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Katniss Everdeen and Joan of Arc

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Katniss Everdeen has been compared to 15th-Century French heroine Joan of Arc several times. Jennifer Lawrence has described her character as "a futuristic Joan of Arc" while promoting every Hunger Games movie to be released thusfar, and Donald Sutherland described her as "more dangerous than Joan of Arc" in his initial letter to the first film's director regarding the character of Coriolanus Snow (shown in the DVD featurette "Letters from the Rose Garden"). The similarities are sometimes overt, sometimes subtle, yet all noteworthy. They include:

  • Katniss Everdeen's official birthday is May the 8th, the day when Joan of Arc accomplished her first major victory: lifting the Siege of Orleans in 1429. The 8th of May is thus still a day of celebration in France.
  • Both Katniss Everdeen and Joan of Arc are from poor backgrounds (the mining District 12 and the shepherding village of Domremy, respectively) yet gain national prominence.
  • Though she was not an archer like Katniss, Joan of Arc was said by her fellow generals to "excel" at the placement of siege ballistic engines such as catapults, arbalests (giant crossbows), and cannons.
  • While Katniss did so for more pragmatic reasons (to keep her children from the Games by not having any in the first place), Joan of Arc also vowed to remain a virgin ("for as long as it pleased God").
  • Like Katniss, Joan of Arc had a younger sister. However, the one most closely resembling Primrose in her eternal life is Joan's spiritual younger sister, Saint Theresa of Lisieux, who lived from 1873 to 1897 and did all in her power to obtain Joan's sainthood. Known as "the Little Flower of Jesus" or simply "the Little Flower", Saint Theresa is a Doctor of the Church whose symbol is the rose. Ironically (as this might remind one of President Snow), the Little Flower promised to "send forth a shower of roses upon the earth" and is known to have given "a white rose" to those she favoured or with whom she wished to communicate.
  • In her many writings, the Little Flower wrote that "Love (God) had chosen her (Saint Theresa) for a burnt sacrifice" and also that Joan of Arc had "offered" herself as such a tribute, "and was accepted." This parallels the events on the day of Prim's first Reaping.
  • Joan of Arc is famous for having heard the voices/having had visions of saints who guided her in her mission. While Katniss Everdeen does have hallucinations and vivid nightmares from time to time (and thus, like Joan of Arc, is considered "mentally unstable" by some), her parallels run deeper than that. As the Arena is treated as a sort of microcosmic world, Katniss seeks not the aid of saints but rather the aid of sponsors to guide her and keep her alive. Additionally, just as Joan did not always understand quite what her voices meant, so too is Katniss at times left to ponder the meaning of the messages which accompany the parachutes sent by Haymitch.
  • At her trial of condemnation, Joan of Arc was quite happy to state that she had never killed anyone (which was why she preferred to carry her banner rather than her sword). Likewise, Katniss Everdeen is more disgusted than most of her peers at the thought of killing people, yet sadly her circumstances are even darker than those of Joan and thus necessitate doing so at times if she is to survive.
  • Just as Joan of Arc became both a co-commander and figurehead in France's rebellion against her English invaders, Katniss Everdeen becomes these things for the rebellion against the Capitol. Each also has their own nickname: Joan is "the Maiden" while Katniss is "the Mockingjay". Sorrowfully, each is also exploited by warmongers and tyrants; Katniss by President Coin, and Joan by both her own allies and later Napolean Bonaparte (who took the title of Roman Emperor and used Joan as a symbol of nationalism).
  • When imprisoned, both Joan of Arc and Katniss Everdeen briefly began a hunger strike, possibly out of willingness to die.
  • Finally and most overtly of all, both Joan of Arc and Katniss Everdeen are inseparable from their image of "girl on fire." Joan of Arc was burnt at the stake on faulty charges of heresy (without the Pope's permission) on May 31, 1431. Katniss Everdeen is artifically "on fire" in Cinna's creations, literally burned somewhat in each of the series' books, and finally has a near-death experience in which she is burned alive and cannot breathe thereafter.  

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