Hunger Games Ch22

This is terrible.


My mother’s hand strokes my cheek and I don’t push it away as I would in wakefulness, never wanting her to know how much I crave that gentle touch. How much I miss her even though I still don’t trust her.

This is some of the better characterization Katniss gets, which is not to say it’s particularly good. We’re pretty much back to her first chapter portrayal here, when she was your average prickly-yet-vulnerable main character.

Interestingly, the book doesn’t seem to really draw a parallel with her mistrust of her mother and her mistrust of Peeta. Katniss is just not put together with any sense of one thing leading to another.

Anyway, she realizes she’s not at home and it’s not her mom.

Peeta feeds me bites of groosling and raisins and makes me drink plenty of water.

So roles have reversed. The thing is, she isn’t severely sick, she’s just lost blood. And I think it’s actually the first time she’s been injured, so her spleen hasn’t dumped its red blood cell reservoir before now, and she’s eating a high iron diet. (It’d be more high iron if she’d eat the damn liver, but.) So I’m not sure why she apparently needs to be hand fed here.

Also it’s finally raining.

“I wonder what brought on this storm? I mean, who’s the target?” says Peeta.
“Cato and Thresh,” I say without thinking. “Foxface will be in her den somewhere, and Clove . . . she cut me an then . . .” My voice trails off.

Wow, “Foxface will be in her den”. We’re not even pretending she’s a person any more.

I don’t see why Cato and Thresh can’t possibly have their own hiding places, or why it’s impossible the girl might have been out watching them and caught in the downpour.

Hm. The girl. The current count of kids is three boys and two girls, and one’s the main character. Both boys are major forces, while the girl’s defining trait is sneakiness.

Also, you know what would actually have been cool? Clove not being dead yet. That would mean Cato was in a similar position of having an injured, probably dying person and needing to win the games fast. Personally, I’d find it a lot more noble on his part, since it’s a lot easier to write someone with a head wound off as gone than someone still conscious and lucid.

Peeta says she’s lucky Thresh didn’t catch her, and Katniss explains that he did, and then tells him what’s happened so far.

“He let you go because he didn’t want to owe you anything?” asks Peeta in disbelief.

Okay, so Peeta looks like kind of an asshole here. Just wait, it’ll get worse.

Anyway, she says if he lived in the Seam like she did, he’d understand but she can’t really explain, and Peeta bitches about how obviously he’s just too stupid to get it, which, you know, is not what she said.

She says it’s like with how she can’t pay him back for the bread.

“The bread? What? From when we were kids?” he says. “I think we can let that go. I mean, you just brought me back from the dead.”
“But you didn’t know me.

This sounds deceptively sane. Again, just wait.

“Why did you, anyway?”
“Why? You know why,” Peeta says. I give my head a slight, painful shake. “Haymitch said you would take a lot of convincing.”

He did it because he was in love with her.

So that’s actually why he has no idea about paying people back for what’s owed – the one thing he did, he doesn’t want her to return the favor, he wants her to be his girlfriend. And he did, from his viewpoint, know her.

So this thing she’s holding it up for years as an act of true charity, and it turns out it never was.

Peeta then says he hopes Cato and Thresh kill each other. Katniss, now comparatively the nice person, is kind of bothered by this. I mean, she did just get through saying he saved her life and let her go.

“I think we would like Thresh. I think he’d be our friend back in District Twelve,” I say.
“Then let’s hope Cato kills him, so we don’t have to,” says Peeta grimly.

And if you think there’s any chance of that not happening and them having to make an actual moral choice, hi new reader! You may want to start at the beginning.

I don’t want Cato to kill Thresh at all. I don’t want anyone else to die. But this is absolutely not the kind of thing that victors go around saying in the arena.

Okay, two things here.

One, this is an ambiguous statement. For a while she’s been saying she can’t do stuff because she has to act right to get sponsors. But they’re in the endgame now, and they really do have the clear advantage – two on one. About the only thing she’s really having trouble with is she’s running out of arrows, and frankly I can only assume Haymitch is waiting for her to stop being a moron and realize she can make her own, as she did for years of her life. Or does she mean in a more superstitious way, that she has to act in a certain way or she won’t win? This is kind of what I was getting into when I talked about an alternate version where she was more devoted to Prim and embracing the capital’s version of her because she needed something to hold on to. But there’s been no sign of that at all.

