In the fifteenth chapter of The Hunger Games, Katniss finds out she’s alive and hasn’t been eaten to death by ants. In the process, she makes a new friend. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read The Hunger Games.
I don’t like how this chapter opens.
I enter a nightmare from which I wake repeatedly only to find a great terror awaiting me. All the things I dread most, all the things I dread for others manifest in such vivid detail I can’t help but believe they’re real. Each time I wake, I think, At last, this is over, but it isn’t. It’s only the beginning of a new chapter of torture. How many ways do I watch Prim die? Relive my father’s last moments? Feel my own body ripped apart? This is the nature of the tracker jacker venom, so carefully created to target the place where fear lives in your brain.
I just don’t like how this is written. I mean, this is ripe for description! She FUCKING HALLUCINATED ANTS BORING INTO HER EYES. Why don’t we get any sort of description of these dreams? They’re relegated to simple lines of prose and not even poetic ones at that.
I had to say it. SORRY, THAT’S HOW IT IS.
Katniss wakes up in incredible pain from the stings, from running into trees, and from the after effects of the poison. She has no idea how long she’s been unconscious, but she suspects it’s been over twenty-four hours.
It took Collins a while to get to it (and I honestly expected it sooner), but Katniss finally starts to come to the realization that she has confusing and conflicting feelings toward Peeta. She momentarily thinks of the brief discussion she had with Gale the morning of the day Prim was chosen in the reaping, where Gale suggested they run away from District 12.
And suddenly, I’m not thinking of Gale but of Peeta and…Peeta! He saved my life! I think. Because by the time we met up, I couldn’t tell what was real and what the tracker jacker venom had caused me to imagine. But if he did, and my instincts tell me he did, what for? Is he simply working the Lover Boy angle he initiated at the interview? Or was he actually trying to protect me? And if he was, what was he doing with those Careers in the first place? None of it makes sense.
It doesn’t right now, I’ll agree with that. But Collins foreshadowed it early and has now all but confirmed that Katniss is going to have some sort of conflict between deciding how she feels about these two guys. And I’m also betting that Peeta’s actions really happened AND he did them out of respect and love for Katniss. I mean…it does seem pretty obvious, doesn’t it?
Katniss gains a sense of hope when she remembers that she stole the bow and arrows! Oh yeah, FROM UNDER A DISINTEGRATING BODY. Never mind that, though, because now she has the most badass weapon! Well, badass to her skill set, but still!
Actually, this whole short chapter is full of moments where, for once, things actually go right for her. She kills a rabbit, gets to eat, gets rehydrated, takes a sort of bath in the pool of water, kills some sort of strange bird, and then—THEN!!!—Rue finds Katniss!
Oh, Rue. You are so full of joy for me.
Rue is from District 11, where their specialty is agriculture, and she finds leaves to help cure Katniss’s stings. What’s more interesting to me is the information she provides about her own district, though:
“I’d have though, in District Eelven, you’d have a bit more to eat than us. You know, since you grow the food,” I say.
Rue’s eyes widen. “Oh, no, we’re not allowed to eat the crops.”
“They arrest you or something?” I ask.
“They whip you and make everyone else watch,” says Rue. “They mayor’s very strict about it.”
Ah, public humiliation. Generally a pretty effective technique.
It’s interesting, hearing about her life. We have so little communication with anyone outside our district. In fact, I wonder if the Gamemakers are blocking out our conversation, because even though the information seems harmless, they don’t want people in different districts to know about one another.
I didn’t actually know this, since Katniss seemed to demonstrate a knowledge of the other districts, but I suppose it’s ideal to prevent people from learning how others are treated and, even more importantly, learning that they have things in common.
Rue proves to be a little bundle of information as well. The sunglasses that were in Katniss’s pack aren’t actually sunglasses, she says. They’re night vision glasses. THESE WILL COME INTO PLAY LATER, CALLING IT NOW. Chekov’s Gun much?
My heart was warmed by Katniss telling Rue to sleep in the sleeping bag with her. I mean…look, the past four chapters have been so harrowing, depressing, and violent that even this brief time for us to catch our breath is welcome. Now that there are less tributes left, things are going to stretch out a bit more. (Do the Games have a time limit like the one in Battle Royale? I don’t recall Katniss saying they do.) I am fearing the moment that Rue dies because I have a feeling it’s going to happen.
In the meantime, the girls from Districts One and Four are the only ones who died during this debacle. Only ten tributes are left. Rue also says that Peeta has left the Careers and is off on his own; the Careers are stockpiling weapons and supplies near the lake. Rue worries aloud that they are simply too strong because they have so many supplies.
“Say they didn’t. Say the supplies were gone. How long would they last?” I say. “I mean, it’s the Hunger Games, right?”
“But, Katniss, they’re not hungry,” says Rue.
“No, they’re not. That’s the problem,” I agree. And for the first time, I have a plan. A plan that isn’t motivated by the need for flight and evasion. An offensive plan. “I think we’re going to have to fix that, Rue.”
Oh, fuck yes. It’s about time for Katniss to turn into the BADASS OF THE CENTURY.