In the twenty-seventh chapter of The Hunger Games, Katniss faces two public appearances where she is forced to live through the Games again and maintain her “relationship” with Peeta the entire time. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to finish The Hunger Games.
I really don’t like any of this. I don’t mean that I don’t like the book, but I am very uneasy about this appearance. I don’t feel like it can end well, can it?
Katniss does make a point to state that Caesar, who helped her out during her initial interview, is probably just as aware as she is to how important it is for them to pull of this segment flawlessly, to provide a believable slice of entertainment for Capital, to show that they’re submissive to the powers-that-be. I’m sure Caesar is very much aware that his own job and happiness is also at stake here too.
Blinding lights. The deafening roar rattles the metal under my feet. Then there’s Peeta just a few yards away. He looks so clean and healthy and beautiful, I can hardly recognize him. But his smile is the same whether in mud or in the Capitol and when I see it, I take about three steps and fling myself into his arms.
Despite being watched by millions of people, knowing the Capitol is looking for the performance of a lifetime, I feel safe saying that not a second of this is an act. And sure, Katniss’s feelings are probably all mixed up and jumbled, but Peeta does mean something to her. After being separated from him for so long, this isn’t at all surprising. It’s touching, actually, because we know she means it.
He’s kissing me and all the time I’m thinking, Do you know? Do you know how much danger we’re in? After about ten minutes of this, Caesar Flickerman taps on his shoulder to continue the show, and Peta just pushes him aside without even glancing at him. The audience goes berserk.
I’ll accept that this might be just an overexaggeration on Katniss’s part because she can’t have a fair concept of time at this point, but TEN FUCKING MINUTES ARE YOU SERIOUS. That is simply ridiculous what are you guys doing.
Usually, this is a single, ornate chair from which the winning tribute watches a film of the highlights of the Games….
WHAT!!!! YOU ARE KIDDING ME. You are going to make him or her relive everything you just went through???? Well, at least there is a selfish reason for us to want to see this: we can finally find out what happened to everyone who died off…page. I was going to say off screen, but this isn’t a movie. Off page? Is that fine?
Caesar Flickerman makes a few more jokes, and then it’s time for the show. This will last exactly three hours and is required viewing for all of Panem.
!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! THREE GODDAMN HOURS HOW IS THAT POSSIBLE
How have the other victors faced this alone? During the highlights, they periodically show the winner’s reaction up on a box in the corner of the screen. I think back to earlier years…some are triumphant, pumping their fists in the air, beating their chests. Most just seem stunned. All I know is that the only thing keeping me on this love seat is Peeta—his arm around my shoulder, his other hand claimed by both of mine. Of course, the previous victors didn’t have the Capitol looking for a way to destroy them.
The real urgency of this situation is apparent now. They’ve got to pretend for THREE HOURS and give a performance the country can believe. I’m starting to really make sense of why Collins forced this romance between Katniss and Peeta. I think it is a tad illogical that in seventy-four years, they never picked people who were in love with each other or came to love each other, but whatever. It’s a chance for the Games to be different and for the intensity to be more serious. I wish this had made sense earlier because I still find a lot of the early introduction to their romance to be problematic, but I think I might get it now.
Whoever puts together the highlights has to choose what sort of story to tell. This year, for the first time, they tell a love story. I know Peeta and I won, but a disproportionate amount of time is spent on us, right from the beginning. I’m glad though, because it supports the whole crazy-in-love thing that’s my defense for defying the Capitol, plus it means we won’t have as much time to linger over the deaths.
Is that a slight run-on sentence? Whatever, can you imagine having the job of editing WEEKS OF FOOTAGE for this? Your brain would have to be so desensitized to violence in order to stand it. Though I suppose living in Panem, that’s just a reality for everyone, privileged and oppressed alike.
Once we’re in the arena, there’s detailed coverage of the bloodbath and then the filmmakers basically alternate between shots of tributes dying and shots of us. Mostly Peeta really, there’s no question he’s carrying this romance thing on his shoulders. Now I see what the audience saw, how he misled the Careers about me, stayed awake the entire night under the tracker jacker tree, fought Cato to let me escape and even while he lay in that mud bank, whispered my name in his sleep.
Wait….so Collins doesn’t reveal any new information on what happened to everyone who died? BOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO.
With that out of the way, I will say that Collins is definitely building more of the foundation for Katniss to come to her epiphany that Peeta actually loves her. I know, I know, HOW DID SHE MISS IT BY NOW. Still, being forced to see Peeta’s dedication to her has to be making an affect on how she sees him.
