The Hunger Games By Suzanne Collins Summary and Analysis Part 3: Chapter 22

Summary

Katniss begins to wake from a deep sleep. She believes she's at home, that her mother is stroking her hair, but instead she finds herself in a cold, damp cave. For a moment, she's alarmed, but then relaxes at the sight of Peeta. The medicine worked, and he is recovering quickly.

The Gamemakers have raised a storm outside, so they're confined to their cave for the time being. Peeta cares for her and Katniss tells him about Thresh and Rue and the boy from District 1. She says that she thinks they'd be friends with Thresh if it weren't for the Games, then she thinks about how she doesn't want anyone else to have to die, but doesn't say this because it would show weakness. Instead, she speaks of home.

Peeta tells her that on the far side of the circle, beyond the Cornucopia, is a field of grass where Thresh hides. Katniss thinks about how Gale would see the field as a danger, but also as a source of food, while Peeta sees it only as a threat. She wonders what Peeta would make of her conversations about the Capitol and Panem with Gale in the woods.

They ration their food in the cave and the rain continues. Hunting and gathering are not viable options, but Katniss knows if they flirt well enough, Haymitch will reward them. She tries to be romantic with Peeta, but the words don't come easily to her. Eventually, she finds herself truly worried about losing Peeta, being without him, and when they kiss, she feels her heart stir for him. They go to sleep, Peeta's arms around Katniss, and for the first time since her father used to hold her like that, she feels safe.

They wake hungry. Katniss knows they have to give the audience more romance in order to receive food. She asks Peeta about when his crush first started on her. He describes the first day of school, how his father had pointed her out to him as the daughter of the girl he once loved, and how Katniss had stolen his heart when she sang and the birds stopped to listen. Now Katniss wonders if his love for her is real — if it hasn't been an act after all.

This time, Katniss leans in and kisses Peeta. She is immediately rewarded with a basket of food sent down on a silver parachute.

Analysis

Katniss remains very aware of the prying eyes of Panem. She works hard to disguise her emotions, primarily those emotions that she believes will make her appear weak, in the same way that she hides her cravings for her mother's gentle touches back home in District 12. When Peeta talks about how he hopes someone else will kill Thresh, Katniss starts to cry because she doesn't want anyone else to die, which is unacceptable from a tribute in the Hunger Games. Instead, she disguises her tears as homesickness.

Throughout the novel, Katniss has been preoccupied with making sure that she doesn't owe anyone any debts, particularly Peeta. She believes that her poverty and experience growing up in the Seam makes her feel this way and doesn't expect Peeta to understand. Thresh, who also grew up with very little, does understand though, and Katniss explains this to Peeta.

She continues to compare Gale and Peeta, trying to decide what they would make of one another, while also trying to sort out how she feels about each of them. She maintains that the affection she and Peeta display toward one another is an act meant to satisfy the audience and to get food from Haymitch, but she still decides to ask Peeta about the bread he gave her when she was a girl. She believes that it's the first gift that's hardest to repay and still feels indebted to Peeta even after she's saved his life and nursed him back to health. Peeta's answer about the bread is simply that Katniss knows why he did it, and that Haymitch had said she'd be hard to convince.

While Katniss doesn't understand, it's clear that hidden within Peeta's words is his admission of true love for Katniss. She begins to pick up on Peeta's true feelings for her only when she asks about the first time he knew that he loved her. He describes how his father pointed Katniss out to him at school, how his father had thought he'd marry Katniss' mother, but she chose a coal miner since he could win the birds over with his singing. These comments about her father make Katniss realize that she avoids music not because she dislikes it or thinks it useless, but because it reminds her of her father. It was Katniss' singing, Peeta says, that won him over, too.

Slowly, Katniss is falling for Peeta, which is indicated by multiple events in this chapter. She, again, fears losing Peeta, this "boy with the bread" as she calls him; she feels a stirring inside her chest when they kiss, a kiss that leaves her curious and wanting more; in Peeta's arms, she feels safe and secure; and then, during his descriptions of her as a child, she wonders if none of his feelings were made up at all, if, in fact, Peeta really does love her, which means that she will have to sort out her true emotions after all, something that Katniss has been avoiding throughout the entire novel. She does not like to approach her feelings because she believes they make her look weak, but now with food on the line and her growing affections toward Peeta, she is able to voice a bit of her love for him.

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