The Three Times Katniss Uses the Word “Whiz”
2. Whiz: (informal) a person who is extremely clever at something.
“Peeta’s a whiz with fires, coaxing a blaze out of the damp wood.” (THG)
“[Gale’s] something of a whiz with snares, rigging them to bent saplings so they pull the kill out of the reach of predators….” (CF)
“While [Finnick’s] a whiz with that trident, it’s a weapon less suited to the jungle than my arrows. (CF)
When Katniss first used this word in THG, I thought it was an odd choice. It’s a somewhat dated word, not the first term a modern teenager would use, and it stuck out to me.
It’s interesting that Katniss (and by extension Suzanne Collins) uses it three times to describe three different characters. With Gale and Finnick, we have them as masters of their weapons of choice: the snare for Gale and Finnick’s trident that is described as a deadly extension of his arm. With Peeta we have something a little different
Peeta is never described as a whiz at baking or painting or talking—he’s a whiz with fires; patiently, methodically coaxing a fire out of wood that should not burn. In this way, he’s the only counterpart to Katniss—the Girl on Fire, the reluctant Mockingjay, a creature the Capitol never intended.
Peeta is also the only one of the three whose “whiz” skill isn’t necessarily deadly. Fires can be destructive, they can kill, but they can be harnessed for other purposes, too. The snare and the trident are very valuable in hunting for food or killing an enemy, but they don’t have the added bonus of warming you at night and bringing comforting light to the darkness.
Gale and Katniss are both described as “having fire,” but only Peeta is described as having skill with the flames.