Peeta Mellark is one of the main characters and protagonists of The Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins. His name is pronounced the same way as "pita", as in "pita bread". Peeta is the male tribute from District 12, picked alongside Katniss Everdeen to participate in the 74th annual Hunger Games, a competition forcing children to kill each other on live television to remind the futuristic nation of Panem not to rebel against the controlling Capitol. Peeta and Katniss both win, though this is against the rules.
Peeta is the baker's son, which makes him wealthier than most people in District 12, the coal mining district. Peeta also attends school with Katniss Everdeen. When Peeta is chosen for the Games, Katniss recalls that he once saved her life by giving her bread when she was eleven. At the time, the district had given her family money and time for her mother to get a job after Mr. Everdeen died; however, she didn't, and the family was slowly starving. Katniss was looking for something to eat in garbage cans when she passed the bakery. Peeta secretly gave her two loaves of burnt bread even though his mother hit him for dropping the bread into the fire. However, Katniss had never talked to Peeta until the Games.
Peeta is introduced when he is chosen for the boy tribute in the Games. Katniss recalls that he took a beating from his mother after burning bread, then giving it to her. When interviewed before the competition, he confesses that he has secretly been in love with Katniss since he first saw her at school, which Katniss takes as a ploy for popularity with supporters watching the Games. In the Games, Peeta surprisingly teams up with the "Careers," a pack of tributes from the higher, richer districts who band together until they are forced to fight among each other for the victory. That was just a ploy to protect Katniss, for he knew that they would try to attack her first. Later, Peeta is injured, but Katniss joins up with him after a new rule is announced, which states that if both tributes from a district are alive at the end, then both can be crowned victors. Katniss decides that inorder to win sympathy from the viewers which may result in gifts, she would pretend to be "in love" with Peeta. Peeta believes that she is truly in love with him and is heart broken when he discovers the truth. Eventually, Katniss is able to get medicine for Peeta by attending a "feast", which is a specific place filled with items and used to draw the remaining tributes together. At the end, Katniss and Peeta are the last alive, but suddenly the rule is reversed. Katniss suggests that they attempt suicide so they will both die together, and they are reluctantly allowed to live. However, Peeta finds out that Katniss was partially pretending to be in love with him, and he is heartbroken. Katniss finds out at the same time that Peeta really was in love with her the whole time, and the book ends with her uncertainty as to how she really feels. Peeta loses his right leg at the end of the Games.
Peeta and Katniss go on the Victory tour, an event strategically placed in between each Games where the victors visit the other districts and remind them of the Games. Peeta proposes to Katniss because the President is forcing them to show they are madly in love, but supposedly it fails his inspection. Soon it becomes known that there are uprisings in several of the districts, which seems to be sparked by the fact that two tributes were allowed to live. Katniss and Peeta think they are going to become mentors for the Quarter Quell, the Hunger Games that occurs every twenty-five years and comes with a change in rules. The criteria for this Quarter Quell is that the tributes will be chosen from living victors. District 12 has only 3 living victors: Katniss, Peeta, and Haymitch Abernathy, their drunken mentor who won the 50th Hunger Games (the 2nd Quarter Quell). Katniss is obviously drawn for the girls' and Haymitch is drawn for the other, but Peeta volunteers to take his place, wanting to keep Katniss alive. During the Quell, Peeta runs into a force field and his heart stops, but their ally Finnick Odair restarts it by using CPR. At the end, a hovercraft arrives and tries to take Katniss, Peeta, and their allies, revealing that a team consisting of people from different districts were planning to bail them out. But Peeta is among those captured by the Capitol, while Katniss goes with the others to District 13, which is rumored to still exist.
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