In the eighteenth chapter of The Hunger Games, everything is fucked up and awful. This is supposed to be a YA book??? COLOR ME SURPRISED. If you’re intrigued, then it’s time for Mark to read The Hunger Games.
I sort of want to take back my prediction about Rue. I don’t want this true anymore.
This chapter is some of Collins’s best writing and exists as justification for why the book was written in the narration style she chose. The urgency makes more sense than ever, as we’re left to experience the heartbreak and trauma as it unfolds.
The boy from District 1 dies before he can pull out the spear. My arrow drives deeply into the center of his neck. He falls to his knees and halves the brief remainder of his life by yanking out the arrow and drowning in his own blood. I’m reloaded, shifting my aim from side to side, while I shout at Rue, “Are there more? Are there more?”
Just…it’s matter-of-fact. It’s just the reality of this now. Katniss has now killed three people and she didn’t even hesitate with this boy. He’s dead just seconds after the arrow enters her neck.
Shit is so goddamn real, guys.
Rue has rolled to her side, her body curved in and around the spear. I shove the boy away from her and pull out my knife, freeing her from the net. One look at the wound and I know it’s far beyond my capacity to heal. Beyond anyone’s probably. The spearhead is buried up to the shaft in her stomach. I crouch before her, staring helplessly at the embedded weapon. There’s no point in comforting words, in telling her she’ll be all right. She’s no fool.
Wow, this is seriously awful. I am not very attached to anyone in this book at this point, but Rue is about to die. And I kind of feel horrible about it? Not gonna lie, this is legitimately sad to me.
“You have to win,” she says.
“I’m going to. Going to win for both of us now,” I promise. I hear a cannon and look up. It must be for the boy from District 1.
THIS SHIT IS FUCKED UP.
“Sing,” she says, but I barely catch the word.
Oh…could you not? Like…oh, this is going to be awkward. Is this kind of over-the-top cheesy? I mean…I know if fits. Music means a lot to Rue and Katniss. (Music reminds Katniss of her father.)
I get it and I get why Collins put it here. I imagine to some people this is gut-wrenching and I don’t blame them, but it’s just a bit too much for me. THIS IS JUST A PERSONAL PREFERENCE, I DO NOT BLAME COLLINS FOR THIS.
Though, the final lines of the song are pretty damning.
Here your dreams are sweet and tomorrow brings them true
Here is the place where I love you
Ok, that is a pretty heavy. I just have a cold, empty heart for this kind of stuff. But I realize what Rue means to Katniss, how she represents Prim and how she also represents trusting, loving innocence. And it’s gone.
Heavy metaphor, sure, but I appreciate it just the same.
For a moment, I sit there, watching my tears drip down on her face. Rue’s cannon fires. I lean forward and press my lips against her temple. Slowly, as if not to wake her, I lay her head back on the ground and release her hand.
Yeah, ok, this is really goddamn sad. If I had any tears left after reading Harry Potter, I might have shed a tear here. BUT I DIDN’T BECAUSE J.K. ROWLING STOLE ALL MY SAD.
OK, MOVING ON.
I can’t stop looking at Rue, smaller than ever, a baby animal curled up in a nest of netting. I can’t bring myself to leave her like this. Past harm, but seeming utterly defenseless. To hate the boy from District 1, who also appears so vulnerable in death, seems inadequate. It’s the Capitol I hate, for doing this to all of us.
You know, I hate them too. Like a seething, bitter hatred. I don’t even care about Katniss that much and I hate them for exposing her all the other Tributes to this bullshit.
It’s this moment that Katniss has a revelation: Peeta’s statement on the roof of the Training Center finally make sense. Katniss is owned by the Capitol. She murdered three people and just watched a twelve-year-old girl die in front of her, ostensibly because of her. The only act left, the only form of rebellion that makes sense, is to show that they aren’t completely owned by the Games.
A few steps into the woods grows a bank of wildflowers. Perhaps they are really weeds of some sort, but they have blossoms in beautiful shades of violet and yellow and white. I gather up an armful and come back to Rue’s side. Slowly, one stem at a time, I decorate her body in flowers. Covering the ugly wound. Wreathing her face. Weaving her hair with bright colors
They’ll have to show it. Or even if they choose to turn the cameras elsewhere at this moment, they’ll have to bring them back when they collect the bodies and everyone will see her then and know I did it. I step back and take a last look at Rue. She could really be asleep in that meadow after all.
Goodbye, Rue. You were probably the most interesting character of the bunch and your time was too short. I’m gonna miss you.
