We could do it, you know. Leave the district. Run off. Live in the woods. You and I, we could make it.“―Gale, to Katniss
Gale Hawthorne is Katniss Everdeen’s best friend and hunting partner, one of the series’ main characters. He is fiercely devoted to his family and to Katniss and is a true rebel and visionary at heart. He is in love with Katniss and is forced to watch as she volunteers for the 74th Hunger Games in the place of her sister and fakes a romance with Peeta Mellark in order to stay alive. After the Games, he becomes a threat to the Capitol through his semi-romantic relationship with Katniss, and is used to gain leverage over her. He escapes The Bombing of District 12, and manages to save approximately 800 others. In District 13, he becomes a soldier for the rebellion and fights on Katniss’ side for the remainder of the war.
Gale is the oldest child of the Hawthorne family with three younger siblings; Rory, Vick, and the only girl, Posy who was born shortly after their father died in a mining accident that also killed Katniss’ father. After his father’s death, Gale struggles to provide for his family with help from his mother,Hazelle. To help feed his family, he hunted illegally in the forest adjacent to District 12, and he applied for tesserae many times. He is 19 in Catching Fire and Mockingjay.
At 14 years old, he meets Katniss, who also lost her father in the same mine explosion. They cross each other’s paths while hunting in the woods outside of District 12. Despite their initial misgivings about one another, the two slowly warm up to each other and become best friends. They attended the same school but really met at the mine site when it blew. At the beginning of The Hunger Games, Katniss notes that the only time she really smiles is when she is in the woods with Gale.
Katniss recalls that at 14, “Gale already looked like a man.” It is later mentioned he was over six feet tall. Similar to many people from the Seam, he has olive skin, straight black hair, and grey eyes.
Gale admits to have fallen in love with Katniss in Catching Fire, and their relationship grows deeper in each book. He holds a hatred for the Capitol and has scars on his back from when he was whipped over 40 times inCatching Fire after being caught by the new Head Peacekeeper, Romulus Thread, illegally hunting turkey. He went to the house designated for the Head Peacekeeper expecting to find old Cray, who was the Head Peacekeeper until Thread came to District 12.
The Hunger Games
Gale at the reaping.
Gale was first introduced in The Hunger Games when he comes to the woods, and shows Katniss a loaf of bread that he got by trading a squirrel with Peeta’s father. The two of them talk about the Hunger Games and the reaping while they eat the loaf of bread and goat cheese in the woods. Gale later tells Katniss that they can run away and avoid the reaping, but they both agree that they can’t leave their families alone. Gale has been single-handedly supporting his mother and three younger siblings ever since his father was killed; with him gone, they would starve. Katniss explains that Gale has always been angry with the Capitol and the state of the Seam, and that he often lets out his anger on her in the privacy of the woods. Gale also mentions that he might like to have kids one day, if not for the fact that they would likely lead very difficult lives in the Seam.
Gale gives Katniss advice before he is taken away.
At the reaping, Gale gives Katniss a haunting smile, since the odds aren’t exactly in his favor: He had 42 slips in the reaping ball. When Katniss volunteers to take Prim’s place in the Hunger Games, he holds Prim back from Katniss as she makes her way to the platform. In the Justice Building, Gale enters the room and tells Katniss that she is stronger than the Capitol and can win the Games. Gale advises her to make a bow if there is not one in theCornucopia. He also promises to protect and provide for her family in her absence. As Peacekeepers drag him out the room, Gale shouts, “Katniss, remember” Katniss never finds out what he wanted her to remember.
Gale sits in the forest instead of watching the beginning of the Games.
With Katniss gone, Gale takes over all of the duties that she normally fulfills to support her family. He hunts for the majority of Prim and her mother’s meals and gathers the supplies for her mother’s apothecary. Although he asks for nothing in return, Prim and her mother repay him with what little milk and medicine they can spare. Gale watches the Games on television, both at home and in school, as is required, and suffers greatly to see her in danger. He later mentions watching a lot of the Games with Prim and Katniss’ mother, mostly likely to lend moral support. In the arena, Katniss realizes that it would be to her advantage to feign love for Peeta, but she feels guilty because she is confused about her feelings for Gale. Later it is made clear that Gale found it very painful to watch Katniss play out her romance with Peeta, although he guessed that it was at least partially a sham on Katniss’ part.
Through Katniss’ thoughts, we found out about several events in Gale’s life. We find out that he and Katniss once saw a rogue boy and girl running from a Capitol hovercraft in the woods, and failed to help them as the boy was killed and the girl kidnapped. We find out that once he and Katniss shot a deer together in the woods and sold its meat for enough money to buy a nanny goat for Prim. Gale carried the goat to Katniss’ house because he was so excited to see Prim’s reaction.
Gale is hurt when he sees Katniss kiss Peeta.
Once Katniss became one of the final eight tributes alive, the Capitol sent camera crews to District 12 to interview her family and friends. When asked about her friends, everyone directed the camera crews to Gale.