I seem heartless in comparison—dodging fireballs, dropping nests, and blowing up supplies—until I go hunting for Rue. They play her death in full, the spearing, my failed rescue attempt, my arrow through the boy from District 1’s throat, Rue drawing her last breath in my arms. And the song. I get to sing every note of the song. Something inside me shuts down and I’m too numb to feel anything. It’s like watching complete strangers in another Hunger Games. But I do notice they omit the part where I covered her in flowers.
Right. Because even that smacks of rebellion.
Good lord, this is disturbing. Just in case you forgot, Katniss, here’s all the awful shit we did to you and others perpetrated in the effort to stay alive. Don’t forget it! EVER.
Objectively, I can see the mutts and Cato’s death are as gruesome as ever, but again, I feel it happens to people I have never met.
Wow. The disconnection has already occurred. Perhaps this is part of the plan of the Gamemakers and the Capitol. They want to desensitize and dehumanize the contestants so much that they can’t even recognize their actions for what they are. It’s a really fucked up form of homogenization, isn’t it?
The President of the Panem (President Snow) arrives to hand them each one half of the crown that deems them the victors. This detail was pretty frightening:
He places the first around Peeta’s brow with a smile. He’s still smiling when he settles the second on my head, but his eyes, just inches from mine, are as unforgiving as a snake’s.
That’s when I know that even though both of us would have eaten the berries, I am to blame for having the idea. I’m the instigator. I’m the one to be punished.
Though Haymitch clearly didn’t need to tell Peeta to play up the romance, since he was sincere, I think that perhaps he only told Katniss what happened with the berry rebellion because he knew she’d be targeted. I like Haymitch because he does stuff like this even though he doesn’t have to.
The presentation is finally over and we learn that they have to make ANOTHER appearance the next day for their final interviews. AS IF MAKING THEM VISUALLY RELIVE THE GAMES WASN’T ENOUGH. Katpee are whisked off to the president’s mansion for a banquet of sorts and I love how reminiscent this is of Hollywood, and how meaningless parties full of empty gestures are thrown for people who are supposed to be important. I wish Collins had spent more time elaborating on how out-of-place Katpee were at that party because I think it would have been an interesting contrast.
Alas, it doesn’t happen. I was a bit chuffed that Collins rushed through so much of this: Katniss returns to her room, tries to talk to Peeta, finds out she is locked in, sleeps, and is awoken the next day for her final interview by Effie. This all happens in one paragraph. It’s only a couple more paragraphs before she’s suddenly thrust before Caesar Flickerman in the studio where the interview is being recorded.
Peeta is there and Caesar encourages them to snuggle as close as possible on the love seat. There’s something strangely endearing about Caesar, as if he is subtly trying to communicate to Katniss that he’s on her side; he certainly goes out of his way to make sure that her interviews go well. I suppose it could be self-interest, because if an interview goes sour, he could easily be blamed. Maybe he’s just a natural at all this.
He does seem to know when to shift the conversation. The interview opens with a long section of Peeta and Caesar discussing the Games and his love for Katniss. When it turns to Katniss and she stumbles to answer a question about when she fell for Peeta, we get another sign that Caesar really wants to do right by Katniss.
“Well, I know when it hit me. The night you should out his name from that tree,” says Caesar.
Thank you, Caesar! I think, and then go with his idea. “Yes, I guess that was it. I mean, until that point, I just tried not to think about what my feelings might be, honestly, because it was so confusing and it only made things worse if I actually cared about him. But then, in the tree, everything changed,” I say.
“Why do you think that was?” urges Caesar.
“Maybe…because for the first time…there was a chance I could keep him,” I say.
I bet there is truth to that, but this interchange just reminds me how fucked up all of this is. The Games manipulated these people to feel emotions (and emotions that very well were real to these people), but was ultimately doing so in order to entertain and oppress. No one in the Capitol ever really cared if Peeta and Katniss stayed alive. They were simply a means to an end.
We learn that Peeta got some sort of implant where he lost part of his leg, and Katniss loses control of herself. Understandably so, but then there’s this weird part.
I guess this is true, but I can’t help feeling upset about it to the extent that I’m afraid I might cry and then I remember everyone in the country is watching me so I just bury my face in Peeta’s shirt. It takes them a couple minutes to coax me back out because it’s better in the shirt, where no one can see me, and when I do come out, Caesar backs off questioning me so I can recover.
This is a live interview, right? Isn’t this super awkward and a REALLY BAD IDEA? Also HOW DO YOU HIDE IN A SHIRT FOR THAT LONG.
