Hunger Games Ch18

Last time on the childmurder games, the obvious happens.

Worse, it’s also the more boring option. But it manages to make up for it by being absolutely horrible for the rest of the chapter.

The boy from District 1 dies before he can pull out the spear. My arrow drives deeply into the center of his neck.

You know, that raises an interesting question, namely why was he stabbing the harmless twelve year old already trussed up in a net while Ms. “I scored an eleven by still unknown means and also killed half your group with torture wasps” is charging?

I mean, the yell and charge thing isn’t the best plan, because it’s easy for someone to quickly stab before you get there, but he waited until she actually ran into the clearing. Priorities.

Also, the District 1 kid? If he can make net traps to catch Rue, then he could catch wild animals and the whole destroy-the-food plan looks more shakey.

One look at the wound and I know it’s far beyond my capacity to heal, beyond anyone’s probably. The spearhead is buried up to the shaft in her stomach.

Yeah, that’s pretty nasty. But part of why it’s awful is that stomach wounds generally don’t kill all that fast. Her intestines have been punctured and the intestinal cavity is now compromised. Because of the way humans are built there’s no direct bloodflow into the area, meaning any foreign material just sits and festers until you die.

But it’ll take days for that to really get going. With surgery, it’s completely survivable even once the infection sets in, although your odds of actually making it go down the longer you wait. The capital has magic science, so I would assume that as long as she’s technically breathing, it’s well within their ability to fix.

And yet, somehow I doubt that this will actually come up.

Now, in fairness, if the spearhead is actually in her stomach, as opposed to her “stomach”, ie intestinal cavity, it’s possible it clipped her diaphragm or something, or if it’s really long nicked an artery. But in general, these wounds are not instantly fatal. It is possible to bleed to death by stabbing, but seeing as Katniss isn’t mentioning the area being soaked in blood and the spears haven’t been stated to be razor sharp, I don’t think that’s happening.

Rue asks if she blew up the food and then makes Katniss promise to win. So we’re definitely not seeing any moral dilemma about winning then. Rue asks her to stay and sing to her, so Katniss does.

Rue’s eyes have fluttered shut. Her chest moves but only slightly.

The perfect victim. No mess, no screaming, no blame, just the delicate waif succumbing to her injuries.

They’ll want me to clear out now. So they can collect the bodies.

This is actually a weird thing. They always remove the corpses, but wait until surviving kids are away. This is important enough to them that they would knock out the cannibal player before he could mutilate any of his kills – which only becomes weirder given that we now know that there’s only a single feed, so even if you accept that for no reason they don’t want to show cannibalism, they could have just cut away to something else and let him do what he wanted.

So they seem to have issues with desecrating bodies. It’d be nice to have this developed, especially if it’s a shared cultural feature between the districts and capital or if it’s a weird capital-only fixation. I feel it should be mentioned that America’s considered anomalous for having an obsession about bringing back every body, and I wonder if there’s any connection to it here.

I can’t stop looking at Rue, smaller than ever, a baby animal curled up in a nest of netting. I can’t bring myself to leave her like this.

It’s so nice when people die in neat, cute, heartrending ways so they can be a motivation to you.

To hate the boy from District 1, who also appears so vulnerable in death, seems inadequate.



Hey, remember that girl, you bitched that she was dressed sexy and then that she had a stupid name and then you dropped torturemurder death wasps on her and watched her thrash and twitch on the ground as she died in agony? Does this ring a bell, Katniss?

And that other girl, the one you saw stagger off into the bushes to die out of sight, how about her?

Those two girls who you never saw kill anyone and you killed in a horrible way, do they get sympathy?

No? Just the boy who stabs a defenseless child. Okay then.

You know, when I started the whole male/female count thing I wasn’t expecting it to be quite this stark. Jesus christ there is something wrong with the author.

It’s the Capitol I hate, for doing this to all of us.

This just occurred to you? We’re two thirds into the book. This is the eighteenth chapter.

Gale’s voice is in my head. His ravings against the Capitol no longer pointless, no longer to be ignored.

You mean you didn’t agree then!?

