Katniss Unites Feminine + Masculine
The Hunger Games’ “Katniss” is a break-out heroine,
Exist(ing) outside the traditional confines of the feminine-masculine split.
So says Manohla Dargis in her New York Times review.
As heroes go, Katniss — played by Jennifer Lawrence — is far more complex than the unemotional and invulnerable “macho” who typically saves the day.
Nor is she not trapped by the usual feminine virgin-whore divide.
Katniss has been described as both:
- personal and communal
- strong and soft
- hunter and nurturer
- tough and teary
- fighter and lover
- stoic and sentimental
But at least one reviewer complained that the [spoiler alert] ending is conservative. For in the end we find:
Katniss in a utopian pastoral setting, holding her baby girl as she watches Peeta play with their towheaded son in the distance. Donning a ’50s-era housedress, she coos to the restless baby about her “game” of reminding herself of every good thing that she has ever seen someone do anytime she has a nightmare. Acknowledging that this practice gets tedious, she closes the film with the same line that closed the book “there are much worse games to play.”
…wouldn’t it have been wonderful to see Katniss choose something other than heteronormative, monogamous parenthood with Peeta?
Well, she has a point.
Yet, the scene continues the unity of feminine and masculine on two levels:
- the symbolic union of Katniss and Peeta
- the union of (feminine) family and (masculine) warrior that weaves through the series
For Katniss begins with family, turns warrior, and returns to family. Having transformed existence from brutality into something far better. That is actually a common hero arch.
And actually, ending up as “mom and dad” is not necessarily conservative.
After all, the human notion of deity began as a mother goddess, like Gaia and Tiamat and Isis. Who mated with a powerful father god. Celebrating the unity of feminine + masculine power. And bringing new life.
Really, that’s pretty powerful.