlier than Peeta (though some people might espouse this) but he hasn’t had the as harsh existence that Katniss and Gale have had.

Straight up Gale is depicted as a pro-active guy with protective instincts, a caring quality and an equal to Katniss. Collins’ set this all up inside of very few chapters which is insane (and also a credit to her editor David Levithan). I have become very used to reading Peeta referred to as sweet which is not a personality trait that sells a guy to me and I suspect it all lies with the bread incident. The revelation that there is a generational element to the attraction he feels for Katniss also doesn't help as it adds weight to the idea that they are fated despite them failing to speak to one another. Peeta gave Katniss bread at the expense of his wellbeing – an admirable act. Gale taught Katniss how to hunt and trap more effectively so she could feed her family. He gave her the long term gift of independence, survival and reassurance that her family would never need worry as long as she was with them. I am sorry but that knowledge and friendship over four years means a whole lot more than a singular bread incident. They are both active proponents in protecting Katniss – Peeta aligns himself with the enemy to save her in the game whereas Gale teaches her valuable skills and family support for long term survival. While both have a role in keeping Katniss alive (though I suspect she’d be fine solo), Gale empowered her to protect and serve herself.

I can hear Team Peeta followers now raving on about Gale missing his chance. The time factor seems to play a huge part of the 'shipper argument. All three points of the triangle have known one another for as long as they have lived, yet Peeta really didn’t speak to Katniss properly until the games occurred. Gale and Katniss have been close (hunting regularly in close proximity) for four years. So really is this about Gale losing his chance or Peeta gaining an opportunity? I could see Peeta not speaking to Katniss for the rest of their lives had the games not occurred. Gale is in the position of being Katniss' elder and had probably been sitting on his feelings for years, he didn’t even hint at his feelings until she was of age, which I would argue is gentlemanly. Peeta loved her before he knew her; Gale loves her because he knows her. Big distinction.

It’s very convenient for readers to forget that Gale and Katniss have four years of history prior to the events of The Hunger Games because we don’t get to experience them first hand. In contrast, we eavesdrop on every moment of Katniss and Peeta’s history from first moment until last. We know Peeta better but with familiarity the mystery dissipates. Gale is an unknown factor to the audience but interestingly, not to Katniss. It’s like their relationship (prior to HG) is a secret between the two of them. They had years to know one another completely. Whereas Peeta loved, but didn’t know Katniss before being drawn for the games. Yes, they got to know one another pretty well in the games but they had to stay hidden or quiet with one or the other unconscious a good part of the time. Yeah they bonded to a degree but their immediate survival was dependent upon it and she was playing him the whole time (and thinking about Gale). To quote Sandra Bullock in Speed "...relationships that start under intense circumstances, they never last."

I love emotionally stunted males. Though Gale knows his feelings, they are pretty obvious to all and sundry, he can’t verbalise them as much or as well as Peeta. The entire depiction of their close proximity hints at the more sexual element (or tension) to this pairing and that added to the yearning that I sympathised with. In some respects this reflects their different placement in the class structure of the District – while everyone is poor to a degree, Katniss and Gale are the children of blue collar men, and Peeta’s the son of a baker/merchant. Their hands alone tell the difference in their status within the community. Could you imagine Peeta in the The Hob? He could talk to Greasy Sae about the use of garnishes for her dog casserole maybe?

I am in no way arguing that Peeta and Katniss aren’t fated based on their class differences (Pride and Prejudice is all about that and it’s my favourite book.) But it does allow some reflection on their life experiences and an understanding of one’s roots. It also makes me sympathise with Gale more, he’s an angsty guy. He’s suffered considerably. He’s lost his father, he’s supporting numerous siblings, helped out Katniss’ family and has an unrequited love for his best friend. Both guys are in the throes of unrequited love but I think Gale has it worse.

I hearing screaming denials so I will hurry on.... Gale is required to watch the girl that he fancies trade places with her sister into a game that guarantees her death. Instead of getting upset, he sucks it up and wrestles a distressed child away from her self-sacrificing older sister. Then each night he has to wait and see how other tributes are planning on killing her while waiting to see if they’d been successful (to be fair Peeta is in the same boat here). He also has to watch as the girl he knows and loves pretend to be an empty headed flibbertigibbet and wonder what became of the girl he adored.

