Gale Hawthorne is Katniss Everdeen's best friend and hunting partner, one of the series' main characters. He is fiercely devoted to his family and to Katniss, and is a true rebel and visionary at heart. He is in love with Katniss and is forced to watched as she volunteers for the 74th Hunger Games and plays out a romance with Peeta Mellark in order to stay alive. After the Games, he becomes a threat to the Capitol through his quasi-romantic relationship with Katniss, and is used to gain leverage over her. He escapes the bombing of District 12, and manages to save approximately 800 others. In District 13, he becomes a soldier for the rebellion and fights at Katniss's side for the remainder of the war.
Gale is the oldest child of the Hawthorne family with three younger siblings: Rory, Vick, and the only girl, Posy who was born after their father died in a mining accident that also killed Katniss' father. After his father's death, Gale struggles to provide for his family with help from his mother, Hazelle. To help feed his family, he hunted illegally in the forest adjacent to District 12, and he applied for tesserae many times. He is 19 in Catching Fire and Mockingjay.
When he was 14 years old, he met Katniss, who also lost her father in the same mine accident. They cross each other's paths while hunting in the woods outside of District 12. Despite their initial misgivings about one another, the two slowly warm up to each other and become best friends. They attended the same school but really met at the mine site when it blew. At the beginning of The Hunger Games, Katniss notes that the only time she really smiles is when she is in the woods with Gale.
Katniss recalls that at 14, "Gale already looked like a man." It is later mentioned he was over six feet tall. Similar to many people from The Seam, he has olive skin, straight black hair, and gray eyes.
Gale admits to have fallen in love with Katniss in Catching Fire, and their relationship grows in each book. He holds a hatred for The Capitol and has scars on his back from when he was whipped over 40 times in Catching Fire after being caught by the new Head Peacekeeper, Romulus Thread, illegally hunting turkey. He went to the house designated for the Head Peacekeeper expecting to find old Cray, who was the Head Peacekeeper until Thread came to District 12.
The Hunger Games
Gale is first introduced in The Hunger Games when he comes to the woods and shows Katniss a loaf of bread that he got by trading a squirrel with Peeta's father. The two of them talk about the Hunger Games and the reaping while they eat the loaf of bread and goat cheese in the woods. Gale later tells Katniss that they can run away and avoid the reaping, but they both agree that they can't leave their families alone. Gale has been single-handedly supporting his mother and three younger siblings ever since his father was killed; with him gone, they would starve. Katniss explains that Gale has always been angry with the Capitol and the state of the Seam, and that he often lets out his anger on her in the privacy of the woods. Gale also mentions that he might like to have kids one day, if not for the fact that they would likely lead very difficult lives in the Seam.At the reaping, Gale gives Katniss a haunting smile since the odds aren't exactly in his favor: he had 42 slips in the reaping ball. When Katniss volunteers to take Prim's place in the Hunger Games, he holds Prim back from Katniss as she makes her way to the platform. In the Justice Building, Gale enters the room and tells Katniss that she is stronger than the Capitol and can win the Games. Gale advises her to make a bow if there is not one in the Cornucopia. He also promises to protect and provide for her family in her absence. As Peacekeepers drag him out the room, Gale shouts, "Katniss, remember I -"; Katniss never finds out what he wanted her to remember. With Katniss gone, Gale takes over all of the duties that she normally fulfills to support her family. He hunts for the majority of Prim and her mother's meals and gathers the supplies for her mother's apothecary. Although he asks for nothing in return, Prim and her mother repay him with what little milk and medicine they can spare. Gale watches the Games on television, both at home and in school, as is required, and suffers greatly to see her in danger. He later mentions watching a lot of the Games with Prim and Katniss's mother, mostly likely to lend moral support. In the arena, Katniss realizes that it would be to her advantage to feign love for Peeta, but she feels guilty because she is confused about her feelings for Gale. Later it is made clear that Gale found it very painful to watch Katniss play out her romance with Peeta, although he guessed that it was at least partially a sham on Katniss's part.