Two, “anyone else” includes Cato here. I mean, I’m kind of glad that it looks like Katniss has finally grown a real conscience, but I’m pretty sure the sentence is supposed to mean “I don’t want another death, that of Thresh” and not “I don’t want any deaths at all”. Bad writing. And it further dehumanizes Cato – he’s not “anyone”.

Anyway, Katniss’ eyes start to water at the thought, and Peeta asks if she’s hurt.

I give him another answer, because it is equally true but can be taken as a brief moment of weakness instead of a terminal one. “I want to go home, Peeta,” I say plaintively, like a small child.

And now she’s acting like a baby, ugh.

“You will. I promise,” he says, and bends over to give me a kiss.
“I want to go home now,” I say.
“Tell you what. You go back to sleep and dream of home. And you’ll be there for real before you know it,” he says. “Okay?”
“Okay,” I whisper.

Seriously, ugh.

Look, I don’t mean to say your characters can never shown any weakness, but the whole female character suddenly dissolves like this thing, it’s been done enough. Especially when Peeta is not actually able to protect her and we’ve seen no suggestion he’s even good at keeping watch the way she, with years of experience hunting, is.

They eat the last of the food when she wakes up, and she says tomorrow they’ll have to hunt. She asks where Thresh has been hiding out. Turns out in the direction she didn’t go is this big field of grass that probably had some grain plants in it.

Apparently, no one wanted to track him into a sea of tall grass with no visibility, unknown terrain and possibly lurking animals.

I don’t say so but Peeta’s words remind me of the warnings they give us about not going beyond the fence in District 12. I can’t help, for a moment, comparing him with Gale, who would see that field as a potential source of food as well as a threat. Thresh certainly did.

Thresh probably already knew that terrain. Even if he didn’t have wild areas like it, the agricultural district would have similar enough farm areas. We know that the plants and animals in the area are ones Rue was familiar with, so he likely knew what animals would live there and how to deal with them safely.

So you’re thinking Gale would go into a completely unknown ecosystem with no visibility that had a six foot tall fellow murderer who was far more familiar with it than you hiding out waiting for any idiot to get close.

It’s not that Peeta’s soft exactly, and he’s proved he’s not a coward. But there are things you don’t question too much, I guess, when your home always smells like baking bread

No, Katniss. Not rushing out into unfamiliar territory is something that, if anything, you should know even better than him is a terrible idea.

She claims Gale questions everything.

What would Peeta think of the irreverent banter that passes between us as we break the law each day? Would it shock him? The things we say about Panem? Gale’s tirades against the Capitol?

What irreverent banter, anyway? You admitted you basically tune Gale out and only figured out the capital sucked when you watched a twelve year old die.

Peeta wonders what will get Haymitch to send them food, and Katniss catches herself before she explains the whole thing where kissing gets them stuff, because she knows if the viewers know they’ll stop sending anything.

You know, that’s not too much of an excuse for why she hasn’t explained to Peeta. She could easily cover them with the blanket and whisper. If Peeta throws a fit that you only care about him and saved his life, he’s a dick.

Somehow, believably, I’ve got to get things back on track. Something simple to start with. I reach out and take his hand.
“Well, he probably used up a lot of resources helping me knock you out,” I say mischievously.
“Yeah, about that,” says Peeta, entwining his fingers in mine. “Don’t try something like that again.”

Peeta: helps out Katniss, gets his leg cut open, incapacitated for a week, nearly dies.
Katniss: Helps out Peeta, gets a minor cut on her head, manages a kill and for her other opponents to focus on each other for a while.

Clearly, she’s the one in the wrong here.

“Or what?” I ask.
“Or . . . or . . .” He can’t think of anything good. “Just give me a minute.”
“What’s the problem?” I say with a grin.
“The problem is we’re both still alive. Which only rein­forces the idea in your mind that you did the right thing,” says Peeta.
“I did do the right thing,” I say.
“No! Just don’t, Katniss!” His grip tightens, hurting my hand, and there’s real anger in his voice.

I can really see why Meyer found this worthy of praise.

