Hunger Games Ch8

Last time on the childmurder evilgames, Katniss was mad the gamemakers were ignoring her, so she shot an arrow through the apple in their roast pig and stalked off.

Then she decides to go cry on her bed.


As I stride toward the elevator, I fling my bow to one side and my quiver to the other. I brush past the gaping Avoxes who guard the elevators and hit the number twelve button with my fist. The doors slide together and I zip upward. I actually make it back to my floor before the tears start running down my cheeks. I can hear the others calling me from the sitting room, but I fly down the hall into my room, bolt the door, and fling myself onto my bed. Then I really begin to sob.

Oh my god you are so whiny Katniss.

Seriously, I boggle.

What will they do to me now? Arrest me? Execute me? Cut my tongue and turn me into an Avox so I can wait on the future tributes of Panem?

Uh, all of those seem like better options than what you’re currently facing, Katniss. At least execution is usually not done by spiked mace.

What was I thinking, shooting at the Gamemakers? Of course, I wasn’t, I was shooting at that apple because I was so angry at being ignored. I wasn’t trying to kill one of them. If I were, they’d be dead!

Huh.

This is actually an interesting point. Katniss could have killed one of them. In fact, she could probably have killed a couple before the rest got under cover.

Now, I get that Katniss has never killed anyone, so that’s probably a lot to ask here. But – she’s about to be horribly killed for public entertainment. For their entertainment. And they told her to train to kill human beings, and they put weapons in her hand, and all she could think about was impressing them. There’s no black moment when she wonders how many she could take out. No wondering if it’d be worth it, or that maybe it’d be better to just let them kill her now than go through whatever hell waits during the Hunger Games.

It’s not just that it doesn’t occur to Katniss, it’s that it doesn’t occur to the book. There’s throwing knives and throwing spears, bows, slingshots… Someone should have done this.

The book says that the games are terrible, but it doesn’t treat them like that. Katnss is acting like a normal athlete. What matters is doing the best job of learning to win the games and convincing sponsors.

Oh, what does it matter? It’s not like I was going to win the Games anyway. Who cares what they do to me?

THEN WHY DON’T YOU TRY TO FIGHT BACK.

But this is obviously just a fake line of questioning and that’s why. The whole thing is written in melodramatic teen speech, and it’s honestly nauseating because it makes everything trivial (teens having whiny angstfests is shorthand for someone with no real problems) and completely avoids the real issue – if she’s going to die, why does she keep playing along.

She starts wondering if they’ll punish her family. Eh, maybe? The fact is, there’s been no sign they give a damn so far, with no references to anything happening with past tributes, so this is kind of out of left field. Having her family’s safety be an issue the whole time would have really helped.

Haymitch and Effie are knocking on my door. I shout for them to go away and eventually they do. It takes at least an hour for me to cry myself out.

And my spite is kicking in.

Stop treating Katniss like she’s a dumb teenager, book. She’s supposedly a “survivor”. She’s been through all sorts of things. She wouldn’t be spending an hour crying into her pillow.

Anyway, eventually Katniss realizes the obvious, if they were going to do something she wouldn’t be left to cry in her room. They can’t kill her now, it’d interfere with their plans to kill her later. She can’t let go of the melodrama so she decided they’ll kill her horribly as soon as she enters the arena, but whatever.

Before that though, they’ll give me a score so low, no one in their right mind would sponsor me. That’s what will happen tonight. Since the training isn’t open to viewers, the Gamemakers announce a score for each player. It gives the audience a starting place for the betting that will continue throughout the Games. The number, which is between one and twelve, one being irredeemably bad and twelve being unattainably high, signifies the promise of the tribute. The mark is not a guarantee of which person will win. It’s only an indication of the potential a tribute showed in training. Often, because of the variables in the actual arena, high-scoring tributes go down almost immediately. And a few years ago, the boy who won the Games only received a three. Still, the scores can help or hurt an individual tribute in terms of sponsorship. I had been hoping my shooting skills might get me a six or a seven, even if I’m not particularly powerful. Now I’m sure I’ll have the lowest score of the twenty-four. If no one sponsors me, my odds of staying alive decrease to almost zero.