Through Katniss's thoughts, we found out about several events in Gale's life. We find out that he and Katniss once saw a rogue boy and girl running from a Capitol hovercraft in the woods, and failed to help them as the boy was killed and the girl kidnapped. We find out that once he and Katniss shot a deer together in the woods and sold its meat for enough money to buy a nanny goat for Prim. Gale carried the goat to Katniss's house because he was so excited to see Prim's reaction.
Once Katniss became one of the final eight tributes alive, the Capitol sent camera crews to District 12 to interview her family and friends. When asked about her friends, everyone directed the camera crews to Gale. However, the Capitol people thought that Gale was "too handsome and too male" to be Katniss's best friend without jeopardizing Katniss's on-screen romance with Peeta. Therefore, Gale is presented in the interviews as Katniss's cousin. Gale seems to resent this falsehood, as does Katniss.
Gale, as well as his mother and siblings, greets Katniss at the train station when she comes home from the Hunger Games.
By the beginning of Catching Fire, Gale has turned 19, graduated school, and begun working in the coal mines. The work is exhausting and dangerous, and especially disheartening for Gale, whose father was killed in the mines and who is “only really alive in the woods.” He works twelve hours a day, and has only Sundays off. He spends all of his Sundays hunting in the woods with Katniss. The two remain best friends, but their relationship has been complicated by Katniss’s on-screen romance with Peeta Mellark.
Katniss, confused about whether or not she actually loves Peeta, and feeling like she somehow betrayed Gale during the Games, has fallen out with Peeta and now devotes her time to Gale and his family. She hunts in the woods every day and gives all the game to the Hawthornes. She offered to give the Hawthornes a share of her winnings so that Gale doesn’t have to work in the mines, but Gale refuses to allow this. He is even uncomfortable with Katniss hunting for his family, although his mother Hazelle does not object.
Gale and Katniss did not see each alone until a few weeks after the end of the Hunger Games, at their meeting place in the woods. They shared an emotional reunion. At the end of a day of hunting, Gale spontaneously kissed Katniss and told her that he “had to do it, at least once.” Unfortunately, the kiss was somehow seen or filmed, and President Snow eventually found out about it. The kiss only added to his suspicion that Katniss does not really love Peeta. At the beginning of Catching Fire, Snow visits Katniss and tells her that her “flaunting her preference for Gale” over Peeta is unacceptable. He threatens to kill Gale and his family if she doesn’t convince Panem that she is truly in love with Peeta.
In an attempt to placate Snow, Peeta proposes to Katniss on the Victory Tour. Gale, clearly hurt and betrayed by this, refuses to come to the Harvest Festival dinner at the mayor’s house. Later, Katniss takes him to her father’s lake for the first time, and finally explains her actions in full. She admits that her engagement to Peeta is fake, and that Snow was unconvinced by their romance and is probably going to kill all of Katniss’s friends and family. She asks Gale and his family to escape into the woods with her. He agrees happily, and confesses that he loves her. He is disappointed by her reply that she cannot love anyone romantically at such a perilous time. He is further angered when he finds out that Katniss plans to bring Peeta along into the woods. Finally, when Katniss lets slip that uprisings have begun in District 8, Gale refuses to run with her, telling her that it is their duty to fight for a free Panem.
After his spat with Katniss at the lake, Gale goes to the Head Peacekeeper’s house to sell a wild turkey from the woods to Cray. Upon on arriving, however, he finds that Cray has been replaced by a new Head: the bloodthirsty, Capitol-loving Romulus Thread. Gale is arrested for poaching, forced to plead guilty, and whipped at least forty times. Upon arriving at the whipping post, Katniss throws herself in front the whip and takes a lash across her face before she, Haymitch, and Peeta can convince Thread to stop the punishment.
Gale is rushed to Katniss’s mother and Prim, who set about treating him with their limited supplies. Katniss is very distressed throughout the whole process, and goes beserk when her mother refuses to give Gale more painkillers. Luckily, Madge brings Gale morphling, an expensive painkiller from the Capitol, before the pain gets too bad. Katniss spends the night at Gale’s side, holding his hand and stroking his face, and even kissing him. Katniss realizes that running away or trying to placate the Capitol are cowardly and wrong, and vows to “stay…with Gale and cause all kinds of trouble” with him. She finally understands his lifelong need to rebel against the Capitol.
