Hunger Games Ch19

Romance and Injuries.

I clap my hands over my mouth, but the sound has already escaped. The sky goes black and I hear a chorus of frogs begin to sing. Stupid! I tell myself. What a stupid thing to do! I wait, frozen, for the woods to come alive with assailants.

I quote because I have no idea why this entire paragraph was written. Katniss has been displaying surprisingly little paranoia this entire time. The idea all of a sudden she’s certain saying a name aloud will result in attack is ridiculous. She just lit a signal fire and got ignored.

Whatever doubts I’ve had about him dissipate because if either of us took the other’s life now we’d be pariahs when we returned to District 12. In fact, I know if I was watching I’d loathe any tribute who didn’t immediately ally with their district partner.

So this is Katniss’ reasoning – if I don’t do this, people will be mad, and I would be judgey about anyone who didn’t, so.

And in my case — being one of the star-crossed lovers from District 12 — it’s an absolute requirement if I want any more help from sympathetic sponsors.

I’m sure there’s some reasoning here about how the author is using misdirection or something, but seriously, way too far.

Also, hey look, the implication she has to whore herself out. We’re going to be keeping an eye on that one too, because I haven’t liked it since the whole sexy dress fiasco.

The star-crossed lovers… Peeta must have been playing that angle all along. Why else would the Gamemakers have made this unprecedented change in the rules?

The gamemakers seem to fuck with the game all the time. If anything, the book should want to downplay how obvious this is instead of all but screaming HEY LOOK I HAS A PLOT HOLE.

For two tributes to have a shot at winning, our “romance” must be so popular with the audience that condemning it would jeopardize the success of the Games.

This is weird. Once again, it’s unclear who exactly is in charge and where responsibility lies. And what, there’s never been a year before where the audience had two favorites or something?

She goes on to say that Peeta must have convinced the audience that all his actions were to keep Katniss alive.

Peeta, it turns out, has never been a danger to me.

Peeta was never a danger to you. You have a bow and arrows, he’s a baker.

The thought makes me smile. I drop my hands and hold my face up to the moonlight so the cameras can be sure to catch it.

I actually have no problem with the playing along, except that in context, it’s obvious that Peeta is legitimately in love, and also that Katniss is expected to return his feelings. So instead of being reasonable, it comes across as false and using.

So, who is there left to be afraid of? Foxface? The boy tribute from her district is dead.

So that leaves Cato and the girl from District 2, who are now surely celebrating the new rule. They’re the only ones left who benefit from it besides Peeta and myself.

See? By preventing people from allying with anyone, this is incredibly predictable.

Also, just a weird little note, she’s been referring to Cato by name for some time, but ignoring the girl from his district. He’s clearly picked as the face of the trained kids. Similarly, the first one who dies is a named girl. So the whole names = mattering continues merrily.

Anyway, Katniss finally realizes that she has a fucking bow, no one can really hurt her. She’s still worried about Thresh for no discernible reason, but she figures he’s hanging out somewhere else. She goes to sleep.

The next day, she tries to figure out where Peeta could be. She knows where he started and that Cato says he’s badly injured.

If the wound and the stingers haven’t killed him, surely thirst would have taken him by now.
And that’s when I get my first clue to his whereabouts. He couldn’t have survived without water.

Good job Katniss, you’re using human-level reasoning again. He can’t have gone far initially and he probably hasn’t been moving around much since then, so find water and you’ll find him.

She figures the best bet is the stream, because it’s possible to move around without leaving it, it’ll hide tracks and there’s food in it.

To confuse my enemies’ minds, I start a fire with plenty of green wood. Even if they think it’s a ruse, I hope they’ll decide I’m hidden somewhere near it.

Yay Katniss! You’re smart.

he’ll know I’ll be looking, right? He won’t have so low of an opinion of me as to think I’d ignore the new rule and keep to myself. Would he? He’s very hard to predict

Oh, come on.

I mean, even if he thought there was a decent chance that Katniss wouldn’t come for him, he’d still be looking for her arrival because it’s not like he’s got anything else to do. He doesn’t have much chance of winning the games on his own. It’s Katniss or nothing.

The stream begins to curve to the left into a part of the woods that’s new to me. Muddy banks covered in tangled water plants

This is kind of sloppy plotting. If the map of the area had been better established and it was clear she was sticking to particular areas, or that this went in a direction she didn’t want to go, that’d work a lot better. It’d also help to say what tangled water plants, since so far she’s mentioned two kinds that are delicious and she’s been hungry.

I begin to feel somewhat trapped. It would be no small matter to escape the stream now. Fighting off Cato or Thresh as I climbed over this rocky terrain.

