Show Them What It Costs To Be Friends With Katniss Everdeen

[Note: This entry contains spoilers and plot details from Mockingjay, Part I.]

When I first read this book, I did not sleep that night, because the book so vividly portrayed the PTSD that Katniss suffers as a result of her harrowing experiences two years in a row in the Hunger Games [1]. The movie does not pull any punches with a vivid portrayal of that PTSD in ways that I could identify with. It is pretty clear where this movie is going as soon as it begins with Katniss huddling in a utility closet in over-regimented District 13 unable to sleep and having a horrible flashback. There are a lot more to follow as she sees a hospital of wounded men, women, and children blown to smithereens, looks at the ruins of her own hometown, and sees the flowers that are the trademark of President Snow sent on a bombing run to her new home where she and the survivors of her neighbors are refugees. Over and over again throughout the film we see her in torment, as she struggles to endure and overcome what she has seen without self-medicating, we see her thrash about in her sleep longing for gentle cuddles, we see her grim determination to remain compassionate and hold on to her ideals even as she is being emotionally gutted by the horrors of her life.

This movie, like the book, does not in any way minimize the damage that results from Katniss’ heroism. Moreover, the heroism that Katniss achieves is largely something that is within the grasp of many people. While few of us have the chance to threaten ruin to the political regime of a nation and draw that kind of scrutiny (only some of us are so fortunate), far more of us are able to show the heroism of wrestling with nightmares and panic attacks and showing the bravery that it takes to live day by day despite our damages. This may not be a glorious type of bravery, but it certainly is a necessary sort of bravery for many people. We cannot always choose our circumstances, but showing grit and determination to do the right thing as best as possible is certainly within the grasp of all of us, even if it is not always as pleasant as we might wish.

One of the most chilling aspects of this movie is just how isolated Katniss is. She spends her time with a political leader she does not trust, and is used as a symbol to help the rebellion against the capital that she unwittingly started. Her attempts to visit others in District 8, and to encourage the wounded and go beyond a mere photo op lead to that hospital being bombed by the Capitol, with the chilling statement from President Snow that this will show others what it means to be friends with Katniss Everdeen. What this means is that we see Katniss alone, struggling to relate to those around her, even her longtime friend Gale, who after prompting her to kiss him says that she only shows him affection because he is in pain and that it will soon pass. And it is not only Katniss who suffers, but so many here are shown in torment, especially Peeta. What are we to learn from this? In seeing the movie, I was struck by the way in which there were two parallel points. The first is an appeal to young people to be courageous and stand up for decency and kindness, even when it makes life more difficult and painful, but the second point is a reminder that there is a price to be paid for being even an unintentional and unconscious revolutionary. We need both the encouragement and the warning, because no matter how decent and honorable we are, our lives are fraught with danger, and there may be a heavy cost to others simply for being friends with us, no matter how friendly we are to them. I wish it were not so, but it is so.

[1] See, for example:

About nathanalbright

I'm a person with diverse interests who loves to read. If you want to know something about me, just ask.
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12 Responses to Show Them What It Costs To Be Friends With Katniss Everdeen

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  2. Sonny Boy says:

    This review is very well written. Thank you.

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