If it wasn’t already Sucksville, Panem then watching Peeta and Katniss play love birds where he’s in no position to intercede would make it so much worse. It’s this situation that hurts my heart. Every time I was reading a scene where Katniss was playing Peeta (as she was most of the time), my heart hurt for Gale. I love the underdog and I think with the considerably reduced story and character arc as well as the suffering this character must go through, he’s definitely it. (The fact that he’s tall, dark and handsome doesn’t really hurt either...I am kinda shallow.) Because there is so little Gale in the books, there is more to imagine. This kid has to watch a neighbour who’s had a marginally better existence successfully get HIS girl. (It wasn’t just Peeta’s feelings that were getting played when Haymitch and Katniss enacted their audience manipulation). A girl that he’s in no position to help as he had the previous four years. Instead he has to watch as another guy actively does everything he wants to do – hold her hand, kiss her, profess his love and protect her. Sigh.

I find Gale to be a more compelling character. He’s a character of restraint and passion. He’s political, he’s motivated, he’s pro-active, he’s caring, he’s opinionated and he’s strong. I would love to read a companion book detailing Gale’s journey as the events of The Hunger Games and Catching Fire went on. Peeta, a deliberate and strategic guy, has been made increasingly proactive in his pursuit of Katniss by the games, whereas Gale, a fervent, action orientated character is rendered passive by the games. It’s the ultimate role reversal despite all their similarities.

I am eagerly awaiting the release of the third title in The Hunger Games trilogy. I believe that Katniss and Peeta will end up together. I don’t have a huge problem with that, after all their relationship has been addressed more in the thousand plus pages devoted to this world. Does this bug me? A little but as long as Gale has a stronger presence in the forthcoming title then I am happy. I am particularly hoping that he’s a strong element of the rebellion. It also leads to my suspicion that Gale will end up six feet under...or with another girl. I would prefer the former but suspect the latter will occur. When a protagonist chooses between two guys that are really into her, her cast off looks less convincing in his previously held feelings when he hooks up with a rebound (I am not a Twilight fan or shipper but Jacob looked like a pansy at the end.) I don’t want Gale to sink into a depressed, lost state. Or hook up with the mayor’s daughter. I would ultimately love for his life to be a cost of the rebellion’s cause. I cannot think of a better exit for the character. (See I’ve even found a way for the Team Gale members to turn on me!)

I am sure that there is a Team Peeta supporter already jotting down their reasons why my post is rubbish. It’s sure to be twice as long as my own because they have more incidents to draw from. Good on them. While the debate about who’s better for Katniss are fun and even I’ve bought into them, there is a reason for this...the strength of Katniss. It’s easier for us to question and defend the boys because they are simpler to work out. The real strength of the book is the protagonist, she’s so complex and conflicted that it makes sense that we’d try and break down the simpler characters. So I will finish this post by saying that the real guy in this triangle is Katniss, she really hasn’t allowed herself to explore her emotions and swings between the better deal at the time.

Team Katniss – ‘cause she wears the pants!

Other debate posts worthy of checking out:
Team Gale - A Break Up Letter
Tenner's Stephanie Perkins' Team Gale Vs. Team Peeta
SophistiMOM's Team Gale or Team Peeta? A Discussion of Catching Fire
Galleysmith's Team buttons for whatever your persuasion
The Page Flipper hosted Tenner's Heidi Kling's Review: Gale versus Peeta

31 comments:

Catherine said...

I was very much on the side of "Team Gale" all the way through, and even as I was reading Catching Fire I was waiting for the moment that would suddenly reveal why "Team Peeta" was a choice to support. But that never happened.

To me, it was pretty clear that Katniss's heart is with Gale - yes, she's showing signs of interest in Peeta, but there's so much of their history that strengthens it. Their connection grew; Katniss and Peeta was created out of necessity.

What concerns me about Peeta is his use of his love (and I do believe he does care for her a great deal) as a tool, a weapon. Like, it leaves me wondering how much of Katniss's emotions are being tugged at by that. Something about Peeta/Katniss just leaves me feeling rather off, and I still don't think I've entirely placed why.

Dani. said...

Yay for Team Katniss! :]


GREAT POST, I agree with virtually everything you said!

Lenore said...

I'm Team Peeta, but I think you have valid points about Gale.

Actually, I was discussing this with Trish awhile back and I said Katniss can have Gale and I'll take Peeta ;)

prophecygirl said...

Can I just say: Adele, your taste is impeccable. Team Gale all the way!

LovesSam said...

Wow, this post has got to be one of my favourite post about The Hunger Games Trilogy. I agree with every single point, I am a sucker for blond boys, I love them. If there is a blond male character in a book, I go all gooey and start professing my love for them. Maybe i'm the same in real life, as i've never dated anyone that didn't have blond hair.

But; the Hunger Games changed all that. For Suzanne to cement my feelings and emotions with Gale in such a short amount of pages is a credit to her writing. Peeta never even come close, he wasn't even in the running for me. Throughout the whole book, even when Peeta was being so sweet and really sticking his neck out for Katniss, I never felt any emotion towards him apart from sympathy. And I mean sympathy, because its as clear as day that Katniss will most likely never feel for him as strongly as he does her. Yes, I will admit that she shows some resemblance of feelings towards him.

