Mockingjay Discussion 7: Gale Hawthorne

by John on August 24, 2010

Ah, poor Gale! He is the hero of District 12 and of Katniss’ family for rescuing as many residents of the Seam as he did from the fire bombing, but the experience of seeing his community destroyed and Peeta being hijacked seems to have taken him around the twist. Gale winds up designing weapons and explosives that are as bad because taken from the same twisted playbook as the Capitol. Katniss’ final decision for Peeta rather than Gale because she did not need “Gale’s fire, kindled with rage and hatred” seemed about right. We knew that Gale raged against the Capitol, but, if you were like me, you didn’t seem him embracing war crimes as in burying people alive needlessly or creating sequentially fused bombs to take out rescue workers to defeat his enemies.

Was that too big a jump for the man of the Seam or about right? Does it capture, in contrast with Peeta’s PTSD agonies, another side of how war changes those who fight them?

{ 183 comments… read them below or add one }

S.D. Rogers April 6, 2012 at 12:22 am

I did not view Gale or Peeta as love interests for Katniss, but rather two very different ideals of sacrifice during a time of revolution – war. Gale represented a particular view on war, Peeta represented its opposing view. The overall message Collins was making was that there are no winners in war – everyone loses. She showed the downside to big governments with controlling interest. Katniss overall story goal was to survive it at all any cost while protecting the ones she loves – mainly her family. And most of the time she was clueless to the manipulations of others around her. Katniss didn’t even realize she was the symbol for the revolution until the end of Catching Fire. I doubt Collins was writing a romance novel. I viewed Gale as a political and social view that Katniss understood, believed in – Peeta represented a political and social view that was totally alien, unknown to her. If Collins would have ended the trilogy with the happy ending everyone wanted, it would have felt unreal, not authentic.

This is just the humble opinion of the wife of a military veteran who just retired after serving 30 years for this country in many war campaigns, a mother who lost a child in Iraq and who must now care for a daughter that just made it back from two campaigns in Iraq and who will probably need therapy, not to mention anxiety/depression/sleep medications for the rest of her life. She has witness many horrible things and is so traumatized that we pray daily for some sort of relief for her. And she’s only 24. She spent the last 6 years overseas. The last 3 in Iraq.

Sorry for getting off subject. I really love Ms. Collins work and find it extremely relevant in the world we live in today.

Gwynna April 9, 2012 at 9:49 am

Gale hates nothing more than he hates the Capital, which is understandable considering everything they’ve done. But is it really okay to blame him for getting caught up in the war?
I’m tired of hearing everyone say that Gale isnt worthy for Katnis when it should be the opposite. Gale stood by Katniss through and through. He watched her kiss a boy she’d never shown any interest in and yet he was still there for her when she came back. Gale was with Katniss through her hardest time but she abandonned him in mis hardest time.
Gale should not be blamed for Prim’s death because he wasnt the one who allowed her on the front lines of a war when she was only 13 or 14 that was Coin. Gale designed the bomb but he didnt set it off that was also Coin.
Katniss went from the courageous selfless girl who volunteered for her sister at the reaping to a selfobsessed girl who lost her true self in the Games. Peeta once said, “If I’m gonna die, I wanna be myself. Show them I’m not just a piece in their Games.” Katniss agreed then went off the next day and pledged her love to a boy she didnt actually love.

Kelly April 9, 2012 at 6:39 pm

Gale deserved better and more. He was a good guy and at the friendship between Gale and Katniss deserved a better ending. Katniss was great and a heroine away from the whole romance stuff. She became like every other wishy washy female in YA books. It was sad. At times I thought Gale deserved better than Katniss.

Gabe April 30, 2012 at 6:13 pm

Let me start by saying I’m glad Katniss chose Peeta, because she’s right, it’s Peeta’s promise of rebirth that she needs, not Gale’s fire, and she ends up living a life of happiness because of it. But with saying that, part of me sympathizes with Gale, because it’s war, after all, and are there truly any rules to war? He hated the Capitol, for everything they subjected him, his family, and the residents of District 12 to. Not to mention attempting to take his best friend away to be murdered for their entertainment. Because of all this, he did whatever it took to stop the tyranny, even if it meant murdering everyone he deemed responsible. So when you look at it this way, his actions were very appropriate. They’d do the same thing to him, of course.

