Hunger Games Ch3

a group of Peacekeepers marches us through the front door of the Justice Building. Maybe tributes have tried to escape in the past. I’ve never seen that happen though.


I mean, really, what are they going to do if they run? Shoot you?

To be specific here, I’m not saying everyone should run. A lot of the kids are probably stunned or still clinging to the hope they might somehow survive. But no one at all? If nothing else, the way they’re being treated should tip them off it’s an option.

Then I start telling them all the things they must remember to do, now that I will not be there to do them for them.
Prim is not to take any tesserae. They can get by, if they’re careful, on selling Prim’s goat milk and cheese and the small apothecary business my mother now runs for the people in the Seam.

Then why the fuck was she taking tesserae herself if they weren’t at a starvation level this year? She seems to have been the primary breadwinner here, so if they can survive without her then they must have been decently off with her.

I don’t bother suggesting Prim learn to hunt. I tried to teach her a couple of times and it was disastrous. The woods terrified her, and whenever I shot something, she’d get teary and talk about how we might be able to heal it if we got it home soon enough.

Prim’s been starving. I really don’t buy that she’s unable to handle where meat comes from. She might not be any good at it, but it’s bad writing to use this excuse.

Anyway, she yells at her mom to not get depressed again and her mom says she’s got medicine for that now. Which I guess is kind of a different treatment of depression than you usually see, but it just keeps begging the question of why wasn’t she working as an apothecary before their dad died.

Katniss thinks about how very, very doomed she is. In some districts kids are trained for the Games, and they’re generally the winners.

Girls who know twenty different ways to kill you with a knife.

…that might sound impressive but it’s not particularly. Deathmatch on the plains doesn’t call for fancy knifework assassinations. You just need to know one way that you’re really good at.

Oh, there’ll be people like me, too. People to weed out before the real fun begins.

This is the second time it’s implied that the harmless people die first. Why would you bother instead of focusing on watching your back so one of the competent kids doesn’t stab it?

Someone else enters the room, and when I look up, I’m surprised to see it’s the baker, Peeta Mellark’s father. I can’t believe he’s come to visit me. After all, I’ll be trying to kill his son soon. But we do know each other a bit, and he knows Prim even better. When she sells her goat cheeses at the Hob, she puts two of them aside for him and he gives her a generous amount of bread in return. We always wait to trade with him when his witch of a wife isn’t around because he’s so much nicer. I feel certain he would never have hit his son the way she did over the burned bread.

What the fuck, book. Just what the fuck.

Anyway he gives her cookies and says he’ll keep an eye on her little sister.

Then the mayor’s daughter comes in.

“They let you wear one thing from your district in the arena. One thing to remind you of home. Will you wear this?” She holds out the circu­lar gold pin that was on her dress earlier.

The pin that can feed a family for months, you recall.

“Here, I’ll put it on your dress, all right?” Madge doesn’t wait for an answer, she just leans in and fixes the bird to my dress. “Promise you’ll wear it into the arena, Katniss?” she asks. “Promise?”
“Yes,” I say. Cookies. A pin. I’m getting all kinds of gifts today.

So it’s wrong when she has it, but it’s totally fine for Katniss to get the pin.

Protagonist-centered morality.

Finally, her friend Gale shows up. He tells her she’s got to get a bow and maybe she can win.

“They don’t always have bows,” I say, thinking of the year there were only horrible spiked maces that the tributes had to bludgeon one another to death with.

This kind of randomness makes it really hard to believe there are a ton of people clamoring to volunteer in some districts. Those girls who know twenty ways to kill with a knife aren’t at any advantage there.

We spent one Hunger Games watching the players freeze to death at night. You could hardly see them because they were just huddled in balls and had no wood for fires or torches or anything. It was considered very anti-climactic in the Capitol, all those quiet, bloodless deaths.

Yeah, all the fighting training in the world isn’t going to cover dropped in the arctic.

Anyway, Gale keeps trying to talk her up. He does sort of have a point that a bow is a pretty good weapon and she already knows how to kill things with it. But she’s never hunted people.

The awful thing is that if I can forget they’re people, it will be no different at all.

This is a pretty good conflict, because if you think about it in a slightly different frame of mind, the only way she makes it out is by taking someone else’s spot. She’s not fighting other people just to stay alive exactly. There will be exactly one living person at the end rescued, and she’s fighting to be that person.

Peeta Mellark, on the other hand, has obviously been crying and interestingly enough does not seem to be trying to cover it up. I immediately wonder if this will be his strategy in the Games. To appear weak and frightened, to reassure the other tributes that he is no competition at all, and then come out fighting.

I…don’t see why “appear weak and frightened because you honestly are and really what’s the point in pretending” isn’t an option here.

I mean, in this situation, you don’t gain anything by bluffing that you’re dangerous, do you? If you’re weak, you should appear weak in the hopes you’ll get left alive a while too.

Of course, I’ve never been on a train, as travel between the districts is for­bidden except for officially sanctioned duties.

While this definitely supports the idea of the coal miners all looking quite similar, it just makes it more unlikely the merchant class would look different, since they should all be intermarrying within a pretty narrow gene pool.

I remember Madge’s little gold pin. For the first time, I get a good look at it. It’s as if someone fashioned a small golden bird and then attached a ring around it. The bird is connected to the ring only by its wing tips.

That sounds amazingly flimsy even before we take into account it’s gold. And I really don’t think that gold is soft and fragile is on the level of any of the other detail fail, that’s pretty much the immediate association with gold. It’s why I made a big deal about Lucki having a necklace with a gold chain, because it’s so obviously a bad idea if you think about it for two seconds.

