Bread Is A Poor Weapon Of Choice: Relationships In ''Divergent'' And The ''Hunger Games''
An Unfair Condemnation
Roth’s Divergent has, in recent months, climbed the heights of popularity within the public consciousness. It is advertised rather poorly, however, and appears, to those who haven't read it, as just a regurgitation of the "Hunger Games." But actually, upon closer examination, the only thing that the two works have in common is the genre—that is, the increasingly popular “ the government-sucks-and-is-out-to-screw-you” genre. Both books explore a similar idea and manage to do so in subjectively creative ways, and what is actually one of the more interesting concepts about each of these stories is the couple ratio. We all know about Katniss and Peeta; they won the hearts of America months ago.Tris and Four are destined to do similarly, especially with the cinematic adaption of "Divergent" set to come out in March this year, when this hard-ass duo will become crystallized on the big screen and be able to engage the interest of a bigger audience. I dare to say that these two actually possess something Katniss and Peeta have always lacked: namely, equality.
No (wo)man is an island. But sometimes they really should be.
So. Peeta and Katniss. When analyzed individually, both bring a fair amount of zest and interest to the table. They are fairly one-dimensional, but they get the story going and hold your interest long enough to finish the series. Who can help but fall for Peeta's warmhearted nature and easy-going manners? And who, indeed, can resist the disturbingly attractive lure of Katniss' finely tuned killing abilities? But when you put them together, when these two begin to function as a romantic item, they actually make each other look bad.
Let's look at Peeta. His gentle demeanor and even-tempered ways smooth out Katniss’ ruthless nature and total lack of social skills, (hypothetically) balancing her out and serving as a tranquilizing presence to her worst qualities. But he is actually so different from her that his attraction becomes increasingly incomprehensible. Her personality sharpens when placed next to his overt tenderness; it swallows him up and reduces him to a useless, disposable asset. He essentially gains nothing from their relationship. She uses him, periodically stands him up, and seems to choose him in the end simply because Gale disappears. Granted, Katniss admits that she “needs” Peeta, but Peeta definitely doesn’t need Katniss. In fact, if he’d stayed the hell away from her he probably would’ve kept a limb or two.
As a side note, does anybody else find it hilarious (and maybe just a little big tragic) that the poor guy couldn’t fight his way out of a paper bag with instructions written on the top? Every time he’s thrown into the arena he gets something zapped, hacked, or sliced off. I understand that he’s a baker and has spent most of his life beating dough while Katniss has been out killing animals and trespassing over government property; ergo, he has no experience with combat or any violence whatsoever. But come on, Collins, throw the guy a bone. He could at least kill a monkey or something. While physical strength is certainly not the only kind of power that exists, it is a characteristic that is so domineering within the Hunger Games that those who lack it just come across as weaklings. Peeta has the brains to make the plans, but he is so overshadowed by Katniss’ survival knowledge that he just looks lame in the end.
In the Hunger Games, what do you think would be Peeta's weapon of choice?
Four and Six: No bakers allowed
Tris and Four are different, though their relationship starts out in a manner very similar to Peeta and Katniss’. But before I go on I should probably make a disclaimer: I’ve only read the first book in the Divergent series, so for all I know, their relationship could sour as the books progress. However, it’s worthwhile to note that in one book, Tris and Four’s relationship advances more than Peeta’s and Katniss’ does in three.
When Tris meets Four, she is totally inferior in physicality and cleverness. She was born and raised in a society that viewed cleverness as selfish, spontaneity as insensible, and physical strength as brutish. Tris, possessing all of these qualities, flourishes under the conditions of the Dauntless because she is allowed to unleash and develop them. Most importantly, she begins to perceive numerous ways in which she can use her small stature and weak appearance to her advantage. Rather than mourning the fact that she doesn't frighten opponents or intimidate them with sheer physicality, she uses that to become manipulative. Katniss, focused entirely on surviving in the hellish world of a tyrannical government, doesn’t care how other people think, and must constantly rely on Peeta in order to figure out how to play them and therefore survive. Tris learns how to play others from Four, but she makes this skill her own,and is quite capable of surviving on her own. She doesn't seem to "need" Four, although he does help her grow stronger as a person. Four is, on one hand, a typically brooding, two-dimensional, Byronic sort of hero. If he was thrown into the Capitol’s arena, he’d definitely bring more to the game than a nice face and a history of bread-making. Yet he possesses a deep vulnerability beneath his hardness and by the end of "Divergent" he starts to think outside himself a little because he has somebody else to think about, someone to bring out his better qualities. Unlike Peeta, who gains nothing from Katniss, Four is softened by Tris' influence. Knowing her doesn't get him shocked or hacked up, in any case. These two meet one another on even ground. They have equal amounts of physical and mental strength, and they accordingly share that with one another. They do not eclipse the good qualities of one another, nor exacerbate the worst. Alone, Tris and Four stand tall. Together they are merely taller, and in this sense they create more of a character balance than Peeta and Katniss ever did.