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Despite being an alcoholic who is often drunk, Haymitch is incredibly shrewd. He knows what it takes to accomplish his goals, and he’ll do whatever is necessary, even if it means lying or misleading people who trust him. Toward the end of the novel, Katniss realizes that Haymitch has been keeping information from her and using her to help the rebellion, causing her to feel extremely betrayed. On the other hand, his goals are generally good ones. He only uses Katniss because the Capitol is brutally oppressive and he realizes that, with Katniss’s help, the rebels have a real chance of bringing it down.

This sort of cynical pragmatism largely defines Haymitch, and it stems from a combination of realism and a rebellious spirit. That realism is why he recognizes that he can’t always use nice methods to do what needs to be done. In the previous novel, he believed he couldn’t save Katniss and Peeta, so he knew he had to choose one. He chose Katniss because she was the stronger competitor, and to help her win he forced her to take advantage Peeta’s romantic feelings for her. At the same time, however, he doesn’t simply give up his fight against the Capitol, though a realist looking at the situation objectively might deem it hopeless. He feels a strong need to rebel against anyone or anything that tries to control him. As Katniss learns, even his method of winning the Hunger Games twenty-five years earlier involved him defying the Capitol by using the force field around the arena, which was never meant to be a weapon, to kill his final opponent.