Katniss, obviously, disagrees, which is amplified even more when Gale’s bomb plan, playing on human sympathies, is used to kill Prim along with a pack of innocent children. The killing of children, I think we can all agree, definitely crosses the line of what’s acceptable war practice and what’s not, even if it means winning or losing. Even Gale would agree with that statement. And that’s the thing, even though Gale made the plan, he intended it to be used on the enemy, not a pack of innocent children, and certainly not Prim. He told Katniss that much the first opportunity he got. But it doesn’t matter, because no matter what happens, Katniss will forever associate Gale with Prim’s death, and there’s nothing Gale could ever do to make up for it. The best he can do is let her go. Knowing how much love Gale had for Katniss, all the memories of his childhood that he had with her, and all the effort he put into protecting her and her family, that must have been one of the hardest moments of his life. He not only lost his love, he lost his best friend. All because he was doing everything he could to win a war that she was the leader of. You can’t help but feel sorry for the guy.

carrenm May 1, 2012 at 12:44 pm

I’m not sure that Gale was changed as much during the books, but rather that he had an outlet for his anger at the Capitol through the rebellion. I still regard him as a hero and a generally good guy who did what he thought he needed to do for the rebellion. The death of the children and Prim were an unintended consequence, and I think the lesson there is that even when we make choices that seem for the best, they can have repercussions that were not planned.

I also do not believe that Katniss chose Peeta simply because Gale left and Peeta was the only one around as some have suggested. To me, Catching Fire portrayed the long, slow process of Katniss gradually falling love with Peeta for who he was, not just because Gale wasn’t around. Even at the beginning of Mockingjay, Gale is down the hall, and Katniss is kissing Peeta’s pearl. Did we really think she hadn’t made her choice?

gabi June 7, 2012 at 6:08 pm

I apreciate all of your commentsbecause Iwas really touched with the end of this novel.

I think the main theme of this book is survival, wasn´t it what Katniss lovd most her sister Prim? There wasn´t real love between guys and her before she almost los her sister in the hunger games. Everything she did was for the safe of her family, after the rough loss of her father. We can´t blame Gale for falling in love with her, because he was in the same situation as her, with no father and felt compassion towards her. There we go, so I was so sad with Prim´s death,I feel as if all the work Katniss had made for assuring a better future to her sister, was in vain. She bought her the lamb Lady, with all her savings, she haunted for her, she even offered as volunteer. She didn´t planed to be the Mockingjay, And if she would, then it was for fighting to lead a just district.

She didn´t planned to Fall in love with Peeta, it was him who was totally in love with her and saved her. Katniss would had killed him anyway if he wouldn´t had flirted with her, and Haymitch wouldn´t reconded them to stay as a team.

But veryone feel Loneliness, and we now the best way out, is love. She could afford it during the time she were with rue, caused it remind her from Prim. And then we know Gale was as family to her because he took care of Prim when she wasn´t there to help her. Many people tell me Katniss is not the Mom Type of woman, but I really think she does show love above all towards her family and the little ones.

When she won the hunger games her intention was to forget Peeta and go back to the real world of her district, but the unjustice the Capitol threw over the districts after the dark days seized her happynes, Presiden Snow was there to make her life impossible. And so she wouldn´t live happy when she knew her sister wasn´t safe. The last novel take us the only thing Katniss has for sure. A sister. We don´t know if friends and lovers would be there for us, but family does. When Prim dies, Katniss feels destroyed, because everything she has worked for is in vain. The burning is extinct, as president snow predicted. So is it fair for her?

We can´t blame either Peeta or Gale. She doesn´t need Gale anymore because she only needed him there with her for the survival of her and his family.
But Peeta, he loves her uncotrolably above all. He is there for her because he is optimist and can raise her of the deep bump she has burried herself after watchin her own sister, her own mokingjey fire burn and extint, the life wich scrumbles out of her hands. And she can´t d nothing, cause it is over..

Nathan June 16, 2012 at 6:16 am

I read Mockingjay straight through yesterday. I was disappointed by how Gale’s story finished. I think teh book needed ten extra pages to be honest.

To be honest I thought Katniss would end up with neither of them after she overheard their conversation in Tigris’ basement. I would have been very happy if that happened to be honest.

Peeta represented the good in the world. The righteousness that Katniss had been deprived of. I felt that they were made for each other.

Gale was more of a guardian. He protected Katniss and I think in a way she saw her father in him. If she had ended up with Gale I would not have been happy at all. She was never going to really. The war changed him and Katniss realised that he was becoming the person who did the things he had always talked about when hunting with her. After Prim’s death, her views of him were never going to change. I am unhappy with Suzanne Collins however for leaving Gale unfinished. He simply moved to 2 and got a job. There was no real final conversation between him and Katniss.

To be honest, I hated Mockingjay’s ending. The pacing was all wrong and there were too many loose threads.