Jesus christ Katniss. When you said he ranted about it I thought it meant he shared your views. So he was the only one with either a conscience OR a brain in your little duo?

Rue’s death has forced me to confront my own fury against the cruelty, the injustice they inflict upon us.

So this is basically textbook fridging, right down to the bad writing of JESUS FUCKING CHRIST WHY DOES IT TAKE A DEATH RIGHT IN FRONT OF YOU BEFORE YOU START GIVING A FUCK?

She thinks back to Peeta’s words about showing the capital they don’t own him.

I want to do something, right here, right now, to shame them, to make them accountable, to show the Capitol that whatever they do or force us to do there is a part of every tribute they can’t own.


That Rue was more than a piece in their Games. And so am I.


A few steps into the woods grows a bank of wildflowers.


Slowly, one stem at a time, I decorate her body in the flowers. Covering the ugly wound.

Yeah, I bet that covering up the horrible thing that just happened will totally show the capital that what they’re doing is horrible. Because they’re been so bothered by that before.

What the fuck book.

They’ll have to show it. Or, even if they choose to turn the cameras elsewhere at this moment, they’ll have to bring them back when they collect the bodies and everyone will see her then and know I did it.


Then I walk away without looking back.

So, I was talking about the fact they seem to really want the bodies. You know what Katniss could have done? She could have sat there. Refused to walk off and let them collect the body. And Rue did ask her not to leave. Now, they could probably have done something to knock her out, so it might not have actually worked, and she’ll have to leave eventually to get food and water. But that would be a statement.

She could also have burned the body. She’s even got a ready-built fire a little way off. Refuse to let them have it. Or, if she just wants to get back at the capital, she could butcher the boy’s body. Take it apart so there’s nothing neat to bring back. She knows how to. Does Katniss’ district share the same belief about corpses as the capital, or is it only their overlords who are bothered? Tear the kid apart. Refuse to let them have a body to pretty up and display.

Instead, Katniss’ great act of defiance is, once again, to go along with exactly what the capital’s doing.

One of the birds sings Rue’s song.

The ones that mean she’s safe.
“Good and safe,” I say as I pass under its branch. “We don’t have to worry about her now.” Good and safe.

The perfect victim dies quietly and quickly, so you don’t have to be inconvenienced by actually helping them or anything.

I’d kill anyone I met on sight. Without emotion or the slightest tremor in my hands. My hatred of the Capitol has not lessened my hatred of my competitors in the least.

Why do you hate them? One kid killed Rue. Six kids, of which only two are left, killed the rest. The other kids seem to have spent the childmurder games hiding and dying. But over and over again, Katniss insists the other players are enemies.

Suddenly, a package floats down.

It’s bread. Specifically, District 11 bread.

What must it have cost the people of District 11 who can’t even feed themselves? How many would’ve had to do without to scrape up a coin to put in the collection for this one loaf? It had been meant for Rue, surely. But instead of pulling the gift when she died, they’d authorized Haymitch to give it to me.


The world does not fucking revolve around her!

They can’t feed themselves! The money spent on that means that many more people are going to starve to death in that district. It is not moral to give a mouthful of bread to the main character at the cost of a hundred mouthfuls for everyone else!

Even the idea it was for Rue beggars belief, because we know everything sent is ridiculously expensive and Rue was doing well on the food front. While the gift would have been kind, making sure Rue’s siblings don’t FUCKING DIE is a bit higher priority here. But then giving it to Katniss? At the cost of their own people, when Katniss is a skilled hunter?

For whatever reason, this is a first. A district gift to a tribute who’s not your own.

There are no words.

Katniss says thanks to District 11.

I want them to know I know where it came from. That the full value of their gift has been recognized.

The full value of the gift is human lives, Katniss. You are killing people by proxy here.

Anyway, Katniss dreams of Rue singing, blah blah happy perfect girl. You know, she’s yet to feel the slightest bit of guilt over this. You know, stuff like “maybe if I’d noticed things were wrong sooner I could have…” or even blaming herself for getting Rue involved at all. Because that’s not the point, the point is what a good victim Rue is.

