The Hunger Games By Suzanne Collins Summary and Analysis Part 1: Chapter 3

Summary

The Peacekeepers escort Peeta and Katniss into separate rooms in the Justice Building, where they will be allowed one hour to say goodbye to their loved ones. The rooms are fancier than anything Katniss has ever seen.

Prim and Katniss' mother come in first. Katniss talks to them about survival, telling Prim that she shouldn't take out any tesserae, that the two of them should be able to survive off of Prim's goat's milk and cheese and her mother's apothecary medicines. She and Gale made a pact a year ago, too, about taking care of one another's families should one of them be selected in the reaping. She tells her mother, too, that she can't disappear again, that she has to be strong for Prim this time. Prim makes Katniss promise that she'll try really hard to win. Katniss doesn't believe that she has any chance of winning because tributes from the wealthy districts have grown up training for the Hunger Games. They see it as an honor to serve as tribute, and tributes from those districts almost always win.

Katniss' next visitor is Peeta's father, the baker. They hardly speak, but he gives her cookies. Before he leaves, he promises to make sure that Prim is getting enough to eat. After the baker comes Madge. She gives Katniss the gold pin from her dress. It is a bird, a mockingjay inside a circle, and Madge makes Katniss promise that she will wear it into the arena.

Gale is her last visitor, and as soon as he enters the room, the two of them embrace. He gives her advice, telling her that she's had experience with killing and is a great hunter. She has to make sure she gets her hands on a bow, and, if there aren't any in the arena, then she has to make one. He reminds her that, ever since a lot of the tributes froze to death in a past Hunger Games, the Capitol officials have always chosen a location with wood.

When their time is up, the Peacekeepers remove Gale from the room and take Katniss to the train where she again sees Peeta, who has been crying. She's kept herself from crying so that she won't show weakness on camera, but she wonders if Peeta wants to appear weak on purpose so that the other tributes will underestimate him.

The train is exquisite, even more luxurious than the rooms in the Justice Building. Peeta and Katniss get private rooms, and Katniss enjoys taking a shower, something she's never done before. Their journey to the Capitol will take one day. That evening, Effie, Peeta, and Katniss share an extravagant dinner with foods so rich that Katniss almost can't stomach them. Then, together, they watch footage of the other reapings. The tribute who haunts Katniss most is a 12-year-old girl from District 11 who is about the same size as Prim. Peeta and Katniss laugh about Haymitch's drunken behavior, which angers Effie. She reminds them that he is their lifeline in the Games and is responsible for mentoring them, lining up sponsors, and presenting gifts during the Games. Haymitch stumbles in at the end asking if he's missed supper, and then vomits all over the carpet before collapsing.

Analysis

Katniss' primary concerns are not her own survival, but the survival of her family. Katniss' promise to Prim will be a repeated source of strength for Katniss throughout the novel.

This chapter further illustrates the disparities in wealth between the different districts and how Katniss is very much an underdog in the Games.

The gift of cookies from the baker symbolizes a fondness that he holds for Katniss' family, foreshadowing facts about Peeta's father that Katniss will learn later in the novel. The mockingjay that Madge gives Katniss symbolizes many things. First, it is a slap in the face to the Capitol, since the mockingjay is the result of a muttation attempt gone awry. Muttations, or mutts, are genetically altered animals that the Capitol breeds and uses as weapons. They created jabberjays, male birds that the Capitol used to spy on its enemies. The birds could overhear and then repeat entire human conversations. Eventually, though, the plan backfired on the Capitol, so they abandoned the jabberjays and expected that they would eventually die off. The jabberjays, however, mated with mockingbirds, creating mockingjays, birds that can replicate both birdcalls and human songs. By wearing this pin, Katniss reminds the Capitol of one of their failed experiments. Additionally, the mockingjay makes Katniss recall her father, how he was fond of the mockingjays and used to sing when he went hunting, and the birds would sing back. The mockingjay makes Katniss feel as if her father is there with her, watching over her.

This chapter also reveals more about how the Capitol manipulates the districts and how it lusts for blood, planning the Games' arena for maximum violence. This heightens tension in the novel by foreshadowing the gruesome acts that are to come. When Gale equates the Games to hunting, Katniss decides that if she can forget that the other tributes are people, then killing them might be a bit easier. But when Katniss watches the other reapings, she can't help but see Prim in one of the other contestants, which illustrates how challenging it will be for Katniss to dehumanize the other tributes, especially Peeta.

Katniss continues to mask her true feelings. She is glad to see that she appears almost bored in the replays of the reapings. Her doubts about Peeta remain, as well. Already she believes that he is manipulating the audience and the other tributes by showing emotions, no matter how true or false they may be.

Peeta and Katniss' dependence on Haymitch, too, a man who cannot stay sober, is yet another indication in the novel that the odds are not in their favor.

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