You have a bow. You are not going to be able to fight off either of them in hand to hand combat. Thresh is inexplicably six feet tall and Cato has been heavily trained. Also, wtf, you just said the two district kids were working together, where’s the unnamed girl Cato should be teaming up with. Stop forgetting about her!

She’s just about to leave when she sees
the bloody streak going down the curve of a boulder.

How many days has it been? Let’s see, two days unconscious, and there was the night she slept with Rue, and then she blew stuff up and slept, and then she slept after Rue died. So this is the sixth day? And it’s still clearly identifiable as dried blood, on a rock in a stream.

Well, whatever. So she keeps going.

I find a few more bloodstains, one with a few threads of fabric glued to it

Damn, the trained kids weren’t even trying, were they? And not really sure how the fabric ended up stuck there, the clothes should be pretty well made.

Anyway, turns out Peeta buried himself in mud. Well, that’s a good tactic.

Most of what I judge to be his body is actually under a layer of mud and plants. His face and arms are so artfully disguised as to be invisible. I kneel beside him. “I guess all those hours decorating cakes paid off.”
Peeta smiles. “Yes, frosting. The final defense of the dying.”

>> Of all the things you could have used foreshadowing on, book, you wasted it on that? It’s not even that close a skill!

Katniss says she’ll get him into the stream itself and see how his wounds look.

“Lean down a minute first,” he says. “Need to tell you something.” I lean over and put my good ear to his lips, which tickle as he whispers. “Remember, we’re madly in love, so it’s all right to kiss me anytime you feel like it.”

And wow I’m squicked again.

This doesn’t seem like a joke. It’s Nice Guyism. Especially in context of Katniss saying she has to play along or else the sponsor money stops and she dies. If their relationship hadn’t had the strong undertones of this the whole time, I’d assume that he really was kidding here, but after the setup, it’s just really, really squicky.

I jerk my head back but end up laughing. “Thanks, I’ll keep it in mind.” At least, he’s still able to joke around.

And I have a weird feeling the book agrees it wasn’t a joke and thinks Katniss is being a jerk here.

She tries to move him but he’s really injured and she can’t do it without hurting him more. So she props him next to the steam and dumps water over him to get the mud off.

I have to dig the stingers out of his tracker jacker lumps,

What sort of moron wouldn’t have done this originally?

This is when I notice how hot his skin is becoming. The layer of mud and the bottles of water have disguised the fact that he’s burning with fever.

Hm. I’m not sure this would actually be survivable. He’s been in wet mud for days now. Hypothermia.

I dig through the first-aid kit I got from the boy from District 1 and find pills that reduce your temperature.

Uh. Katniss, fevers are there for a reason. You should know this because you live in a shitty district people can’t afford medicine, so a common treatment for illness should be trying to heat the person up as much as possible. Getting a fever down is only a good idea if the person isn’t particularly sick or if the fever is high enough to cause brain damage, neither of which apply now.

The deep inflamed gash oozing both blood and pus. The swelling of the leg. And worst of all, the smell of festering flesh.

Aw, that’s not that bad Katniss.

So, earlier I was really upset about this cat and the massive pus-filled wound he had. I mean, it was pretty awful. An abscess had formed that was so bad it’d rotted out a large hollow underneath. When I first cleaned it out, what I found underneath was a thick layer of white, decomposing flesh. I ended up cutting it further open with scissors and he couldn’t even feel it.

Anyway it’s healed up now.

Now, cats are kind of awesome while people have immune systems that appear to have been hastily assembled out of particularly fragile paper, but swelling and blood are good signs here! See, that means the body still has plenty of blood flow to fight the infection.

Now, his odds of his leg actually working when we’re done kind of sucks, but otherwise, treatment here is easy.

You just cut the wound open again and wash it out. Any patches of dead flesh should be cut out in the process. Bleeding means it’s working! She’s even got iodine with her so she can sterilize the knife and use sterile water on the wound. Katniss has plenty of experience butchering meat, so she shouldn’t have too much trouble here. The main issue is the leg artery, which you do not want to hit while hacking this open, and the minor issue is accidentally crippling him by damaging the muscle too much. Personally, the latter doesn’t seem like it’s an issue here since they have magic science.

But Katniss doesn’t know this. So she just pours water over it for a while.

With each bottle I pour over him, the worse the wound looks. The rest of his lower body has fared pretty well, just one tracker jacker sting and a few small burns that I treat quickly. But the gash on his leg . . . what on earth can I do for that?

Uh, what you’re doing. Really, should be fine. I mean, unless you’re not putting iodine in that water, which I just realized I don’t think you are. In which case you’re pouring untreated stream water into an open would, so you could try not doing that for starters.