KJ June 18, 2012 at 1:47 pm

There is only one (1) thing I would change in MockingJay. I would have the pearl in the box of her belongings when she gets back to the house in the Villiage. She finds the pearl maybe in a ring display box that someone added so that it wouldn’t get lost, puts it out in the open in a place to be seen, e.g., mantel or container for keys by the door, whatever. Peeta starts coming over for meals bringing bread and sees the pearl has been kept. Gets the idea of putting it into a ring. Next we see them years later, on the porch, watching the children. Her voice over about how to deal with the nightmares, how she will explain to the kids. Then them holding hands…and the ring is on her finger.

KJ June 18, 2012 at 2:00 pm

With regards to Gale, I think his inexperience didn’t take into account collateral damage of war. He was looking to win, didn’t think of the costs. Typical, I think of the young and passionate.

It was also naive of Katniss to assume that her family did not need to be included on ‘the list’. She put the cat on there when prompted by Gale. They both made the assumption that family is/was off-limits. Coin saw that as a loophole and a way to control Katniss into submission by insanity. I think she was lucky to have any life at all, let alone one with Peeta and their children in her home district.

Laila Marie July 13, 2012 at 2:43 am

Ok so I want to say I am so glad Katniss and Peeta got back together. And I really could care less about Gale. Because think President Coin used Beetee and his bomb in the war. The bomb that killed Prim.

Kirk July 31, 2012 at 9:00 pm

Gale finishes the story unhappy and somewhat lost but who really does much better. He deserved Katniss as she had said in Catching Fire something like “I am his. He is mine.” This spoke well to their unspoken devotion to each other. But times and circumstances changed the future together they could have had. I agree Collins should have let Gale have a parting and meaningful good-bye to her as he knew he was giving up on any future with her. I respected him for wanting what was best for her and wanting her to make her own choices. But any reader knew, Peeta had the gift of words and timing, not Gale. His exit was true to that. So instead we just have to imagine that Gale does as well as anyone could in district 2 and will be happy and satisfied later to know that Katniss (his friend and love) has survived in her own way.

Tracy September 10, 2012 at 11:45 pm

I think Ms. Collins gave us a huge hint about what was going to happen to Gale if he got the chance to rebel. Two, actually, and they are both contained in the first book. First, he loses his cool with Madge when he and Katniss go to sell her strawberries. Understandable, maybe…until you learn that her family has been torn apart by the Games as well. Her aunt dies as a tribute and her mother is stuck in an incurable grief. Second hint, when he’s giving Katniss advice after the reaping and asks her how different killing people could be, really, from killing animals? Katniss learns this lesson up close and personal because she is unable to forget that they are people, whereas Gale allows his hatred and anger to blind him. Temper, temper, young and impetuous. I think, sadly, that it is a believable turn for Gale’s character to take, although not one that I as a human being wanted him to take. Personally, I would have preferred if he’d listened to Katniss and cooled his jets a bit, stopped to think a little more before he acted. But I didn’t write the story, Suzanne Collins did.
As for the people who say they don’t think Gale did anything wrong. Please review the Geneva Conventions and compare to the weapons Gale designs. Then reread two key scenes. The one in Special Weaponry when Katniss first learns about the double exploding bombs and Gale tells her they’re playing by Snow’s rulebook. Then the scene where they are cracking “The Nut” and Katniss objects to the plan because she’s “a girl from District Twelve, not President Snow.” Hint: blocking the tunnels to the mine is something Snow would do.
Finally, I offer a piece of personal history. Please do not crucify me. I spent a brief amount of time working in a job that entailed the designing and testing of bombs. One of the issues that weighed most heavily on me (and still does), was the fact that I would be involved in the design of something that has one purpose and one purpose alone: to kill people. Was it right? Was I condemning innocent lives to horrible grusome deaths with my work? Who would be damaged by my actions? I’ll never know. But these questions did guide both me and the people I worked with to question the devices we were creating. To make sure they did exactly what they were expected to do and no more.
But there’s a catch, see. The people who design the bombs are not the people who actually drop them. Or determine their precise use.
Chew on that a moment. You have to consider by whom and how your creations could be used. Because in the hands of a tyrrant, even the most benign of weapons (If such a thing is possible) can be turned into something horrific.
Gale clearly did not take these issues into consideration until he was faced with the possibility that he was instrumental in Prim’s death. It can be easy to say “Kill the Enemy! Destroy them at all costs!”
Until the enemy (or the collatoral damage) has a face and a name. But they always do, whether we realize it or not.

Sorry to be so grim with this post.

PB June 28, 2013 at 9:21 pm

I think that Collins left the book unfinished in an unfair fashion. I really do believe that in the fifteen years between the end of Mockingjay and the Epilogue that Katniss and Gale do make amends. They mean too much to each other to not at least be friends. I bet Gale finds a lovely girl in 2, marries her, and the two families (Gale’s and Katniss’) become friends. I hope at least.

