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Mockingjay, Part 2: Let’s talk about that epilogue

katniss with baby mockingjayIt’s never fun to listen to someone talk about all of the ways in which a movie was not like the book. And I’m not going to do that here because that is not the point. Am I sad that the personalities and import of secondary characters were lost between Mockingjay the book and Mockingjay the movies? Yes. Do I wish Prim’s final scene could have been more impactful? I do. Would it have been better to more strongly allude to Gale’s part in the bombing? Possibly.

But, surprisingly, what has most saddened me about Mockingjay, Part 2 is what was kept between book and movie: the epilogue.

People have talked and talked and talked about The Hunger Games as a feminist franchise — here we have a somewhat oblivious but totally badass heroine who sometimes responds in stereotypically feminine ways but, more often than not, breaks convention. She’s a breadwinner and protector, quick to anger, emotionally damaged, confused, and heroic. Katniss is brave and strong, skilled and smart, and, always, distinctly a teenage girl.

The feminism doesn’t stop with Katniss. Women are real people in this franchise: Effie rocks out her style no matter the situation, because it makes her feel good; Coin is ruthless and ready for power; Prim is focused on bettering herself and the world around her; Annie — as difficult as it may be — survives, thrives, and raises a child without her male partner; Cressida escapes the Capitol and becomes a leader in the rebellion; Johanna endures terrible punishment but maintains her steel and intelligence. Women, like their male counterparts (also real people who break with gender norms: Peeta as partner, Finnick’s imprisonment in the sex trade, Beetee as a maternal figure to Wiress), are agents of change. It is a beautiful thing to see this work gain such a massive following and dominate the box office.

But that last scene…

Mockingjay the book ends the same way as Mockingjay, Part 2: we flash-forward to Katniss and Peeta as the parents of two young children. Katniss lets us know that one day, when it’s time, she’ll explain to her children why the world is the way it is and her role in making it that way. She will tell her children why she has nightmares, how she survived, how she continues to survive. It is clear that she is happy, if scarred. It is clear that there is a “happy ending.” And it is clear that life goes on.

It could have been clearer in the movie that Peeta and Katniss are still broken in some ways, that the pain never really goes away, that things aren’t all meadows and chubby babies. But if you know what to look/listen for, those ideas can be found in the dialogue.

But the book makes one additional, very important thing clear: it took many, many years (“five, ten, fifteen years”) before Katniss felt safe and comfortable with the idea of motherhood. Peeta is the partner who desperately wants a family — Katniss does not acquiesce until her early 30s. She loves her children, yes, and is very happy with her life and the added role of mother, but at no point was it necessary for her to have children to be happy.

In the movie, however, we cut to a seated, loose-haired Katniss, babe in arms. She wears a pastel, floral print dress and is bathed in golden light. Gone is her signature braid, gone are her Earth-tone colors and leather vests, gone is her restless motion and active-even-at-rest stance. Gone is Katniss the Hero. All of the pain, the work, the fear, the struggle in the name of the female protagonist with agency; all of Katniss is wiped clean in this image. Here, she sits inactive, wearing clothing we have only ever associated with her mother (whose complete lack of agency is integral to the story), with husband and children as her sole focus.

This ending shows the viewer that the only way a woman can be truly happy is through motherhood — the only measure of a woman’s success is through her ability to be a mommy. It doesn’t matter that Katniss has taken down the Capitol. It doesn’t matter that she deposed what would be a new dictator. It doesn’t matter that she has finally discovered and understood herself and her loss. It doesn’t matter that she has mended relationships. It doesn’t matter that she has opened herself up to love. It doesn’t matter that it took fifteen years of relationship building and emotional mending to bring Katniss to a place where she would accept being a parent. None of this matters because the only way to give a woman a happy ending is to make her a mommy.

Four movies. Four. Of strength and wit and sacrifice and crushing defeats and women enacting world-changing events. All to bring us to one final scene: Katniss the Mother.

It devastates me that this ending was so misrepresented. Because the beauty of the book’s epilogue lies in how Katniss and Peeta keep themselves whole, how they build a life together, how they are individuals with pasts that matter, how they cannot be pigeon-holed into specific gender or relationship roles. It adds to the feminist nature of the work and continues Collins’s methodical destruction of gender stereotypes. It is hopeful and realistic and it made me cry for days.

The movie ending, though, works only to undermine all of the important work Collins’s series has done. Because, at the end of the day, who cares if you’re the Girl on Fire? You only matter if you have a girl of your own.

Don’t miss our reviews of Mockingjay, Parts 1 and 2. This post is part of our Hunger Games Week. Click on the tags Hunger Games Week and Hunger Games to see all posts. For more in our Fan Week series, click on the tag Fan Week 2016 and see #HBFanWeek on Twitter.

Siân Gaetano About Siân Gaetano

Siân Gaetano is assistant editor for The Horn Book, Inc. Follow her on Twitter @KidLitChick.

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Comments

  1. Rebecca Hachmyer says:

    Yes, all of this. This reminds me of how I felt about the Harry Potter epilogue. Why imply that these world-shattering wars are all about securing a return to a (somebody’s? whose?) status quo?