The moment of truth arrives: Caesar asks Katniss about the berries.
It seems to call for a big, dramatic speech, but all I get out is one almost inaudible sentence. “I don’t know, I just…couldn’t bear the thought of…being without him.”
“Peeta? Anything to add?” asks Caesar.
“No. I think that goes for both of us,” he says.
Well, it’s not amazing, but it does the trick. Haymitch confirms the interview went fine, which ends after that, is just what they needed. They are taken away quickly to gather their few belongings and are sent to the trains that are waiting to take them back to District 12.
We barely have time to say good-bye to Cinna and Portia, although we’ll see them in a few months, when we tour the districts for a round of victory ceremonies. It’s the Capitol’s way of reminding people that the Hunger Games never really go away. We’ll be given a lot of useless plaques, and everyone will have to pretend they love us.
WHAT. THE. FUCK. Ok, first of all, that’s clearly what the next book is going to address. But more importantly….WHYYYYYYYYYYYY. Like, is Katniss going to have to meet the parents of the boy she murdered after he killed Rue? Or visit Rue’s family? OR WHY IS ALL OF THIS oh my god AWFUL.
Not as awful as what happens next, though. Peeta and Katniss get a moment alone during a fuel stop. And all those confusing, conflicting emotions start to come to a head.
Gale. The idea of seeing Gale in a matter of hours makes my stomach churn. But why? I can’t quite frame it in my mind. I only know that I feel like I’ve been lying to someone who trusts me. Or more accurately, to two people. I’ve been getting away with it up to this point because of the Games. But there will be no Games to hid behind back home.
Oh man, are we going to have to deal with a love triangle? I hate love triangles more than I hate most things. I’ll give it a chance, but NO THANK YOU in advance. But it is interesting that Katniss finally says she has been lying to Peeta about her feelings for him. Before this, it was always expressed as ignorance. Is she now certain how she feels?
NOPE. Because now it all comes out as Peeta confronts Katniss after Haymitch makes a passing comment about keeping up their appearances until they’re back in District 12. Katniss reveals the truth about the berries and how they upset the Capitol and how Haymitch has been coaching her for days so she doesn’t mess things up.
“But you knew what he wanted you to do, didn’t you?” says Peeta. I bite my lip. “Katniss?” He drops my hand and I take a step, as if to catch my balance.
“It was all for the Games,” Peeta says. “How you acted.”
“Not all of it,” I say, tightly holding onto my flowers.
“Then how much? No, forget that. I guess the real question is what’s going to be left when we get home?” he says.
“I don’t know. The closer we get to District Twelve, the more confused I get,” I say.
WELL, THIS ISN’T AWKWARD. I have to turn my criticism to Peeta for a moment. Did he also not ever pick up on Katniss faking her reaction? I suppose he could have been distracted by his love for her, but….I don’t know. I don’t think it’s fair for me to be so hard on Katniss and give Peeta a break when it comes to this. Perhaps both of them have the emotional depth of a teaspoon, right?
“Well, let me know when you work it out,” he says, and the pain in his voice is palpable.
It sucks because the context of it is so horrifying: she pretended to love him so she wouldn’t be murdered or die of starvation. I don’t know about you, but I give her a complete moral pass on this one. I ain’t judging.
Still, it hurts. It hurts Peeta to see the girl he’s grown to love over many, many years tell him that she wasn’t genuine.
I want to tell him that he’s not being fair. That we were strangers. That I did what it took to stay alive, to keep us both alive in the arena. That I can’t explain how things are with Gale because I don’t know myself. That it’s no good loving me because I’m never going to get married anyway and he’d end up hating me later instead of sooner. That if I do have feelings for him, it doesn’t matter because I’ll never be able to afford the kind of love that leads to a family, to children. And how can he? How can he after what we’ve just been through?
Perhaps I’ve discounted Katniss too much. I think those are all solid, valid points. But she doesn’t get to address them at all because they pull up to the station in District Twelve.
Out of the corner of my eye, I see Peeta extend his hand. I look at him, unsure. “One more time? For the audience?” he says. His voice isn’t angry. It’s hollow, which is worse. Already the boy with the bread is slipping away from me.
I take his hand, holding on tightly, preparing for the cameras, and dread the moment when I will finally have to let go.
Shit is fucked up, you guys.
And because I have to do this:
The Hunger Games is a flawed book that still ultimately reminds me too much of Battle Royale, but the ending is pretty fantastic and MOAR HAYMITCH and such.
Up next: Predictions for Catching Fire tomorrow and then I start on Friday!