Nothing about this makes sense.

Why not let viewers watch? The whole point of this is spectacle and you’d get plenty of eyes to try to get an idea of who to bet on. And if high-scoring tributes often get killed immediately (which makes sense, since it’s basically getting a bullseye painted on you) why would anyone want to get one? And why does Katniss keep insisting her only chance is to get sponsors? What about the plan of getting a zero so people don’t try to kill you, that’s also a good plan.

Everyone’s waiting at the table, even Cinna and Portia. I wish the stylists hadn’t shown up because for some reason, I don’t like the idea of disappointing them. It’s as if I’ve thrown away all the good work they did on the opening ceremonies without a thought.

…childmurder games.

Katniss you are a kidnapped kid being forced to take part in murder games with other kidnapped kids.

Also your stylists are in it for the fame, stop obsessing over how nice they are.

This is seriously written exactly as if she’s a voluntary athlete who wants to try her best and become famous.

Haymitch asks what happened. Peeta says he chucked weights around – and I get it’s supposed to show he’s strong but that’s still a totally useless skill for the childmurder games. It doesn’t matter if you’re strong if you don’t know how to actually use that.

I shot an arrow at them. Not exactly at them. In their direction. It’s like Peeta said, I was shooting and they were ignoring me and I just . . . I just lost my head, so I shot an apple out of their stupid roast pig’s mouth!” I say defiantly.

How the hell did you survive this long in the evil totalitarian government with spies and informants everywhere.

The defiant hot-headed main character is enough of a cliché as it is. It doesn’t need to show up in stories like this.

Anyway, Effie is the only one who’s shocked by this, so it’s clearly no big deal. Haymitch points out the obvious, that they don’t want to bother getting a new kid.

“What about my family?” I say. “Will they punish them?”
“Don’t think so. Wouldn’t make much sense. See they’d have to reveal what happened in the Training Center for it to have any worthwhile effect on the population.

Um. They’re a bunch of totalitarian assholes. You’re already speculating they’ll go out of their way to make her miserable during the games, and they don’t have to answer to anyone. Having a dictatorship means never having to explain your actions. Besides, they can just say “the tribute behaved badly” without saying how and then next year’s kids will be terrified into not doing anything to upset anyone.

The she describes how dumb they looked when they fell over in surprise about her shooting the apple, and it’s just –

“One man tripped backward into a bowl of punch.”

You know, just for shorthand, let’s mentally insert Hitler in here.

Hitler fell into a bowl of punch.

Yeah, it’s just…these aren’t a bunch of pompous dumbasses. They’re people presiding over the yearly murder of kids. The book seems to have decided that’s boring and to switch over to generic slapstick.

“Well, it serves them right. It’s their job to pay attention to you. And just because you come from District Twelve is no excuse to ignore you.” Then her eyes dart around as if she’s said something totally outrageous. “I’m sorry, but that’s what I think,” she says to no one in particular.

This is, I think, the first time we’ve got a real hint that Effie really is on a tightrope here and in as much danger if she causes trouble as anyone else, which is nice. (I mean, I’ve been reading her that way the whole time, but given the level of psychological depth characters have, not sure how much is intended.)

They go on to point out the obvious again, that the scores don’t really matter because someone could just be pretending to suck. You’d think this would have come up earlier and they’d have suggested sucking horribly for this very reason.

The Career Tributes naturally get in the eight-to-ten range. Most of the other players average a five. Surprisingly, little Rue comes up with a seven.

Between this and the slingshot thing, it’d be amusing if Rue was a little murder machine.

District 12 comes up last, as usual. Peeta pulls an eight so at least a couple of the Gamemakers must have been watching him.