  2. A badass woman can also have children. And wear a dress.
    To me, that is the point of feminism.

  3. Carre Olson says:

    I have to say that I was also disappointed by the ending of this franchise, but not for the same reason as this author. I have no problem with “Katniss the Mother.” I don’t find anything offensive or anti-feminist in Katniss becoming a parent. What’s wrong with that? In the end, she finds a measure of peace and she and Peeta, after some time, are able to do what comes naturally in a marriage– have children. She is finally able to become a “normal” person and they have children who will not be subject to the totalitarian government Katniss and Peeta have helped destroy. I’m not sure why the ending of the book did not translate to film very well; I kind of think it was just lacking a satisfying sequence in which Peeta and Katniss reconnect, and perhaps the line from the book about how her children are unknowingly playing on a graveyard.

  4. Cindy Caldwell says:

    I disagree that katniss had to have a baby to be happy. I think that she had the courage to have a family continues to show what a strong woman she is. I did not particularly care for the movie ending either but having read the book I understood what the movie was trying to show.

  5. Erin Valentine says:

    And I loved this ending, because it’s real. People change; sometimes that change is the result of years lived, as in the book. Other times it might be profound experiences. Regardless of the cause behind Katniss’ change, I thought this ending was perfect. Being a mother is an incredibly fulfilling, demanding, sacrificial, joyful role, and I applaud any woman who does that job with selfless dedication.

  6. Coming from someone who did not read the last book, but watched the movies I did not get the point that you are accusing the movie making. You will always have more depth in the book, but what I got was she sacrificed a lot to liberate people and at the expense of her mental health. She was now at a place where she could feel more peace and stability in her life, whether or not it would have ended with her being a mother. Being a mother is not offensive to women. If that is a choice she made in the end then I don’t see how it offends the rest of the movie. It is not sending a message that motherhood is the only way to be made whole, but please don’t insult women who make that choice. Women are strong as leaders and mother’s, not one shadows the other.

  7. You say oh Katniss the Hero is gone but she never wanted any of what she went through. She never wanted to be the mockingjay, she had no choice. So you saying the ending took from who she was, you are wrong. A strong minded woman cant also be a mother?! Geez how did you want it to end? Cant she sit there not doing anything after having been through so much? Oh my god shes wearing mom clothes, oh my god her hair is not in a braid?! Really?! I read every book and i loved the ending.

  8. I respectfully disagree that the ending of the movie is saying the only way a woman can be truly happy is motherhood. Conceived in love and intimacy they are representations of future and hope. These are things Katniss couldn’t let into her life. She tried to kill herself at the execution.

    I hope you will be able to see the deep and profound in what being a mother would represent in the world Katniss lived it- what it represents in our world today. I could only imagine the courage it would take to have children after everything that happened in both of their lives. And yes, it can make one profoundly happy and provide deep meaningful experiences in one’s life.

  9. But, at the end of the day, the wars are fought in order to enable men and women to fall in love, have relationships, and to bring children into the world. Without children, what’s the point of all human endeavor? Without future generations, why bother to accomplish anything? And besides, from what I have heard, being a mother is not all meadows and golden sunlight. Mothers are just as heroic in everyday life as Katniss was in the Games.

  10. Katniss is a woman we can all look up to. Her ability to be anything she needs to be at that specific moment in her life is what makes her remarkable. The ending showing her as a mother does not take away from her strength, or anything that she has achieved. For me it made her look stronger. It made her look more determined. It made her look real. Becoming a mother is the hardest thing a woman can do. It is life changing. And for younger woman, teenage girls watching this movie I hope they take away that they can do anything they want with their lives. And that sometimes terrible situations arise and finding the knowledge and power to get through it is what living is all about. You implied she almost looked weak holding her baby in her arms. To me she looked strong, powerful, heroic.

  11. Seriously? OK, maybe the author of this article has no children, so I guess I can see her point of view…as a feminist (her, not me). But, being a mother of three children. I have to say that I disagree with her point of view. You think that being a mother is nothing? You think that it’s more important for women to get out in the world and do and be seen and be popular and fight wars and all sorts of other things that have nothing to do with building a home and family, than building a loving home and raising children in a loving environment to take on the challenges of the next generation? Yes women can do amazing things. It’s all true. BUT, let’s take this story, what else was there? If I remember the book correctly, Katniss was BROKEN at the end. She had endured so much emotional trauma that she was seriously broken at the end of the series. All the sacrifices, all the horror and death and war that she endured and she’s just supposed to dwell on that for the rest of her life? Perhaps there’s something HEALING in having a child after that. I endured a very challenging and at times violent childhood. And when I had my OWN first child, it was amazing. A healing moment if you will. Don’t mock motherhood and don’t tell mother’s that they aren’t important because they’re not out being CEOs and lawyers and doctors and warriors. We choose what we do because it’s important to raise our children to maturity and not let day care do it. Look around at the world today and you’ll see the results of children feeling unloved because mommy and daddy don’t give them any time. The next time you see a tragedy occurring, ask yourself where mom and dad were, but ESPECIALLY Mom. Yes there a few nut jobs out there that are mentally unstable anyway, but these kids that are shooting up their own schools and being violent in other ways…if they TRULY felt loved as a child by they’re parents and their parents were REALLY parents, this wouldn’t happen.

  12. I disagree. Katniss would often look to the picture of her father and remember the days when her family was all together. The whole reason she volunteered in the first place was for her sister, for family. She never wanted to be the mockingjay but she took on the role to fight for families and the right for life, a life free of dictates. At the end, she wanted to have what she fought for, a family living in peace. It doesn’t mean that she would only have been happy being a wife and mother but in a world free of snow she had the option to choose, and that is what the mockingjay fought for.