He says he doesn’t want her to die for him.

She starts off thinking that this is a good chance to get more romance points, but then while she’s stammering out that maybe she doesn’t want him to die for her either…

while I was talking, the idea of actually losing Peeta hit me again and I realized how much I don’t want him to die. And it’s not about the sponsors. And it’s not about what will happen back home. And it’s not just that I don’t want to be alone. It’s him. I do not want to lose the boy with the bread.
“If what, Katniss?” he says softly.

So I think I figured out part of why I find the Draco/Hermione-head-kids-share-a-room thing less squicky. In a lot of the forced together setups, both characters are mutually unhappy, which does a lot to reduce the impression one character is taking advantage of the other.

If they were both playing along and starting to fall for each other, this wouldn’t bother me nearly so much, especially if there was less focus on ~*~*~romantic kisses~*~*~ and more on actual friendship and caring about each other.

Katniss feels a bit uncomfortable given she’s not even sure of her feelings, let alone so sure she wants the entire country to watch her admit them, so she lies that Haymitch said it’s a topic she should avoid, knowing that Haymitch is probably raging at the idea.

“Then I’ll just have to fill in the blanks myself,” he says, and moves in to me.

Another lovely thing is that in fanfic, you’d have a decent chance of it being labeled dubcon and the author acknowledging there are some issues here, even if the character was starting to fall for the other person. Here I really can’t shake the feeling the author is just writing what she thinks is a normal romance.

This is the first kiss that we’re both fully aware of. Neither of us hobbled by sickness or pain or simply unconscious. Our lips neither burning with fever or icy cold. This is the first kiss where I actually feel stirring inside my chest. Warm and curious. This is the first kiss that makes me want another.

In conclusion, Katniss doesn’t get to have opinions on who she likes. All Peeta has to do is pursue long enough and he wins her.

They curl up in the sleeping bag.

No one has held me like this in such a long time. Since my father died and I stopped trusting my mother, no one else’s arms have made me feel this safe.

I wonder how Katniss would feel knowing he totally wants to fuck her.

Because I really can’t get that out of my head. This is why making it romance the entire time kind of taints everything. I mean, yes, we’re in a world where rape apparently doesn’t exist or anything, so I guess she’s not in any actual danger, but she’s still forced to share a sleeping bag with a boy where she thinks is he’s playing along and he thinks she’s just as in love as him.

The storm continues the next day. Since all they do during a storm is huddle and wait, and that’s probably all anyone else does too, this is kind of a boring choice. Maybe the audience really, really wanted more teenage makeouts in the cave.

They’re hungry, because Haymitch hasn’t sent anything more. Katniss figures she has to do something to add to the romance or they’ll starve.

Anyway, just a kiss isn’t enough anymore clearly because if it was we’d have gotten food last night. My instincts tell me Haymitch isn’t just looking for physical affection, he wants something more personal.

On the other hand, this is the capital that likes to see kids naked or in see through outfits, so I’m not really sure why she doesn’t think taking her shirt off is what he actually wants.

God, so much could have been avoided if the capital was established as kind of prudish instead. It would really help the prostitution implications.

Katniss figures she sucks at talking about herself but Peeta’s good at it, so she needs to get him going. She says he told he he’d been in love with her forever, but when did it really start.

I guess the first day of school. We were five.

Wat.

My father pointed you out when we were waiting to line up,” Peeta says.

Wat.

“He said, ‘See that little girl? I wanted to marry her mother, but she ran off with a coal miner,’” Peeta says.

And now the book has succeeded in ruining his acts of generosity too, and made the whole “sure I’ll watch out for your twelve year old sister” look really, really bad. Best case scenario is he’s only been helping out the kids as a way of hitting on their mom by proxy, and not because he’s decided to go for version 2.0

Also, wow do I feel bad for his wife. And suddenly the whole thing about the baker giving them absurdly good deals when he’s alone but his wife not letting him when she’s there makes more sense too.

Peeta asked why the woman had married a coal miner instead of his dad and it’s because Katniss’ dad had such an awesome singing voice. Anyway remember Katniss didn’t like to sing? She is actually totally awesome at it but just stopped because of dead daddy. Another sue mark AND another notch on how awesome her dad is.

