Mockingjay Prediction: The Death of Peeta

Four days to Mockingjay! We’re in double digits on the ‘hours left count,’ folks — and we’re already getting audio leaks and spoilers. Please do not post anything in the comment boxes here if you have read or listened to part of the story today.

Yesterday I wrote about the “sure things” that pretty much have to happen in Mockingjay because they’re Hunger Games story formulas — three parts, 27 chapters, etc. — or story arcs for principal characters. The operating principle  for this mechanical kind of speculation is that the trends and story items we see in the first two books are the best indicators of what will happen in the series finale. Authors rarely leave the rails as they pull into the station; the direction the rails have been pointing through the opening novels was set with the finish in mind.

Having established that as our compass, it’s hard to side-step the conclusion that Peeta is a goner. The story arc for his character as well as his ‘deaths’ in Games and Fire all point to his sacrificial demise in Mockingjay.

First, the deaths we’ve seen already, then the story arc.

Peeta is slashed by Cato in Games when our hero throws himself under this Career train to save Katniss. When she finds him a few chapters later, he has buried himself and only rises from this grave because of her ministrations and, eventually, affection. At story’s end, he again commits sacrificial suicide by loosening his tourniquet so that Katniss will be the last Tribute standing and only her Berry Rebellion gamesmanship (and some quick surgery in the hovercraft) saves him.

Peeta in Fire is even more committed to putting himself between Katniss and danger. He dies when he hits the arena force field perimeter but Finnick revives him with some CPR skills that District 4’s aquaman learned at the beach, I expect. Peeta tells Katniss later in the Quell that, as Katniss puts it, he will “keep me alive at his his own expense” (chapter 25, p. 366). He is screaming her name before she destroys the arena, presumably to draw Enobaria and other attackers to him and away from her, i.e., as a sacrificial distraction to save her. Katniss assumes the blast either killed him or stole his chance for escape (chapter 27, p. 380).

But Peeta isn’t dead, or, at least, if what Haymitch tells Katniss is true and the Capitol didn’t kill him during interrogation, he was “picked up by the Capitol along with Johanna and Enobaria” (chapter 27, p. 387). I’m pretty sure, though, he has only survived for a really grand sacrificial death in Mockingjay. That fits both his characteristic or signature action so far, from giving away bread and taking a beating to save Katniss to his performances in the arena, as well as his symbolic meaning and story arc.

Right to the quick, the Christ figure of the story has to die. And Peeta is the Christ figure of the implicitly Christian Hunger Games books.

If you missed this, ‘Peeta,’ the man of town and ‘Boy with the Bread,’ has a name that means bread (pita) as well as a vocation as a bread baker. As a child, he gives two loaves of bread to Katniss that he purchases sacrificially (he is beaten for it by his mother), bread which saves her from physical starvation and the eating of which immediately inspires her to think of her ‘Family Book’ and the means to provide for her mother and sister. His bread, in effect, saves her. In a world named ‘Bread’ (Panem is the accusative case form of the Latin word for Bread), I think it is transparent that Peeta or ‘Peter’ is an icon of the Christ, the world creator, Who in St. Peter’s church at least, is received as Bread, and Who loves the world and every soul in it sacrificially. As artist, actor, and self-less lover, he is Culture and Faith that are fostering without challenging Katniss’ purity, vision, and individual will. [More on this here.]

[If you think the Peeta-Peter connection is weak, go to Games, chapter 5, p. 70, and note that Ms. Collins has Katniss describe him as “solid as a rock.” “Rock” or “stone” is what “Peter” means in Greek and is the name that Christ gives this apostle (see John 1:42 and ‘the Rock Dialogue‘). That may seem a real stretch to you, but in a book with “tongues of fire” and a heroic tribute Who only “answers yes or no or just remains silent” (chapter 9, pp. 120, 126; cf., Acts 2:3 and Matthew 5:37), we’re clearly dealing with a Christian author who doesn’t drop those markers off-handedly.]

I expect, as I wrote yesterday, that Peeta will be a big part of Mockingjay’s adventure-with-Katniss, perhaps as a Bladerunner-esque heart-stopping romp through the Capitol. All signs point to his not making it out of the finale alive. The most I think Team Peeta fans can hope for is a Harry Potter faux death and resurrection, and, frankly, that would be a great reach.