  13. I agree with the writer, I was a huge fan of the books and the movies, until the end of this last one… “IF” I hadn’t read the books, watching the movie would have completely changed the tone of the ending for me… They didn’t even attempt to show the physical damage the last tour in the arena left Katniss with, it was as if she was completely healed and back to beautiful… Happy ever after is all that I came away with. Not even a mention of the damaged people that they all were, many years after the fact… Then they put her in the meadow with her hair looking like a housewife from the 40’s, and that stupid dress… Completely ruined it for me, this ending…..

  14. As a Mother I can see why Katniss is mesmerized with her baby, that’s the way it should be. There’s nothing wrong with being a peaceful mother, that’s what babies need. It’s true that the book tells more about her struggles adapting to a sort of normal life but also tells us that once she became a mother she feels different, doesn’t mean her past was erased. She healed in certain way and concentrates in her job at that moment, being a mother. Some woman choose not to be mothers, and that’s perfectly fine, but if you have kids and you don’t feel the way, apparently she’s feeling, then there is something wrong with you. I don’t see it like the role of a woman, but certainly I believe babies are still born from women, so it’s not kind of a degrading role to be the ones responsible for the species to continue.

  15. Your view is completely different than mine. I believe the books made her look stronger. Why? She didn’t become a victim of her circumstance. Just like when he father died, she pulled up her boot straps and kept chugging forward. She could become bitter and hateful because of her past. She didn’t.
    Did she have to give up a little part of herself and agree to have kids? Possibly. Who knows. Just because you are a hero doesn’t automatically put you in the no kids column. Your post was more antifeministic than the ending of the book.

  16. I don’t think I could disagree any more with your conclusions. Yes, Katniss is all of those things in the books….brave, broken, hero, teenager, and the rest of your list. But in the world of the Hunger Games, life is hard. The heavy boot of the Capital remains firmly in place and parents (mothers, we see, mostly, as fathers are either dead or background) raise their children in dread that they might some day be forced into participation in the Hunger Games, but also in the knowledge that their children’s lives will be no better than there own. The ending of the book, and thus the movie, shows a changed world; a world without the Games. It is a world where the next generation can raise their children in hopes of a better world. What strikes me most about your missive is that you are so desperate for Katniss to remain your perceived champion of feminism that you dismiss entirely what should be obvious. When Katniss lived in a world of hopelessness, she saw no sense in relationship or motherhood. Freed of hopelessness, she found value in family, and there is absolutely nothing anti-feminist about that.

  17. On the other hand, our society too often looks at a mommy sitting in the park in her flowing dress, holding her baby and looking loving at her husband and assumes that there is not more to her- that this moment is all that makes up her story. A moment in time does not indicate that there was not struggle to get there. As a mother myself, I have also worked hard in my career, fought hard to be taken seriously as a women leader and taught my sons the value of equity and inclusion. AND my most favorite days are the ones I can hold my children close and watch my husband lovingly play with my children. I agree that the movie ending simplified the ending of the book and that the movie makers did not take the time to show the complexity of Peeta and Katniss’ healing process. However, I urge all of us to not oversimplify motherhood or to dismiss the happiness that it brings as a strike against our feminist rights. Being a mom is one of the best thing I have ever done with my life. But that does not mean that I have not worked hard to be and continue to be a bad-ass women leader in my own right. Being a mom is one of my “happy endings” but it is not my only “happy ending.” Do not judge a mother for finding distinct and deep happiness in being a mom. And also do not assume that is her only story. It it never that simple.

  18. Teddy Lupin says:

    Sorry, but you totally, completely misunderstood the point of the epilogue–and in doing so, revealing some biases of your own. You’ve made so many mistakes in interpreting not only this film adaptation, but Suzanne Collins’s work in general.

    Mistake Number 1: “Gone is Katniss the Hero.”
    Katniss is NOT a hero. She never was, nor did she ever want to be, a hero. She was simply a girl from the Seam who was willing to give up her life for her sister. She acted like a protective and loving human, and her “heroics” afterwards were the result of her trying to keep Peeta and herself and behind a normal human being (grieving Rue). She never wanted to be the face of the revolution and only agreed to do it when she saw what Snow did to Peeta. Katniss is no hero. She is a human.

    Mistake Number 2: “In the movie, however, we cut to a seated, loose-haired Katniss, babe in arms.”
    Passed time is implied. She has streaks of gray in her hair and her physically looks older, along with Peeta. They couldn’t exactly have a montage to show the years that have passed. This complaint is just you overanalyzing.

    Mistake Number 3: “This ending shows the viewer that the only way a woman can be truly happy is through motherhood — the only measure of a woman’s success is through her ability to be a mommy. ”
    HUH?! Excuse you?! This is actually incredibly insulting. Just because a woman wants to have children does not mean that they are not as strong as anyone else. Katniss’s choice to have children does NOT change what she did in her past. It does NOT change that she overthrew the Capitol, nor does it alter her strength in any way. She decided to have children with Peeta–and you’re saying that means that’s only measure of success? And YOU’RE accusing the MOVIE of being anti-feminist?