…he threw weights around. I mean, yeah, it’s good he’s strong, but strength isn’t much if you don’t know how to do anything. He scored as in the career tribute range, with kids who can accurately impale others on spears.

And, of course, Katniss gets an eleven!!!! Yay! Everyone celebrates because this is awesome wait didn’t we just learn high scoring kids tend to die first?

This is the worst thing ever. Even assuming Katniss is a contender, her ideal plan is run, make a bow, shoot people. She isn’t going to survive if anyone targets her first.

I drift off, reprieved, relieved, and with the number eleven still flash­ing behind my eyelids.

It’s just such obvious author interference. Over and over, Katniss must be special, to the point where she just has to get the awesome score even though it’s actually a terrible idea.

She thinks back to when she met Gale.

The only meat I’d shot was a squirrel that had practically run over my toes in its quest for acorns, but the animals would still be afoot when the snow buried my other food sources.

Fall animals are fat, winter animals are skinny, and acorns suck as a food source. The animals also have useful skins you can sell for money and then your “other food sources” can include the market.

He was only fourteen, but he cleared six feet and was as good as an adult to me.

I just…how hard is it to figure out that starving people are usually shorter than well fed ones?

He’d lost his father in the same blast that killed mine. In January, I’d stood by while he received his medal of valor in the Justice Building, another oldest child with no father. I remembered his two little brothers clutching his mother, a woman whose swollen belly announced she was just days away from giving birth.

And we know that later he’s still the sole provider, so mothers being completely useless continues.

I’d also like to complain about the whole pregnant mom thing. Yes, I get it’s shorthand for vulnerable. You know what also works perfectly well? A infant with no mom. His mom could have died in that blast because they live in a sucky world where you don’t get maternity leave. The only way you can spin the pregnant woman as the more dramatic option is if you class women and children together, so they’re both pathetic and helpless without his protection.

She thinks about how different she feels about toward Gale than she does with Peeta, then points out the obvious that they’re in a completely different situation, so I’m not sure why she brought it up.

Peeta and I know the other’s survival means our own death.

The book really doesn’t want to accept that the odds of their having any impact on the other’s survival is low, and not the least because odds are neither survives.

Really, a perfectly valid reason not to get close is that there’s no point making friends with someone about to die. It doesn’t have to keep getting framed as that you’ll kill them.

In fact, this whole drama has pretty much completely distracted from the actual murder issue. Katniss is about to get thrown in with another twenty-three kids in a death fight. She needs to stop thinking about her notfriendship with Peeta and about if she’s able to put an arrow through another kid’s head. She didn’t even think to aim at the gamemasters, and she had reason there.

The stew’s made with tender chunks of lamb and dried plums today. Perfect on the bed of wild rice.

Huh, so they do have rice. Maybe the stuff before was couscous. How come she knows what wild rice is, though? That’s a specialty rice.

Today are the interviews. She’s concerned about doing her best.

Haymitch shrugs. “Peeta has asked to be coached separately.”

And that’s the dramatic end to the chapter.

Pretty meh.

Katniss is just taking everything in stride. She’s calm about the fact she’s served by mutilated slaves, about the fact she’s about to murder people and surrounded by people who ordered it. All she seems to care about is the fact she’s uncomfortable acting friendly to Peeta and that it’s annoying when people ignore her. Even her panic about having angered them wasn’t particularly different than if they’d just snub her scorewise.

One Comment

  1. Brody says:
    I’m giving this whole series a reread, I read it all back in the day to save me having to read the book as I wasn’t keen on the idea (Battle Royale fan.)  I love the way you summarise everything and the logical failures of the plot.  I only watched the films for the first time this weekend, so I thought I’d refresh my mem0ry.  I thought it was weird that instead of being self pitying and melodramatic in the film, JL played Katniss as bored and disinterested at everything happening.

    Anyway, not sure if you still check these comments, but just wanted to say you did a bang up job.

    2

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