Tomorrow, some notes on Cinna as alchemical catalyst and the embedded portrait of the author. Stay tuned!

Here’s an updated round-up of HogPro Hunger Games posts to share with friends or on other sites…

Comments

  1. All this discussion of Peeta’s role in the Pearl Plot has got me wondering… Where was Peeta when the wire was cut? We know that by the time Katniss makes it back to the lightning tree, Beetee’s alone and Peeta is quite some distance away. Finnick, of course, ran down from the lightning tree to the beach, where Brutus and Enobaria were chasing Johanna. Chaff is the only wildcard in this whole scenario, but the most logical explanation is that he came to Johanna’s aid and got killed, and the Johanna killed Brutus, while Enobaria chased Finnick back to the lightning tree.

    So what could have motivated Peeta to separate himself from the rest of the group? If Peeta had been at the lightning tree with Beetee and Katniss, he would have been rescued by Plutarch.

  2. Was there discussion of Peeta’s role in the Pearl Plot in this post?

    Anyway, to your question quickly in the hope that this off-topic discussion won’t take over the subject of the thread (which was not a plot point):

    Peeta, we learn later, was the focus of every Victor who was in on the Pearl Plot or Mockingjay Revolt. They had to keep him alive in order to keep Katniss in the game (and alive), hence their remarkable efforts to save him (think “screaming vampire monkey”).

    Two possibilities:

    (1) When the wire is cut, presumably by those not in on the Revolt, everyone leaves the tree except our friend Volts, who panics and tries to stab the golden thread into the force field when he is unable to get it into the chink. I assume that Peeta chases the baddies with Finnick but races back to the tree after Johanna spills that the Girl on Fire was alive on the beach and Peeta doesn’t find her there. He’s screaming Katniss’ name, unable to keep up with Finnick, in the hope of drawing Lady Dracula off of her Katniss hunt.

    (2) Everyone has left the tree except for Volts before the wire is cut to escape being fried by the lightning bolt. Peeta is well away from the tree and beach when his protective custody enforcers run into baddies and the race back to the tree begins. Peeta’s cries here are equally warning and to draw fire.

    That’s all speculation, of course, the silliness or perspicacity of which we’ll learn on Tuesday. The only part of it I’m confident in is that Peeta is under wraps, per Finnick’s and Haymitch’s comments in the hovercraft.

    So, do you think Peeta is going to die in Mockingjay?

  3. Formulaic-ly speaking, yes…I think Peeta dies. I believe the timing will be his choice & his sacrifice to save Katniss, but not until he tells his story or someone steps forward and tells it for him when all the loose ends of the story are pulled together.

    I also think we will see Peeta’s father in Mockingjay…the man took much care in teaching Peeta about the Districts, their breads, and presumeably their people. Why would he bother if none of the district’s inhabitants visited D12 regularly??? I submit Peeta was being groomed early-on for HG74.

  4. I’m sorry…I meant to type, “…if none of the Districts’ inhabitants…” I think I spent way too much time painting in a small room today!!!!

  5. As an adult reading the books, I think it is sound reasoning that Peeta won’t make it out alive. Given that the intended audience is young readers, however, makes me think twice before placing any bets. In the youth genre, the leading character heroes who sacrifice themselves for their loved ones usually come back to life. You mention Harry, but he isn’t alone, Aslan and Gandalf come to mind. I don’t think a third resurrection is out of reach – three is a magic number, after all. It will all come down to Collins’ intentions. If she wants to drive home the devastation of war and acquaint her young readers to the adult dystopian model, Peeta is a goner. If she wants to empower the kids to fight their own Capitol, to help them find their own authentic selves, there is hope for Team Peeta. Usually put off by Disney endings, Collins has got me twisted around into crossing my fingers for Peeta.

  6. Arabella Figg says:

    I’m with Jessica here. We could have another Peeta death with a Finnick/CPR kind of rescue, where he actually dies, but is revived. It depends on how far Collins is willing to go, but I have a feeling that if Peeta survives it won’t come off like a cop-out. I think Collins is too good a storyteller to disappoint in that way. Plus, I think if Peeta dies it will irreprably break Katniss somehow; we’ve been given strong indications of this. That said, we do have a very strong Christ figure; the question is whether he’ll have a resurrection.