Even though there were horrible life changing events taking place in the arena, I couldn't stop thinking about Gale, how he must be feeling. My heart broke for him, because I know too that without the games, Peeta would never have spoken to Katniss. I know this like I know I was never once tempted to swap sides even though its clear Katniss will end up with Peeta. He's had the most air time so to speak, he's a main character in his own right, whereas throughout the first book, Gale was a secondary character.

Like you said Adele, I think Gale will die in the book, I really do, and I hope he goes down in glory as the one who won the rebellion, the guy who sacrificed his life for the girl he loved, to give her a life worth living. I am and always will be Team Gale

Loretta Nyhan said...

Great post. I completely agree!

Daisy Whitney said...

This is the best Team Gale post I have read. Well-defended, well-researched, you make great points. And it's almost enough to sway me! I think the beauty of these books is that Collins has given Katniss (and therefore the readers too) two such wholly excellent choices. I mean both boys are wonderful in their own ways. And they're both a welcome relief from other unnamed boys in other books. My heart is still with Peeta and I hope the triangle isn't resolved with a Reneesme!

Donna Gambale said...

This is a fabulous argument for Team Gale! I'm torn because I felt that strong Katniss/Gale hook from the beginning, but I can't help but root for the underdog! (Which is Peeta. Clearly.) But Peeta definitely has strength of character that manifests in different ways, and he's a great match for Katniss -- in different ways than is Gale. And I think one of them has to die in the end... or will hook up with the mayor's daughter. As twisted as this is, I think death would be a stronger choice. Bring on the heartbreaking scene -- I have tissues at the ready!

Frankie Diane Mallis said...

This post rocks!!!! Im kind of on Team I Love You Both which I guess means Im on Team Katniss, though I usually tend to lean more towards Team Gale. I never forget him though he has soooo little page time and its amazing how strong his presence was in book 1 with barely any scenes. I pretty much agree with you, but I actually think that Katniss WILL end up with Gale and Peeta will die to make it happen. First of all, because the Capitol is pushing for Peeta and Katniss --or at least they were earlier in book 2, its now the thing she can never do. She can never actually be with him when their relationship hinged on so many politics and so many lies. But who knows. I think Suzanne Collins is a freaking genius and I know I'll be satisfied and teary eyed and heartbroken with whatever direction she chooses.

Heidi R. Kling said...

Love it!
I'm Team I-Wish-Gale-Was-In-It-More.
I love both the boys.
And I love Katniss.
May the force be with them in book 3. *shiver*

alybee said...

Adele - This is an incredible post. I am envious of how well you put everything that I feel about Gale, Katniss, and Peeta into words. I have always been Team Gale and I agree...I would rather see him die at the end in an honorable manner than marry someone other than Katniss. Despite the small amount of page time, I feel that Suzanne hooked me into who Gale is and what he is all about.

Thanks for this very well written defence of Gale and support of Team Katniss.

Krissi Dallas said...

LOVE THIS POST! I have to say you hit on one thing that I totally felt in HG and that was the suckiness of Gale having to watch Kat and Peeta's lovey-dovey stuff along with the rest of Panem... I left HG with a lot of Gale feelings. But Catching Fire got to me... being around Gale a little more made a solid Team Peeta member... Gale and Kat are two of a kind, which is great, but I feel Kat is better complimented by Peeta where her strengths are her own... not the same as Gale's. Either way, this is a fabulous post for such an awesome series! :) I will definitely send my students over here for thought-provoking insights! (We're doing Hunger Games as an in-class study this semester!)

frootjoos said...

Wow! Good job. I have to say, I'm Team Peeta all the way. But I agree with everything you said. I think that's sort of the genius part of Collins' novels is that despite stark disagreement, both sides have good points and can hold a great debate. (Unwind by Neal Shusterman does it to, though for life rights rather than a relationship.)

Loved reading this! Thanks to Alybee for pointing it out to me and I will definitely send people here to read, too!

Amy said...

Oh my god if we'd posted at the same time I would have LOST. :) But now I have all of your arguments to ponder. I'm still Team Peeta even though this is a beautifully written point of view.

poshdeluxe said...

even though i'm team peeta, i found this post to be HIGHLY persuasive.

i'm just waiting for someone to turn this whole thing into an academic thesis. of which i will read every page.

GAH i think the third book might kill me...

Kat O'Keeffe said...

I'm a Team Peeta supporter through and through (I just wrote up a similar post on my blog in Peeta's favor) but I have to say, this is the best Team Gale argument I've yet come across.