When she wakes up, Katniss displays her first accurately portrayed mental illness. She’s depressed.

I give myself a series of simple commands to follow, like “Now you have to sit up, Katniss. Now you have to drink water, Katniss.” I act on the orders with slow, robotic motions. “Now you have to sort the packs, Katniss.”

Now. This is pretty good, really. But it doesn’t really hold true.

See, a lot of mental disorders can be held off by massive stress, like say being in the childmurder games. (This is why the capital trying not to let a nutcase win is dumb, plenty of kids will have their breakdowns immediately after, not during.) Katniss is in imminent death and has a clear goal, even if I don’t agree with her logic of Rue’s dead, therefore I shoot other children, so she shouldn’t be falling apart.

It’s not impossible, just not really the best choice.

Rearranging the order of events would help a lot here. If Katniss was dazed and despondent yesterday, rather than out for blood, and got the gift now, then proceeded to shift into RAEG mode, it’d be a lot more reasonable.

(Between this and the mother, I wonder if the author’s had issues with depression. They’re the only things that have any sort of accuracy to them.)

Looking through the packs, she finds the kid was carrying a pack of dried fruit.

To me, this is a sign of extreme arrogance. Why bother to carry food when you have such a bounty back at camp? When you will kill your enemies so quickly you’ll be home before you’re hungry? I can only hope the other Careers traveled so lightly when it came to food and now find themselves with nothing.

What the fuck. It’s “arrogant” to make sure to carry some food in case something happens? Like, for example, exactly what you did, and if the other kids did it they’ll be better off, and really, since when is traveling light because you assume no one will take your stuff and nothing will delay you the non-arrogant option?

Katniss shoots three grooslings and cooks them over the third signal fire, hoping Cato shows up so she can shoot him too.

But he doesn’t.

Either too far to reach me or too sure this is a trick or … is it possible? Too scared of me?

But of course they have no idea who lit the fire. If they know anything, they know that Rue was involved in setting the first two, and even that doesn’t seem too likely. The only kid who knew Katniss was working with Rue is dead as well.

Also? They think it’s a trick, Katniss, that’s what the fires were last time and it ended with everything of theirs blown up. Of course they’ll be suspicious of another unusually smokey fire exactly like the first two.

I find myself wishing I could tell Peeta about the flowers I put on Rue. That I now understand what he was trying to say on the roof.

No, Katniss, you don’t. Or, depressingly, perhaps you do. Perhaps that kind of thing really is all he meant.

Katniss thinks she can win this.

Something happened when I was holding Rue’s hand, watching the life drain out of her. Now I am determined to revenge her, to make her loss unforgettable, and I can only do that by winning and thereby making myself unforgettable.

It’s hard to think of a more disrespectful way of handling the fridging. “I’ll make everyone remember her by doing something that is completely in my benefit and will make me well-known myself.” Seriously, book?

She waits, but still no one arrives.

Maybe the other tributes are out there beating one another senseless.

As I said, by all appearances no one but the trained kids and Katniss are actually fighting.

I keep seeing Rue speared, my arrow piercing the boy’s neck. I don’t know why I should even care about the boy.
Then I realize . . . he was my first kill.

This is looking like it’s going to be the worst chapter so far. Well, book, let’s see how you do.

I guess technically I’d get credited for Glimmer and the girl from District 4, too, for dumping that nest on them. But the boy from District 1 was the first person I knew would die because of my actions.

Yeah, because when you were plotting to make sure the wasps were completely awake in the hopes they’d manage to kill the entire group you definitely weren’t thinking they’d die because of your actions at all.

And as long as you weren’t thinking that, it makes total sense that you could watch them die by your actions without a flicker of conscience, because it’s only “technically” true you killed them and as long as by the letter of the law there’s some ambiguity, of course you have no reason to actually care.

I hear Gale saying, “How different can it be, really?”
Amazingly similar in the execution. A bow pulled, an arrow shot. Entirely different in the aftermath.

Oh shut the fuck up.

You wanted to kill an innocent girl because you were mad about her lighting a fire. A girl who then did die because you sat and hated her instead of warning her, and died a horrible death at that.