However, the Capitol people thought that Gale was “too handsome and too male” to be Katniss’ best friend without jeopardizing Katniss’ on-screen romance with Peeta. Therefore, Gale is presented in the interviews as Katniss’ cousin. Gale seems to resent this falsehood, as does Katniss.
Gale, as well as his mother and siblings, greets Katniss at the train station when she comes home from the Hunger Games.
By the beginning of Catching Fire, Gale has turned 19, graduated school, and begun working in the coal mines. The work is exhausting and dangerous, and especially disheartening for Gale, whose father was killed in the mines and who is “only really alive in the woods.” He works twelve hours a day, and has only Sundays off. He spends all of his Sundays hunting in the woods with Katniss. The two remain best friends, but their relationship has been complicated by Katniss’ on-screen romance with Peeta Mellark.
Gale being struck by Thread.
Katniss, confused about whether or not she actually loves Peeta, and feeling like she somehow betrayed Gale during the Games, has fallen out with Peeta and now devotes her time to Gale and his family. She hunts in the woods every day and gives all the produce to the Hawthornes. She offered to give the Hawthornes a share of her winnings so that Gale doesn’t have to work in the mines, but Gale refuses to allow this. He is even uncomfortable with Katniss hunting for his family, although his mother Hazelle does not object.
Gale and Katniss did not see each alone until a few weeks after the end of the Hunger Games, at their meeting place in the woods. They shared an emotional reunion. At the end of a day of hunting, Gale spontaneously kissed Katniss and told her that he “had to do that, at least once.” Unfortunately, the kiss was somehow seen or filmed, and President Snow eventually found out about it. The kiss only added to his suspicion that Katniss does not really love Peeta. At the beginning of Catching Fire, Snow visits Katniss and tells her that her “flaunting her preference for Gale” over Peeta is unacceptable. He threatens to kill Gale and his family if she doesn’t convince Panem that she is truly in love with Peeta.
In an attempt to placate Snow, Peeta proposes to Katniss on the Victory Tour. Gale, clearly hurt and betrayed by this, refuses to come to the Harvest Festival dinner at the mayor’s house. Later, Katniss takes him to her father’s lake for the first time, and finally explains her actions in full. She admits that her engagement to Peeta is fake, and that Snow was unconvinced by their romance and is probably going to kill all of Katniss’ friends and family. She asks Gale and his family to escape into the woods with her. He agrees happily, and confesses that he loves her. He is disappointed by her reply that she cannot love anyone romantically at such a perilous time. He is further angered when he finds out that Katniss plans to bring Peeta along into the woods. Finally, when Katniss lets slip that uprisings have begun in District 8, Gale refuses to run with her, telling her that it is their duty to fight for a free Panem.
After his spat with Katniss at the lake, Gale goes to the Head Peacekeeper’s house to sell a wild turkey from the woods to Cray. Upon on arriving, however, he finds that Cray has been replaced by a new Head: the bloodthirsty, Capitol-loving Romulus Thread. Gale is arrested for poaching, forced to plead guilty, and whipped at least forty times. Upon arriving at the whipping post, Katniss throws herself in front the whip and takes a lash across her face before she, Haymitch, and Peeta convince Thread to stop the punishment.
Gale is rushed to Katniss’ mother and Prim, who set about treating him with their limited supplies. Katniss is very distressed throughout the whole process, and goes berserk when her mother refuses to give Gale more painkillers. Luckily, Madge brings Gale morphling, an expensive painkiller from the Capitol, before the pain gets too bad. Katniss spends the night at Gale’s side, holding his hand and stroking his face, and even kissing him. Katniss realizes that running away or trying to placate the Capitol are cowardly and wrong, and vows to “stay…with Gale and cause all kinds of trouble” with him. She finally understands his lifelong need to rebel against the Capitol.
Gale’s Capitol Portrait.
Gale spends the next few days at Katniss’ house, receiving free care and treatment from her mother and Prim. Eventually he goes home and begins working in the mines, but ever since his whipping there has been a crackdown in District 12. The Capitol’s laws are enforced brutally, food is scarce and expensive, and the mines are paying less than ever. Furthermore, the merchant families have stopped bringing Hazelle laundry because of the Hawthorne family’s association with Katniss. Rory takes out tesserae, which upsets Gale greatly. He is devastated by the news that Katniss will be a tribute in the Quarter Quell, and tells her that they should have run away when they had the chance. He helps Katniss, Peeta, and Haymitch in their training efforts by teaching them all about snares and trapping.
Gale watches the Quarter Quell from afar, and is probably horrified by Peeta’s false proclamation that he and Katniss are married and that Katniss is pregnant. When the victors are broken out the arena, the Capitol bombs District 12. Gale manages to rescue about 800 people and lead them into the woods. With only two bows and a fishing net, he manages to feed them all for three days before they are rescued by District 13. Gale is at Katniss’ bedside when regains consciousness from her concussion, and tells her that District 12 is gone.