I like Gale as a character, I do think he's very strong, and the concept of watching the girl he loves seemingly fall for another man on national television is heartbreaking.

I do agree that Katniss will likely end up with Peeta, and I also think Gale will die in the third book. No matter what happens, though, I'm sure Suzanne will pull it off amazingly, and give each character a very satisfying ending. I love what you said about the Twilight series, Jacob does come off as a pansy, and because he falls for someone else it leaves the love triangle feeling so fake and contrived.

You haven't swayed me from the baker's son, but I do see Gale in a new light! Good job!

Meghan said...

OMG i was totally team i-love-you-both, too, but this argument is sooooo persuasive! especially as gale comes out so strong at the end of CF. i don't know if i can survive until the third (last! sob!) book comes out.

YAfan said...

Adele -- I would love to see YOU write a novel. Your insight, analysis, and articulation are phenomenal. You were able to put in words exactly how I feel about Gale's character -- and like everyone else, I adore Peeta, too. Two questions to throw out as I read through all the comments and blogs on-line: 1)I am having difficulty understanding (although the romantic in me swoons over it)Peeta's "love" for Katniss. How can it be differentiated from a crush, a physical infatuation, or an unhealthy obsession? He had never spoken to her prior to the reaping, so how can he really KNOW her -- and thus love her? Please help me understand this. 2) There have been many allusions to a Madge/Gale covert attration or even an affair. I have read and reread all the passages in both books, and I just don't see it. Nor do I see Gale, who is so entrenched, attached, and devoted to Katniss, so capriciously hopping to another girl. Insight please??? I do think I will stay Team Katniss, though!

YAfan said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ellie said...

Awesome post. Lots of insight. That said, I disagree and will be forever loyal to Team Peeta, but I just wanted to reinforce how fantastic this pro-Gale post is!

Anonymous said...

I am team peeta
I will give one reason that should clearly state my point...

DO YOU GUYS THINK SUZANNE COLLINS WOULD HAVE WASTED 2 WHOLE BOOKS TAKING ABOUT KATNISS AND PEETA IF KATNISS IS SUPPOSED TO STAY WITH GALE


MADE MY POINT


GO TEAM PEETA

Kelli (I'd So Rather Be Reading) said...

This is the best argument for Gale I have read yet. I am linking to it on my blog right now. I have been Team Gale from the beginning for the exact same reasons! Found you via a Google "Team Gale" search. Now following you!

Toby said...

Well I tried to read all of your "Team Gale" diatribe but couldn't. As a matter of fact, I think you have more words written here than what Collins devoted to letting us into Gale's mind and what his true feelings are. I'm not sure where this Gale you speak of came from, but it didn't come from the Hunger Games.

Adele said...

Oh well someone had to poop on my parade. It's not like I wrote a whole fanfic recreating scenes and whatnot - I have some basis. But reading is subjective and you are entitled to your opinion on my writing and I am entitled to my opinion on Gale :)

Thanks for commenting - sorry my 'diatribe' rang false for you.

Bella said...

This is an amazing post, thank you! I feel exactly the same way about Gale - you really went all out putting into words why the minority of us are Team Gale even though his presence in the books is hugely overshadowed by Peeta loving Katniss and Katniss pretending to love Peeta.

Anonymous: yes, I do. Katniss and Peeta were in the games together, so obviously they'd have more book-time. I Katniss was in love with Peeta, wouldn't she have realized this after 5 bazillion make out sessions with him?

I honestly believe that it could swing either way and as much as I don't particularly want to see Gale with anyone else, I do believe that he's going to end up dead and would prefer for him to hook up with the mayor's daughter.

alybee said...

Adele - No need to apologize. It's your blog and your opinion. It was well written and well thought out. I realize those of us cheering for Team Gale may be in the minority but that is where I am on this eve of Mockingjay's release.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
JH said...

Team President Snow.

PatyHP said...

TEAM GALEEE!!!
....
"Gale is MINE. i am HIS!!"- Katniss

Lan said...

Adele, thanks you so much for this wonderful post. I recently finished reading Mockingjay and was so incensed I couldn't actually review it. Your post has said everything I wanted to say but couldn't quite articulate. I will love Gale forever.

Thrisha-Armstrong said...

I appreciat you taking the time to write this, it's all my feeling on the matter expressed in the best way possiable. I agree to you when you wrote in the start of your blog about Clicking with gale first few chapters. They were by far my favorite chapters of the First book. I have nothing against Petta, I just don't beleive in there relationship, To me collins didn't realize the story she pre-wrote to katniss and Gale, there history should have mad made a more commanding charator then Petta. So I agree with your Blog and I very much enjoyed reading it.