Hunger Games Ch21

It opens with Katniss covering the cave with rocks. She leaves a small opening, but it no longer looks like a cave.


if I don’t make it back from the feast, Peeta will be hidden but not entirely imprisoned. Although I doubt he can hang on much longer without medicine. If I die at the feast, District 12 isn’t likely to have a victor.

Huh. That’s actually…kind of bad. Under the circumstances wouldn’t it be better to leave it open so someone would come and finish him off?

I’m going to have my hands full. My ability to kill at a distance is my greatest asset, but I know I’ll have to go right into the thick of things to get that backpack

Or you could wait for other people to go for theirs, then shoot them.

She rests and waits for the dawn, thinking about what people at home are doing. She figures they’re probably watching her.

I wonder if he’s hoping that Peeta makes it as well. Gale’s not my boyfriend, but would he be, if I opened that door? He talked about us running away together. Was that just a practical calculation of our chances of survival away from the district? Or something more?

Well, so much for the not-my-boyfriend thing. HATE.

I’m about to leave when I remember the importance of sustaining the star-crossed lover routine and I lean over and give Peeta a long, lingering kiss. I imagine the teary sighs emanating from the Capitol and pretend to brush away a tear of my own.

I’m actually pretty okay with how this is going for the moment. She’s doing it on her own. I can’t shake the thought the book may think she’s being evil for it, but whatever, it’s practical.

I still sorely miss having the use of my left ear. I don’t know what the explosion did, but it damaged something deep and irreparable.

Uh, you live somewhere with mines and explosions, how can you not know about burst ear drums.

Never mind. If I get home, I’ll be so stinking rich, I’ll be able to pay someone to do my hearing.

…So.

This is what I mentioned in the first interlude. Katniss doesn’t seem to want to help anyone else, she’s just mad about her own treatment. She doesn’t think that, with her money, she can afford to help other people who would starve, or perhaps reform things (again, the abused orphans come to mind). She thinks she’ll be well off.

This is especially problematic because Katniss is suggesting she’ll be incredibly wealthy. Haymitch being constantly drunk only means he’s getting a reasonable stipend, enough to pay for cheap alcohol all the time. If winners are fabulously wealthy, though, they should be able to easily pay for a couple meals for other people.

Anyway, she’s wearing Peeta’s jacket as well as her own, and she’s still quite cold. See, this is why it’d make sense to strip clothes from the dead.

She hides in the underbrush and waits.

Just as the first ray of sun glints off the gold Cornucopia, there’s a disturbance on the plain. The ground before the mouth of the horn splits in two and a round table with a snowy white cloth rises into the arena.

Uh. Isn’t this the same area that got dug up, then had mines reburied, then had the mines all explode?

The table has just clicked into place when a figure darts out of the Cornucopia, snags the green backpack, and speeds off.

It’s a smart red-headed girl whose name Katniss proceeds to not know. Anyway, yes, she’s pretty cool. Katniss explains that no one else will attack because they don’t want to risk losing their own pack or exposing themselves to the attack of whoever else is there. That’s why she didn’t try stealing anyone else’s, that’d have made the person go after her. She spends some time seething about how much smarter the girl is.

Huh. I’m always dreading the others, but maybe Foxface is the real opponent here.

She’s also never hurt you or anyone else at all, so stop being a dick.

She’s cost me time, too, because by now it’s clear that I must get to the table next. Anyone who beats me to it will easily scoop up my pack and be gone.

Uh, what? You have arrows. Anyone who goes near the table you can shoot. Plus there are still three backpacks and it’s possible the next person will try the same strategy as her, leaving the other two alone in the hopes the person won’t want to expose themself.

So she runs out because the author just fucking says so, okay.

Fortunately, the first knife comes whizzing in on my right side so I can hear it and I’m able to deflect it with my bow.

I am pretty sure you can’t do that.

She shoots back.

the point punctures her upper left arm. Unfortunately, she throws with her right, but it’s enough to slow her down a few moments, having to pull the arrow from her arm, take in the severity of the wound.

Uh. Getting shot is actually kind of a big deal.

I keep moving, positioning the next arrow automatically, as only someone who has hunted for years can do. I’m turning to fire again when the second knife catches me in the forehead.