You wanted to kill Peeta as well.

You did kill two more girls in a horrible way and attempted to kill all six kids in the group.

Your actions then got the boy in charge of the mines killed.

At no point have you so much as blinked, Katniss. What exactly makes shooting someone the big turning point?

I killed a boy whose name I don’t even know. Somewhere his family is weeping for him. His friends call for my blood. Maybe he had a girlfriend who really believed he would come back . . .

You know Glimmer’s name. Or does she not count as a person because she lacks a dick?

Okay yeah fuck it book. We’re switching topics because I refuse to dignify this with further ranting.

So hey, girlfriend. It’s interesting that there don’t seem to be any gay people here. Considering this is the future and that generally America’s been getting more and more laid back about this particular subject, that’s interesting. It’s possible the districts might have swung back to conservative, since they are pretty isolated and when you’re oppressed it’s always nice to have someone to oppress, but I really doubt the capital would care. (It might be an interesting commentary on the way in which we think violence is more appropriate than sex, but they like to parade kids around naked, so that doesn’t fly.) And besides, this place keeps having random comparisons to Rome, and if you try to tell me Rome was a bastion of straightness I will laugh myself sick.

And if the capital does it, Katniss should know about it because it’d be broadcast. So the fact everyone assumes relationships must be a girlfriend and boyfriend affair means gay people don’t exist in this world.

That must have been some impressive series of vaguely explained disasters to remove something that’s present across the entire animal kingdom.

That night, Katniss hears trumpets, which means an announcement. Sometimes they do things like put out food and tell the kids to go fight it out for it.

I wouldn’t go in for the food, but this could be an ideal time to take out a few competitors.

A few kids, Katniss.

But that’s not what the announcement is. It’s a change in the rules.

both tributes from the same district will be declared winners if they are the last two alive.

This is so fucking stupid.

Why that little rider about only if they’re from the same district? Why not make it any two kids? They didn’t just rewrite the rules so Katniss and Peeta could both survive, but so that it only applies to someone in their situation. Really, this is “Draco and Hermione are head boy and girl and that means they have to share a room!!!!!” level of plot. Only at least those stories have the decency to be directly about it, so it’s more like that plot twist getting thrown into a story about, I don’t know, dragon rights.

It’s terrible writing. And of course it comes on the heels of Rue dying, because Rue being alive would be inconvenient here.

Making it so any two kids could live would allow for some moral questions. Granted, the book would probably just blow them off, but still.

Let’s say Rue is still alive, as she should be, but incapacitated. For starters, now Katniss is on a time limit – she has to kill the other kids before Rue dies. Or Katniss might manage to get to the point there’s only three kids left, at which point she’d have the option of suiciding in the hopes they’d be able to fix Rue up in time, and the longer she delayed trying to kill the last kid, the more likely Rue would die. And she should see this coming.

And, of course, with both Rue and Peeta alive, Katniss would be in the position of having to pick who lives.

Or there’s the issue of how bloodthirsty she is. Katniss has consistently insisted the other kids are evil and she wants them dead. What happens if Rue is probably dying and won’t make it even if the games end, and Katniss has the choice of killing her and ending the games so she and the other person make it, but it’s a trained kid, who Katniss hates, and she’s tempted to keep Rue alive simply so she can kill the other kid? This is marginally more sympathetic than it first appears, since she’s risking her own life as well.

But no.

Before I can stop myself, I call out Peeta’s name.

The only way this book can surprise a reader is if you don’t realize just how incredibly predictable the author’s willing to be.

And on that note we enter PART III: THE VICTOR


  1. Arclight says:
    “To me, this is a sign of extreme arrogance. Why bother to carry food when you have such a bounty back at camp? When you will kill your enemies so quickly you’ll be home before you’re hungry? I can only hope the other Careers traveled so lightly when it came to food and now find themselves with nothing.

    What the fuck. It’s “arrogant” to make sure to carry some food in case something happens? Like, for example, exactly what you did, and if the other kids did it they’ll be better off, and really, since when is traveling light because you assume no one will take your stuff and nothing will delay you the non-arrogant option?”


