*Chawie, this post has spoilers for The Hunger Games. I know you want to read but don't. Turn away now and close this window. You can read it after you've read the gift I will give you.*
It's been a while since I cried over a character in a book. I think the last was for Dobby's death in the Shell Cottage chapter of Harry Potter And The Deathly Hollows. Although many fictional friends pass away in the telling of their story; Kelsier, Dumbledore and Hedwig, Marley (oops, not fictional! God rest his happy doggy soul), No tears were shed for them. When Dobby died though, and Harry decided to bury him in the most manual way possible, I was bawling like a little girl
Cut to January 2012 and my cousin, Mike, gives me the trilogy of the Hunger Games as his 2012 Christmas / birthday gift. I never thought of reading the book because I felt it too mainstream for my taste. Everyone's read The Hunger Games, the youth of today's raving about it... and those are the kind of books I tend to avoid. Amazingly though, the minute I start reading, I soar thru the pages. Read it faster than The Alloy Of Law (and that's saying something!). I'm not sure if its because of the very basic first person way its written, or the other-worldly yet totally relatable plot, or the seemingly real trials Katniss Everdeen and her fellow tributes go thru. Whatever it is, I'm loving the series so much more than expected. Fan base and popularity now understood. The story's simplicity gives even those with zero to negative imagination the opportunity to appreciate the Panem painted by Suzanne Collins.
I was not, however, prepared when the tears started to come with Rue's passing. Rue: tribute of District 11, tiny girl who flew over ground with her unique ability of jumping from treetop to treetop, so small and innocent thrown into the brutality of the games. Of course it's expected that characters would die in the story. Its a twisted version of Survivor! The way to win, afterall, is to literally be the last contestant left alive. Rue's death was expected. But Katniss' love and affection for her, even after death was not.
Katniss: tribute of District 12, essentially Rue's enemy in the games because let's face it, in their setting, anyone who isn't you is out to get you. Sole survivor, remember. But Katniss is our story's lead, and although fighting for survival, befriending Rue gave her the opportunity to relive life back in District 12, back home. Because Rue reminded her so much of her little sister.
Rue's death shatters her.
She stayed by Rue's side as life slowly slipped out of her, singing her to sleep as it were; it was Rue's last request she sing to her. Then she adorned Rue's lifeless body with flowers, right before it was taken away from the arena. It was her version of Harry's burial of Dobby.
And I think that's what gets me. How these characters ... actually people to me... mourn. How the loss of their loved ones turns into a feat of strength and resilience. Despite the pain, they power through, chin up. Not crumbling into a pile of uselessness (but of course who am I to say that's no proper way of dealing with death). It's just, being strong and standing ground is how I hope to be when time comes for me to face the loss of a loved one.
I'm now in Book 2 yet the loss of Rue is still a painful memory. Katniss mourns and I mourn with her, but the story is far from over and now well beyond the 74th Hunger Games of Panem. Hopefully, the rest of the series won't make me cry... but as of now... that's highly unlikely.