Yeah you really should have seen that coming. It doesn’t hit anything important but she’s got blood in her eyes and can’t see well.

And then Clove slams into me, knocking me flat on my back, pinning my shoulders to the ground, with her knees.

But she’s got throwing knives. Does no one understand the ranged part of ranged weapons?

hope for Prim’s sake it will be fast. But Clove means to savor the moment. Even feels she has time.

Wow.

So officially: no, the evil thing was not Katniss being an unreliable narrator, the book is just that bad.

She’s trained. She should know better than to spend time on a kill when there are another three people out there.

No doubt Cato is somewhere nearby, guarding her, waiting for Thresh and possibly Peeta.

Uh, what about her guarding Cato? Why is guarding something only boys do? If Cato gets attacked by either one of them he may well lose. She should want to finish up as fast as possible so she can get back to him and they can return to the two-against-one advantage they’ll have in the remaining fights.

Clove opens her jacket. It’s lined with an impressive array of knives. She carefully selects an almost dainty-looking number with a cruel, curved blade. “I promised Cato if he let me have you, I’d give the audience a good show.”

THIS IS STUPID

For some reason, she goes on to say that “we” killed Rue.

We’re going to kill you. Just like we did your pathetic little ally . . . what was her name? The one who hopped around in the trees? Rue?

She shouldn’t know who killed Rue, because the person died immediately after. The only way this makes sense is if, again, the only kids who ever do any killing are the trained ones, and if she somehow assumes Rue took him out in the process, which is all kinds of unlikely and makes it not something to really brag about.

And she doesn’t know they were allied, either.

Nothing about this makes any sense. The only way she could know what happened was if they were close enough to hear Rue calling for Katniss, in which case they should have been there to kill her.

Thinking, the only way it could make sense is if they caught Rue in the trap, then left her there for some time, then finally the District 1 kid got bored and went to go kill her right as Katniss was in range to hear Rue calling for her. And that’s way too complex to be something we’re just supposed to assume.

“I think . . .” she almost purrs. “I think we’ll start with your mouth.” I clamp my teeth together as she teasingly traces the outline of my lips with the tip of the blade.

So fucking stupid.

But as I feel the tip open the first cut at my lip, some great form yanks Clove from my body and then she’s screaming.

This is what I mean about there being no real suspense. Events just don’t follow logically. I don’t mean in the sense that it’s a plot hole, but just that everything always happens too perfectly when there’s not reason for it. Clove isn’t attacked early on in her monologue, nor after actually hurting Katniss.

Anyway, Thresh is furious.

“What’d you do to that little girl? You kill her?”
Clove is scrambling backward on all fours, like a frantic insect, too shocked to even call for Cato. “No! No, it wasn’t me!”
“You said her name. I heard you. You kill her?” Another thought brings a fresh wave of rage to his features. “You cut her up like you were going to cut up this girl here?”
“No! No, I —” Clove sees the stone, about the size of a small loaf of bread in Thresh’s hand and loses it. “Cato!” she screeches. “Cato!”

Fuck off, book.

Remember, we’re told that Peeta and Katniss holding hands was a huge deal. We’re told that Rue followed them around at the training center. And then Rue ends up allying with Katniss. If Thresh gave a fuck about Rue, he could have been kind to her when she was actually still alive.

But hey, who cares about Rue really? What matters is how much RAEG people get to feel over her death. She’s a victim, not a person.

And don’t think I can’t see what you’re doing with how you describe Clove, either.

So Thresh smashes Clove’s skull in, who, again, did not actually kill Rue.

So let’s talk about heroism and fairy tales. It’s quite common to have the morality tale where doing something good leads to a reward later.

There are some important things to remember in execution, though.

One is proportion. Katniss consistently gets rewards grossly out of proportion for her actions. Katniss allies with Rue and gets immediately healed, paid back in food, then help to blow up the trained kids’ supplies. Katniss avenges Rue and gets a kill, Rue’s stuff and the other boy’s stuff, then bread, and now a rescue and the death of one of her opponents.

Two is consistency. See, the point of the morality tales is that the person is generally a good person and does things without reward, because we know that happens a lot and it’s nice to see an exception where it’s rewarded. But Katniss just isn’t, no matter how you look at the story. We see no suggestion she’s done other decent things in the past and every time she does something at all decent, she gets many immediate returns. The only exception to this is Peeta, and that’s a whole nother ball of issues.

