Katniss Everdeen and What It Means to be a Woman Warrior for Christ
By Diana Tyler, Contributing Writer
“Panic begins to set in. I can’t stay here. Flight is essential…But I can’t let my fear show.”
The quote above comes from one of the most dynamic fictional heroines in recent years, Katniss Everdeen of the acclaimed HUNGER GAMES series, the last cinematic installment of which will hit theaters November 20th. Lines such as the one above epitomize perhaps the primary reason audiences…and female audiences, in particular…respect and admire Katniss: she persists in the face of fear. Her steely resolve and indomitable will, which remain steadfast against vicious, tyrannical rule, has won millions of fans throughout the world, each one turning the page and buying their ticket to see not just how she ultimately wins, but how she consistently endures. Indeed, her tenacity and strength of spirit is her greatest weapon that, unlike her bow, arms her with hope and shields her from despair.
If you’re not familiar with THE HUNGER GAMES, here’s the basic premise: It takes place in a dystopian society called Panem, a nation comprised of 12 districts which are all under the oppressive rule of the wealthy Capitol. Each year, two children (a boy and a girl) are chosen at random to compete as “Tributes” in the Hunger Games, a televised death match that commemorates the Districts’ revolt against the Capitol. In the first book and movie, 16-year-old Katniss volunteers to take her younger sister’s place, a valiant act that immediately gets the attention of everyone in Panem. Now, Katniss must enter the arena where the name of the game is killed or be killed.
Because there are two sequels, one likely presumes that Katniss indeed survived the Hunger Games. Thanks to a shrewd, almost Odyssean move, Katniss isn’t the only winner; Peeta Mellark also exits the arena and returns to District 12 a virtual war hero. The pair’s success in cleverly, and narrowly, escaping what seemed like certain tragedy is seen as brazen defiance by the series’ coldhearted villain, President Snow. Katniss now finds herself a political target whose battle is only beginning.
“Warrior” is a word that perfectly encapsulates Katniss. She is courageous, loyal, skilled, and self-sacrificing. Like the apostle Paul’s metaphor of the soldier in 2nd Timothy, she doesn’t entangle herself in civilian affairs; she stays focused on protecting her loved ones, defending her fellow Tributes, and overthrowing President Snow. Along with her identity as a warrior, Katniss is also a woman, one who wrestles with emotions of fear, love, inadequacy, even the ridiculous standards of beauty set by the Capitol. The novels and movies do a masterful job of painting both her strengths and her weaknesses, as well as how her mistakes simultaneously sting and sharpen her. That Katniss is neither a flawless, unfeminine hero nor a weepy, love-struck damsel makes her a relatable, respectable role model for young women.
Proverbs 31:10-32 is probably the most popular passage in the Bible in praise of wives and mothers. Perhaps surprisingly, considering the ancient times during which Proverbs was penned, the woman highlighted is by no means a one-dimensional, caricature whose sole responsibilities lie in folding laundry and cooking supper. On the contrary, this lady is called an eshet chayil in verse 10, a Hebrew term which, though frequently translated as “virtuous woman,” literally translates to “woman of valor.” “Valor” has a warrior-like ring to it.
Compare Katniss Everdeen to the iconic Proverbs 31 Eshet Chayil and you will see remarkable similarities. Both are tremendously resourceful; the former hunts and traps food for herself and her family while the latter rises before the dawn to prepare breakfast for her family. Both look for opportunities to improve their lives and the lives of their families (v. 16, NLT). Both are “energetic and strong” (v. 17). Both are diligent and hardworking (v. 18-19). Both care for those who are needy and impoverished (v. 20). Both stand firm amid frightening circumstances (v. 21). The list continues.
While THE HUNGER GAMES is not an overtly Christian franchise, it undoubtedly contains Christian themes and concepts that resonate with audiences around the globe. Katniss shows us that while the warrior’s road is never promised to be a safe or easy one, it’s always the surest way to: awaken hope in the downcast and disenfranchised; to instill courage in the weak and worrisome; to kindle faith in the suspicious and cynical – leaving behind a legacy of fortitude that will impact the world for generations.
Diana Anderson-Tyler is the author of multiple books on Faith and Fitness and she is a co-owner and coach at CrossFit 925. Diana can be found on Twitter here.
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