    Mistake Number 4: “It devastates me that this ending was so misrepresented.”
    Girl, I’m saying the same thing about this article. You’re acting as if the film has a happily-ever-after ending. Katniss and Peeta seem to be at peace, sure. The war is over and they no longer have to worry about their oppressive government. But as Katniss says, she still suffers from PTSD and depression. Her sister was killed, her family torn apart. She’s lost all of her friends, besides Haymitch and Peeta. That epilogue is supposed to be somber, yet hopeful, and that’s exactly what it is.

    Mistake Number 5: “Because, at the end of the day, who cares if you’re the Girl on Fire? You only matter if you have a girl of your own.”
    These are YOUR words, not the film’s. This ending totally flew over your head all in the name of your perverted view of feminism. You hate on Katniss because she decided to children and you hate on this film for portraying what was in the book accurately, all while saying that the book makes it better because it stated that “Katniss didn’t want kids at first.” This article makes me sick.

  19. Jennifer B says:

    Just because someone is a wife and mother, doesn’t mean that is all they are. We got one snippet of one moment of their future life.

  20. I strongly disagree and people like you are why feminism is hypocritical. She saved her country and delt with death and unimaginable pain. Maybe she doesn’t want to be Katniss the hero forever who has to kill and look over her shoulder everyday. As a veteran and a woman I can say that life goes on after the war, with or without you. 3 things happen to war veterans: they drink, they can’t stop trying to be a hero or they move on. This just shows that Katniss moved on. She doesn’t have to kill anymore and she can build a family life that she didn’t get when she was a child. Why are women “anti-feminism” just because they don’t want to play ‘hero’ forever and decide to settle down and *gasp* have babies. Feminism will never be fully realized until we let women do truly whatever they want, including have babies and be a stay at home mom without being torn down. They didn’t need to describe the epilogue in the movie like they did in the book. The picture is clear: the war is over and she is generally happy. AND THAT is what feminism is about, happiness.

  21. Feminism is about equality – about women being allowed to choose whatever they want to do. Katniss chose to be a mother. And you twist feminism to mean something that it’s not when you act like the film is somehow wrong for Katniss choosing something SHE wanted as opposed to what was forced on her (FYI her being the Mockingjay and beigng “the Girl on Fire” as you keep pushing was never her idea and she only reluctantly agreed to do it after pretty much being given no choice). The point of the focus of Katniss and her child was that KATNISS made the future for her child and any child a reality. She provided a future in which her child can grow to make her own choices as opposed to having to fight for them. What started with a story about a young girl being forced into vicious and horrific circumstances ended with a woman knowing her own child was going to grow up in a much different world. It came full circle. And in one swoop, you conveniently ignore all that and whine about feminism. It’s still feminism. Just because it isn’t the pigeon-holed version you want it to be doesn’t mean it doesn’t represent a form of feminism. And I’m sick of so-called “feminists” pretending they speak for the rest of us who actually understand what true feminism is. So disappointing that you, not the movie, undermine it all.

  22. Interesting perspective!
    The idea that a woman can only be happy through motherhood is an inference picked up by the viewer, not a message of this franchise. It would be naive to consider motherhood a happy ending. In the books, Katniss always operated best when she was needed. It’s not out of character and not a symbol of acquiescing to gender norms or expected societal roles. It can just as easily represent healing. The goal of the Hunger Games journey was not toward motherhood. Katniss never wanted to bring children into a world where the games existed.I think it’s much more of a hopeful tone – life continued, even improved enough that someone in her position could move into freedom beyond survival mentality. Rather than a return to status-quo, the ending brings liberty – the protagonist is free of their “role”, able to finally choose what life they live.

    It’s interesting to note that, in many instances strong women – both in literature and in society – are supported in non-traditional pursuits, adventures, and innovations and I’m so thankful for that. But what about motherhood isn’t strong, brave, and heroic? If that is what a woman decides, then she should be supported just as vocally as the CEO career woman or the revolutionary. As women, we should continue to hold that as a legitimate (and in no way inferior option), whether or not it’s our personal preference.

  23. And just what is wrong with parenthood? I take exception with the proposition that anything *other than* parenthood is the ultimate measure of true womanhood and manhood.

  24. Debby Boyle says:

    I understand your pain but I want to tell you my perspective. I found the ending was sad. Catniss wanted a life without fear I think. She chose Peeta because their values were the same. She got what she wanted. But their life was still so bleak; but hopeful. I would have liked a more exciting ending, but I thought the ending was realistic. And not about being a mother but about being normal. That helped her heal.

  25. PearsandCheese says:

    There were a lot of things I agreed with in this article, but the main idea at the end I think has some flaws. I see where you’re going, but the fact that Katniss was both those things is what made the movie so great. I think people stereotype wome..n that if they are strong and independent, they can’t also be mothers. False. She found someone she loved who wanted to have a family. True, the movie just cuts to this part, but many things we had to read into without the book’s help. This movie was an emotional story that showed how different personalities dealt with tragedy and rebellion. Not all mothers are the same. There can be a Katniss Everdeen mom by all means. Not like having kids is something strange or to be ashamed of.