Gale spends the next few days at Katniss’s house, receiving free care and treatment from her mother and Prim. Eventually he goes home and begins working in the mines, but ever since his whipping there has been a crackdown in District 12. The Capitol’s laws are enforced brutally, food is scarce and expensive, and the mines are paying less than ever. Furthermore, the merchant families have stopped bring Hazelle laundry because of the Hawthorne family’s association with Katniss. Rory takes out tesserae, which upsets Gale greatly. He is devastated by the news that Katniss will be a tribute in the Quarter Quell, and tells her that they should have run away when they had the chance. He helps Katniss, Peeta, and Haymitch in their training efforts by teaching them all about snares and trapping.
Gale watches the Quarter Quell from afar, and is probably horrified by Peeta’s false proclamation that he and Katniss are married and that Katniss is pregnant. When the Victors are broken out the arena, the Capitol bombs District 12. Gale manages to rescue about 800 people and lead them into the woods. With only two bows and fishing net, he manages to feed them all for three days before they are rescued by District 13. Gale is at Katniss’s bedside when regains consciousness from her concussion, and tells her that District 12 is gone.
In Mockingjay, Gale lives in District 13 and spends time with Beetee designing weapons to use against the Capitol. Katniss becomes uncomfortable with the brutality involved in some of Gale's weapons. He is one of the main characters and has a deeper relationship with Katniss while Peeta is a prisoner of the Capitol, but their relationship undergoes a number of strains throughout the book. When Katniss visits the remains of District 12, Gale goes along in order to protect her. On their way back to District 13, Gale comforts Katniss and reassures her everything will work out. When Peeta is interviewed with Caesar Flickerman, Gale tries to go to Katniss and help her when she leaves the room, but Boggs attempts to stop him. Gale and Katniss talk about the situation and she tells him that she'll be the mockingjay. She and Gale go hunting like they used to and the two of them enjoy their time together until he asks her why she cares for her prep team so much. Katniss tells him that they helped her a lot in the Hunger Games. Gale becomes mad about this and leaves. He and Katniss go to the weapons room where Beetee has been inventing weapons for the rebels. There, Gale is allowed to pick out a weapon and chooses a military bow and arrow.
Gale goes along with Katniss and the others to shoot propos for the rebellion. Gale and the group arrive in District 8 to film their propoganda at a hospital. While there, the Capitol attacks the hospital and Gale, along with Katniss and the others, battle the enemy. After the battle they meet at the command room in District 13 and discuss the propoganda. They decide to allow Katniss to go back in to combat and shoot more propos when she is ready. Gale goes to comfort Katniss as she heals. Gale goes back to Beetee and helps him make military weapons.
Gale and Katniss have tension between them. Gale tries to be normal around Katniss but she knows he saw the interview and tries to not talk or say anything about it. Gale tells her it was to protect her since she is too stressed, Katniss enraged tells him to stop lying to her. Gale and Katniss go to District 12 to shoot another propo. When shooting one at Katniss' house, Gale asks to see his house, but Cressida tells him to reenact the night of the bombing. Later Gale and Katniss kiss because they are both in pain and the only way to escape this pain is by this.
After the interview with Peeta, the entire district retreats to safe bunkers during the bombing. Gale saves Prim's life during an air raid because he went to check the Everdeen compartment to make sure it was clear and found Prim and Buttercup. The two make it to the bunker in time before the doors are closed and locked. After Katniss and Finnick break down during a propaganda shoot due to the impact of Peeta and Annie's torture, Gale is the first to volunteer for an extremely dangerous mission to rescue Peeta, Johanna, Enobaria and Annie from the Capitol. Gale safely makes it back to District 13 and receives medical attention. After Gale is healed he goes to build weapons with Beetee. Katniss is sad that he is making weapons that could hurt innocent people in the process and he tells her he is playing by the rule book Snow plays with.