Timothy July 2, 2013 at 4:15 pm

Gales actions can’t be justified, they are war crimes. A quick look at the Nurenburg Principals proves this much. But his worse offense is the genocide he committ in district 2. His method for cracking the nut meant death for all those inside. Since the majority of district 2′s population is inside along with a large chunk of the peacekeepers forces, this means Gale is solely responcible for the death of hundreds of thousands of people, since district 2 was one of the more populous districts. He knew that there were innocents in the fort, but he still wanted to block the escape tunnel. He should know better because his father died in a mine-collapse.

When the remaining peacekeepers were captured by the rebels throughout the war return to district 2 (assuming the Rebels took prisoners), they and the rest of district 2 will probably morn those killed in the nut for many generations afterward. They will hate Gale especially, and this hatred will be intensified by his living in district 2.

I’m glad he didn’t get a happy end to the story, because it’s upsetting when a mass-murderer receives no comeuppance.

Meg October 17, 2013 at 7:22 pm

To Gale, the citizens of the Capitol were always the ‘other’. Unlike Katniss and Peeta, he didn’t have the advantage of mixing with ordinary citizens and realizing they were just like him except they were products of a different environment. All Gale’s encounters with the Capitol were negative – the poverty, the Games, the whipping and the bombing of District 12. He’s filled with rage. He has a ‘the means justify the end’ mentality. Innocent lives were an unfortunate outcome of a greater good. I don’t see a big jump from hero of District 12 to villain of the Nut and the Capitol bombing. I think they were in line with his character and his experiences. His compassion was for his own people. The bomb etc weren’t war crimes to him but an unfortunate necessity.

That’s until it became personal. One wonders if Gale’s attitude changed when his bomb, or at least, the same as the one he helped design, killed not only children but his own people who had gone to their aid. And that included the young sister of his best friend and hoped-for lover and scarring her, both physically and mentally, for life in the process.

I found Gale cowardly in the end. He puts it all onto Katniss for the end of their friendship by telling her that he would always be a reminder her of how Prim died. Maybe that’s true but he doesn’t admit that Katniss will always be a reminder to him of what happened. Her burn scars are also the result of his bomb and a reminder of her suffering. He doesn’t even have the courage to visit her in hospital.

So I imagine Gale always bearing the guilt but finding a kind of forgetfulness by immersing himself in his work. He has new relationships fairly quickly although at first it’s a way to distract and make him feel better about himself. He doesn’t possess the kind of courage to make friendly overtures to Katniss after things have settled but leaves things as they are. And for Katniss, that’s for the best.

John October 20, 2013 at 2:24 pm

Meg, if I may,

I almost closed this thread because of my fatigue with Gale-adorers and Gale-apologists.

Your wonderfully thoughtful and fresh view of his perspective and character makes me very glad I left it open.

Thank you for opening my eyes to ‘Gale as coward.’

Gratefully,

John

Meg October 22, 2013 at 5:28 pm

Thank you. And thank you for the site. I’m a late-comer to the trilogy and seem to have missed all the discussion. But I still like to read it and even make a contribution or two even though few, if any, will see it. Maybe the release of the movie version of CF will revive it.

I think Gale not visiting in hospital is the give-away and indicates that it’s more about how Gale is feeling than Katniss. He doesn’t want to be confronted with it. Making it about Katniss gives him an escape and gives him the excuse to walk away from the mess.

To be fair, Gale would likely have known that he wasn’t the chosen one anyway. He witnessed Katniss re-connecting with a recovering Peeta and even admitted to Peeta that Peeta had ‘won her over.’ Even the friendship was doomed. Friendships rarely survive when one side makes romantic/sexual overtures that aren’t returned. It crosses a line that can’t be uncrossed.

I think he chose the way that was the least damaging to his ego. Perhaps Katniss’s too – how angry and upset would it make her to think that her pain, that he may have inadvertently helped to inflict, helped turn him off her.

zara January 1, 2014 at 4:48 pm

I believe Gales ending was completely unjustified and rushed. I respect Suzanne Collins for the choices she made with him in mockingjay due to his hatred for the capitol and contribution to the war. But I believe the his ending was completely out of character as throughout the whole of the series he stood by Katniss and never left her. Gale wouldn’t of given up like he did at the end of the war, yes of course he was full of regret for Prims death but i do not believe he wouldn’t of tried to rekindle his friendship with Katniss even if she did end up with Peeta. In regards to the reasoning behind Katniss ending up with Peeta I believe it to be untrue as Katniss lost her fire a long time ago and needs Gale to breathe the fire back into her, she doesn’t need Peeta’s overpowering love as she never wanted that. Gale gives her space to be herself whereas Peeta is too full on all the time. She needs Gale because he knows her better than anyone, they help each other to survive and always have.