And three is…well, to a point the stories I’m talking about here aren’t necessarily about heroes, merely comparable. Ideally, an actual hero’s reward for a good action is a small thing that’s the last bit you need in a tight spot, after the hero’s gone above and beyond to help someone before. The dynamic is reversed with Katniss, who makes no real sacrifices at any point. (A sacrifice would have been giving up her food to Rue because the girl was hungrier than she was.) A hero is someone who struggles. And part of struggle is doing the right thing when it’s hard, not always finding yourself in a place where the easiest thing will get you lauded.

“What’d she mean? About Rue being your ally?”
“I — I — we teamed up. Blew up the supplies. I tried to save her, I did. But he got there first. District One,” I say. Maybe if he knows I helped Rue, he won’t choose some slow, sadistic end for me.
“And you killed him?” he demands.
“Yes. I killed him. And buried her in flowers,” I say. “And I sang her to sleep.”
Tears spring in my eyes. The tension, the fight goes out of me at the memory. And I’m overwhelmed by Rue, and the pain in my head, and my fear of Thresh, and the moaning of the dying girl a few feet away.
“To sleep?” Thresh says gruffly.
“To death. I sang until she died,” I say. “Your district. . . they sent me bread.” My hand reaches up but not for an arrow that I know I’ll never reach. Just to wipe my nose. “Do it fast, okay, Thresh?”
Conflicting emotions cross Thresh’s face. He lowers the rock and points at me, almost accusingly. “Just this one time, I let you go. For the little girl. You and me, we’re even then. No more owed. You understand?”

This is absolutely awful, in other words.

Also, Katniss could easily be lying about any of this, and I have no idea why Thresh can’t talk properly.

I understand that if Thresh wins, he’ll have to go back and face a district that has already broken all the rules to thank me, and he is breaking the rules to thank me, too.

Shut up about how special she is, book.

Thresh grabs the bags and takes off.

Cato kneels beside Clove, spear in hand, begging her to stay with him.

This, though, I actually like.

You’ve got to assume the kids knew each other. They’re both raised in the same district, and supplying two kids a year, every single year, means a lot of coordination involved. I imagine they likely aren’t ever close friends in the district, because they know at least one of them will die, but at the same time, when the games begin they know they’ll team up and work together until nearly the end, knowing they have a good chance of surviving if their district trained them well…and yet that if their district did its job, they might end up being the last ones and have to try to kill each other. The announcement must have meant a lot to them.

And now she’s dead when they’d almost made it out alive.

Cato will be on one of our trails. Either Thresh’s or mine.

Only one of you killed Clove, so I think it’s pretty clear which.

Thresh has Cato’s backpack containing the thing he needs desperately. If I had to bet, Cato headed out after Thresh, not me.

Or I guess we could return to assuming he’s just a dick, because that’s been so interesting so far.

Katniss’ head is still bleeding badly, but she gets back and jams the needle in.

Without hesitating, I jam the needle into Peeta’s arm and slowly press down on the plunger.

Because the book has long ago used up my goodwill, I’m going to say that probably needed to be injected into an actual vein, not just stuck in his arm at random.

Then Katniss passes out as part of the endless treadmill that is injuries in this book, because she’s just fixed the previous problem.

3 Comments

  1. This is a trend I’ve started to see with a lot of books, not just ones written for girls. The heroes and heroines are on the video game feedback loop, where you do something and get a reward instead of the good act being just what you do. Suddenly, the promise of the reward becomes the incentive. Katniss does the absolute barest minimum required to be seen as a “decent person” and obviously she gets rewarded by all the other characters bending over backwards for her. This is really painful when put in combination with the very concept of the Hunger Games because it shouldn’t be happening.

    Rue could speak in complete sentences, Thresh should be capable of that. The only difference between them is gender.

    The book’s obsession with painting any female character who has the potential to compete with Katniss is taken to ridiculous levels. I never understood her dehumanization of the Careers, except that it makes it easier for Katniss to kill them and yet the whole point of the book is how awful this is. The book isn’t even pulling a fast one to make us feel bad about wanting these characters dead, it just wants us to want them dead. It’s so fucked up.