    I think you’ve misinterpreted what the author meant there. The two questions in that paragraph sound more like they are supposed to be what Katniss assumes the attitude of the trained kids to be.

    She assumes that he travelled light with food because he had access to all the supplies back at ‘camp’, and didn’t think he would ever need to be away from those supplies for long enough to need any extra food. That’s the arrogance she talks about.

    It does come across the way you interpreted it at first glance, but it would just be beyond idiotic (as you said) for that to actually be what the author meant.

    1. Farla says:
      Yeah, someone mentioned that a little while ago and it does seem like the only explanation.

      Still, wtf Katniss you don’t carry around decent amounts of food either!

  2. Sean says:
    I have to defend Collins because it really is a completely different thing when you pull the trigger yourself. The mind can do all sorts of weird mental gymnastics to justify your actions and preserve your self-image. I didn’t kill the girl at the fire, Cato did. I didn’t kill the district three kid, Cato did. I didn’t kill Glimmer, the tracker jacks did.

    It’s not a moral thing nor is it particularly rational but it’s one way people deal with the trauma. It doesn’t sound good to civilians but it does help fend off PTSD.

    1. Number27 says:
      The problem isn’t so much that her reaction itself is bad as that the narrative voice is so utterly tone deaf. If the intent is to convey that she was maintaining cognitive dissonance and now suddenly can’t anymore, the narrative needs to acknowledge that. It’d also help if it had set it up during the previous scenes but it doesn’t and didn’t. She’s totally blasé about all the killing and the narrative is fine with it. Then, out of nowhere, she emoes over this, then snaps right back to calmly contemplating murder and there’s nothing to suggest we’re supposed to react in any way other than rooting for the protagonist.
    2. Farla says:
      Coping mechanisms need to be shown as coping mechanisms. Katniss has no issue accepting responsibility for the one guy she shoots in the throat, for example – she doesn’t keep telling us that one doesn’t count because she didn’t mean to hit him in the throat or she was just thinking of getting him off Rue and the fact it was a fatal shot totally slipped her mind. Moreover, no one else will ever challenge the idea, which you need to do if it’s meant to be a coping mechanism and not actual truth.

      (Plus, all that killing she does in the next two books.)

      In this as so many things, I agree your version of it sounds like the much better story, but it’s really not there in the text.

  3. CrazyEd says:

    Last time on the childmurder games, the obvious happens. Worse, it’s also the more boring option.

    While rereading this (especially the parts in the Capital that most Hunger Games stories seem to end at), I was actually getting ideas for a story from the unreliable perspective of a career tribute, and I specifically had an idea for a tribute that the more interesting option happens to, specifically to give the tribute, the eventual victor of the games, some post-traumatic stress to ruminate on after the games.

    The only difficulty I had was whether it’d be killing them in their sleep or something of that nature because they, at the time, considered that to be a mercy killing of a tribute who had absolutely no chance at winning; or the even worse option of giving the tribute a chance to survive, or at the very least, to die on their own two feet… only to realize later that they accidentally made the tributes last moments on Earth all that worse.

    And the only reason I was leaning on the former option because I knew I would’ve wanted the final two to be the protagonist and the other tribute from their district, so they have to have a final noble duel between two mutually respected warriors… only for it to end in an utterly brutal and violent display of savagery that completely shatters once and for all the chivalric idealism of the games that  being raised as a career instilled in them.

    … Though… I just had the idea of the carer providing poisoned berries (eh, eh, see what I did?) and not expecting the utterly horrible death they’d cause. That kinda combines the two? Sorta? The attempted backfiring of intended mercy part, at least.

    Yeah, that’s pretty nasty. But part of why it’s awful is that stomach wounds generally don’t kill all that fast.

    … This is also an idea…

    To hate the boy from District 1, who also appears so vulnerable in death, seems inadequate.

    Only in YA can this sentiment be morally disgusting.

    … Actually… Katniss is so morally twisted that I’m kind of surprised she isn’t a career tribute. It’d give her that “rebel against her culture and radically change it” thing YA loves.

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