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So, because of the trailer, there’s a lot of Gale talk. A lot coming from all over the place, and that’s fine, some people I agree with, some I don’t. Although the (probably hundreds of) pages of things I’ve written about Gale are now lost in the wild world of the internet,…
I mostly agree with posthungergamessyndrome. Obviously there is no way to hold fictional characters accountable in the same way as an actual person, but to me a deeper understanding of characters and text inevitably includes some kind of ethical judgment on a given character’s behavior. (And that is just as true as those who tend to be more pro-Gale as it is to those of us who are more critical.)
I certainly agree that there are characters other than Gale who do ethically questionable things, and would love to have a conversation about Beetee’s role in all of this, or the way Haymitch as a manipulator. I think these are all really interesting conversations. Let’s have them!
But these issues are largely irrelevant in discussing Gale’s role, to me. It doesn’t matter that other people also did questionable things. Other people’s misdeeds do not justify one’s own.
I have a lot of thoughts about Katniss’ mission to the Capitol. I think it was a spectacularly bad idea, although it’s worth noting that most of the soldiers who went on the mission knew what was going on and chose to participate. But yeah, the plan was ill-conceived, and her shooting the nameless woman isn’t justifiable.
However, I disagree that these actions are comparable to Gale’s in building the double exploding bomb. Context and intent matter. I read Katniss’ action as the desperate impulse of someone who was frantic. It was a questionable decision, but a split-second one under duress. To me this is in no way comparable to the deliberate act of weapons design, which is undertaken in an entirely different state of mind and timeframe. There is also the issue of intent.
To me, the fundamental issue with the bombs is this: They were deliberately designed to kill more people, and made no distinction between civilians and combatants. (Because apparently the regular bombs aren’t enough?) That is the crux of the issue, and I have never seen a Gale fan adequately address it in my view—or even acknowledge that that was in fact the intent, despite the fact that this is quite explicit.
I note that while Katniss is far from unambiguous, her intervention in District 2 tried to ensure that fewer people would be killed, not more. Nor did she, at any point in the war, deliberately set out to kill more people than necessary. I think her similarities to Gale are often overstated. I don’t think they’re identical at the beginning of the books, and they certainly aren’t after two and a half books of divergent experiences. I agree that Gale is a cautionary tale of sorts, but I’m quite tired of hearing that we oughtn’t criticize him because we haven’t lived his life or that it’s somehow unfair to do so or that we have to criticize half of the other characters while making our points. By this logic, no character from a book should ever be discussed in anything less than a glowing light, and that’s pretty boring.
I think the ethical scale of all of the actions I mentioned are kind of less important than the fact that, to the characters themselves, there was a line that they did not cross, and then they did, which is more of what I intended with the original post. I probably find Haymitch’s the least “wrong” of the bunch, since no one died, and I think it’s pretty clear that Peeta would have happily sacrificed himself to torture to make certain Katniss got out alive… or maybe not… I have to think about it.
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