Meg January 2, 2014 at 3:27 am

Friendships rarely survive when one side makes romantic overtures to the other and it’s not reciprocated. It’s a line that can’t be uncrossed. Too awkward for one and too painful for the other. A trust is also broken – a trust that friends must have – that you are safe from sexual or romantic overtures. ‘Potential lovers’ is a different relationship with a different set of rules. I’ve had it happen to me. As much as you might want things to be as they were, they can’t be.

Think ‘When Harry Met Sally’. When they slept together that was the end of their platonic friendship. Their options were either end the friendship or become lovers. There’s no going back because you can’t erase your memory. You can’t undo an experience. It changes things and it changes you.

Timothy January 19, 2014 at 4:02 pm

Zara, I have to respectfully disagree.

First of all, his actions in the war were not only crimes against humanity, they also insured that District 2 will be much harder, of not impossible, to bring into the new republic. Gale will likley be viewed by the surviving District 2 people in the same way Irishmen view Oliver Cromwell. At best, his grave will be plunderd and his bones burned years after he dies. Ar worst, District 2 will be convinced that the rest of Panem does not care about them and peacekeeper veterans will lead an independence movement that will result in a bloody war. His snare bombs are also war crimes, and show that he is just as bad as, if not worse than, the people he fights against.

From a practical viewpoint, the war could have been won without either of those atrocities. If the rebel army simply encircled/besieged the Nut with part of their army, captured the Capitol while the Nut was besieged, they could have probably gotten the peacekeepers in the Nut to surrender with the promise of a pardon /I liar to the one given to confederates after the american civil war. Had the snare bombs not been used on Capitol children, then the war could have still been won because President Snow was planning on surrendering before the snare bombs went off. Its important to remover that whether or not Gale planned to use the bombs that way doesn’t change the fact that Prim would still have been alive had he not designed a bomb to specifically target children.

And on the first two books, Gale did not stand by Katniss. In the second book, he unfairly resented Katniss for having feelings for Peeta. First of all, she was (at first) trying to stay alive. Secondly, if he had feelings for Katniss before the games, he should have said so instead of getting blaming Katniss for his own timidness.

As for Prim’s death, Gale is absolutely responcible for it. I do not think Gale could have ever reconciled with Katniss because they both know the blood is on his hands.

As for the part of Katniss loosing her fire, I say good. The rebellion is over, there does not need to be any more killing; her fire would have prevented her from living her life afterwards. Peeta ‘overpowering love’ as you call it, is probably the only thing that in abode her to keep going. The time when surviving was a struggle ended when President Coin died, and Katniss stated that she does not even want to be the Mockingjay anymore.

The part about Gale knowing ‘her better than anyone’ is an outright falsehood. First of all, Gale doesn’t know her at all; he’s let his hatred make him an entirely different person. Secondly, she and Peeta have been through so much that the idea of him not knowing her is laughable.

Gale diserves to be lynched by grieving family members of one killed in the nut, he also deserves to never see Katniss again. Being in a district where everyone hates him (a lot of people were in the Nut) means that he will not be able to form relationships with anyone from there. The fact that he can’t have Katniss, and that he knows he doesn’t deserve her, will probably make him a bitter and hateful person who can’t let go of the past. His bitterness will ensure nobody wants to be with him, and his loniness will be a punishment.

Gale doomed himself to unloved and unmourned, gasping out his last breath cold and alone. I feel the punishment fits the crime.

Timothy January 19, 2014 at 4:13 pm

Gale will never reconcile with Katniss, as they both know that Prim would still be alive if it weren’t for him. Since he knows he can’t have Katniss, and he doesn’t diserve her, he will become a bitter recluse whom nobody else will want to be with. If mourning family members of those who died in the Nut don’t take revenge and lynch Gale outright, then he will still be viewed in the way that Irishmen view Oliver Cromwell. Expect any statues built to Gale’s honor in District 2 to be torn down or decapitated.

His loneliness will be the price he pays for the horrible things he did. He will be die unloved and unmourned, gasping out his last breath as he dies alone.

I think this fate is exactly what Gale Hathworn deserves.

Timothy January 19, 2014 at 4:13 pm

Gale will never reconcile with Katniss, as they both know that Prim would still be alive if it weren’t for him. Since he knows he can’t have Katniss, and he doesn’t diserve her, he will become a bitter recluse whom nobody else will want to be with. If mourning family members of those who died in the Nut don’t take revenge and lynch Gale outright, then he will still be viewed in the way that Irishmen view Oliver Cromwell. Expect any statues built to Gale’s honor in District 2 to be torn down or decapitated.

His loneliness will be the price he pays for the horrible things he did. He will be die unloved and unmourned, gasping out his last breath as he dies alone.

I think this fate is exactly what Gale Hathworn deserves.

