Katniss, the story's narrator and heroine, is 16 years old and has straight black hair, gray eyes, and olive skin. Her father died in a mine explosion when she is 11. Since then, to keep her family from starving in the Seam, she has had to provide for her mother and sister, using the hunting and gathering knowledge that her father taught her. Her best friend and hunting partner is Gale, and, while they spend a great deal of time together, Katniss is sure that she doesn't see him in a romantic light, something that comes into deep question when she is District 12's Hunger Games tribute and must work hard to maintain a star-crossed-lovers façade with Peeta Mellark. Throughout the novel, she remains a hunter and a survivor, "the girl on fire," but she is also a girl who is very confused about her emotions concerning Peeta and Gale. Katniss must also remember to hide her true emotions about the Capitol: She loathes the Capitol and its tyrannical rule, but to rebel openly is to ask for punishment, oftentimes death. She is brave and daring and returns home from the Games a beloved star to her district but a menace, and perhaps a liability, to the Capitol dictators in charge of Panem.