    1
    1. Farla says:
      This is a trend I’ve started to see with a lot of books, not just ones written for girls. The heroes and heroines are on the video game feedback loop, where you do something and get a reward instead of the good act being just what you do.

      You know, I wonder when it actually started. I’ve been reading a bunch of books for younger kids and there’s no sign of it whatsoever. It might be partly that these are recommendations, but it’s not like people don’t recommend Hunger Games and the rest every few minutes.

  2. CrazyEd says:

    Never mind. If I get home, I’ll be so stinking rich, I’ll be able to pay someone to do my hearing.

    At the very least, she could’ve made this out to be some kind of sardonic action movie quip, to have a private laugh. You know, gallows humour, to keep up morale, and forget her situation. Anything to make it clear she’s not being serious.

    That’s why she didn’t try stealing anyone else’s, that’d have made the person go after her.

    … I mean… only if they knew who took it. Otherwise, they’d just be going after “another competitor”, which is exactly the same as they were doing before the feast, only now they don’t have whatever was in their bag. Hell, she could use it as a lure to set a trap on the other kids, by dangling their much needed supplies in front of their face, right over a tiger trap or something. I guess she would’ve been in a pinch if she took Katniss’s bag, but she doesn’t know that.

    I am pretty sure you can’t do that.

    … Maybe by chance? But yeah… Not likely.

    it’s enough to slow her down a few moments,

    True enough.

    having to pull the arrow from her arm,

    Why? (Also, possibly a terrible idea.)

    take in the severity of the wound.

    I mean, a natural human reaction, but also kind of the same reason why she’d be slowed down for a few moments…

    Uh. Getting shot is actually kind of a big deal.

    … Eeeh, even if it hit the artery, if she didn’t pull it out like an idiot, she’d still definitely have enough time to kill Katniss before bleeding out. Arrows aren’t really that good at quickly killing people. She got super lucky with that throat shot earlier.

    Uh, what about her guarding Cato? Why is guarding something only boys do?

    At least they let Clove do something active. If not for how predictable this book was, and how obvious it is that Cato is the final villain, I would’ve expected it to be Cato, with Clove standing off screen “guarding” him.

    “I think . . .” she almost purrs. “I think we’ll start with your mouth.” I clamp my teeth together as she teasingly traces the outline of my lips with the tip of the blade.

    Man, just what is it with this series and violence being an outlet for homoerotic undertones? Clove wants to murderfuck Katniss in this book and Katniss wants to murderfuck Joanna in the last book.

    But as I feel the tip open the first cut at my lip, some great form yanks Clove from my body and then she’s screaming.

    So much for Cato standing guard…

    See, the point of the morality tales is that the person is generally a good person and does things without reward, because we know that happens a lot and it’s nice to see an exception where it’s rewarded.

    Meanwhile, in Battle Royale… Shuuya.

    I imagine they likely aren’t ever close friends in the district, because they know at least one of them will die, but at the same time, when the games begin they know they’ll team up and work together until nearly the end, knowing they have a good chance of surviving if their district trained them well…and yet that if their district did its job, they might end up being the last ones and have to try to kill each other.

    And this is why, in that Hunger Games story that popped into my head, the protagonist/eventual victor and her district partner are the last two left standing. Until someone gets his head caved in with a big rock, because they’ve been disarmed of every weapon they started the noble duel with, and it has since become a savage and brutal fight for survival. Until the moment someone stops moving, the adrenaline fades, and the other person realizes what they just did.

    Cato will be on one of our trails. Either Thresh’s or mine.

    Uh, Katniss, your trail is apparently, like… 20 feet away from where he currently is. I think he can take time out of his busy schedule of avenging his ally to cut your head off.

    Because the book has long ago used up my goodwill, I’m going to say that probably needed to be injected into an actual vein, not just stuck in his arm at random.

    Would’ve probably been more helpful to inject it where the blood poisoning actually is. Going back to what I said last chapter, about how it’d be perfect if she accidentally killed him, it’d also be perfect if she woke up after passing out to discover the medicine didn’t work because she didn’t read the instructions (that she only sees after looking at the needle searching for an explanation for why Peeta’s dead).

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