In the eighth chapter of The Hunger Games, Katniss finally expresses raw emotion in her narration as she begins to worry about the effects of her “attack” on the Gamemakers at the end of the last chapter. But after Haymitch cheers her up and she receives the first bit of good news regarding the Games, her desire for Gale’s companionship gets the better of her. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read The Hunger Games.
I almost felt that Katniss overreacted a bit at the beginning of this chapter. I’m not sure why she thought her surefire, methodical performance would garner anything other than praise from the Gamekeepers. She didn’t harm anyone and she showed a definite desire to stand out and survive, all with a little taste of grandeur.
Now I’ve done it! Now I’ve ruined everything! If I’d stood even a ghost of a chance, it vanished when I sent that arrow flying at the Gamemakers. 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? 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!
And you would probably be dead to. Does she honestly think they’d let her leave if she posed a legitimate threat? I was happy to see Katniss break from her usual tone of monotony, but was confused that she wasn’t smart enough to figure this out: what she did worked to her advantage.
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.
And as soon as I read this, all I could think was that Katniss would obviously receive a high score. I mean, she says it right there: training isn’t open to viewers. Would the Gamemakers publicly admit to being frightened by a young girl from District Twelve? It didn’t seem to make any sense to me.
When Katniss finally does agree to go down for dinner, Haymitch manages to make Katniss realize how foolish her ideas sound.
“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. People would need to know what you did. But they can’t since it’s a secret, so it’d be a waste of effort,” says Haymitch. “More likely they’ll make your life hell in the arena.”
I was hoping that I’d learn she did this on purpose, that she figured that the secrecy of the proceedings would work to her favor. It’s not often that Katniss misjudges herself like this. I suppose this makes her all the more realistic.
But it’s also a nice moment for Haymitch because, whether he knows it or not, he actually makes Katniss feel better. I’m warming up to Haymitch being a good guy in the end, but I’m still curious as to what his whole game plan is for this. I’m not ready to trust him yet, but his intentions seem to be pretty straight.
I wasn’t at all surprised that Katniss got an eleven from the Gamemakers, but now that I actually give it some thought, there’s a very interesting possibility here. I sort of expected her to be in the bottom of the tributes in terms of support and I imagined that the Games would merely be about Katniss using her natural skills to survive. But now, with the idea that she might get some decent sponsors, it’s kind of exciting to see what weapons she might get for the Games. Maybe she’ll get a really good bow and arrow or even a gun.
Wait why am I talking like this about ritual murder. Oh god.
This chapter’s best moment, however, is Katniss’s flashback to the time she met Gale and what he means to her. I have to give credit to Collins for not making this a romantic flashback; it highlights how strong their relationship is not only as hunters, but best friends. They met as strangers both breaking the laws of District 12, and there’s a mutual sort of respect that they have in each other, even as they reluctantly begin to share their secrets and tricks with one another. They grow close out of necessity, at least at first, but the relationship ends up being one of love, even though Collins doesn’t explicitly state it here. Sure, it’s easy to say that Gale replaced the father figure she lost in the mines. (It’s pretty fitting that Gale also lost his father in that same blast, as if he and Katniss were brought together by destruction.) Katniss knows that what she has with him, whatever it might be, is something people look for all their lives.
I call him my friend, but in the last year it’s seemed too casual a word for what Gale is to me. A pang of longing shoots through my chest. If only he was with me now! But, of course, I don’t want that. I don’t want him in the arena where he’d be dead in a few days. I just…I just miss him. And I hate being so alone. Does he miss me? He must.
Well, someone told me this series is pretty gut-wrenching and depressing and here’s the first sign of it. I feel for Katniss and it hurts to know she’s so very alone. But what makes this worse is the moment at the end of the chapter:
“Well, there’s been a change of plans. About our current approach,” says Haymitch.
“What’s that?” I ask. I’m not sure what our current approach is. Trying to appear mediocre in front of the other tributes is the last bit of strategy I remember.
Haymitch shrugs. “Peeta has asked to be coached separately.”
OH SHIT, guys. Shit is about to get so real.