Gale and Beetee go to District 2 to assist the group. Gale and Katniss's relationship grows deeper as the two spend the night comforting each other. Gale and the others go to "The Nut" where they try to think of a plan to attack in and thus take control of District 2. Gale conceives a plan that involves blowing up the inside of The Nut, which upsets Katniss because it would kill innocent people. After some arguments with Katniss, they decide to bomb The Nut but leave the train station open so the people inside The Nut can escape. Gale visits Katniss in the hospital when she awakens and the two argue about what has happened. Gale informs her of District 2 siding with the rebels. Later Gale along with Beetee meet with Katniss, Johanna, Delly, Finnick, Annie and later Peeta at lunch. Gale tells Peeta he has changed and Johanna agrees with him. Gale takes Katniss aside and tells her Peeta has changed and isn't seeing her for who she truly is.
He is part of the "Star Squad" that sets out to assassinate President Snow, though he gets separated from Katniss. Before Katniss goes to guard Peeta, Gale pulls Katniss away and asks her about her plan to head out on her own, and Katniss says he should go with her. Gale helps the team take cover in an apartment and they witness a broadcast that shows footage of the squad members' supposed deaths. Gale tries to calm Peeta down and promises he will kill Peeta if it came down to it. The squad travels underground in the tunnels and later are attacked by lizard mutts that hiss Katniss' name. Gale and the squad are able to make it out of the tunnel but have lost Finnick, Jackson, and a few others to the mutts. The squad splits up, Gale follows Katniss. The two of them battle off peacekeepers and head to President Snow's mansion. After almost dying from a trap activated by a pod, Gale is taken away by peacekeepers. As he is being taken away, he mouths at Katniss "shoot me." She finds herself unable to do it, just as he is unable to kill her after the assassination of President Coin.
Afterward, Katniss' sister is killed in a method akin to one he devised. Gale visits her before Snow's death and gives her a sheath with one arrow to shoot at Snow. Katniss asks if it was his bomb that killed Prim. Gale isn't sure and tells her to shoot straight at Snow before he leaves. While Katniss can never be sure that it was Gale's weapons that did it, she realizes she will never be able to look at him the same way again. Gale later moves to District 2, where he secures a "fancy job" working for Panem's new government. Katniss herself believes that Gale will forget her and will soon be "kissing another pair of lips."
With similar physical characteristics, Gale and Katniss could easily pass as siblings, as could many other children from The Seam. In The Hunger Games, it is said that Gale is the person who knows Katniss best, even though their acquaintance started only four years prior to The Hunger Games.
The two met each other formally at the ceremony following their fathers' deaths. Both were awarded Medals of Valor for being the eldest children of the deceased coal miners. Later that year, they met again out in the forbidden woods beyond District 12's fence. Both had been going to the woods for some time, being as the woods were their families' main source of food. Gale was fourteen at the time, and Katniss was twelve. When Gale asked her what her name was, she replied in a whisper, making him believe that she said "Catnip" at first, then a wild lynx chased them through the woods; Gale had called her Catnip ever since.
Their relationship grew from two slightly weary partners-in-crime to more than best friends. In Catching Fire, Gale proved this when he appeared extremely jealous in regards to Katniss' pretend romance with Peeta Mellark, and suddenly and unexpectedly kissed Katniss on the outskirts of the woods. This was reported to President Snow, who later used this information to manipulate Katniss. When Katniss later proposed that they run away together, Gale told her that he loves hers, but Katniss only replied "I know," and Gale was furious when she intended to include Peeta and Haymitch Abernathy in their plans. While Gale is clearly in love with Katniss, she remains conflicted by her feelings for both Gale and Peeta, as well as her own sense of unyielding independence, until the end of Mockingjay when she realizes .
At the end of Catching Fire, Katniss notes that Gale would never keep secrets from her, right before he informs her that District 12 has been destroyed. However, this implicit trust is challenged as Gale withholds information and opinions from Katniss in Mockingjay. Even though these lies by omission are due to concern for her mental well-being, Katniss feels betrayed. Gale himself continues to suffer from Katniss's relationship with Peeta on-camera and apparent ambiguity off-camera, where she tends to string along the both of them. Regardless, Katniss continues to be very possessive over Gale's loyalties and constantly requires his support in order to fulfill her role in the war.
