"You haven't hurt anyone, Katniss. You've given them an opportunity. They just have to be brave enough to take it."
Gale Hawthorne was Katniss Everdeen's best friend and hunting partner and one of the main characters. He is fiercely devoted to his family and to Katniss and is a true rebel and visionary at heart. He is in love with Katniss and is forced to watch as she volunteers for the 74th Hunger Games in the place of her sister and fakes a romance with Peeta Mellark in order to stay alive. After the Games, he becomes a threat to the Capitol through his semi-romantic relationship with Katniss and is used to gain leverage over her. He escapes the Bombing of District 12 and manages to save approximately 915 (as stated in Mockingjay Part 1) others, singlehandedly. In District 13, he becomes a soldier for the rebellion and fights on Katniss's side for the remainder of the war.
- "We could do it, you know. Leave the district. Run off. Live in the woods. You and I, we could make it."
- ―Gale, to Katniss
Gale is the oldest child of the Hawthorne family with three younger siblings; Rory Hawthorne, Vick Hawthorne, and the only girl, Posy Hawthorne, who was born shortly after their father died in a mining accident that also killed Katniss' father. After his father's death, Gale struggles to provide for his family with help from his mother, Hazelle. To help feed his family, he hunted illegally in the forest adjacent to District 12, and he applied for tesserae many times. He is 19 in Catching Fire and Mockingjay.
At 14 years old, he meets Katniss, who also lost her father in the same mine explosion. They cross each other's paths while hunting in the woods outside of District 12. Despite their initial misgivings about one another, the two slowly warm up to each other and become close friends. They attended the same school but really met at the mine site when it blew. At the beginning of The Hunger Games, Katniss notes that the only time she really smiles is when she is in the woods with Gale.
Katniss recalls that at 14, "Gale already looked like a man." It is later mentioned he was over six feet tall. Similar to many people from the Seam, he has olive skin, straight black hair, and grey eyes. In Catching Fire, people who have never met or barely know them to think that Gale is her cousin.
Gale admits to having fallen in love with Katniss in Catching Fire, and their relationship grows deeper in each book. He held a hatred for the Capitol and had scars on his back from when he was whipped over 40 times in Catching Fire after being caught by the new Head Peacekeeper, Romulus Thread, illegally hunting turkey. He went to the house designated for the Head Peacekeeper expecting to find old Cray, who was the Head Peacekeeper until Thread came to District 12.
Gale is first introduced in The Hunger Games when he comes to the woods, finding Katniss there, and sharing a loaf of bread with her.