  7. StrictlyTopSecret says:

    Speaking of the “audio leaks” mentioned at the beginning of this post – I’m finding myself ridiculously torn. I had the good fortunate of listening to the first chapter of MJ three times. I’m sitting here reading and re-reading my hastily typed transcript.

    And now I’m torn. Collins’ took the time to publish a letter specifically asking that no one “spoil” the book if it was leaked early in some way (this was after Sims twittered a picture of the book itself), so that Katniss’ story could unfold for everyone as it was meant to unfold.

    At the same time, I have a hard time believing that this was just a random “oops” on the part of Audible.com. Seems more likely Scholastic had it done intentionally, and that the “leak” was meant to fuel the hype over the weekend leading to Mockinjay’s official release.

    I wonder if it’s possible to *die* of keeping one’s big mouth shut, because *not* discussing this is about to kill me. LOL!

    ~STS~

  8. Do not post any of your transcript notes here. Thank you for this courtesy.

  9. StrictlyTopSecret says:

    Not to worry. I have no intention of doing so.

    ~STS~

  10. revgeorge says:

    STS, on the Audible Facebook page, they’re posting spoilers, so if you can’t restrain yourself, there might be a good place. 😉

  11. John, I brought it up because I feel that understanding Peeta’s active role in the rebellion may have some effect on his survival in Mockingjay. If we go with the simpler explanation that he’s as clueless as Katniss, then I feel like the narrative direction is leading towards Katniss rescuing Peeta in MJ. We guess that she’ll try, anyways, but if he’s a true innocent in this, she would first need to rescue Peeta and then have Peeta commit his sacrifice near the end. On the other hand, if some of the Pearl Plot theories are true, and Peeta was part of the conspiracy, he may have intentionally separated himself from the group so he would be captured by the Capitol. In this case, he would be contributing to the revolution by using his words to sway the Capitol citizens, and he would be able to fulfill his role as a martyr without Katniss even rescuing him.

  12. I appreciate your graceful response to my rather snarky dismissal of your concerns. My apologies for that and thank you for the good example.

    I’m a big fan of the Pearl Plot, 2.0, but it needs some tweeking. Haymitch says flat out at the end of Fire that Peeta was in the dark as far as any plotting and planning went because the script writers assumed he would be captured (along with Katniss) and they couldn’t know anything that would endanger the cause if the Capitol learned of it.

    Peeta, though, always comes up with good lines in the Flickerman interviews, meaning he was very well coached and didn’t catch on to the larger plan or he understood both the high stakes and that he had a restricted role. My bet is the latter.

    I don’t think he knew about the lightning tree plan, in other words, and I don’t accept or even understand the logic of his wanting to be captured. His whole focus is Katniss, the pure seeking soul, both as young boy in novel and as Christ figure. Those screams as he races back to the tree aren’t feigned.

    Now genre explanations for Peeta’s invincibility or necessary resurrection — those make sense. You can kill a Fred Weasley, mangle Arthur and Bill, but you’d better not kill Ginny or, heaven forbid, Ron. The principals would be too upset, and the young readers consequently, so the franchise could be damaged. That I get.

  13. I have been undecided about Peeta’s fate and the reasons have all been written here. I might have a lack in literary education for anything as involved as literary alchemy, but I did at least see the Christ character parallel. I was never certain, because of that, of what Peeta’s fate would be. I am sure glad to understand what it is about books like this that grab me so thanks for all the education about the alchemy in these books.

    Jessica has done a great job putting words to my thoughts about Peeta and his fate. I, too, have grown attached to deer Peeta and find myself rooting for the resurected version thought I am not sure which direction Suzanne Collins intends to take us.

  14. As for the franchise, John, you have hit on something that made me snort: we could all be right, Collins kills off Peeta in the book, and the movie producers will simply change the ending. Wouldn’t that be ironic – the editors changing what the public is allowed to see of the Hunger Games.

  15. Arabella Figg says:

    Why, Jessica, how can you possibly be a cynic about popular YA film adaptations? 😉

  16. Davetheshortwinded says:

    Life imitating art. Thanks Jessica and Arabella. And John and all those adding comments. It makes the wait for MJ more bearable.

