The Hunger Games By Suzanne Collins Summary and Analysis Part 1: Chapter 5

Summary

Katniss is in the Remake Center, getting her body scrubbed and waxed and her nails polished. It is a long, painful process, but Katniss follows Haymitch's advice and lets her prep team, Venia, Flavius, and Octavia, do as they see fit. Katniss feels vulnerable in her plucked skin, but doesn't mind standing naked in front of her prep team since they are hardly human with their dyed hair, dyed skin, and high-pitched accents. She knows, though, that they have her best interests in mind and thanks them for helping her look so nice. She meets her stylist, Cinna, and he isn't at all what she expects. Instead of someone who is dyed, stenciled, and surgically altered, he is a young, normal-looking man dressed in simple black clothes. He compliments her braided hair, the only thing that her prep team didn't touch, and she tells him that her mother did it. She finds out that this is Cinna's first Games and that he requested District 12.

They eat lunch together and Katniss thinks about how long it would take her to replicate these meals in District 12. She can't imagine what she would do with so much time if she didn't have to devote it to hunting and gathering. Cinna says that he and the other Capitol people must seem despicable to Katniss with their lavish living.

For the opening ceremonies, Cinna and Portia (Peeta's stylist) decide to dress their tributes in complementary costumes. Every tribute's costume must reflect his or her district's principal industry; for District 12, this means coal. Katniss worries that they will either wear miners' jumpsuits or, worse, appear completely naked and covered in black dust. Instead of emphasizing coal, though, Cinna and Portia (Peeta's stylist) focus on fire, dressing them in black unitards and capes of red, orange, and yellow.

The tributes get into their horse-drawn chariots and wait to be announced to make their way through the streets. Peeta and Katniss are nervous about the synthetic fire that Cinna wants to use, both of them convinced that they will be burned alive, but when Cinna lights their capes, Katniss feels only a slight tickling. She looks at Peeta and sees that he looks dazzling in the flames, and decides she must too. Cinna directs them to hold hands, and they enter the procession to wild cheers.

They win the crowd over, and Katniss relishes the love and affection from the crowd. She smiles and waves and even blows kisses, all the while gripping Peeta's hand. She begins to believe that maybe she has a chance, that there is hope for her to survive after all. At the procession's end, the other tributes shoot them dirty looks, and it is clear that District 12 is the favorite. Katniss and Peeta have been presented to the crowd as a beautiful, luminescent team, and when Peeta tells her that all eyes were on her, she decides that she'll play along and gives him a kiss on the cheek.

Analysis

With this chapter, Collins considers what it means to be human and what it means to be beautiful. Katniss can't see the Capitol people as human because they've altered their physical appearance in various and abundant ways. The Capitol people, on the other hand, don't recognize her beauty because she looks so natural. While this topic alludes to current controversial topics, like the use of cosmetic surgery and makeup, it also contributes to the ongoing theme of masks and deception that surrounds the Hunger Games. Katniss' prep team believes that the more they alter her appearance, the more beautiful and human she appears.

Katniss, too, continues to mask her true feelings by thanking her prep team for their work and telling them that people in District 12 don't have much of a reason to look nice. Cinna, though, can see through of some of Katniss' mask, understanding how disgusting the Capitol people must seem to her. He lets some of the real Katniss shine through in the Games' opening ceremonies. Although the flames are synthetic, another example of a disguise, Cinna keeps Katniss' hairstyle the same.

From the start, Cinna surprises Katniss. He isn't at all what she expects, and he begins to gain her trust early in the novel. When Cinna tells Katniss and Peeta to hold hands, it is clear that Cinna understands how to manipulate the Hunger Games audience, how to draw attention to his district, and how to give Katniss and Peeta an advantage in the Games.

While Katniss relishes the crowd's love and begins to feel hope, as if she might have a chance of winning, she also struggles with how she and Peeta have been presented as a team. She doesn't believe it's fair to pair them this way when soon they will be trying to kill one another. Still, she's comforted by Peeta's presence and is glad to have his hand in hers. He keeps her steady during the procession, and, at the end, he flatters her with compliments, his smile's sincerity softening her a bit. Then, as Katniss is wont to do, she doubts Peeta, deciding that this is all a part of his game, that Peeta is a predator trying to lure her in. So Katniss decides to play along by giving him a kiss on the cheek, adding to her many disguises and masks.

Although they stole the show at the opening ceremonies, there are a lot of gruesome obstacles ahead of Katniss and Peeta, and the dirty looks that the other tributes give them are an omen of those obstacles to come.

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