Summary and Analysis
Katniss and Peeta, along with the other tributes, go to the Training Center, where every district has a floor of its own. On floor 12, Katniss finds her room. It is large and plush and full of gadgets meant to make everyday jobs, like showering, picking out clothes, and preparing food, as easy as pushing a button. At dinner, Katniss, Peeta, Effie, and Haymitch are joined by Cinna and Portia, whose presence seems to make Haymitch and Effie behave a bit more politely toward one another. Katniss notes that this is the first time she has seen Haymitch sober; she tries some wine herself, but doesn't like the taste or how it turns her mind foggy.
They watch more of the opening ceremonies, and Cinna requests a flaming dessert cake in honor of Katniss and Peeta's fiery entrance. Katniss says she recognizes the girl who brings the cake. The girl appears frightened and shakes her head no, then hurries away. Effie and the others tell Katniss that she couldn't possibly know the girl, who is an Avox — a criminal, likely a traitor — who has had her tongue cut out. Peeta saves her, saying that the girl looks just like Delly Cartwright, a chubby girl from their school who doesn't resemble the Avox in the slightest. Katniss plays along, though, and the conversation at the table relaxes.
After dinner, Peeta and Katniss take the elevator up to their rooms, and Peeta asks about the girl, suggesting the roof as a nice place to go to discuss things. It's chilly outside, so Peeta gives Katniss his jacket. She hesitates, but takes it, deciding that a friend would take the jacket. Peeta also mentions how his father has talked about Katniss, Prim, and their mother, and seems surprised when Katniss says that Peeta's father came to say goodbye to her in the Justice Building. Katniss wonders, though, if this is an act, since she's seen Peeta lie so smoothly before.
Katniss doesn't know if it will hurt her to tell Peeta the story of when she first saw the Avox girl, but she decides to anyway, describing how she and Gale had seen the girl and another boy in the woods when they were out hunting. The boy and girl were running and looked as if they'd been in hiding for a long time, their clothes ragged and eyes tired. Gale and Katniss were hidden. All the birds stopped singing except for one, which let out a warning call, and then a hovercraft appeared, capturing the girl and shooting a spear through the boy before taking him, too. Before the girl was taken, she locked eyes with Katniss and called out for help, and Katniss still feels guilty for doing nothing to help her. Katniss was a bystander, as if watching the Hunger Games herself. She doesn't tell Peeta this part, though, and she wonders if the girl will enjoy watching her die.
This chapter continues to illustrate the differences in wealth distribution between the people in the Capitol and the people in the districts. Effie talks about how she's been trying to win sponsors for Peeta and Katniss by talking about how they've overcome the "barbarism" of their district, but Katniss sees the irony in such a statement, recognizing that Effie is the one preparing them for slaughter, not the supposedly barbaric people of District 12.
Katniss' recognition of the girl Avox, a supposed traitor, adds to the tension of the dinner and stirs up guilt in Katniss. Katniss remembers where she's seen the girl and thinks she should have helped her instead of watching from her hiding place; it was as if she'd been watching the Hunger Games take place right in front of her that day in the woods and had done nothing to intervene. Katniss senses that the adults are on edge after she recognizes the Avox, but Peeta rescues her again with his lie about Delly Cartwright.
The conversation moves on to more discussion of the opening ceremonies, and Haymitch describes Katniss and Peeta's hand-holding as "Just the perfect touch of rebellion." This recalls the rebellious silence of the people of District 12 when Katniss sacrificed herself for her sister on the day of the reaping. By presenting themselves as friends instead of adversaries, Peeta and Katniss are distinguishing themselves as tributes who are breaking tradition, bringing change to the Hunger Games.
Peeta's actions at dinner give Katniss another reason to feel indebted to him, and when he asks about the Avox on their way back to their rooms, Katniss decides that telling him won't give him any sort of advantage in the games and it might even help her by making him believe that she sees him as a friend. Katniss is continually thinking strategy, but she also wants to confide in someone, particularly Gale, but since Peeta is here with her, she decides he'll do. Peeta suggests they go to the rooftop where it's windy and loud. This will help them conceal their discussion since they believe the Capitol people are always watching them.
On the rooftop, Peeta shows Katniss the invisible electric wall that is meant to keep them from jumping off the ledge, which illustrates how the tributes, and in a greater sense, the rest of the districts, truly are prisoners of the Capitol. Katniss says that she's certain the Avox girl and the boy she saw with her were fleeing the Capitol, and when Peeta makes a comment about wanting to leave the Capitol, too, he has to cover it up by sounding as if he's nervous about the Games and just wants to go home, not that he dislikes the Capitol itself.
When Peeta asks about Gale, it is clear that he's curious about Katniss' relationship with him, that he wants to find out how close they are. This is an indication of the romantic tension building between Katniss and Peeta, aided by the upcoming Hunger Games and the duplicity that the Games requires.