Guest Post: Peeta Mellark as a Neville-Echo

More Hunger Games thoughts from Mary Baldwin College Professor Louise Freeman:

The Peeta-Neville connection

My first impression of Peeta is that he reminded me of Neville Longbottom and my second reading, if anything, reinforced that image. While the “stocky” 16-year old Peeta may be capable of slinging 100 lb bags of flour, I imagine the 11-year-old of Katniss’s memories as a pudgy and not noticeably talented child, similar to Neville in the early years of Harry Potter.  He is bullied by his mother much as Neville was browbeaten by his Gran; though, somehow I don’t see a proud Mama Mellark showing up to assist at the final battle of Mockingjay, as Augusta did in Deathly Hallows.  Like Neville, Peeta showed a spark of heroic potential as a child; he summoned enough courage to defy his mother and toss a couple of bread loaves to a starving classmate (and got beaten for his efforts) just as Neville’s courage in standing up to the Trio got him petrificused by Hermione. But let’s face it, at this stage, a baker’s child with a talent for cake decorating seems to have as much champion potential as a chronic toad-loser with a talent for herbology. But both 11-year-olds tipped a delicate balance in favor of the good guys at a crucial moment; Peeta’s burnt bread gave Katniss the strength to provide for her family, while Neville’s 10 points secured the House cup for Gryffindor. Both are vessels of heroic potential in unlikely packages.

But Peeta, unlike Neville, is a principal hero in the series, while Neville is only a supporting character, albeit one of my personal favorites.  Many more people are rooting for an eventual Katniss/Peeta marriage than ever argued for Neville/Herminone or Neville/Ginny. The main difference is that the readers meet Peeta at a later stage of his heroic development, as if we had been introduced to Neville after his training in Dumbledore’s Army of The Order of the Phoenix. We had seven lengthy books to see Neville develop from bumbling child to back-up Chosen One, more than capable of holding down the Hogwarts fort while Harry hunts horcruxes, and fulfilling his part of the prophecy by killing Nagini, and with her, Voldemort’s immortality.

Peeta, on the other hand, was a loyal and capable, if unknowing, soldier in the revolution against the Capitol from the first pages of The Hunger Games. In Harry Potter, we see the role Harry’s example and the motive to avenge his parents’ torture play in Neville’s transformation; in The Hunger Games we can only speculate on what made Peeta who he is by age 16.  Was it really a crush he developed on a schoolmate as a small child, like Snape’s on Lily? Was it sympathy for the peers he saw die in the Games and the Seam children he saw suffering amid the poverty of District 12? Was it the guilt he felt from his own relatively privileged status, even with a stale bread diet and an abusive mother? Did his father either sympathize with or actively aid the revolutionaries, perhaps in solidarity with his first love, the eventual Mrs. Everdeen, and pass those ideas onto his youngest son?

If he survives his trip to the Capitol, maybe we’ll ask him.


  1. I enjoyed reading this article, as I love both HP and HG. Please write more! 🙂


    Honestly, these two are vying for position of “favorite character of all time.” SO glad you wrote this!

Speak Your Mind