Anyway apparently the bird is a mockingjay, a crossbreed species created when the Capital made birds that could remember human conversations in the hopes of learning rebel plans, which the rebels easily got around by feeding them false information. That’s actually really obvious.

My father was particularly fond of mockingjays. When we went hunting, he would whistle or sing complicated songs to them and, after a polite pause, they’d always sing back. Not everyone is treated with such respect. But whenever my father sang, all the birds in the area would fall silent and listen. His voice was that beautiful, high and clear and so filled with life it made you want to laugh and cry at the same time.

We continue the “Katniss’ dad is awesome” thing. Really, there’s nothing exactly wrong about this in isolation, but it really is so common for the dead father to be a huge force while the mom barely matters.

Anyway, Effie brings them down for supper.

“At least, you two have decent manners,” says Effie as we’re finishing the main course. “The pair last year ate everything with their hands like a couple of savages. It completely upset my digestion.”
The pair last year were two kids from the Seam who’d never, not one day of their lives, had enough to eat. And when they did have food, table manners were surely the last thing on their minds.

Well, Katniss, you could have said to sell the pin. Or I guess we could just keep bashing on Effie.

I hate Effie Trinket’s comment so much I make a point of eating the rest of my meal with my fin­gers. Then I wipe my hands on the tablecloth. This makes her purse her lips tightly together.

Yeah, fight the power! You sure showed her.

I’m fighting to keep the food down. I can see Peeta’s looking a little green, too. Neither of our stomachs is used to such rich fare.

No, Peeta’s family kept a pig in April. He should have been fed well.

But if I can hold down Greasy Sae’s concoction of mice meat, pig entrails, and tree bark — a winter specialty — I’m determined to hang on to this.

What exactly is wrong with that, exactly? I mean, I can see the issue with tree bark depending on what kind you’re talking about, but the fact the meat is from mice is not a big deal and pig offal is really good food. In fact, it’s a good idea to be trading away the good cuts of meat of things she kills for the guts of other animals, since she can get several meals for the price of a single lean meat meal.

It seems like she’s just grossed out by the idea, which is pretty irrational, especially after you’ve eaten it a couple times. Since the recipe doesn’t actually make sense (you can’t store entrails and you usually slaughter the pig in the fall, so you wouldn’t be eating it in the middle of winter, and the amount of meat you’ll get off mice is so small it’s unlikely anyone would bother) this seems like the author just listed off stuff she thinks is gross with the idea that you eat the gross food in the winter.

A fox-faced girl with sleek red hair from District 5.

This is pretty standard for YA books, but I’m still going to call it out for unnecessarily appropriate appearance.

Then they show the events of District 12 again.

Effie Trinket is disgruntled about the state her wig was in.

Shut up about the wig, book.

Anyway, while they’re making fun of Effie for not liking how drunk Haymitch was, she tells them he’s in charge of a lot of stuff and the fact he’s drunk and useless means they’re doomed.

your mentor is your lifeline to the world in these Games. The one who advises you, lines up your sponsors, and dictates the presentation of any gifts. Haymitch can well be the difference between your life and your death!

Yeah, I’d be a drunken wreck too.


  1. Regan says:

    “Then why the fuck was she taking tesserae herself if they weren’t at a starvation level this year? She seems to have been the primary breadwinner here, so if they can survive without her then they must have been decently off with her.”

    It’d make sense if it was a case of there being no option to withdraw from taking tesserae; she signed up on her twelfth birthday, when things were very bad for her family, and was locked in until her last reaping. One line about how they’d have managed without Katniss’ rations, had she been able to cancel her tesserae when their circumstances improved, and she wouldn’t be needlessly quadrupling her risk of being reaped and leaving her family without their primary breadwinner.

    1. Farla says:

      Hm. That seems a bit redundant with the idea that every extra time you put your name in is an extra time for every reaping thereafter, but it does hammer in how the capital takes advantage of any moment of weakness to ruin your life.

      If we dial back Katniss’ claims they’re perpetually one meal away from dying of starvation, it could work. Tesserae is obviously the lowest quality food, so it could be that they don’t want to eat it except when they have to, but they also can’t sell any of it to improve their lives either because the only people desperate enough to eat it are those without any money at all. (That still comes with the issue that they could at least give the desperate their extra, but given there’s no sense of community here at all, I could see that not being a factor.)

      1. Regan says:

        If not for the fact that the beginning of Catching Fire was set in winter and Katniss brought home a fair haul, I’d think that Katniss and Gale weren’t able to do much hunting when the weather was very cold, and that that’s when they relied on their tesserae rations.

        There are things that make no sense about the Everdeen family’s circumstances. Mrs Everdeen’s parents ran the apothecary shop but what happened to it? She’s clearly qualified to run it but it looks like she didn’t work at all while her husband was alive, even though their family was poor enough that Mr Everdeen was not only risking execution by poaching but bringing his young daughter with him. It’s not as if they couldn’t use the added income.

        Short of there being restrictions on married women taking on paid employment, I’d have expected Mrs Everdeen to be working before her husband’s death.

  2. ellequoi says:

    Prim’s first year of reaping is Katniss’ last year, so this would have been her only opportunity to volunteer for her. There would have been a lot more years for Prim, and, like you said, early entries count for all the following years. That seems like reason enough to want Prim to not sign up for tesserae.


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