  17. You all present good arguments for Peeta having to die in MJ, but having said that, I’m not sure I buy into it. When I read the books, and I’m re-reading them currently to get ready for MJ, I can’t help but notice how it’s pointed out over and over that Peeta is very good with words, is very good with influencing a crowd, and shows potential as a leader. Somehow I don’t think all that build-up will go to waste. Or maybe I’m just hoping.

    Perhaps I’m not reading all the signals like y’all are, but I keep thinking that like Harry, Ron, and Hermoine, the three principals won’t be killed off. I think it would be just too much for our YA audience to bear if Peeta were to die, no matter how nobly, after all the time, love, effort, etc., that has been invested in him. We shall see in a few days!! 🙂

    ~~ a 40-year-old reader

  18. “Now genre explanations for Peeta’s invincibility or necessary resurrection — those make sense. You can kill a Fred Weasley, mangle Arthur and Bill, but you’d better not kill Ginny or, heaven forbid, Ron. The principals would be too upset, and the young readers consequently, so the franchise could be damaged. That I get.”

    I really appreciate and like this, John. I have a push back for you to consider. In the writing community, one of the prestigious nominal Christian writers who was first to promote Rowling in the literary community has always, and still always says “kill your darlings.” Do you think this works even for Rons, Hg’s, and Ginnys?

    His name was Stephen King. The book is the textbook for creative writing – “On Writing.”

  19. Except even Stephen King publicly begged JKR not to kill off Harry.

  20. I haven’t read Stephen King’s books, so it’s best I not comment on this stray line (as I have about his dismissal of Stephenie Meyer as a writer).

    I will suggest, though, that his advice probably isn’t aimed at writers in YA fiction. Killing Tom Sawyer, Anne of Green Gables, or Lucy, Edmund, Peter, and Susan wouldn’t advance their stories.

  21. @ Jessica – really?! I hadn’t heard that. I’d love to see that interview, especially since HP is in his “recommended reading list” at the end of “On Writing” – a book every writer should read right next to Strunk and White. He LOVES Harry.

    @ John – What about the Animorphs series? Those are even younger than YA into the “Juvenille” category, and you have people either stuck in animal form or dying. Of course, yet again, it’s not your Elsie Densmores, Cliffords, and Hardy Brothers, but side characters.

    So the main argument then is that to follow plot-advancement of stories with an internal logos, we cannot kill off main secondary characters? (just to clarify)

    Also, does anyone have any idea about the d12 symbolism? I asked in another post, but haven’t heard anything. 12 Disciples? Dirty Dozen? D12 the post modern rap group aimed at teenage wasteland?

  22. Lancelot and everyone, “kill your darlings”–as I understand it–is advice to writers, basically translating to “don’t sacrifice the good of your novel as a whole to your favorite swatches of prose.” It’s not referring to the lives of everyone’s favorite characters. I’ve never read Mr. King’s book on how to write (yeah, I know, travesty–it’s on my list) but this is how I’ve seen that famed line used in the writing community.

    Also, the number 12 carries certain Biblical connotations–the twelve-star crown Mary wears in Revelation, the twelve Apostles, etc. I think the suggestion is towards ruling, perhaps even new-order government, but could be wrong; Arithmancy was never my strong subject. 🙂

    I’m holding onto the genre hope that Jessica and Arabella pointed out, but I’m glad you wrote this piece, John. If Peeta dies, I need to be emotionally prepared for it. Collins is edgy enough to make me nervous about whether the genre conventions will hold, and I’m worried by the fact that (at least at the end of HG–I still haven’t read CF) Katniss seems to love Gale more. Which makes me think that one of those boys is going down.

  23. My presumption was that the 12 districts are supposed to correspond to the 12 tribes of Israel. That was pretty much based on those tribes also being tied to geographical areas. However, I’m not sure how the appearance of District 13 ties in. The thought could be that District 13 now takes the place of District 12 so that at all points in the story arc, there are 12 districts.

  24. Sorry to run slightly off topic, but here you go Lancelot:

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2006/aug/02/harrypotter.shopping

  25. Arabella Figg says:

    For Stephen King’s “kill your darlings” editing advice, see #3 (and true it is):

    http://www.positivityblog.com/index.php/2007/10/08/stephen-kings-top-7-tips-for-becoming-a-better-writer/.

