10 years after The Hunger Games was released, it’s time to come clean.
I am a Katniss/Haymitch shipper.
There. I finally said it.
Before I get into explaining why, I will offer up a couple of disclaimers. First of all, I will acknowledge that The Hunger Games has never been a series that’s defined by its ships, for me. It’s very much Katniss’ revolution story. The story of her harnassing, becoming, and subsequently rejecting the “Mockingjay.” It’s so much more than a fight between “Team Peeta” and “Team Gale” (or, if you’re like me, “Team Haymitch”).
However, everything began with Katniss volunteering to sacrifice herself for her sister. To say that love isn’t a central theme of The Hunger Games just wouldn’t be correct. Love is behind every beat of the story. No, romantic love certainly doesn’t account for all of that, but it’s still important.
My second disclaimer is regarding the nature of the canonical relationship between Katniss and Haymitch. I’m not saying I would’ve wished for a romantic relationship between the two of them when she was a child and he was her mentor. The last thing Katniss needed is yet another person taking advantage of her in that series.
I ship Katniss and Haymitch as adults, as equals, as people who understand each other’s struggles, and as people who’ve overcome a hell of a lot together.
Could the same be said for both Gale and Peeta? Sure, to an extent. They’ve all come through the same war and played very different, but very pivotal roles in it. None of them will ever be the same. But does that make them a great match for Katniss? In my opinion, no.
One of the reasons why I ship Katniss with Haymitch is because I’m just not crazy about the other options. At the beginning of The Hunger Games, Katniss and Gale had something special. For so long they both helped each other survive and were each other’s escape from the horrors of District 12. Their profound connection came from their complete understanding of each other. Had Katniss not entered the Games, they probably would’ve had a pretty decent life together.
However, with everything Katniss went through, that connection was ever-so-slightly fractured. Eventually, that crack grew into a chasm, and the once inseparable duo could never return to what they had.
I’ve also never fully bought into Katniss’ relationship with Peeta. He’d been smitten with her since before they’d even met. At a certain point he began to call that love. Katniss was experiencing developing feelings for someone in the most confusing time possible, and because of their circumstances their relationship somehow got very escalated without giving their feelings time to grow at all.
In the end, it kind of feels like Katniss and Peeta got together by default. She needed someone and he was there. I don’t question the fact that Peeta is good for Katniss and is a light that she desperately needs in her life, but I do question whether she can ever reciprocate that love fully. It seems like a very one-sided, empty partnership. Even when they’ve successfully acted as a team it’s usually been one of them pulling the other through something.
That said, I don’t only want Katniss to end up with Haymitch because I’m not crazy about her canonical suitors. If anyone could rock singlehood, it’s Katniss Everdeen. There’s also more to it.
Haymitch and Katniss have a beautiful give and take. At times their relationship is tumultuous, but that just makes it feel all the more powerful when they are able to trust each other. They equally support each other and require support. They’ve helped each other through insurmountable circumstances.
Right from the first Hunger Games, Katniss and Haymitch have understood each other. Katniss always knew what Haymitch was trying to tell her, usually without him having to use any words at all. She’s trusted him in ways that she’s never trusted anyone else, and vice versa. Where Peeta and Gale could never understand Katniss’ complete experience, Haymitch has been through it all. From poverty to victory, they just get each other.
At the end of The Hunger Games series, they are both extremely broken people. Katniss has witnessed her sister’s death, and Haymitch has come through more than the readers even know. While Katniss has Peeta to nurture her, Haymitch is essentially left to drown in his alcohol, much like when we first met him.
He sobered up to help the Mockingjay through the games. He has it in him to be a healthier person, he just needs help and purpose.
He needs Katniss, and I think Katniss needs him too. If they were together, they could both nurture and empower each other to be better. They know each other’s strengths and weaknesses. They could have a great relationship.
That’s why, 10 years later, I’m still picturing Katniss waking up one day and realizing that it’s been Haymitch all along. Even after all they’ve been through, I believe they could make each other happy.
I’m clearly not alone in this thinking, by the way. Check out the Google autocompletes:
I guess I’ll just have to wait for the inevitable Hunger Games reboot! (Sorry, but we all know it’s going to happen…sigh).