Gale in the ruins of District 12
In Mockingjay, Gale lives in District 13 and spends time with Beetee designing weapons to use against the Capitol. Katniss becomes uncomfortable with the brutality involved in some of Gale’s weapons. He is one of the main characters and has a deeper relationship with Katniss while Peeta is a prisoner of the Capitol, but their relationship undergoes a number of strains throughout the book. When Katniss visits the remains of District 12, Gale goes along in order to protect her. On their way back to District 13, Gale comforts Katniss and reassures her everything will work out. When Peeta is interviewed with Caesar Flickerman, Gale tries to go to Katniss and help her when she leaves the room, but Boggs attempts to stop him. Gale and Katniss talk about the situation and she tells him that she’ll be the mockingjay. She and Gale go hunting like they used to and the two of them enjoy their time together until he asks her why she cares for her prep team so much. Katniss tells him that they helped her a lot in the Hunger Games. Gale becomes mad about this and leaves. He and Katniss go to the weapons room where Beetee has been inventing weapons for the rebels. There, Gale is allowed to pick out a weapon and chooses a military bow and arrow.
Gale in Mockingjay
Gale goes along with Katniss and the others to shoot propos for the rebellion. Gale and the group arrive in Distinct 8 to film their propaganda at a hospital. While there, the Capitol attacks the hospital and Gale, along with Katniss and the others, battle the enemy. After the battle they meet at the command room in District 13 and discuss the propaganda. They decide to allow Katniss to go back in to combat and shoot more propos when she is ready. Gale goes to comfort Katniss as she heals. Gale goes back to Beetee and helps him make military weapons.
Gale and Katniss have tension between them. Gale tries to be normal around Katniss but she knows he saw the interview and tries to not talk or say anything about it. Gale tells her it was to protect her since she is too stressed, Katniss enraged tells him to stop lying to her. Gale and Katniss go to District 12 to shoot another propo. When shooting one at Katniss’ house, Gale asks to see his house, but Cressida tells him to reenact the night of the bombing. Later Gale and Katniss kiss because they are both in pain and the only way to escape this pain is by this.
After the interview with Peeta, the entire district retreats to safe bunkers during the bombing. Gale saves Prim’s life during an air raid because he went to check the Everdeen compartment to make sure it was clear and found Prim and Buttercup. The two make it to the bunker in time before the doors are closed and locked. After Katniss and Finnick break down during a propaganda shoot due to the impact of Peeta and Annie’s torture, Gale is the first to volunteer for an extremely dangerous mission to rescue Peeta, Johanna, Enobaria and Annie from the Capitol. Gale safely makes it back to District 13 and receives medical attention. After Gale is healed he goes to build weapons with Beetee. Katniss is sad that he is making weapons that could hurt innocent people in the process and he tells her he is playing by the rule book Snow plays with.
Gale and Beetee go to District 2 to assist the group. Gale and Katniss’ relationship grows deeper as the two spend the night comforting each other. Gale and the others go to “The Nut” where they try to think of a plan to attack in and thus take control of District 2. Gale conceives a plan that involves blowing up the inside of The Nut, which upsets Katniss because it would kill innocent people. After some arguments with Katniss, they decide to bomb The Nut but leave the train station open so the people inside The Nut can escape. Gale visits Katniss in the hospital when she awakens and the two argue about what has happened. Gale informs her of District 2 siding with the rebels. Later Gale along with Beetee meet with Katniss, Johanna, Delly, Finnick, Annie and later Peeta at lunch. Gale tells Peeta he has changed and Johanna agrees with him. Gale takes Katniss aside and tells her Peeta has changed and isn’t seeing her for who she truly is.
In Mockingjay Part 2
He is part of the “Star Squad” that sets out to assassinate President Snow, though he gets separated from Katniss. Before Katniss goes to guard Peeta, Gale pulls Katniss away and asks her about her plan to head out on her own, and Katniss says he should go with her. Gale helps the team take cover in an apartment and they witness a broadcast that shows footage of the squad members’ supposed deaths. Gale tries to calm Peeta down and promises he will kill Peeta if it came down to it. The squad travels underground in the tunnels and later are attacked by lizard mutts that hiss Katniss’ name. Gale and the squad are able to make it out of the tunnel but have lost Finnick, Jackson, and a few others to the mutts. The squad splits up, Gale follows Katniss. The two of them battle off peacekeepers and head to President Snow’s mansion. After almost dying from a trap activated by a pod, Gale is taken away by peacekeepers. As he is being taken away, he mouths at Katniss “shoot me.” She finds herself unable to do it, just as he is unable to kill her after the assassination of President Coin.
Afterwards, Katniss’ sister is killed in a method akin to one he devised. Gale visits her before Snow’s death and gives her a sheath with one arrow to shoot at Snow. Katniss asks if it was his bomb that killed Prim. Gale isn’t sure and tells her to shoot straight at Snow before he leaves. While Katniss can never be sure that it was Gale’s trap that did it, she realizes she will never be able to look at him the same way again, and lets him walk away without a word. Gale later moves to District 2, where he secures a “fancy job” working for Panem’s new government. Katniss finds herself relieved by this instead of feeling any longing or anger, as she herself believes that Gale will forget her and will soon be “kissing another pair of lips.”
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