  26. about the killing of darlings…

    has anyone thought of the HG as a mirror of The Mill on the Floss, by George Eliot? I thought of that because of how Twilight keeps referring to Wuthering Heights.

    I know, I know, it’s quite a far cry, but the resemblances are still there: Philip and Stephen are both in love with Maggie (although admittedly, the Hunger Games trio are all in better shape). Mr. Tulliver (or, Mr. Everdeen) dies an untimely death, which results in his daughter having to be strong. And lastly, we see Maggie die a tragic death in order to save her brother, Tom. That is to say, in this theory, Katniss must die–from her initial act of taking Prim’s place at the reaping.

    From other sites discussing the Hunger Games, I’ve gathered that people are expecting Gale/Peeta to die so that Katniss won’t have another Bella’s-time-in-Eclipse trying tiresomely(for readers!) to decide. I really liked what John points out here in HogPro about Christian relations, and thought maybe there might be other books or ideas leading (consciously of not) Suzanne Collins on where to direct her characters.

    ideas?

  27. It is interesting that you mention this (although I haven’t read the Eliot story) but, contrary to my genre arguments defending Peeta, I have been wondering if Katniss will make it out alive. Her martyred death bringing about the end of the Capitol regime – especially in the act of saving Peeta – would somehow be more poignant than Peeta dying for her. The Christ figure taught her love, and she is willing to die for it. Plus with all the “free from the chains that bind her” imagery – maybe Katniss is not a child of earth (think coal) after all, but belongs in the heavens a la the Mockingjay.

  28. At first, I thought that Peeta was being groomed as the leader of a post rebellion nation but Haymitch would have been remiss in not trying to keep him alive in HG. Regardless, Peeta, like Snape, is a central character whose actions will make or break the outcome for Katniss and the Revolution.

    I find this book a curiosity with my teen and her friends. Suzanne Collins has said that this book is first and foremost a war story. That is not how my 13 year old and her friends percieve it. They look at it as an action adventure romance. I, as an adult, was deeply disturbed by the concept of the Hunger Games and the actions of the Capital. It is too close to the reality and horrors that exist and have existed in our world.

    Although I agree that all signs point to Peeta’s demise, it will hit my YA crowd really hard if he does. They percieve Gale as the trusted big brother figure from Katniss’ pre-tribute life and Peeta as her love interest. The war is secondary to the developing romance for them.

    I fear for Peeta. But, I have hope that like the Muggle.net pre-HPatDH assessment, the ultimate message will not be “life sucks and then you die”.

    *Strictly Top Secret* Audible has pulled their chapter one release “oops” off of FB. I would love to read your transcript. My e-mail is noblebirth@cox.net. I really enjoyed having just the first chapter of HPatDH eight hours early when Ms. Rowling read it at the midnight release in GB. It gave me time to thoroughly think it through before the reading frenzy began. Spoiled beginning good/ spoiled ending bad…

  29. @ A.Figg & Jenna I have rechecked the original text, cross-referencing the article, and you’re right. He’s talking about editing – however that includes characters, but more in the sense of deleting them in general. I’m getting to a point here that I think is relevant:

    Tolkien believed in the eucatastrophe which opposed deus ex machina. You cannot, in Tolkien’s mind, achieve the end result “happily ever after” – the good (eu) – without suffering – the “over throwing” or “disaster” (catastrophe). In real life, are things ever so bad that your best friend has to die before things get better? All of the apostles did, save John, which would look like “kill your darlings.” I’m wondering if you can’t have both – if in the double-dose of fallen world the Hunger Games takes place in wouldn’t merit the suffering of more than just the main character. It would seem to take a true catastrophe to bring out the good. Then again, maybe not…

    @ Jessica THANK YOU for showing me that!

    —–

    My presumption was that the 12 districts are supposed to correspond to the 12 tribes of Israel. That was pretty much based on those tribes also being tied to geographical areas. However, I’m not sure how the appearance of District 13 ties in. The thought could be that District 13 now takes the place of District 12 so that at all points in the story arc, there are 12 districts. – Sbark

    Or it could be a 12 disciples, one fallen, the 13th replaces the original – or even twelve plus Jesus = 13. The film snob in me still likes the dirty dozen:

    http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0061578/

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