Meg January 20, 2014 at 12:15 am

Gale didn’t get his way with the Nut and the people who escaped were given the opportunity to surrender. I don’t think it was general knowledge that Coin was responsible for authorizing the bombing of Capitol children and hence Gale wouldn’t be associated with it. So while Gale is a war criminal by inclination, he was either prevented from being one or remains hidden as one due to circumstances. Beetee was just as guilty regarding the bomb. Motivation is the difference. Beetee is pragmatic. Gale operates on rage and vengeance. At least Beetee somewhat redeems himself by voting against Coin for a repeat Hunger Games. Gale just keeps on working for her.

However, he will always carry the guilt. And feel guilty he does. It’s why he avoids Katniss afterwards. It’s why he inquires no further than Beetee on whose bomb it was. He doesn’t want to know. Coward!

It must have been a major disillusionment for him – that the person he was working for actually represented what he was fighting against. And that he himself had become what he was fighting against.

I don’t think he’ll die unloved and mourned. But he’ll have trouble loving himself and this will affect relationships.

Timothy January 25, 2014 at 12:20 am

I accidentally posted the same comment three times, My bad.

Meg, I agree that Gale is a cowardly sociopath. And you do raise a valid point on his atrocities being secret. The likelihood of his role in the Nut being destroyed coming to light is not entirely large. I will point out that very few survivors escaped, and of those even less survived the mob lynching that resulted when someone shot Katniss. So while the Nut will burn a big hole in District 2s memory, and make it harder for them to adjust to post war Panem, they probably won’t blame him personally.

On the other hand, the fact that it is secret will make Gale’s guilt all the more harder. He will know that he is responsible for maybe millions of deaths (the Nut + snare bombs), and he won’t be able to talk to anyone about it.

He doesn’t have the guts to talk to Beetee, because he is too cowardly to hear Beetee conform that it was his bomb. He can’t talk to anyone else, because that would reveal his secret and result in the public relations problems mentioned above. He will have colossal amounts of guilt over knowingly ended countless lives out of revenge, and will have no choice but to keep it bottled up.

The reason I think he’ll die alone is also because nobody would be willing to stay in a relationship with someone carrying the problems he’s carrying, especially not if he is not willing to admit it. If he does admit to his potential partner that he did it, what says she’ll be able to him killing children. If she does, she certainly won’t overlook the part that Gale still loves/obsessions someone else, who everyone thinks is his cousin no less. As the years pass, his guilt and loneliness will make him bitter, which will make people avoid him more, which will create a feedback loop.

On the other hand, Gale might just put a gun to his head if when the bottled up guilt becomes too much.

These are just my thoughts. Once again, sorry about accidentally posting three comments in a row.

Meg February 4, 2014 at 6:27 pm

Timothy, I don’t go as far as to call Gale a cowardly sociopath. But he is a coward when it comes to facing Katniss and the possibility (probability) that it was his bomb that is the cause of her suffering. Not to mention the deaths of Prim, fellow rebels and Capitol children.

I tend to think of him as a changed character afterwards because now he’s seen the consequences firsthand. In fact, I see him as spending the rest of his life trying to atone for it.

I think the avalanche that disabled the Nut was acceptable in war. What broke boundaries was Gale’s idea to close off all exits and not allow anyone inside the chance to surrender. Especially since there were also rebel sympathizers and people coerced into working for the Capitol inside. He doesn’t get his way, but I think it can be assumed that he gains something of reputation , but it’s limited to a few individuals.

What’s interesting is that he is convinced that Coin will agree with him as if the two of them operate on the same wavelength. I think Coin had been ‘working’ on Gale to turn him into some kind of henchman. He’s fresh from seeing the destruction of District 12, he’s been subject to a brutal whipping and he’s of the social class most likely to have suffered under Snow’s regime. So he’s full of rage and dreams of revenge, partly due to an innate inclination but also to circumstances. And Coin takes advantage. She’s attentive and gives him privileges such as a communicuff and special status. He’s flattered. And his ambitions are aroused.

The bomb was possibly invented, in part, to find favor with Coin. Gale envisions that it will be used on enemy soldiers. Coin’s use of it to kill children and medics is a major betrayal. This isn’t to defend Gale who allows rage, and possibly toadying up to Coin, to invent a bomb that goes way beyond ethical behaviour, even in war. But he also had no intention that it would be used in the way it was.

But it is, and he has to live with it. I think there will be people who love him. In light of his (I think) genuine remorse he will be forgiven by some of those in the know. Probably not by Katniss though. He’ll never forgive himself. So maybe a gun to the head might be how Gale ends. It would be better though if he channels his guilt into ensuring a peaceful future for Panem.

