In reading and watching The Hunger Games, I was really impressed with the thought that in order for Katniss to succeed in the games, she had to learn to be likeable. In many ways, she did not want to be liked. She had lived an incredibly rough life and had learned to survive and even thrive by often being distant and aloof. She went into the games thinking that her only chance of winning was to exercise her strong will and her ability to hunt.
But it wasn’t long until she learned that her only real chance of survival would come if she gained sponsors. And to gain sponsors, she had to be likeable. In the arena of public opinion, not too many people are drawn to the quiet, sometimes abrasive type person. We probably all know people like that and chances are those people are not the ones we choose to associate ourselves with.
As the reader of the book or watcher of the movie, we, along with the people of District 12 are fortunate enough to see a little deeper into her character and we do not see her as unlikable. However, those who did not know her, like Haymitch and Effie, were instantly put off by her.
If it weren’t for Cinna’s total makeover, both in style and in substance, Katniss would not have survived past the first few minutes of the games. Not only did he change her look to make her both noticeable and attractive to the rest of the world, his subtle encouragements to her convinced her to at least try to follow his directions. Those changes she implemented gave her a new respect in the eyes of Haymitch, which in turn brought about sponsors.
When Peeta confessed on national television his love for Katniss, the nation, along with many would-be-sponsors immediately began to see her as likeable – as well as tragic because she and Peeta could not both survive. Throughout the rest of the first book, Katniss was able to use this fact to get people to like her.
Even though our circumstances of life may not be as extreme as a fight to the death, it is still big enough for us to learn that being likeable is far better for us than the alterative. Whereas Katniss needed to be likeable to gain sponsors, we need to learn to be likeable to gain friends, business opportunities, sales, jobs, etc. Katniss learned by doing what Cinna, and eventually Haymitch, taught her. What things do you know that you should be doing to be more likable?
Part 5 of this series will deal with being ON FIRE. You won’t want to miss that one. In the mean time, get your copy of The Center Circle, another rising young adult science fiction/fantasy series with some very likeable (and some not so likeable) characters.