The Hunger Games By Suzanne Collins Summary and Analysis Part 2: Chapter 16

Summary

Katniss takes comfort in Rue's presence and tries not to think about the fact that they can't both win the Games. She starts plotting ways to destroy the Careers' food supplies, knowing that they don't know how to be hungry like she and Rue do. Katniss wakes the next morning to the sound of a cannon going off. She can't help but think about Peeta.

Rue has seen the Careers' camp and describes it to Katniss, how the Cornucopia is still there and their supplies are stacked in a pyramid about thirty yards away, protected by the boy from District 3. Katniss thinks there's something wrong with this setup, but can't figure out what it is.

Rue tells Katniss how she loves music, how in the fields when it's quitting time, she sings a song that the mockingjays deliver to the others below her. It's Katniss' mockingjay pin that tells Rue she can trust Katniss. Not only has Katniss forgotten about her pin, but she also hasn't seen the mockingjays and their nests all over the arena. Rue teaches Katniss the signal that she'll sing to let Katniss know she's okay.

Rue and Katniss separate. Rues will set fires to lure the Careers away from their camp, giving Katniss the opportunity to destroy their supplies. When she arrives near the Careers' camp, Katniss finds that the camp setup is, indeed, strange. She spies and overhears Cato say that they don't need to worry about Peeta anymore since he's wounded badly; then, when Rue sets the first fire, Cato, the girl from District 2, and the boy from District 3 leave to go hunt down the source. Katniss tries to figure out why they would leave their supplies unprotected, and why the Careers would let the boy from District 3 live. She decides that the camp is booby-trapped, and soon enough she sees Foxface (Katniss' nickname for the girl tribute from District 5) do a strange, jumping dance in order to steal a few supplies, and then slip off back into the woods. Katniss deduces that some of the disabled land mines from the opening have been dug up. She recalls, too, that District 3 is known for televisions, automobiles, and explosives. The boy from District 3 has proven his worth by reactivating the land mines and setting them as traps.

Katniss aims for a hanging bag of apples, and with her third arrow gets them to tumble free, setting off a chain of explosions that destroys most of the Careers' supplies and sends her flying backward.

Analysis

Katniss' mind is increasingly drawn toward Peeta. She worries about him and tries to decide what might have happened to him after he helped save her. She wants to remember that moment in the woods, to try to figure out if what she had seen had been real. No matter how much she tries to deny it, she does, in fact, have feelings for Peeta.

She also worries about Rue. Katniss considers herself Rue's protector, an older-sister figure, but realizes that both of them cannot survive, which complicate the Games later.

The importance of birds emerges yet again in this chapter. Rue, like Katniss' father, sings to the birds, and birds sing back. Rue explains that the mockingjays at home would carry messages for her, that they were her "special friends," and, in many ways, Katniss' mockingjay pin carries a special message with it. For instance, the pin signals to Rue that she can trust Katniss. It also delivers a message to the Capitol, a reminder of how their own weapons can be manipulated and used against them, the Hunger Games included. The mockingjays will carry messages between Rue and Katniss, too, and help them with their plan. Despite the fact that Katniss often forgets about her pin, those who are closest to her remind her of its importance: first Cinna and now Rue.

The ongoing theme of masked appearances continues in this chapter, as well. The Careers have made their camp appear to be vulnerable by leaving it unattended. Katniss believes that there is more to their camp's setup than meets the eye, however, and she's right. She realizes that land mines have been strategically placed around the supplies. Just as the districts used the mockingjays as weapons against their creators in the Capitol, Katniss uses the Careers' land mines against them.

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