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11/26/2013 10:12 am ET Updated Jan 24, 2014

Who Would Have Won the 74th Annual Hunger Games if Gale Had Been the Male Tribute from District 12?

This question originally appeared on Quora.
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Answer by Cristina Hartmann, author

One of the Careers would've won. Gale and Katniss might have made it to the top ten, but neither one would've won.

There are at least three major changes from the book if Gale were the male tribute:

  • The star-crossed lovers angle wouldn't have been present or as effective.
  • The Careers wouldn't have had Peeta misdirecting them away from Katniss.
  • Gale is far more ruthless and impulsive than Peeta

Both Katniss and Gale are hunters, so they would've been on a better footing than most non-Career tributes, but that doesn't mean jack unless they have other attributes. Undoubtedly, Gale and Katniss would've allied early in the Games, ensuring their survival for an extended period of time.

But here's the rubs.

First, the Careers targeted Katniss because she outscored them during the evaluations. Gale would've done well as well, maybe not as well as she did though. With them allied, they would've become big neon sign saying, "Kill me now!" They're huge threats. Without an inside job like the one Peeta pulled, the Careers are much more likely to kill both of them early on.

Another consideration is the star-crossed lovers angle. Gale doesn't strike me as the type to declare his love on national television, nor is he the type to show his love during something as public and serious as the Hunger Games. Sure, he could've loved Katniss, but nobody would've known except for her. This is important in terms of sponsorship, since the biggest reason Katniss got so many sponsors was because of her story, as well as her other attributes.

Plus, without the lovers angle, there wouldn't have been a rule change, and they might have pulled a Haymitch and Maysilee by separating before they had to kill each other. Separated, they are a lot more vulnerable to the Careers.

Certainly, Gale and Katniss would've been good contenders and would've gotten sponsors without the love aspect if they survived long enough. Nevertheless, neither Gale nor Katniss is charismatic enough to garner that much sponsor support. (Katniss's story only gets her so far.) Moreover, I wonder if Haymitch would've channeled the sponsor gifts to Gale instead of Katniss, since Gale might have been perceived as stronger and more ruthless.

Gale's personality differences bear some consideration as well. Katniss could never kill Peeta because of his kindness, but would that be true of Gale? I don't know. He's far more ruthless, as Mockingjay shows. He's at risk for getting swept up into the Arena bloodlust, becoming a real killer. The Arena changes people, and Gale is more tractable than Peeta.

With Gale and Katniss out of the running, the Careers are very likely to win the 74th Hunger Games with some competition from Foxface.

With Careers after them and fewer sponsors, I don't see Gale and Katniss making it into the top four.

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