The Hunger Games By Suzanne Collins Summary and Analysis Part 1: Chapter 8

Summary

Katniss spends the rest of the day crying on her bed. She believes that the Gamemakers will punish her for what she's done, that they'll make her an Avox and cut out her tongue. She imagines all of the possible scenarios, but is most fearful that the Capitol people will go after Prim and her mother. She doesn't care nearly as much about herself as she does for them.

Katniss joins everyone for dinner, and Haymitch finally asks how bad the private training sessions went. Peeta answers that he doesn't think the Gamemakers paid much attention to him, that he just threw around a few heavy objects and then they said he could go. When Katniss tells everyone that she shot an arrow at them, they are all startled. They want to know what the Gamemakers said, how they reacted. Katniss explains that she left without letting them say anything, then she asks if they'll go after her family or arrest her. Haymitch says he doubts it, that they need her in the Games and wouldn't want to have to explain what had happened in the private training session. He explains that they'll simply make her life difficult in the Games, which, Peeta adds, they've already promised to do.

Katniss feels much better after dinner. They all head to the sitting room to watch the scores that the Gamemakers give out based on the day's performances. A 1 is the worst and a 12 is the best. The tributes with the highest scores often get the most sponsorships and the best support during the Games. Katniss, who believes the Gamemakers will punish her by giving her a low score, is surprised to see that she's earned an 11. Haymitch explains that the Gamemakers must have liked her temper.

The next morning, Katniss lies in bed thinking of Gale and the first time they hunted together. She'd stumbled upon one of his rabbit traps and was looking at it when he came out and told her that stealing was punishable by death. Katniss recognized him: he'd lost his father in the same mine blast that killed hers. She shows him her bow and arrow, and they talk about hunting and the secrets of the woods. Katniss thinks about how she is a much better hunter with Gale as a partner and compares her relationship with Gale to her relationship with Peeta. She never questions Gale, but is always suspicious of Peeta. Later, at breakfast, she learns that Peeta has asked Haymitch to coach him separately, that he doesn't want to be Katniss' training mate anymore.

Analysis

This chapter serves to illustrate further how Katniss cares more about her family than she does herself. She places their safety above her own and finds relief in the knowledge that they will be safe. It is clear, too, that the Gamemakers assign scores based on the entertainment value that each player can bring to the Games. They know that Katniss' feistiness will attract viewers, so they reward her for this. We are left to wonder, however, like Katniss, what Rue's special talent is, something that's impressive enough to earn her a 7.

Katniss' comparison of Gale and Peeta adds to her growing confusion about what each of the boys means to her. She understands that Gale is more than a friend to her but can't admit that she has romantic feelings toward him. She recalls their time in the woods, how she is a better hunter when he is there with her because she trusts him. They depend upon one another to survive and to provide for their families. Peeta stands as a foil to Gale since he is the hunting partner that Katniss cannot trust. She second-guesses everything that he does and understands, too, that her survival depends upon her killing him and that his survival depends upon him killing her, a dynamic that is in direct contrast with her partnership with Gale. Still, Katniss recognizes that she hunts better with a partner, and by drawing parallels between Gale and Peeta, it's clear that she can see Peeta as a sort of partner, even if he is a false one.

Collins places this moment of reflection just before Katniss finds out that Peeta has asked to be coached separately in order to add to the distrust that exists between them. Gale is the partner she can trust; Peeta is the partner who betrays her.

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