The Hunger Games’ Peeta Mellark…and Why His Name Sounds Like a Type of Bread.

Hello fellow writers,

At last the time has come where I may write analysis and opinions regarding the Hunger Games novel on this blog! It took me quite some time– I know. I mean it normally takes me about a month to read these kind of books but I guess that new school semester just struck me back…by many weeks or so…oops! SHOUTOUT TO YOU IF YOU STUCK AROUND FOR ALL THAT TIME! 🙂 Anyway, I’ve finally gotten around to  finishing the Hunger Games novel and today I wanted to talk about the character Peeta. I’ve just got so much to say about this guy, it can’t even fit in a book review! WARNING: this post sort of has spoilers if you’ve never read or watched  the Hunger Games. Here’s a summary of the plot if you need a little more context: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Hunger_Games#The_Hunger_Games

At first, Peeta’s name completely boggled my mind. I mean I have heard several unique names but… Peeta?  It sounds like Pita bread or something. Who names their character that? What is the meaning of that? Surely such an essential character to the story line could not have been named after something as mundane as bread. There had to be a meaning…but what?

Through further reading, I discovered that Peeta belongs to a baker family thus explaining the relation between his name and the pastry of bread. What’s more, pita bread is known to be very soft, doughy and hearty; just like Peeta’s soft personality in scenes where he intentionally burns bread as an excuse to feed the starving protagonist, Katniss. While he can be tough if he needs to (he won his school’s wrestling tournament) he’s prefers not to be a cold-hearted killer like the Careers but rather friendly and charming. Which again, comes back to the pita bread. Very malleable and versatile, we see that Pita bread can be manipulated into all kinds of dishes like donairs, wraps, taquitos, nachos and even tacos. This resembles the way that Peeta is able to morph and manipulate his personality and crowds so he gets what he needs to survive in the Capitol. He is fairly quiet on the train ride to the Capitol yet reveals a confident, charismatic persona once surrounded by the rich Capitol citizens in order to gain them as sponsors in the Games. Peeta, like all of district 12, hates the cruel Career tributes but is able to pretend and morph his personality so he blends into their murderous, bloodthirsty pack–of course, this action only to steer them away from his beloved Katniss who is their number one target. While Katniss is the master of bow and arrow hunting, Peeta is a master of camouflage and manipulating substances to blend himself into the environment. So there I had it: Peeta was named Peeta because he’s malleable and versatile like pita bread. Yet, somehow, my questioning mind wasn’t satisfied  with that. I just kept feeling like there was something more about Peeta that I was missing…until I read back on the scene where he burns his family’s best bread loaves to feed Katniss.

On the brink of dying from starvation, ready to give up all hope on her life situation, Katniss wanders by Peeta’s home as she searches trash cans for food in the richer part of town. Getting scolded and shooed away by Peeta’s mother, Katniss is walking off to certain death when Peeta comes outside with two slightly burned bread loaves. Though bread was his family’s only valuable source of income in a rough economy, he secretly burned them so they wouldn’t be vendable to customers thus free for Katniss. Clearly grateful, Katniss recounts how “To this day [she] can never shake the connection between [Peeta] and the bread that gave her hope.” When every person turned her away and nothing in life was going right, Peeta was the only one that cared enough to help her. For Katniss, Peeta isn’t just a baker who gave her bread. He’s a saviour who’s bread replenished her hope and  strength to carry on through such a dire life. His bread is essentially the bread of life, that rejuvenates someone void of all spiritual hope and liveliness. Rejuvenates someone almost void of literal life as Katniss’ whole family is starving to death and barely have a means to fix this. At this point, the reader realizes that the bread for which Peeta was named after is not just the mundane stuff you buy at the store. Here bread becomes synonymous with hope, rejuvenation, rebirth. Peeta’s name sounds like bread because his bread has become an emblem of the existentialist hope and purpose that drives Katniss’  life now.  Peeta’s name means hope. Peeta’s name life.

And at last my search for Peeta’s name meaning is over. Is yours? Maybe you have a whole different story for it! I’d love to know so let me know in the comments. Have a good day fellow writers.

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