So, first day of school Peeta hears her sing.

And right when your song ended, I knew — just like your mother — I was a goner,” Peeta says.

So Peeta falls in love with her age five self without ever speaking to her or knowing anything about her.

Katniss realizes that is pretty much what happened on the first day of kindergarten, and if he was paying that much attention to her to remember, then he’s probably been telling the truth.

It would explain another thing, too. Why Peeta took a beating to give me the bread on that awful hollow day.

I think that’s supposed to make it more romantic instead of worse in every possible way.

“I remember everything about you,” says Peeta, tucking a loose strand of hair behind my ear. “You’re the one who wasn’t paying attention.”
“I am now,” I say.
“Well, I don’t have much competition here,” he says.
I want to draw away, to close those shutters again, but I know I can’t. It’s as if I can hear Haymitch whispering in my ear, “Say it! Say it!”
I swallow hard and get the words out. “You don’t have much competition anywhere.” And this time, it’s me who leans in.

So. Incredibly. Creepy.

We interrupt our underage makeouts, thank god, because Haymitch has sent them food for that little display.

A silver parachute attached to a basket. I rip it open at once and inside there’s a feast — fresh rolls, goat cheese, apples, and best of all, a tureen of that incredible lamb stew on wild rice.

How wasteful.

I think this book just generally has a problem with rustic-style food porn. I mean, apples of all things. Those are not exactly loaded in calories. Given they’re not lacking for water either, stew is pretty wasteful when he could send something dry, and so is cooked rice itself. I’m assuming there’s some sort of cost connection to weight or whatever here, although god knows there’s been no sign of any balance or sanity to the way the games are run.

Peeta is an idiot and doesn’t think anything of the timing, he’s just glad for food.

But whatever.

I can’t wait to get to the next book if people who were okay with this complained about the romance in that one.

13 Comments

  1. Eva Rinaldi says:
    Am I the only one who would have immediately liked Peeta more if it turned out he barely remembered giving Katniss bread because as a kid he was always trying to make some kind of excuse up to give “bad” food to starving kids? Even well run bakeries can produce a lot of stale bread, disfigured croissants, improperly sliced things, etc. And a kid growing up around other hungry kids might not really understand where the harm is.
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    1. Ember says:
      No, I think most people who are not HARDcore Katniss/Peeta shippers, even if they don’t actively dislike Peeta the way members of this community tend to, would like Peeta better if that were the case.
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    2. Farla says:
      It’s have helped Peeta’s character, but it’d have just brought us back to the issue of why Katniss apparently never did stuff like that. She could easily have been shooting the dogs and giving those to the poor. Or generally why this supposed community has no social behavior.

      But anyway, the author couldn’t do that because the two were playing oppression olympics so Peeta was the one spending his life eating that stale bread.

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      1. Eva Rinaldi says:
        As someone who worked in a bakery while also being American Broke, which is admittedly not Hunger Games broke, but got all the stale bread I wanted- stale bread is awesome if you have anything to soak it in, and they have a pig and almost unlimited access to flour, so they have gravy.
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  2. Polly Esther says:
    So, uh, why does the idea of two teenagers kissing strike you as so creepy? If they were 12, OK, but they’re 16. And considering the rates of teen pregnancy, I’d say that many teens are doing a lot more than kissing.
    1. Farla says:
      One person being coerced into kissing another person so the entire population of the country can watch them do it live is going to be creepy no matter what age they are.

      Katniss does not want to do this. She does so because she imagines Haymitch yelling at her to do it or else Peeta will die and it’ll be her fault, and she has to force herself to say even the words leading up to the kiss. Moreover, she does it right after explaining she has a thing about never being able to truly repay him for the bread, so there’s that extra layer of obligation on top as if the rest wasn’t fucked up enough.

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      1. Polly Esther says:
        That makes sense. But you gave no indication of that in your review. It came off as, “Ewwwww, kissing is icky!!!”
        1. Ember says:
          Well, yes, I can see how it would come off that way to people who don’t make a distinction between consensual and non-consensual sexuality without being explicitly instructed to. Perhaps Farla was being a little too optimistic when she wrote that bit.