I’ve no idea where to go. The brief sense of home I had that one night with Rue has vanished. My feet wander this way and that until sunset. I’m not afraid, not even watchful. Which makes me an easy target. Except I’d kill anyone I met on sight. Without emotion or the slightest tremor in my hands.
Well, this is scary turn of events. Has Katniss come unhinged? The thing is that she’s been built up as this dependable, focused individual and Rue’s death has now caused her to become…well, empty.
It doesn’t help when Katniss appears to get Rue’s gift from her sponsor, which arrived too late. LIKE SERIOUSLY GUYS, WAY TO RUB IT IN HER FACE. But Katniss does regain her composure to begin to do anything she can to subvert the Games:
I lift my face and step into the falling rays of sunlight. “My thanks to the people of District Eleven,” I say. I want them to know I know where it came from. That the full value of their gift has been recognized.
Definitely my favorite part of this chapter. Sure, it’s tiny, but it’s a gesture that’s so outright defiant of what these games are meant to do: homogenize and dehumanize. Sure, Katniss has the emotional depth of a spoon, but she’s not dense.
There are only six tributes left. Holy shit.
Heaviness infuses my whole body, as if there’s liquid lead in my veins. I’ve lost the will to do the simplest tasks, to do anything but lie here, staring unblinkingly through the canopy of leaves. For several hours, I remain motionless. As usual, it’s the thought of Prim’s anxious face as she watches me on the screens back home that breaks me from my lethargy.
I blame this lethargy on a combination of shock and depression. I remember how lethargic and unmotivated I used to be back when I suffered from depression and this is strangely reminiscent of those moments. But Prim (and Rue, in a way) help Katniss get out of her tree, pack up and consolidate, and figure out what on earth she’s supposed to do.
I can’t answer that question or any of the others that Katniss has. What exactly do you do after all this? Where is everyone? Are they coming after her to exact revenge?
I really think I stand a chance of doing it now. Winning. It’s not just having the arrows or outsmarting the Careers a few times, although those things help. Something happened when I was holding Rue’s hand, watching the life drain out of her. Now I am determined avenge her, to make her loss unforgettable, and I can only do that by winning and thereby making myself unforgettable.
Calling it: Katniss is going to kill Peeta. I mean, she has to, right? This will be her justification and I imagine the guilt of it will carry over to the next book.
But I’m surprised by how quickly the guilt wells up in her over what she’s done so far.
I hear Gale saying, “How different can it be, really?”
Amazingly similar in execution. A bow pulled, an arrow shot. Entirely different in the aftermath. I killed a boy whose name I don’t even know. Somewhere his family is weeping for him. His friends call for my blood. Maybe he had a girlfriend who really believed he would come back….
I think this guilt will also extend to the rest of the series. (Which, by the way, I was thinking…there’s no way the next two books will features Katniss playing the Hunger Games, right? Don’t answer that.) Katniss is going to have to come to terms with what she’s done so far and I imagine that there’s only worse shit to come.
And yet…Collins still manages to surprise me. Trumpets sound in the arena, which is rare, but it means that the Gamemakers are going to make an announcement to all remaining Tributes. Katniss says this is usually reserved for an announcement of a feast to goad those still alive into one area for the final battle, but hey, guess what? Not at all what happens here.
Claudius Templesmith’s voice booms down from overheard, congratulating the six of us who remain. But he is not inviting us to a feast. He’s saying something very confusing. There’s been a rule change in the Games. A rule change! That in itself is mind bending since we don’t really have any rules to speak of except don’t step off your circle for sixty seconds and the unspoken rule about not eating one another.
My prediction, when I read this, was that the Gamemakers would institute a time limit on the Game in an attempt to speed things up. Oh, how wrong I was.
Under the new rule, both tributes from the same district will be declared winners if they are the last two alive. Claudius pauses, as if he knows we’re not getting it, and repeats the change again.
The news sinks in. Two tributes can win this year. If they’re from the same district. Both can live. Both of us can live.
Before I can stop myself, I call out Peeta’s name.
Well, holy shit, Suzanne Collins. So now Peeta is (probably) going to survive??? Since Katniss obviously has to win, now there’s the chance for Peeta to as well? OH, GALE IS GONNA BE SO JEALOUS.
It’s a neat twist. I dig it so far. But…there is still the chance that Peeta is going to die.
I see that we’ve now made it to Part III. “The Victor.” Holy shit, we’re almost to the end!