Mar 15, 2012

The Hunger Games: District 12

District 12 was one of the poorest, most ridiculed districts in the nation of Panem. Located in the Appalachian Mountains, District 12 specialized in coal mining.  District 12 had not won the Games for many years prior to The Hunger Games, when Haymitch Abernathy, an alcoholic and an embarrassment to the district, won the 50th Annual Games, or the second Quarter Quell.

District 12 consisted of three different areas: the merchant section, the Victors' Village, and The Seam. 

Although he grew up in the merchant area of District 12, Peeta's childhood was less than desirable, as his family life was difficult. His father was kind, but his mother was known to beat Peeta and his two brothers if they made a mistake.

Ever since he was five years old, Peeta had a crush on Katniss Everdeen. On the first day of school, Peeta's father pointed out Katniss, saying that he wanted to marry her mother, but ultimately she married a coal miner. Peeta was confused why someone would marry a coal miner instead of his father, but Mr. Mellark explained that when Mr. Everdeen sang, the birds stopped to listen. Later, Katniss sang for their music class, and Peeta realized he was in love with her when he saw that the birds were listening. The two never spoke until the 74th Hunger Games.

Peeta has a very likable personality. Peeta is bold, having announced that he was in love with Katniss to the whole nation; smart, figuring out strategies to use in the Games; and willing to go to extremes to keep Katniss alive. However, in the first book, Peeta told Katniss that he did not expect he would win. He is a great public speaker and is very brave. Peeta is also loving and cares about the people around him, and hates killing unless the pursuer is a threat to himself or Katniss; selfless, for sacrificing his own life for Katniss'; funny, for making those around him laugh even when times were tough; and he always knows exactly what to say to make you feel better and to cheer you up. He is able to work with Haymitch on goals and strategy and unlike Katniss, he is able to keep secrets and is trusted by Haymitch. It is noted throughout the series his deep understanding of situations such as the Hunger Games where he says "I don't want to be just a piece in their Games." It took Katniss much longer for her to understand the same concept.

Peeta's main talents are baking, painting, speaking, camouflage and brute strength. His artistic talents developed from helping out at his parents' bakery by making bread and decorating cakes. His larger build and strength also gives him an advantage during hand-to-hand combat and wrestling, coming in second place in a District 12 wrestling contest. In the Games, he usually carries a knife or a sword, although he rarely uses them in battle as he is not particularly violent and dislikes killing unless it is completely necessary. The Career tributes say that "he is handy with a knife". Peeta has a lot of strength from working at the bakery; Katniss says she's seen him lift bags of flour over a hundred pounds.

"Only I keep wishing I could think of a way to... to show the Capitol they don't own me. That I'm more than just a piece in their games."
―Peeta Mellark

Katniss Everdeen was born on May 8th in District 12. She has straight, black hair, usually in a braid down her back, olive skin, and gray eyes. Katniss was close to her father and spent time hunting with him in the woods. There, he taught her about hunting, nature, and how to use a bow and arrow. Katniss's father also taught her how to swim in an small pond in the woods.

When she was 11 years old, her father died in an explosion underground in the mines where he worked, leaving her to take care of her mother and sister. Katniss related in the book that she still has nightmares about the explosion and the day her father died, five years later. She still woke up screaming for him to run and wondering if he would ever come back to her. She resents her mother for succumbing to the depression caused by her husband's death, which left her unable to care for Katniss and her sister, Primrose Everdeen. Even years after her father's death, Katniss didn't forgive her for sinking into depression and leaving her and Prim alone to fend for themselves so young. The district gave a small amount of money to Katniss's family, allowing for a month grieving period before her mother was expected to get a job. When her mother did not get a job, Katniss was thrust into the role of provider and nurturer. She took on this role to avoid allowing her mother to be deemed an unfit mother, which would send herself and Prim to the community home.

A few weeks before May 8th, when Katniss would be able to sign up for tesserae, her family was already starving and she had succumbed to picking from trash cans. One night, when it was raining, she was yelled at by the Baker's wife for looking in their trashcan, even though it was empty. Seeing this, the Baker's son, Peeta Mellark, burned two loaves of bread, earning a beating from his mother. When he went outside with the pretense of feeding the burnt loaves to the pigs, he tossed them to Katniss instead and hurried back inside. The following day at school, Katniss caught Peeta watching her and quickly dropped her gaze, which landed on the first dandelion of the year. The sight of the dandelion made her think of the hours spent in the woods with her father, and she started utilizing the skills her father had taught her to find food and trade. She increased her hunting and foraging skills, selling the illegal food at The Hob, the local Black Market where she made most of her living. Katniss could never shake the connection between Peeta Mellark, the bread that gave her hope, and the dandelion that reminded her that she was not doomed.

During her period of hunting alone, when she was twelve, Katniss met Gale Hawthorne after stumbling across his snares, which had caught a rabbit. At first, he thought that she was going to steal the snares, but after initial coldness, the two became hunting partners and shared their knowledge with one another; Gale teaching Katniss to tie snares, and Katniss sharing her father's herbological knowledge, as well as archery. Katniss eventually gives Gales a bow. Together, the two would trade at the Hob, although their illegal transactions were overlooked by the Peacekeepers who along with Katniss' family, lived off of her haul. The trust between Gale and Katniss grew to a point where they became extremely close friends and knew each other in and out. They became well known in the Hob and in town for selling freshly hunted meat and wild fruits to everyone from the Peacekeepers to the Mayor to the stores in the Hob.

In addition to hunting and foraging, Katniss signed up for tesserae for each of her family members on her birthday each year, providing them with grain and oil. Katniss's underlying motive for doing this was to ensure that Prim would only have her name in the Reaping ball once when the tribute selection for the 74th Hunger Games was to be held.

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