Charlene February 4, 2014 at 6:42 pm

I was watching the anime called Attack on Titan the other day and one of the most prevalent themes there is that in order to effect change, in order to win in war, one must be willing to lose one’s humanity.

I think both Gale and Katniss made their sacrifices. The only difference between them is that we knew how Katniss felt about it. I cannot judge Gale for the things that he said but I honestly believe that he had been instrumental for the Panem that we saw in the ending. It was him after all who put the arrow in Katniss’s hand which she then used to end the vicious cycle of corruption.

Both of them had no right to put justice in their own hands. I don’t see what other choices they could have made though seeing that they both wanted a better future for everyone.

Meg February 4, 2014 at 11:23 pm

I think the importance of Gale’s part in the war wasn’t that great. His major contribution was his idea to cause an avalanche to disable the Nut. However, he didn’t get all his own way in that. Fortunately.

What else does he do? Fire some arrows at hovercrafts in District 8 which could have been done (was done) by others. Take part in a failed mission to kill Snow. Invent a bomb whose use made no difference to the outcome of the war. Hand an arrow to Katniss that could have been done by anyone. It wasn’t by his authorisation that Katniss was given the arrow. It was Coin.

Katniss, on the other hand, saves Panem from another tyrant whose idea is to have another Games.

I don’t think there’s any comparison.

Timothy February 22, 2014 at 12:28 am

While it is possible that Prim’s death might have snapped Gale out of his revenge thirst (I say ‘might’, meaning not assured), that doesn’t change the fact that it’s already too late. While Gale didn’t know that the bomb would be used on children, he did know that it would be used against medics and others who were trying to save lives. The bomb was triggered to explode twice; once to injure someone, and a second more lethal explosion to kill those who try to help the injured one.

the necessity of destroying the Nut with an avalanche is debatable at best; I personally hold that the rebel army could simply have maintained a siege with part of the rebel army, taken out the Capitol with the rest, and then told the peacekeepers that the war was over and they should surrender. The only thing his plan with the Nut did was make it much harder for District 2 to adjust to a post war Panem, as well as thoroughly convince District 2 that the rebellion was not the lesser evil.

Even despite this, atrocities can’t be justified by ‘it’s just war’. The whole point of overthrowing the Capitol was to remove a genocidal power, and if Gale is willing to stoop to their level than he proved he was just as bad as, or even worse, than his enemies. He is just as bad as the person who advised Snow to bomb District 12.

The reason I call the destruction of the Nut a genocide is that only less than a hundred people escaped a fortress that held most of District 2s (remaining) population. Of those few survivors, the majority were brutally lynched. If it were up to Gale, there would be no survivors.

While Gale’s role in this would be secret, it is possible he would have publically bragged about it before Prim’s death or that someone present at the meeting would leak who caused the worst mass murder of the war (there were guards and unnamed officials who were there too). I would not be surprised if future District 2 generations refer to Gale as something along the lines of “the butcher of District 2″.

If he does feel guilt, he won’t be absolved of his atrocities simply by saying “I’m sorry”. If someone tried doing what Gale did in real life, he would spend the rest of his life in International Death Row.

Kirk February 22, 2014 at 6:09 am

I see all the points about Gale’s shortcomings in dealing with the Nut and understand his future could be ruined by his actions there. I was reminded by catching up on the thread how I felt when I read as a teenager accounts from Japanese survivors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. My father was on a U.S. Navy ship off Japan and certainly was glad to see the war end. The decision to bomb cities in WW2 killing tens of thousands of civilians must been difficult decisions to make and live with. But not too much discussion about it comes up any more. So guessing how things go for Gale is beyond me. Violence does seem to beget violence unfortunately.

Meg February 22, 2014 at 5:31 pm

Timothy, the people who escaped the Nut weren’t lynched. In fact, the rebels stood by and watched as rebel sympathisers who had escaped the Nut turned on peacekeepers. That might have been Katniss’s influence with her speech before she was shot.

I guess it’s between a rock and a hard place whether to conserve infrastructure that will be useful post-war or to bring about a quick victory to minimise deaths of one’s own soldiers. Disabling the Nut may well have shortened the duration of the war and saved lives in the long run. It certainly left Snow critically short of hovercrafts to the point where he had none at his disposal to escape. Snow’s bombing of District 13, intended to take life but to leave critical infrastructure in place, had no effect of District 13′s fighting capabilities. Moreover, I think it’s useless to speculate which was the better move from the minimal information given in the book.

There’s no question that Gale proved to be as bad as Snow when it came to ethical behaviour in war time. But I also like to consider as to to why Gale is that way and any change of heart he may have had afterwards. I don’t think Gale is evil like Snow who is motivated by power. Gale is motivated by vengeance for his people. His major flaws is that he lacks compassion for those not his own kind (always seeing them as ‘other’) and that the means justify the end.

