The Hunger Games By Suzanne Collins Summary and Analysis Part 2: Chapter 12

Summary

Katniss catches a glimpse of Peeta; his face is swollen and his arm is bandaged. She thinks about him telling her not to try to get supplies from the Cornucopia, even though he was planning to do the very same thing himself. She can, however, understand the temptation. What she can't understand, though, is why he would ever team up with the Career Tributes, especially after talking to her about how he wants to make sure he doesn't disgrace his name during the Games. She believes that this was just another game that Peeta was playing with her.

While Peeta goes back to the girl who started the fire to finish her off, the Career tributes talk about how they'd like to kill Peeta, the Lover Boy as they call him. Another Career, however, reminds them that Peeta is their best chance of finding Katniss and also of finding out how she scored an 11. Now, Katniss realizes that Peeta hasn't told them about her archery skills, and she hopes that he'll maintain this secret. The cannon sounds, signifying that Peeta has killed the girl. There's a high-pitched warning call from a bird, then silence, and the hovercraft appears and takes the dead tribute away.

Katniss knows that she must appear to the cameras as if she's not surprised by what she has heard. She wants to make sure that sponsors continue to bet on her and offer her support and believe that she and Peeta are in on this plan together.

She continues her desperate search for water. One of her traps has caught a rabbit, so she eats that, showing off her hunting skills. She finds berries that resemble blueberries, but doesn't recognize their insides, so she discards them. Her body continues to weaken and fail from dehydration. She thinks of Haymitch and her sponsors and asks for water. Nothing comes. She believes that Haymitch hates her and is punishing her, but then she decides he wouldn't do that. Instead, she interprets his withholding of water as a message, a signal telling her that she's close to water. Katniss keeps walking and then falls to the ground atop some mud, thinking that this would be a nice place to die. Then she realizes that mud means there must be water nearby. She crawls farther and finds a pond, purifies her water, and drinks it down.

Nighttime comes. Katniss straps herself into a tree and plans to rest near the pond the next day and regain her strength. The Gamemakers, though, have a different idea. She wakes before dawn to the sound of stampeding feet and a wall of fire.

Analysis

Throughout this chapter, Katniss struggles to interpret the actions of both Peeta and Haymitch. She vacillates, first deciding that Peeta is two-faced and that he is now showing his true colors. He has betrayed her and is betraying all of District 12 by buddying up with the Careers, whom she calls the "Capitol's lapdogs." She decides that if the Careers don't kill him, she'd be more than happy to. Then, she wonders why Peeta hasn't told them about her bow and arrow skills yet. She wonders what he's up to and considers that maybe there's more to his actions than meets the eye. Regardless of what Peeta's plan is, Katniss understands how important it is for her to pretend that she's colluding with Peeta so she can win over sponsors and the audience. Not wanting to lose support from those sponsors — who are really helping the "star-crossed lovers" they believe Peeta and Katniss to be — she smiles at the camera, once again masking her true emotions in order to protect herself.

She also wonders if Haymitch is withholding water from her on purpose, if perhaps he is sending most of the supplies to Peeta instead, and that now, when she needs him most, he is trying to get revenge on her. She questions Haymitch's character in much the same way she question Peeta's.

The question of identity and trust is symbolized in the berries Katniss finds. Although they look like blueberries from the outside, their insides are blood-red, and Katniss worries that they are poisonous. Just as Katniss must question the truth in Peeta and Haymitch, she must also be suspicious of the food sources around her.

Birds remain an important and recurring symbol in the novel, reminding Katniss of various people in her life. She notices the birdcall that arises, almost in warning, just before the hovercraft comes to take away the dead tribute's body. This recalls the same bird cry that Katniss and Gale heard in the woods just before the red-headed Avox girl was taken.

The image of Katniss collapsing in the mud mirrors the image earlier in the story of when she was 11 and starving behind the bakery. In both instances, Katniss thinks about how it would be okay to die at that moment, and, similarly, she finds salvation each time, once in the form of Peeta and his bread and this time in the form of the pond. Relief is short, though, as tension rises when Katniss sees the flames approaching her. Not only is she up against the other tributes and her natural surroundings, but she also has the Gamemakers to contend with.

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