  26. Katherine D. Knight says:

    Keep in mind books are never like movies. Something has to give. In the movie, cut to the end with Peeta and Katniss in a sunbathed field if the person watching the movie who also read the book could feel through the lens of the camera and the expertise of the actors that not all was right. Yes Katniss is holding a baby and Peeta is playing with a toddler, however, there is a strained look/feeling looming over both of them. Scars of War are never forgotten especially when a family has lost loved ones not only in death but to other circumstances, such as Katniss losing Gail. Though she may be beholden and love Peeta, she is not “in love” with him. It is Gail she fell in love with and will always have that chemistry with. In truth, Gail did not do Katniss wrong, he did what was right for everybody, for all the districts. Katniss in truth did right by Peeta. Unfortunately, as time goes by, the children grow up and Katniss will feel the need to be more like “Katniss” and not so much a mommy, a shift will occur. Only the writer knows the outcome. I know the outcome of my life situation because I went through something similar.

  27. I agree. I wasn’t happy with the way the epilogue was interpreted in the movie but thankfully, having read the book, I understood. I feel they missed several key points from the books to the movies but that is to be expected.

  28. I didn’t see that at all. I saw what I had envisioned in the books, well, I pictured older kids. But that’s not a huge deal. Also, what Katniss was wearing is not a huge deal. Sure, she’s shown in a more feminine light here, but that doesn’t change who she really is or what she has done. She’s out in a field, enjoying a picnic with her family. Life is peaceful now, despite the nightmares. She has every right to be happy with her life as a mother, and that doesn’t mean anything. You can be happy with a husband and children, and it doesn’t have to be your whole life. That’s just what they showed at the end, and it was the same as the book. It’s just the same as you had envisioned it. Your feelings towards it was what was different, not the scene that they portrayed. Katniss was truly happy because she had help make the world a better place. Think back to the beginning. She didn’t want kids, because she knew that they would have to suffer and that she and her husband would have to suffer. Could you imagine sending your child to die? She didn’t want that, and now everything has changed. The Games no longer exist, and her children’s futures are not in the hands of President Snow. That’s why she’s happy.

  29. That’s not what I got out of the movie. Perhaps, I just don’t read so much into a happy ending as others, but I did not get that it only mattered that Katniss had children. It didn’t. It didn’t matter a bit that she had children. In the end of the movie and the book, what mattered is that she survived. It was that she was stronger than all her adversaries, that she battled with everything her soul had, and then she battled some more. The ending told me that after all she had been through in her life, all the pain and horror, that she could find normal. That even in the depths of whatever hell we all experience, that there can be a happy ending. The movie, and the books, showed me that in all that Katniss experienced it did not ultimately end Katniss like it did to Haymitch. It showed she was stronger than falling into the traps of despair. In that she could still love, go on and have children and a marriage, it showed that she is strong. Love is all powerful, and in Katniss’ world, love was painful, yet she still managed to find it, and give it.

  30. Shera-Kasuni Brown says:

    As a 33 year old woman who LOVED the books, read them twice, encouraged others including my husband to read the books and LOVED the movies, I have to disagree. Now to be fair, we are expecting our first child, and while I did not fight in an arena, take down a Capitol or two dictators, my life previous to being a mother, was and still is important. It makes me who I am. It shapes how I raise my future kids. I personally enjoyed the ending of the movie better than the book. Katniss overcame so much, SO THAT kids could be born and raised in a safe and peaceful society. She accomplished that. Now she gets to enjoy the fruits of her labor.

  31. You are way overthinking this. The ending was fantastic and just like the book. So shut your PC mouth an stop criticizing one of the best movies of all time.

  32. John Doren says:

    I disagree. Katniss is still being the rebel – even fifteen years later. If you’ll remeber, in the first movie on the morning of the reaping, Katniss is talking with Gale in the meadow enjoying their hunting excursion. She states emphatically that she is NEVER having children. A view I think many of us can understand given the world in which she lives. To end with her cradling a baby in her arms shows exactly how much she has changed her world and herself- still a trailblazer- now having children on her own terms. And why not strive for a “normal” and peaceful life- she and Peeta have earned it.

  33. Cedrina Todd says:

    I so agree! I have tried to explain to people I know who didn’t read the book that that scene alone took YEARS to get to. I was so disappointed that wasn’t explained.

  34. Marc Monte says:

    All well taken points, but even the male warrior paradigm includes a healing return from battle and reintegration. Katniss never asked for the war and certainly never asked for the Games, but she got them and responded like the warrior she is. But the eternal warrior is a dysfunctional, sociopathic figure. We fight because we have to. When we live to fight, we’ve lost something. Maternal bliss is as much a revelation to the character as her true fighting spirit was. I fully agree that Collins handled the epilogue in a more “complete” way, and that the film bows somewhat to Hollywood convention. But I don’t think it is necessarily lost on viewers that this idyllic scene was won at a very high cost. But a great piece. I enjoyed it very much.

  35. One of Katniss’ first lines in the movie franchise is “I am never having children.” I agree that much of the nuance of the epilogue is lost in the film, but I think the significance of Katniss deciding to have children is still there, set up quite nicely with that line from the first movie.

  36. I agree that the ending was a bit diluted. While I felt the point was to show she was finally in a peaceful place, there was a LOT (too much IMO) omitted in how she got there which would have solved your point. Prims death and Gale’s possible involvement were glossed over. Katniss being detained, going back to 12, her struggling with PTSD, one brief scene of her reconnection with Peeta (more real/not real instances and I admit I’d like to have seen more physical affection/kissing scenes) and then *boom* babies seemed rushed after four movies of character development. And I hate they left out that the kids were older and the soldier, Gale Hawthorne, came to talk to the class… those things were all huge. There was a good 30 minutes of material omitted.

