Katniss wakes up on the morning of the reaping, which will be at 2:00 that afternoon in the square. Prim has left her a gift of goat cheese from her goat, Lady, wrapped in basil leaves on the table. Katniss makes her way to the Meadow, then through the fence that is meant to keep the people of the impoverished District 12 inside. Though it's forbidden, Katniss hunts and gathers food in the woods using the skills her father, who died in a mine explosion when she was 11, taught her. Her father had been a skilled hunter and could have made good money from selling the bows and arrows he made, but the Peacekeepers, the city officials, wouldn't have allowed it, fearing that he was arming the downtrodden people of the Seam.
With her friend and hunting companion Gale, Katniss shares a meal of bread, goat cheese, and berries. She knows that he is good-looking and will have no trouble finding a wife, but insists that she sees him as only a hunting partner. While eating, Gale mentions that the two of them could run away from the district and live in the woods. He makes a joke about how it might work if they didn't have so many kids. In a way, it's true that they have kids. Katniss has Prim and her mother to take care of, and he has two little brothers, a sister, and his mother. Katniss never wants to have children of her own, not in District 12.
After more fishing and gathering, they take their goods to the Hob — the black market that has taken over an abandoned warehouse — to trade. They stop by the mayor's house because he has a soft spot for strawberries and will pay their asking price. His daughter, Madge, answers the door. She is wearing a pretty white dress — her reaping outfit — with a gold pin. Gale is bitter about how few times her name is entered in the drawing for the reaping. Children become eligible for the reaping the day they turn 12, their name entered once that year, twice the year after that, with an additional entry each year thereafter until they turn 18, the last year they are eligible for the reaping. They can, however, choose to have their name added more times in exchange for a tessera, a year's supply of grain and oil for one person, and can do this for each family member in their household, with the entries being cumulative. This year, Katniss' name has been entered 20 times, and Gale's has been entered 42 times. Katniss has not allowed Prim to take out any tesserae.
She returns home to wash and dress for the reaping, which takes place in the square in front of the Justice Building. Her mother lets her wear one of her light blue dresses, a dress from her apothecary days before she moved to the Seam with Katniss' father. At the reaping, the children stand in rows, from oldest to youngest, and all 8,000 citizens of District 12 are required to attend. Camera crews are there, as they are in every district, to record the events.
At 2:00, Mayor Undersee tells the history of Panem, the country that rose up out of what was once called North America, and how this country survived droughts, disasters, and storms. He recalls the shining Capitol ringed by thirteen districts, and how the Dark Days came, a time when the districts rose up against the Capitol; twelve districts were defeated, and the thirteenth was completely destroyed. From those Dark Days came the Treaty of Treason, meant to guarantee that the Dark Days would never return. It also set the Hunger Games in place, a punishment for the uprising. In the Hunger Games, two tributes from each district are selected from a lottery and then sent to an arena where they kill one another. The last tribute living is the winner, and that tribute's district is showered with gifts, mostly food.
Haymitch Abernathy, District 12's only living Hunger Games winner, arrives late, staggers drunk onto the stage, and gives Effie Trinket a hug. She shakes him off, and it's time for the drawing. Effie reaches into a glass bowl full of slips of paper and pulls out the name of the female tribute: Primrose Everdeen.
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