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Why Katniss Everdeen Is a Kick-Ass Role Model

Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss Everdeen in The Hunger Games
Lionsgate

There are innumerable reasons to love "The Hunger Games." There's action, romance, social commentary and the kind of compelling story arc that's unputdownable on the page and riveting on the screen. But one of the main reasons we think "The Hunger Games" is brilliant is author Suzanne Collins' unforgettable protagonist, Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence).

Unlike the many damsels in distress peppered throughout pop culture, Katniss is part of a growing crop of fierce female protagonists. Here are five reasons Katniss is the kind of role model we'd always bet on to emerge a victor.

1. She's Brave. Courage under fire might as well be Katniss' middle name. It's not that she isn't afraid; there are countless moments in the Arena when Katniss is frightened at the very real possibility that she or Peeta aren't going to survive. But somehow she summons a bravery she's had to hone since her father's death in order to stay alive. Betsy Bozdech, managing editor of Common Sense Media, puts it this way: "Katniss never backs down from a challenge, and she uses both smarts and strength to succeed. She doesn't let her circumstances numb her to emotions but instead uses them to fuel her determination and will to win. She's loyal, strong, resourceful, and she looks like a real person, to boot!"

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2. She's Selfless. The entire story is based on Katniss' initial sacrificial act, volunteering in her little sister Prim's place to compete in the Hunger Games. But that's far from her only moment of selflessness. Throughout the Games, she befriends and protects Rue and refuses to abandon Peeta, even though it would be easier for her to look out only for herself. Few literary heroines are as nobly self-sacrificing and as willing to step in, time and time again, to benefit those she loves.

Amy Wilkinson, Editor of MTV's Hollywood Crush explains, "Volunteering as tribute in place of her sister Prim wasn’t a calculated risk for Katniss -- it was a death sentence. In poverty-ridden District 12, the word 'Tribute' was synonymous with 'corpse,' meaning Katniss offered up the greatest gift possible: her life. If that’s not the definition of selflessness, slap an apron on me and call me Greasy Sae."

Jennifer Lawrence in The Hunger Games
Lionsgate

3. She's Tough Inside and Out. According to Amanda Bell, District 14 columnist, "Katniss' strength of character is one of her most appealing attributes. She's never stolen from anyone, even in her most desperate state of hunger, but she is willing to break those rules she disagrees with (i.e., hunting outside of the district gates). Even in the perilous situation of the Games, she honors her own code of ethics. She also doesn't let the weight of the world, which at some point is pretty much on her shoulders, get her down. She's strong and always recognizes the bigger picture. She's a reluctant hero, of course, but one nonetheless."

4. She's Not Boy Crazy. Katniss is not the typical adolescent heroine who's secretly looking for a soul mate or consumed with her one true love. In fact, she clearly states early in the movie that she never wants to marry or have children in such a desolate world. The romance developed in the first book is even downplayed a bit in the movie (but don't worry, Katniss-Peeta shippers, there's still that swoony cave scene to look forward to). Although Katniss does struggle with her intense and complicating feelings for two very different guys in the course of the trilogy, she isn't defined by her relationship with either one of them. There's more at stake in "The Hunger Games" than a love triangle -- it's a story of life and death, redemption, and social rebellion. That's why we love Peeta and Gale but are ultimately on Team Katniss.

5. She's Not Perfect. Part of what makes Katniss so gush-worthy is that she isn't the popular, optimistic, homecoming-queen type. Before volunteering for the Hunger Games, she really only has one close friend, Gale (Liam Hemsworth), and isn't naturally as affable or likable as Peeta (just see how she clams up during her interview with Caesar Flickerman, while Peeta is open and charismatic). There are times when Katniss can't see what's right in front of her, when she doesn't realize just how amazing she really is -- but that makes her all the more relatable.

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