    I think there were two parts to the story but i think more could have shifted to part 1 though I know they wanted the cliffhanger. Yeah, the ending disappointed.

  37. Other than making them appear much younger than the book said they were when they had children I was happy they stuck to the book in that instance. Katniss never wanted to be a hero she wasn’t looking to be the Mockingjay or save the people she was only interested in saving her sister. Her whole focus the whole book was keeping her family (which later came to include Peeta) safe. She was continually put into positions both by the capitol and then district 13 that she did not want to be in. The ending to mean conveyed that she finally had gone back to her root focus which was family. This editorial was super judgy! Plus it’s a book so there’s that….

  38. David W. Landrum says:

    I don’t think we have to make a dichotomy, and I don’t agree that it’s an either/or situation. And I especially disagree with the statement, “This ending shows the viewer that the only way a woman can be truly happy is through motherhood — the only measure of a woman’s success is through her ability to be a mommy.” Where does it show that? Can what Katniss has done and is be erased because she wears her hair untied and has on a dress? As someone else said in the comments, can’t she be a badass, a strong woman, a warrior, and still have a child, love it, and want to nurture it? Movies must simplify, and it would have been difficult to represent her struggles, so (I picture them saying) let’s just go for the romantic ending. I think the author is the one being overly ideological.

  39. oh, please.

  40. most pregnancies aren’t planned

  41. I think only so much of character’s thoughts can be expressed in a movie without a lengthy voiceover. With books, readers get descriptive details about character’s feelings and thoughts. In a movie, you either have to have voice over or present it in such a way that the viewer can determine it for themselves. In the other movie, she clearly wonders with Gale about why someone would ever want to bring a child into THAT world. By the end of the last movie, the world has changed. The sheer fact that she chose to have children at all, explains just how much the world has changed. As viewers, we already know the integral role she played in making that world. We don’t need her to be dressed in leather, with braided hair, to know that much about her.
    How she’s dressed does not play down who she was or who she is in anyway. The epilogue at the end of the book, even though wrought with what was left of them in the aftermath, also very much depicted a “happy ending” for Katniss and Peeta. I don’t see how the movie really changed it that much.

  42. I probably would have agreed with this assessment 15 years ago. But now that I have become a mother, despite being primarily defined by my career, then and still, I see this analysis as an oversimplification. Mothering — parenting — isn’t some lame, girly thing. It takes grit, and steel, and fire. And raising children in a world that is so torn and corruptible — Panem or ours — is a brave and optimistic act, especially for a realist, in other words, for someone like Katniss. I don’t see this ending as capitulation to a stereotype, but as a reflection that it takes real courage to have hope, and having children can be an expression of hope. It only makes sense for the film to take us beyond the 1960s brand of feminism that says that women have to be like men have traditionally been — to wear their clothes, make war like them, work they way they do and at what they do — to be worth anything. We do not have to accept the stereotypical notion that those are the only measures of strength, and we should not. Katniss saw first hand the reality that taking up arms does not, of itself, always make a stronger society. A more inclusive philosophy promotes humanity and compassion for all men and women. When viewed in this light, that Katniss finds a place where she can be strong enough to openly admire Peeta’s compassionate nature does not make her weak.

  43. So I am in agreement with the author of this article, I find it troubling to think after all the fighting in war time and all the progress for the good of all humanity that Katniss lived through, the one thing we are left with is motherhood to define us as women. What happened to the determined, strong, capable, character we met when Katniss volunteered for Primm in the first movie. Society already puts enough stereotypes on women why add to it with an ending that should have instead paralleled the book on which it was based? I, for one, am unable to have children of my own, so I am left to society to be judged because I’m not a mother, who’s job is it to judge others for what they can and can’t be!

  44. It’s the laziest and most worn-out ending of all. “And they had babies together”. I rolled my eyes when Hunger Games and Harry Potter both ended this way. Really, is that how we define our purpose? It suggests that the only thing we can truly do worthwhile during our lives is to make more people. And that’s why we’re running out of space, food, water, and air. This philosophy might be “happiness”, but it will also be our demise.

  45. Susan Gleason says:

    Having read the books and seen the movies, I have to say I HATE THAT SHE ENDED UP WITH PEETA. She was in love with Gale from the beginning. Peeta FORCED himself into her life, first by trying to make more of their relationship than there was (remember Katniss was playing for the audience), then when he volunteered for Haymitch, so that he could continue to force himself into her life. Even in the books it is NEVER proven that Gale had anything to do with Prims death. Yes the implication is there but do we really believe that Gale was the mastermind, come on, he was just a soldier he didn’t order the bombing. To hold him responsible because someone used his idea is just stupid. Katniss may love Peeta but she is IN LOVE with Gale and always has been.

  46. The only thing I didn’t like was the song she sang to her baby in the book was not sung in the movie. :(

  47. I think you completely missed the point of this ending. It isn’t about Katniss losing herself, it is about Katniss HEALING. From the death of her father, to the Hunger Games, to losing Prim, her home, her best friend, she went through absolute hell throughout the series. She never wanted children, she never wanted love, she never even wanted to be the leader of a rebellion, she just wanted to survive. This ending shows that she gets so much more than what she thought was ahead of her.

