The Heart of a Girl on Fire

"Painting Katniss - Mockingjay Part 2" | Art by speedportraits. Used with permission.
Katniss Everdeen, the Girl on Fire, is a symbol in her dystopian world of Panem. In the story, she touches the hearts of the districts, yet I’ve often heard people who’ve seen the movies describe her as calloused, mean, and even heartless. How can someone with those descriptors be a positive emblem of hope for a fictional nation and millions of viewers across our globe? I believe that despite Katniss’s harsh exterior cultivated by her background, she has a compassionate heart that surpasses even Peeta Mellark’s.

Self-Sacrifice in The Hunger Games

Katniss volunteers to take the place of her younger sister, Prim, in the Hunger Games. This is the catalyst of the entire story, but she furthers this sacrificial nature in her protection of Rue during the Games. Katniss doesn’t even know Rue well, but the District 11 girl’s innocence and similarities to Prim spur Katniss to fight for her.

This movie brings out Katniss’s sacrificial nature the most. The scene where she decorates Rue with wildflowers after her death is her way of showing her love for a girl she barely knew and rebelling against the Capitol.

Compassion in Catching Fire

When the Peacekeepers raid District 12, Katniss notices the elderly Greasy Sae is injured. Katniss takes the old woman aside and gently uses a cold cloth to help her eye. During tribute training in the Capitol, Haymitch and Peeta urge Katniss to ally herself with the bigger, stronger victors. Who does Katniss choose? The rejects and the elderly. She connects with these “lesser” individuals—namely, Mags, Beetee, and Wiress. She sees past their seemingly weak exteriors and recognizes their skills. More importantly, she values them as human beings. Amidst the 75th Hunger Games, Wiress is in shock after enduring a trap that coated her in blood. While Wiress’s babbling frustrates other members of her party, Katniss helps wash her clean in the ocean water.

I need an attitude that will help me be brave enough to say, “I volunteer!”

In this, we see Katniss’s attention to the elderly and the mentally handicapped. Others turn their noses up at these “useless” tributes, but Katniss shows them attention and compassionate, loving care.

Courage in The Mockingjay, Part 1

President Coin allows Katniss to return to obliterated District 12. While there, Katniss witnesses the devastation wreaked by the fire bombs. The aftermath of such suffering brings her to her knees. Later on in District 8, she goes to a field hospital. Before she reaches the entrance into the main room, she stops and says to Cressida, “Please don’t make me go in there. I can’t help them.” Biting back her fear, she marches in and looks upon the masses inspired by her bravery. Tears well in her eyes as the boy asks her, “Are you fighting, Katniss? Are you here to fight with us?” and she replies, “I am. I will.”

Katniss shows enormous empathy for others. She cares not just for people she knows but masses of people she’s never met. As the hospital burns in the background, Katniss proclaims to the world her determination to end the people’s agony.

Forgiveness in The Mockingjay, Part 2

As Gale and other rebels plan how to attack District 2, he suggests a strategy to trap the enemy inside the Peacekeeper’s stronghold so that they starve. Katniss insists on making sure the civilians can escape, even though they took part in the many horrors of her past. In the final battle at the steps of President Snow’s mansion, President Coin bombs Capitol citizens to ensure victory. This action shocks Katniss and prompts her to end Coin’s tyranny before it starts.

Our heroine strives for justice for her enemies, the people who have been instrumental in causing her so much pain. I don’t know if she forgives President Snow, but it is clear that she recognizes he is not the problem, and that their system of life is. It would have been easy for her to reject everyone from the Capitol, including Effie and her styling team who are so focused on themselves and their appearances, but she even shows them compassion and forgiveness.

Katniss shows compassion to children, to the ill, to the elderly, and even to her enemies. Although allies have berated her for her seemingly misplaced attention, she still possesses a heart for helping those in need. I have cried at her displays of profound, meaningful, and admirable virtue.

Katniss’s actions strike me and inspire me to be more like her. I need a constant steady flame of empathy and compassion within me that will drive me to nurture, sacrifice, and stand up for the needy. I want my heart to break for people in need so that I don’t turn my face away and ignore them.  I need an attitude that will help me be brave enough to say, “I volunteer!” within my busy life. I need the heart of the Girl on Fire.25

Victoria Grace Howell

Victoria Grace Howell

Guest Writer at Area of Effect
Victoria Grace Howell is an award-winning writer of speculative fiction and an editor for Geeks Under Grace. When not typing away at her novels, she enjoys drawing her characters, blogging, Kung Fu, cosplaying, and a really good hot cup of tea.
Victoria Grace Howell

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