Gale Hawthorne is one of the most underrated characters in the series who I think had the most growth throughout the series. Gale started off as the best friend in The Hunger Games, turned into a rebel in Catching Fire and became a soldier in Mockingjay.
In The Hunger Games, Gale has two main roles: provider and protector, mainly in regards to his and Katniss’ families. Those two roles are allow him and Katniss to have this deep bond of friendship since they both had to step up and provide for their families when both their fathers died in the mining accident. Gale is constantly making sure that his siblings don’t place their names in the reaping extra times in exchange for some tesserae. He is constantly risking punishment from the Peacekeepers in order to hunt in the forest outside of District 12 to find enough food for both him and Katniss. No matter what he’s always there for her and is always looking out for their families, to the point where he tried to convince her to run away from the horrors of District 12 and the Capitol’s twisted government.
Gale’s character changes in Catching Fire, not only because he begins working in the mines, but because his relationship with Katniss has changed. He’s experiencing a different reality by working in the mines where he sees that he isn’t alone in his thoughts of rebelling against the Capitol. And once Katniss lets it slip that some of the other districts have begun rebelling, the spark of rebellion lights up in him. It’s then that we see how his thinking has changed. When Katniss asks him to run away with her, Peeta and their families, he asks Katniss that if they left who would provide protection to those families who didn’t have any. His concern shifts from his own family and Katniss’ to include that of others. Gale has turned into a rebel.
By the time we see Gale in Mockingjay, he is no longer the is worried young boy he used to be. Gale is now a guilt ridden young man. Having lived through the Capitol’s bombing of District 12 after the Quarter Quell, all Gale can feel is guilt that he couldn’t get more people to leave their homes and head towards the forest (despite the fact that he helped save over 800 people.) He has also transitioned from a rebel to a soldier, ready and willing to risk his safety for others. Gale still maintains his role as protector, especially over Katniss very seriously, even when they’re mad at each other. Despite all that’s happened, Gale is still there for Katniss, whether it be breaking Boggs’ nose when he tried to stop Katniss from leaving a meeting, to convincing Coin to let them hunt above ground, to being the first to volunteer in the mission to rescue Peeta from the Capitol.
Even to the last moment, Gale wants to continue being there for Katniss as her best friend, but he knows Katniss like the back of his hand. As he helps her finish getting ready for Snow’s execution he asks her if she blame him for Prim’s death and despite everything, he knows that Katniss indirectly blames him for her sister’s death and that their bond was broken. Even as he loses his best friend, Gale is still there supporting her and lets her know that taking care of her family was the only thing he had going for him.
After this confession, Katniss says she’ll deal with the pain, but no one thinks about the pain that Gale had to deal with.