The male tribute from District 12, Peeta is in love with Katniss and becomes her main ally and romantic interest during the Games. Peeta is best characterized by his love for Katniss and willingness to sacrifice himself for her. Katniss’s first memory of him, for instance, is from an incident years before the Games in which Peeta willingly risked a beating to help her. Katniss was starving and searching for food behind Peeta’s family’s bakery, and Peeta apparently burned two loaves of bread deliberately so the bakery couldn’t use them, then gave those loaves to Katniss. Peeta’s mother hit him for burning the bread, and Katniss believes Peeta must have known he would be punished for it. During the Games, he is similarly selfless when he saves Katniss after she comes back to retrieve the bow but finds herself suddenly stunned by the tracker jacker stings. To allow Katniss to escape, Peeta fights Cato, the most deadly of the other tributes, and suffers a serious injury as a result.

Though we have a limited perspective on Peeta since we only seen him through Katniss’s eyes, he comes across as thoughtful, artistic, and genuinely kind. We learn that he’s a gifted visual artist, capable of creating beautiful designs in frosting for the cakes at his family’s bakery and mimicking patterns of light and shade when he camouflages himself. When Haymitch falls in his own vomit, it is Peeta who volunteers to clean him up. Katniss wonders what his motive is in volunteering for this task, then realizes that Peeta is just being nice. In one particularly memorable scene before the Games occur, Peeta confesses to Katniss that his only hope for the Games is to retain his identity and not to be made into a monster by his circumstances. The incident reveals Peeta to be a good and introspective person who prides his dignity and decency perhaps above all else. (It is never answered whether he would sacrifice that for Katniss as well.)