    If you’d read the book you know where she is with her children, on the remains of District 12. The epilogue is about life going on and a positive future for the next generation. Her children will never know reapings or hunger because of what she (and of course Peeta) did.

    If you claim to be a feminist, you’re doing it wrong.

  48. While I appreciate your point of view, I respectfully disagree.
    The epilogue provided symmetry to the entire franchise. Katniss first stood forward because Primrose’s name had been drawn. She kept going because her district was destroyed, and her people were slaughtered. Her goal was to unite the districts and the Capitol against Snow. She loved her family, and she loved her people. Fighting for that, becoming the Mockingjay, it’s the only thing she would have fought for. Because those are the only things that mattered. So for Katniss, finding joy in having a family is organic and makes complete sense. Family is everything to her. It doesn’t take away her license because she created a world where she could make that choice. A choice that was just as legitimate as staying in the capital and eventually becoming president. It’s the ability to make life choices that give women license, regardless if they fill gender norms or not.

    Now the lighting before the epilogue has been discussed endlessly elsewhere. It’s used to convey a dystopia. Katniss is scared and broken before we even meet her. Life is hell. If you pay attention during the epilogue, the lighting begins to shift away from that as the healing process takes place. Once we get to the final scene, she’s at peace. The dystopia is gone. While there are still scars and more healing to be done, she’s happy. It’s a different world.

    Her clothing. In the final scene, Katniss dresses the way the women of her district did. In the first movie, she herself wore printed dresses. All of the women did. That’s not her being her mother. That’s her going home. Which is where she wanted to be the entire time.

  49. I’m going to have to disagree with your article. Just because she doesn’t wear the braids and the armor at the end doesn’t diminish what her character as a woman accomplished in the movies. Maybe the reason she doesn’t wear the braids anymore is because she doesn’t want to be constantly reminded of the war and the deaths, and the things she went through. The braid became a symbol, one that is not required anymore because the war is over. Nowhere does it imply that your only wish as a woman should be to have kids, you are reading too much into it. I read the books and while the ending did take me by surprise I did not see it as you see it. She did want kids the only reason she didn’t want them earlier, was because she didn’t want to have to see them go into the hunger games. After the war it would have been natural for two people who loved each other to have sex and want children. By the way I am a woman.

  50. Jessica Jane says:

    To the few who say she was in love with Gale, it is clear in the books and in the movies that Katniss is definitely in love with Peeta in the end and not Gale. From the beginning she was not in love with either one as she was fiercely independent and boys were the last thing on her mind but in both the movies and books you start to see her realize her attraction to Peeta which creeps up on her. Peeta gave her the bread which made her realize life was not lost and that she could survive on her own, this was before she ever started hunting with Gale. Katniss kept track of Peeta and the things he did even though she kept her distance before they were reaped she was well aware of the boy with the bread. As the story unfolds Katniss can be seen falling in love with Peeta because he represented the hope for a better future because he originally gave her hope in the beginning when she needed it most. She looked at Gale not a boyfriend but as a crutch to her past while the world was in upheaval so she held onto it in a time of need but she realizes she grew apart from him. Yes she loved both Gale and Peeta in the series, but its clear she fell in love with Peeta over the course of the series.

    As for this article, its real simple in the first pages of the book and minutes of the movies Katniss says she will never have children to Gale in the world they currently live in. Thru her sacrifice of taking on the Mockingjay the world changed. It changed so much that she was able to have children knowing they would grow up in a world without the games. Katniss was as strong minded as she had always been making her own decisions.

  51. You are certainly entitled to your feelings and viewpoints on how Mockingjay ended. It’s how you feel and I’m sure it’s valid. I had issues with the movies myself, but then again I had issues with the book as well. I won’t go into too much detail about why I didn’t care for the last book because it would take forever, of which you touched on already. But one thing one should remember about Katniss is that although she is everything you described; strong inside and out, a powerful persona and an indomitable force of nature, she is at the very core of her essence a girl. A young woman who didn’t get a chance to be just a girl. She was forced at a very young age to raise her sister, care for her family and learn how to survive pretty much on her own. This was all before the Games. A victim of her own circumstances, so it’s no wonder she did so well. But that was not her choice, to live like that. She was then sentenced to die in the games and didn’t because of who she is. They tried twice even. That was also not by choice. Yet every time they knocked her down she got back up, somehow. She was then used as a propaganda tool and thrown into the pits of hell again, this time as a soldier. Again, not by choice.

    She is not that girl. She is the girl who loves her family, who looks at sunsets with Peeta and enjoys hunting and being in nature. That is who Katniss is. That is where her strength comes from and that is what she seeks. it’s the only thing that’s real to her. Everything else was just circumstance. It also makes sense why Katniss would be reluctant to have kids. I’m sure a part of her didn’t trust that the games wouldn’t start up again, but life goes on. I didn’t know myself if I was ready for kids when I first got pregnant. I had never been around any and didn’t know the first thing about them. Truth is, I hate other ppl’s kids. But I love mine, I love my babies more than I thought it was ever even possible. After everything Katniss and Peeta went through, it was nice to see that they had moved on. That they didn’t let the games get the best of them, didn’t let Snow have the last laugh in how their lives played out. This was the final nail in Snow’s coffin, so to speak. A daily reminder – they won. Katniss realized this. Having a family is a form of moving on, maybe especially in her world. She is capable of so much love and devotion. Let’s let her have that. Believe me, there are worse things.