“Why don’t we give it some air and then . . .” I trail off.
“And then you’ll patch it up?” says Peeta. He looks almost sorry for me, as if he knows how lost I am.

No, no, you leave a wound open.

Come on, this is so easy to fix! Pus bad, open wound lets pus out, keep wound open.

When they’re flattened out and drying, I examine the contents of the first-aid kit. It’s pretty basic stuff. Bandages, fever pills, medicine to calm stomachs. Nothing of the caliber I’ll need to treat Peeta.

Seriously, you just need iodine and a knife.

I know the tracker jacker leaves draw out infection

What the fuck? No they don’t. The swollen stings are not infected, they’re full of venom that’s triggering an immune reaction. The leaves almost certainly just act on the venom. In the event they instead turn off immune response, why the fuck would that help? His immune response is the only thing keeping the infection contained right now.

Within minutes of pressing the handful of chewed-up green stuff into the wound



Look, I know Katniss doesn’t know much about medicine, but her mom should have mentioned spit does not go in wounds by now. They’re in a crapsack world, getting horrible infections happens and you need to know basic stuff.

Considering they don’t even have hot water in her district, getting an infection or abscess should be very common, and people should get and deal with very minor ones all the time. Katniss herself should probably have had one by now – a very common way to get an abscess is a splinter or other foreign particle being lodged in your skin. She might easily panic over not knowing how to deal with a massive inflamed wound, but she should know basics. At the very, very least, at some point she must have been hurt as a kid, her mom washes the wound out, Katniss sticks the injury in her mouth and she’s told not to do that or it’ll get infected.

pus begins running down the side of his leg. I tell myself this is a good thing

Okay, the pus running actually is a good thing. The fact you apparently didn’t even clean the wound properly is a bad thing. Stop sticking shit in the wound and focus on pushing pus out. Keep pressing until you get blood. If you don’t get blood, get a knife and start cutting because that means there’s no blood flow in the area.

“Katniss?” Peeta says. I meet his eyes, knowing my face must be some shade of green. He mouths the words. “How about that kiss?”

Stop it, book.

“I . . . I’m no good at this. I’m not my mother. I’ve no idea what I’m doing and I hate pus,” I say. “Euh!” I allow myself to let out a groan as I rinse away the first round of leaves and apply the second.

Peeta’s starting to annoy me. Does he have no idea about this either? Both of them live in vaguely third-world conditions where this kind of thing should happen.

“How do you hunt?” he asks.
“Trust me. Killing things is much easier than this,” I say. “Although for all I know, I am killing you.”

I will actually give Katniss this. It should be obvious that dealing with infection is very different than dealing with cutting something open.

Now that the swelling has gone down, I can see how deep Cato’s sword cut. Right down to the bone.


I mean, it’s not an especially good thing, but his leg isn’t broken, so it’s not quite as huge an infection risk. Just keep it clean and let the bone marrow pump out white blood cells.

Katniss reasons that the burn ointment might help with infection. It’s also the first clean thing she’s actually put into the wound as far as I can tell, so sure, go for it. And then she bandages it up.

the whole thing seems a lot more manageable, covered in clean white cotton.

A pretty reasonable way of looking at it. Deeply misleading, but reasonable.

She wants to get his clothes clean.

I pull out Rue’s backpack. “Here, cover yourself with this and I’ll wash your shorts.”
“Oh, I don’t care if you see me,” says Peeta.

Yeah pretty well and truly squicked.

It’s interesting, I can actually tolerate a whole lot if it’s in an explicitly romantic story, because somehow putting the focus on it sort of makes it like it’s there for the sake of it, not because this kind of thing is actually acceptable. Like really, I’ll read the shitty Draco and Hermione even though it makes no sense Hogwarts would try to play matchmaker with head boy and girl, but you put that in as a throwaway line and say she should be fine having to sleep in the same room as a guy stop whining and suddenly it’s very DNW.

I think it’s somewhat about intent. A lot of fanfic is very id-ficcy, and it’s fine as long as it’s clear that’s what’s going on. This is not written in anything resembling that style, so it comes off more how things actually are supposed to work in the author’s view.

Anyway, Katniss lets slip that Haymitch has sent her things. Apparently he hasn’t sent anything to Peeta.

Eh, Peeta was pretty obviously doomed, so it makes sense he wouldn’t waste money on the kid. Even antibiotics wouldn’t do him any good until he cleaned the wound out.

“I always knew you were his favorite,” says Peeta.
“Please, he can’t stand being in the same room with me,” I say.
“Because you’re just alike,” mutters Peeta. I ignore it though because this really isn’t the time for me to be insulting Haymitch, which is my first impulse.

