Katniss Everdeen is the 16-year-old protagonist and narrator of the story. Katniss is normally quiet in school. She lives with her mother, her younger sister Primrose, Primrose’s cat Buttercup (which Katniss despises), and Primrose’s goat Lady in the poorest district of Panem, District 12, which is in charge of mining coal for the Capitol. Her looks are typical for someone from the Seam (the slums of District 12): long black hair, which she wears in a braid; olive skin; and bright gray eyes.
Five years before Katniss became a tribute in The Hunger Games, her father was killed in a mining explosion, and her mother fell into a depression. In order to provide for her family, Katniss began to hunt in the woods, just as her father had taught her. In the process, she becomes hunting partners and friends with Gale Hawthorne.
When it comes time to draw the tributes for the 74th annual Hunger Games, Katniss’ sister Prim’s name is drawn, but Katniss volunteers to take her sister’s place, along with the male tribute from District 12, Peeta Mellark. When she is introduced with the other tributes, her dress is “set on fire” by her stylist Cinna. This gives her the nickname “The Girl On Fire”, which is used recurrently during the trilogy. During the Games, Peeta expresses his love for her on live television, which Katniss assumes is an idea to gain attention from rich sponsors. Later, as they grow closer to each other, it appears that the love is genuine.
Halfway through the Games, a new rule is instituted so that both tributes from a District can become winners. However, when only Peeta and Katniss are left, the rule is reversed, in an attempt to force one of them to kill the other, ensuring a more dramatic ending. At that time, Katniss decides that both of them should eat poisonous berries called nightlock, killing themselves, and ensuring the Hunger Games have no winner. As a result, the Games are ended, and both Katniss and Peeta are declared winners, which humiliates the Capitol. This choice makes Katniss a symbol of rebellion for all of the Districts.
Collins has said that Katniss “is a futuristic Theseus.” When Katniss, now 17, returns to District 12, she is given a lovely house at the Victors Village, and lives there with her mother and Prim, but continues to visit her family’s old home, or as Katniss describes it, “a run-down shack.”
Near the end of the trilogy, Katniss helps to end the war, but her sister is killed in an explosion, believed to be set off by the Capitol, right before the end of the war. After a talk with President Snow, she realizes that it was President Coin, the President of District 13 and the new president of Panem, that set off the bombs. Instead of executing President Snow, as had been decided, she kills Coin instead, to avenge Prim’s death.
After being exonerated for Coin’s death, Katniss later marries Peeta, and they have two children.
Oscar-nominated actress Jennifer Lawrence portrays Katniss Everdeen in the movie, released March 23, 2012.