I think Gale feels guilt. It’s why he can’t face Katniss. What’s not clear is whether he would have felt guilt if rebel aids (and Prim) weren’t involved. There’s a duality about Gale. He looked after his family and saved the lives of hundreds of District 12 citizens. But he was also merciless to anyone he considered the enemy. A hero and a villain wrapped into one.

Timothy March 19, 2014 at 7:21 pm

Whether or not they were killed by District 2 civilians they helped escape or gunned gown, the peacekeepers still died. It is pretty much a lynching when people who are too exhausted to fight back are murdered by an angry mob for political reasons.

Destroying the Nut and the people inside was not even beneficial long term; containing the nut would have not only saved lives on both ends, but it would have also made sure that the District 2 people did not resent the rebels after the war (resentment that could lead to to noncooperation or outright civil war). Snow’s hovercraft fleet would have not been able to break the siege, and the Capitol would have fallen in much the same way. In fact, destroying the Nut would not have any long term benefits to the rebellion.

It can be argued that what Gale did was worse than the bombing of Nagasaki; at least the bombers of Hiroshima and Nagasaki picked targets that would cause the least damage (they could have bombed the heavily populated city of Kyoto and killed the Emperor, or hit Tokyo and killed millions). Gale purposely chose the option that would maximize the death toll.

Whether Gale was motivated by lust for power or bloodlust does not change the fact that he commit a genocide. Countless civilians are dead because he wanted revenge. He who fights monsters had better be careful not to stoop to their level. If Prim survived, he would not even care a little about the hundreds of other children to die there. He still does not care about the thousands of children probably in the Nut who were buried alive.

He is not a hero; a hero acknowledges that his enemy are at least human beings with families. Gale is just another bloodthirsty war criminal.

Meg March 19, 2014 at 11:58 pm

The peacekeepers were the enemy soldiers. It’s kill or be killed. Unavoidable in war.
How do you know they were too exhausted to fight back anyway? It doesn’t mention anything like that in the book. The people in the Nut would be in worse condition anyway, no supplies were getting in.

How do you know that disabling the Nut was best option and would have saved lives on both ends? Peacekeepers and rebels would have continued to fight around it, causing loss of life. Rebel resources that could be used elsewhere have to instead go on making sure that no hovercrafts leave the Nut. And, as those hovercrafts are gunned down, even more people are killed on both sides.

It seems the District 2 citizens did not resent the destruction of the Nut because the people who had most cause to be resentful (the people inside the Nut) joined the rebels.

Gale didn’t choose the target. Gale didn’t have that authority. It was agreed on by the leaders of the rebellion. Gale came up with the idea on how to take the Nut. It’s his attitude to allowing people inside the Nut to escape and surrender is what is unethical.

No genocide was committed by Gale. Genocide is the extermination of an ethnic, racial, religious, national etc group. Why would children be in the Nut? It’s a military fortress.

Timothy March 28, 2014 at 5:31 pm

While it is necessary to kill, there are still rules. For example, gunning down surrendering enemies or POWs is considered wrong.

If someone had to crawl through a collapsing mine while breathing in all the dust and debris caused by this, they will be exhausted.

The Nut likely had a large stockpile, they would not be starving.

A siege is usually where the attacking side waits for the defenders to give up. That means that, apart from the occasional skirmish, it would have been a standstill. The peacekeepers would know how suicidal sending hovercrafts to try to get past rebel anti-aircraft artillery would be, so they wouldn’t. The rebels had resources produced by the whole nation; they could probably storm the Capitol with only half their army and still take it (though the siege of the Nut would take one and a half thousand soldiers at most).

How do you know that all of them joined the rebels? There is only two train cars full of survivors mentioned, which at most could hold two hundred or so people. This means that all those in the Nut probably died due to an inability to escape. Those who were outside the Nut and had family members inside would definitely be pissed at the rebels.

Apart from that, how do we know all the civilians in the Nut were forced to go there? They could have been loyalists. I’d say a lot of the Peacekeepers are only guilty of falling for the Propaganda they were bombarded with since birth. Maybe others saw the rebels do stuff like snare bombs and were afraid the rebels would burn District 2 to the ground.

The rebels are the good guys (or at least a case of grey vs grey morality), but they need to work on their PR.

Gale came up with a method to maximize the death toll, and (most of) the rebel leaders agreed with him. He even wanted to block the railroad because he was so hungry for senseless revenge that he wanted no survivors.

The civilians in the Nut definitely count as a political/national group. Gale wanted to completely destroy anti-rebellion people. Even if political groups don’t count, than it is still a mass murder.

The book said civilians were brought into the Nut, that presumably includes children.

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