In Mockingjay, Katniss and Gale's relationship continues to become more romantic but also more complex. The relative simplicity of hunting to stave off starvation is replaced with something not so straight forward: war. Even as they work together to overthrow the Capitol a chasm seems to grow between them as their ideals and morals clash. Gale's 'win at all costs' mentality, which was evident before in his words, are actually being put into practice. However, Katniss is still clinging to the hope of winning the war with limited casualties and some sense of morality, as Peeta would have done. In the end, it is Gale's conviction in the necessity of sacrifice pitted against Katniss's moral incoherence that truly severs any relationship they had or could ever have. Primrose, Katniss's sister, is killed by a firebomb that may have been designed by Gale. Even though the order to use the bombs was given by President Coin, Katniss cannot bring herself to forgive Gale and effectively shuts him out of her life.
Katniss returns to District 12, whereas Gale lives in District 2, working 'a fancy job,' according to Katniss. Katniss concludes that she needs Peeta, not Gale, to survive, because in the end, she and Gale are simply too alike. They are both full of fire, motivated largely by anger and vengefulness, and Katniss cannot maintain a sense of peace and self-worth as long as she as too exposed to that truth.
Gale is neither truly friends nor enemies with Peeta Mellark though he has felt jealous of Peeta due to the show that Peeta and Katniss put on for the cameras.
In Catching Fire, Peeta knew Katniss had feelings for him and fully accepted that he would allow Katniss to be with Gale if it meant her happiness. When Gale was being whipped, Peeta tried to help him and protect Katniss. Later, when Gale helped Katniss, Peeta and Haymitch train in preparation for the Quell, he confessed to Katniss that Peeta was not easy to hate.
In the arena Peeta gave Katniss a locket with a picture of Gale actually smiling; Peeta wanted her to be with him so she could be happy.
In Mockingjay, Gale volunteered first to be on the squad to break into the Capitol and retrieve Peeta from prison. It is unknown whether he did this for Katniss or because of genuine concern for Peeta.
After Peeta's rescued and Katniss goes to District 2 because she can no longer be around the hijacked Peeta, Gale tells her that he's watched Peeta through the glass. He tells her that he knows that if Peeta never recovered, Katniss would always feel wrong being with Gale because of her feelings for Peeta.
Later Mockingjay, while they hide in a safe house, Katniss wakes to a hushed conversation between Gale and Peeta about her. While Peeta tells Gale that Katniss loves Gale, Gale disagrees and implies that the way that Katniss kissed Peeta during the Quell told Gale that she loved Peeta, instead. When Gale wishes that he had volunteered in place of Peeta when his name was reaped, Peeta reminds him that he couldn't, that Katniss needed him to take care of her family. When Peeta wonders how Katniss would choose between them, Gale tells him that Katniss would choose the person she could not survive without.
In The Hunger Games, Gale was not yet working in the coal mines, and was mainly supporting his family through tesserae and the money and meat he made from poaching illegally in the woods that surrounding District 12. By Catching Fire, Gale had turned nineteen and was working in the coal mines. This gave a little more money, but left him less time to hunt. He still made time to hunt on Sundays with Katniss. This job took the place of the tesserae, because he is no longer eligible for the Hunger Games, but did not help his family in finances.
His poaching was stopped in Catching Fire, after Katniss and Gale got into a heated argument. Gale was caught with a fresh turkey when he went to sell it at the Head Peacekeeper, Cray's, home. Unknown to Gale and the rest of the community, Cray had been replaced by another cruel Head Peacekeeper, Thread. Gale was forced to admit his guilt and was then whipped horribly. Peeta was with Katniss when the two witnessed Gale's whipping. Peeta had told Katniss to leave when he saw the scene, knowing full well that Katniss would try to stop Thread but even with his warning, Katniss rushed to Gale's aid, getting lashed in the face herself in the process. Peeta and Haymitch had to step in before Thread could hurt Katniss more. The whipping was soon brought to an end and Gale was rushed to Katniss' mother for medical treatment. Katniss was by Gale's side during the treatment and kissed him, which brought Gale back to consciousness. Katniss then decides that Gale is the one she will love. Both Katniss and Gale had to stop their treks into the woods when the new Peacekeeper decides, just to be safe, to run constant electricity through the fence that surrounds the woods so that no one can get in or out.