  52. I do not understand why it is anti-feminist to be a mother. Being a mother is the most important and hardest job in the world. Without them, there is no future.

    I think it is significant that she ends with the normalcy and comfort of motherhood. It symbolizes a future and a hope.

    I support each person filling his/her role in society, but I hate that feminism is so hostile to motherhood and family. It is not really supporting ALL women, just the ones with the liberal agenda.

  53. I can’t speak to the movie or the book, because I only read and saw the first in the series. I can say that I am unsettled by the way “normal” has appeared so often in this discussion. I think the author of the post is asking why, after breaking so many stereotypes in gender representation, why was this the go-to final image of Katniss’s future? In a dress, with her long hair down, holding a baby. And for so many people the response seems to be that things were supposed to go back to “normal” and this is just what “normal” looks like.

    All the commentary I have seen has made me think that Collins was trying to show a contrast between surface appearances and deeper truths. That Katniss isn’t ever going to be okay, but Life *is* going to go on. There seems to me to be a very significant difference between “Life goes on” and “Life goes on means a woman, with long flowing hair, in a dress, will be holding a baby.”

    Maybe they felt they had to stick with the picnic scene, adapting books to film is a tricky business. But it seems that for the author of the post, a lot of the complexity was replaced by a retro stereotype and she wishes it hadn’t been the way. I wonder if they had ended the movie with Katniss coming home with her bow and arrow to find Peeta pulling a loaf of bread out of the oven with toddlers around his feet and the kids going, “Yay! Mom brought a rabbit for dinner!” would that not have been “normal?”

  54. You miss the point. At the beginning of the first movie and book. Katniss says she is never having kids. She comes back to this several times in the trilogy of books always tying it to the games. She would never risk having a child who could be reaped. Her final shot to Coin, put an end to the games. Katniss’ choices and actions to fight injustice resulted in a new world, one where the children are safe “from every harm.”

  55. There is nothing wrong with the movie showing her as a mother, but there is everything wrong with changing the very nature of the character this drastically to give the character a forced happy ending. THIS IS NOT THE KATNISS THAT I KNOW! She does not wear florals and smile about how great life is. She is doing everything she can to care for and protect the ones she loves, ans she can put on a smile once in a while, but is also often overcome in misery over the ones that she couldn’t save. That can be part of motherhood too, a kind of mother that is a warrior at heart.

  56. PigmyPuff says:

    @Susan Gleason I don’t know what book you’re reading, but it is very clear that Katniss did not love Gale romantically. That’s actually one of the main points by the end. She and Gale were too different. The war highlighted those fundamental differences between them. All Gale reminded Katniss of was war and death, like a raging fire. But Peeta reminded Katniss that there was hope, a chance for peace, and a better life for her, with him. That’s why she chose to stay with Peeta. That’s why she lets Gale go, doesn’t say that she forgives him or wants to make it okay. She even knows that she shouldn’t blame him, but she understands that they are different.

    Hence why she says “This would have happened anyways” when she is with Peeta. Because regardless of what happened with the bombs, she would have gone back to Peeta. She goes on to say “Or would the sad, twisted darkness between them have grown up even without the Capitol’s aid?” when she thinks about her life with Gale. That there shows that Katniss felt that something would have driven her apart from Gale in the end, no matter what.

  57. Sian, I think this is an excellent assessment of the film’s epilogue. I haven’t read the final book yet (just the first two), so I can’t compare the film’s ending to that of the book, and I didn’t have any idea how the movie would end. In watching the epilogue, my first thought was “No …. no, no, no!” and then “They’ve turned Katniss into Betty Crocker!” And I couldn’t believe the dress – like you noted, something her mother would’ve worn. Her smile reminded me of her fake smiles for Caesar Flickerman. The character seemed entirely subverted, and it was really upsetting. I could go on and on, but you have really said it all and said it well.

  58. FluffyCat says:

    Watched the movie recently. I did not think the ending was translated well into movie form, but I will say that your analysis bleeds anti-feminism. Being a mother is not indicative of a woman’s happiness. The entire point is that it’s finally safe to have children because you won’t have to worry about them dying in a stupid blood sport.
    And, this has been mentioned already, Katniss was never aiming to be a hero, she just wanted to protect her sister and family. Which is why it’s a shame Prim’s death wasn’t focused on more, because that shook me when I read the books. Now that the rebellion is over, she can finally put down her weapons and have the peace that, at this point, she deserves.
    My problem with the ending is that I felt the scene was too idyllic. They’re both still broken and the narration describes that, I just think it could have been done better; or the scene omitted. Even in the book, I felt the epilogue was a bit unnecessary.

  59. In the first book, when Katniss tells Gail “I’m never having kids”, she is offering her indictment of the society in which she lived. By Katniss finally agreeing to have children (whether after only a couple years or fifteen years in immaterial to the overall point), Collins is closing the loop on the entire story.
    Katniss’ children represent her final acceptance that the world has indeed changed and is now, thanks in great part to her, is finally a safe place to raise a family.
    The change from no children to children is a victory, her victory; she is finally living the life of a victor.

  60. Dave! You have the best interpretation of the ending. Thank you sir!

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