          ETA: Wait no actually I just reread this post and it’s one of the ones where she DOES go into detail about just that. Did you even read it?

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          1. Polly Esther says:
            Well, for every good point our blogger makes, she makes about fifty complete duds. This, in particular, is repulsive:

            “Because I really can’t get that out of my head. This is why making it romance the entire time kind of taints everything. I mean, yes, we’re in a world where rape apparently doesn’t exist or anything, so I guess she’s not in any actual danger, but she’s still forced to share a sleeping bag with a boy where she thinks is he’s playing along and he thinks she’s just as in love as him.”

            Dude. If I tell my husband I love him and then he rapes me, that doesn’t make it not rape. Or does our blogger think that men are just incapable of controlling themselves at all?

            1. Ember says:
              Your interpretation of that paragraph is so bizarre I am having trouble comprehending it. I’m not sure how I can possibly explain it to you in a way you will be capable of understanding.

              Okay, so the thing is, rape doesn’t just mean physically overpowering someone to have sex with them. Someone saying “yes, I love you and would enjoy having sex with you” when they actually mean “I don’t want to have sex with you, but if I say that I might die, and I would rather not die than not have sex with you” and then the other person having sex with them is rape. *THAT’S* what Farla is talking about there, and what she HAS been talking about CONSTANTLY throughout this Let’s Read, so I’m left with the impression that either you are willfully misinterpreting her or you have some serious reading comprehension problems.

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            2. Farla says:
              I’m not sure I understand what you’re saying so here’s my best guess.

              By “a world where rape doesn’t exist” I mean the author is avoiding the subject, not that nothing that could happen here would be rape. It’s like when I reference the idea gay people don’t exist, by which I mean the author deliberately ignored them and not that I seriously think Hunger Games future humans cannot be gay because of their vague disaster history.

              I don’t mean him thinking she’s in love with him makes it not rape. That’s why I’m complaining so much about how awful this all is.

              Katniss has made it clear she believes she will be hated by everyone if she doesn’t save Peeta. This chapter also has a parallel where she explains about Thresh saving her life to pay for a life and says that’s like her feelings about him saving her with the bread, except the bread was an even bigger deal. And she is convinced she has to pull off the romance act or he dies. That’s why she’s been kissing him, because she’s had that hanging over her head.

              That’s why the romance is awful. It’s Peeta taking advantage of Katniss not being able to reject him. Peeta apparently thinks she actually wants to kiss and otherwise act like a couple, but that doesn’t change what’s happening. If he suggests they have sex, Katniss has to think of a cutesy excuse that the sponsors will accept or else let him rape her. And even worse, we know Katniss is terrible at thinking up what to say.

              (Also, I am really confused by why, if you thought I was in favor of men getting to rape their wives whenever they feel like it, you felt the biggest thing to complain about was that sixteen year olds kissing is not creepy.)

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  3. Boyd Jamison says:
    The whole gift thing just seems like weak writing. It is basically a get out of jail free card for the author when she writes her characters into a corner.
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  4. CrazyEd says:

    And I think it’s actually the first time she’s been injured

    She probably lost some from the burns, and she bled from her ear after the explosion, but otherwise I think she’s good. Despite being a hunter, the environment has been a far more dangerous enemy than the other kids.

    So I’m not sure why she apparently needs to be hand fed here.

    The shipp- sponsors, obviously.

    why it’s impossible the girl might have been out watching them and caught in the downpour.

    Or why it’s impossible the downpour is to flood her out of her hideyhole.

    And it further dehumanizes Cato – he’s not “anyone”.

    … On the other hand, this might be the first time Foxface got any humanization… and I’m not surprised it was by accident.

    So you’re thinking Gale would go into a completely unknown ecosystem with no visibility that had a six foot tall fellow murderer who was far more familiar with it than you hiding out waiting for any idiot to get close.

    … I mean, that totally checks out with what we learn about Gale later…

     Maybe the audience really, really wanted more teenage makeouts in the cave.

    The audience wrote a lot of fanfic of teens making out before the Games that always went dead before them, so…

    On the other hand, this is the capital that likes to see kids naked or in see through outfits, so I’m not really sure why she doesn’t think taking her shirt off is what he actually wants.

    The audience also wrote fanfic of this.

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