At the beginning of Mockingjay, he works particularly closely with Beetee, designing weaponry for District 13, and later goes in as a soldier on the ground to assassinate President Snow. Gale eventually moves to District 2, where he currently lives and continues working for the military.
PersonalityGale enjoys a good laugh when he is with his best friend, Katniss. He can be easy to anger, and often it is Katniss who keeps it under control. He became angry when Madge Undersee said she wanted to look her best if she gets reaped. He became angry because she is more wealthy then most people in District 12 and doesn't have to face what he and everyone else must.
Gale hated the Capitol more than most people, even in the worst districts. Throughout the books he mentions several times that he feels that a rebellion would be better than just doing what the Capitol wanted. Gale also believed in the ideal of winning at any cost. He clashed a few times with Katniss over the way the rebellion should be fought. Where she wanted to save as many lives as possible at the risk of defeat, he wanted them to sacrifice a few lives so that they can insure victory. Katniss tries to think in short-term, while Gale thinks in long-term, about how best to preserve life in Panem. This ruthlessness, combined with his hatred for the Capitol causes him to become a leading figure in the rebellion and to come up with new combat tactics while in District 13. Unfortunately, it is also this personality that eventually costs him his relationship with Katniss.
Gale also had a very idealistic personality. When he believed in something that was being challenged he wouldn't hesitate to fight for it. It is later said by Katniss that Gale's fire, his passion and personality, was very similar to her own. He often accompanied Katniss when she did appearances as the Mockingjay, fighting when they came under attack. He also is the first to volunteer for the mission to save Peeta, though whether this is for Katniss or himself is not known.
Gale is an expert at snares and strategy. He has known about snares since the first time he went into the woods. He has been able to catch many animals in his snares, which has been helpful for him and his family. Gale taught Katniss about basic snares, which came in handy during the Hunger Games. Later, he is able to transfer his skill in snares into a skill in designing military weapons and tactics.
Gale is also able to use a bow and arrow, though he is not as accurate or fast as Katniss. He is able to shoot from a certain distance and it takes him a little longer to shoot, but he is proficient enough to hunt and defend himself. He is able to kill animals with his skill.
Gale single-handedly supports his his three younger siblings, Rory, Vick, and Posy, and his mother, Hazelle. His father died in the same mine accident as Katniss' father did. Gale originally supported his family by illegally hunting and applying for extra tesserae (a small supply of grain and oil). As of Catching Fire, when he is too old for the Games, he works in the same mines as his father used to, twelve hours a day.
Even though Katniss wants to help him, he refuses every coin she offers. He does allow Katniss to bring in game from hunts that he can no longer join, but expresses antagonism towards this arrangement as well. Katniss and her family are just like family to him, as they look out for each other and share many things in common. At the end of Catching Fire, Gale saves Prim, Mrs. Everdeen, and about nine hundred other District 12 citizens when the Capitol bombs their home.
Just like Katniss and most people from the Seam, Gale shares Katniss' dark hair, olive skin, and grey eyes and is said to be over six feet tall by Katniss because when they met in the woods when he was only 14, she stated he was already that height. They look very similar due to there common heritage in the Seam, so alike that people believe them to be cousins in Catching Fire. In Catching Fire, it is explained in further detail that, when the Capitol sent out interviewers to talk to Katniss's friends and family, everyone directed them to Gale. The interviewers found Gale "too handsome and too male" and thought he might jeopardize Katniss and Peeta's on-screen romance, and "so some genius made him Katniss's cousin." Muscular and good-looking, girls flock to him - Katnis herself says that Gale would have no trouble finding a wife because he's handsome and strong. She describes Gale as a boy who could have any girl he wanted, because of the way girls whisper about him. Johanna called him "gorgeous" and Plutarch says that Gale is one of very few people with "camera-ready" faces. His good looks are mentioned throughout the series. She also describes him as smelling like apples, sometimes alder smoke and his skin smells like oranges. He is often seen carrying a militarized bow throughout Mockingjay.
Film PortrayalLiam Hemsworth plays Gale in the film adaptation of The Hunger Games. Hemsworth is set to reprise his role for The Hunger Games: Catching Fire.