Ugh. I’m not really a fan of the character type where the girl just sucks so terribly much at understanding what’s going on, or the idea that people hate each other because they’re so alike. Furthermore, uh, they really aren’t? I mean, I may have missed something but basically no. Haymitch hasn’t had much screen time to really determine it, but I don’t recall any obvious points of comparison.

I mean, if Peeta’s going to whine, the obvious complaint is he’s helping Katniss because he thinks Katniss is the one who can win. That’d harken back to what his mom said, and has probably been preying on his mind for some time now.

Peeta dozes for a while, but Katniss wants to move so she wakes him up.

“Away from here. Downstream maybe. Somewhere we can hide you until you’re stronger,

Uh, doesn’t seem like anyone’s been around, since no one noticed the blood trail. I guess they could have come by and missed him, but in that case they wouldn’t think he was around now.

One option here would be to ask him if the kids traveled through this area a lot, and if he said yes her behavior now would make sense.

Anyway, they have a lot of trouble moving because Katniss doesn’t seem able to properly support his weight so he’s still moving on his injured leg, and neither of them are bright enough to try to rig up a walking stick, let alone crutches. As this is stupid, I lack sympathy.

Some of the rocks form small cavelike structures. I set my sights on one about twenty yards above the stream. When Peeta’s able to stand, I half-guide, half-carry him up to the cave.


Then again, “convenient” might as well be the book’s arc word here.

She tries to build a vine cover for the cave, but it’s too obviously manufactured. How about rocks, Katniss? There’s apparently plenty of those. Or why are you trying to hide anyway, you have a bow and more arrows than there are surviving kids. Clear the surrounding area so you can see them coming instead.

Impulsively, I lean forward and kiss him, stopping his words. This is probably overdue anyway since he’s right, we are supposed to be madly in love.

Uh, okay.

And a gift gets dropped.

Haymitch couldn’t be sending me a clearer message. One kiss equals one pot of broth. I can almost hear his snarl. “You’re supposed to be in love, sweetheart. The boy’s dying. Give me something I can work with!”
And he’s right. If I want to keep Peeta alive, I’ve got to give the audience something more to care about. Star-crossed lovers desperate to get home together. Two hearts beating as one. Romance.


Not quite as bad, since at least she seems to not care one way or the other, instead of having to do it when she doesn’t want to, and it’s her doing it to keep Peeta alive instead of because she thinks she has to in order to survive herself, but still, the lack of choice here bothers me. And the fact Peeta is clearly in love with her and she’s just pretending is going nowhere good, because I really don’t think the narrative is willing to accept that.

Anyway, she goes and kisses him to wake him up again and tells him Haymitch sent him broth.


  1. Amag says:
    Heh, about sticking inappropriate stuff in wounds, I can kinda see the reasoning. See, all us kids knew there was this plant that was supposed to stop bleeding, but none of us really had a clear idea of exactly how to use it. We knew it had something to do with the juice, but the leaves couldn’t just be squeezed to obtain it. So if we got scrapes and cuts, chewing the plant up and coating the wound with the green muck seemed reasonable (the other usual method was just to put the whole leaf on top and try to keep it there for a couple of minutes). It seemed to work, for a given value of work, and I don’t remember anyone ever getting horrible infections from this. But of course, we did this largely because we knew the adults would put painful disinfectant on the wounds. Iodine was worth avoiding, to a kid. But of course, Katniss should know, from watching her mother, that iodine rules when you have an actual huge wound to deal with.
    1. Farla says:
      As long as it’s a shallow cut, the concern about spit or even keeping a wound clean at all is normally pretty minor. I’d just expect Katniss to have heard not to do it at all because they live in a hellhole with starvation-compromised immune systems and her mom has basic doctoring knowledge. (You also don’t want kids sucking their hands in a situation like this because there can be bad stuff on their hands they shouldn’t swallow.)
  2. N2D2 says:
    Why does Katniss even bother finding Peeta in the first place? He’s suffered a bad enough wound and he wasn’t good at fighting to start with, so he wouldn’t be a good addition, and if he’s survived this long he can probably survive a few more days. Wouldn’t it make more sense for her to go on the offense and try to wipe everybody else out, then let the fancy Capitol medicine take care of Peeta? She clearly doesn’t do much for him anyway.
  3. CrazyEd says:

    Aw, that’s not that bad Katniss.

    I dunno, after six days of treatment with stream water and mud, that could just as easily be sepsis.

     the idea that people hate each other because they’re so alike

    I mean… in the case of Haymitch and Katniss, considering the type of people they are, if they were alike, I could easily see them hating each other. It’s not like Katniss has demonstrated any reluctance to demonize people who are acting in the exact same way as her before.

     If I want to keep Peeta alive, I’ve got to give the audience something more to care about.

    Preeeeeeeeeeetty big “if”.

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