Why Katniss Everdeen is a great female role model

Amanda Keats
Why Katniss Everdeen is a great female role model
Jennifer Lawrence in 'The Hunger Games'

While many of the strong female characters in cinema over recent years have tended to be a love interest with a brain at best, 'The Hunger Games' marked the arrival of a new kind of heroine, with teenager Katniss Everdeen bringing something far more aspirational to the table.

Perfectly captured in the film by Jennifer Lawrence, Katniss is a fighter, first and foremost. Straight away, she is revealed to be something of a rebel, hunting for food in the forbidden woods through a hole in the fence. She is lethal with a crossbow and has no qualms breaking the rules when necessary.

However, Katniss is so much more than just a fighter. There have been feisty, action females in the past - just look at Lara Croft and Sarah Connor - but none have had quite such a strong emotional edge. With her father dead and her mother unable to cope, we learn that Katniss has assumed the role of protector of her family. She adores her little sister Prim and risks imprisonment daily by breaking the perimeter in order to obtain food. As if that responsibility wasn't enough for her young shoulders, she then offers herself up for the games in order to protect Prim - games where she will have to kill if she has any chance of surviving herself - and promises her little sister she will try her best to win for her.

What makes her such a great role model is that she makes no attempt to hide either of these sides to her personality. She has been raised in a dark world and learned to deal with it as best she could. But she is not cold and unfeeling. She struggles immensely with the games and the violence required. She may be a ruthless killer when it comes to killing animals for food but killing humans for sport (and in this case, survival) is not a leap she can easily make. She also clearly has romantic feelings towards best friend Gale but does not act on them because of the world in which she lives and what a future with him would mean. While the likes of Bella Swan pined and moaned over the two men who loved her, Katniss carries on the only way she knows how - by ignoring her feelings towards Gale and those felt by fellow competitor Peeta - whom she soon learns also has feelings for her.

Katniss is a strong, firm character but she is not afraid to show emotion. She loves her sister, cares for her best friend and, while having an incomparable survival instinct, thinks nothing of herself when someone else less fortunate or able is in need of her help. Though clearly courageous, she is also immensely flawed, using Peeta and detaching herself from Gale in order to cope with what life has thrown her way. She is a survivor but she is not entirely selfish, looking out for those closest to her. She gets angry but she is not incapable of understanding or forgiveness; she is no saint but she is no quitter.

Katniss Everdeen is relentless. She will do anything and everything to help those she loves, even if she has to sacrifice herself to do so.