Mark Reads ‘The Hunger Games’: Chapter 9

In the ninth chapter of The Hunger Games, Katniss’s rage at the absurdity of the Hunger Games causes her to act irrationally to everyone around her. It takes the calm reasoning of Cinna to bring her back down, but then the final moment of the chapter fucks everything up. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read The Hunger Games.

Man, this book is finally kicking into a higher gear. It’s not that I don’t appreciate Collins spending time in the Capitol. I actually welcome it. I think it actually makes the Games all the more reprehensible, especially once you start meeting the people behind it.

But let’s deal with the Peeta reveal first.

Betrayal. That’s the first thing I feel, which is ludicrous.

NO, SERIOUSLY, IT IS. Why are you worried? I suppose, though, that it’s a way for Peeta to disconnect himself at this point. Katniss has a great score and he’s going to have to kill her very, very soon. Or at least try to. But…Katniss, you don’t even like him that much. Why do you feel betrayed?

But the boy who risked a beating to give me bread, the one who steadied me in the chariot, who covered me with the redheaded Avox girl, who insisted Haymitch know my hunting skills…was there some part of me that couldn’t help trusting him?

I have to admit that in the vacuum of this environment, this is actually a good point. Katniss is not a naturally trusting person, but Peeta has shown a level of respect for her that is rare in her life. So I understand her immediate action, to a point.

Katniss’s emotional depth, however, doesn’t seem to last long. Within seconds, she is ready to move on, ready to accept whatever plan Haymitch has for her to win the Hunger Games. Separate from Peeta, of course.

The next couple of scenes are, truthfully, unbearable. I am going to make a comparison in a second. It will not make me popular, but JUST GIVE ME A MOMENT TO FLESH IT OUT and I promise it’s not that bad.

Katniss spends eight hours, four with Effie and four with Haymitch, to prepare for her public television interview, the last thing she’ll do before the Games begin. She starts with Effie first, working on her presentation for her interview.

Effie, who I beginning to dislike less and less as I read more about her, teaches Katniss how she should walk in heels. How she should sit. How she should hold her dress. How she should look at the interviewer. How she should smile.

Katniss, ever the independent woman, is repulsed by most of this normative behavior; being a woman has absolutely nothing to do with any of this. Even independent of that, she’s a hunter who lives in a society that has no need for any of these social norms, so why should she be expected to learn them now? She’s going to kill people shortly, not wine and dine them to death.

So while I was smiling at her beautiful and simple rebellion, one that is pure nature to her, the next section caused me to grimace instead. Haymitch is tasked with helping Katniss with the content of her interview. What should she tell Panem? Which angle should she take? Should she portray herself as humble or viciously bloodthirsty?

Haymitch takes the role of the interviewer and I try to answer his questions in a winning fashion. But I can’t. I’m too angry with Haymitch for what he said and that I even have to answer the questions. All I can think is how unjust the whole thing is, the Hunger Games. Why am I hopping around like some trained dog trying to please people I hate? The longer the interview goes on, the more my fury seems to rise to the surface, until I’m literally spitting out answers at him.

I must say that I can’t expect that even I wouldn’t do the exact same thing. Katniss has always seemed to understand the absurdity of this entire system and it’s precisely that absurdity that enrages her so. But I wondered why she decided to take this out on Haymitch and why she’s so angry at him for calling her “sullen and hostile.” I MEAN SERIOUSLY, THAT IS WHAT YOU ARE DOING NOW.

Haymitch tries to convince her that even lying about her life at this point is a much better idea than anything else. But this leads to a section that…well, just wait until after it. You’ll see.

The next hours are agonizing. At once, it’s clear I cannot gush. We try me playing cocky, but I just don’t have the arrogance. Apparently, I’m too “vulnerable” for ferocity. I’m not witty. Funny. Sexy. Or mysterious.

By the end of the session, I am no one at all.

Katniss is Bella Swan.

OK NOT REALLY. But as soon as I read that, I couldn’t help but think of that soulless vaccum, that waste of character space that somehow filled up four books without causing the pages to implode out of fury. Obviously, while Katniss’s emotional depth is mostly vacant, she’s a far better character than Bella Swan, but LOOK. I’M SORRY. I COULDN’T HELP THAT MY MIND WENT THERE. It just happened!


Katniss, however, hates everything.

I have dinner that night in my room, ordering an outrageous number of delicacies, eating myself sick, and then taking out my anger at Haymitch, at the Hunger Games, at every living being in the Capitol by smashing dishes around my room. When the girl with the red hair comes in to turn down my bed, her eyes widen at the mess. “Just leave it!” I yell at her. “Just leave it alone!”

Guess who finally has very special feelings that no one understands except the broken dishes on the floor. I don’t know, this scene is strange. We haven’t seen Katniss react to much of anything and all of a sudden, she’s destroying her room? Maybe this is how she overloads. Maybe this is how she reacts under extreme duress. I don’t know. I still think this scene is weird.

The moment where Katniss (sort of) apologizes to the readheaded girl is a nice contrast, though, and I’m sure it helps to relieve some of her guilt, which can only help her as she enters the arena. But the scene is incredibly brief and I’m left wanting more from the two of them.

The next day is Katniss’s interview and I was thankful to have another scene with Cinna. I don’t know what it is about him, but I’m intrigued by his respect for Cinna; I’m interested to know why he respects Katniss so much and how he plays into this whole story. Here, though, we just get to see him do right by Katniss when he makes her a dress of gems that illuminates in the light. Even Katniss knows what Cinna has done for her, and she is grateful for it. Not as much, however, as she is towards his advice for her regarding her interview: Be herself.

“Myself? That’s no good, either. Haymitch says I’m sullen and hostile,” I say.

“Well, you are…around Haymitch,” says Cinna with a grin. “I don’t find you so. The prep team adores you. You even won over the Gamemakers. And as for the citizens of the Capitol, well, they can’t stop talking about you. No one can help but admire your spirit.”

Maybe that’s part of the reason why Cinna seems to enjoy her so much. But he devises a rather ingenuous plan for her: answer the questions as if she is speaking to Cinna, as if she is speaking to a friend. I think Cinna sees that Katniss is missing familiarity here and if he can give her even the tiniest thing to grasp on to, she might be able to find a comfortable zone to speak in.

The actual interview process itself reminded me of something someone told me about Collins’s idea for the series, which was a combination between reality TV and an American Idol-type program. The parade of tributes are forced to talk to a man named Caesar Flickerman, who embodies the inanity of the entire Capitol.

It’s a little scary because his appearance has been virtually unchanged during all that time. Same face under a coating of pure white makeup. Same hairstyle that he dyes a different color for each Hunger Games. Same ceremonial suit, midnight blue dotted with a thousand tiny electric bulbs that twinkle like stars. They do surgery in the Capitol, to make people appear younger and thinner. In District 12, looking old is something of an achievement since so many people die early. You see an elderly person, you want to congratulate them on their longevity, ask the secret of survival. A plump person is envied because they aren’t scraping by like the majority of us. But here is different. Wrinkles aren’t desirable. A round belly isn’t a sign of success.

It’s nice to see Collins not only address the body issues that plague our society, but to flip a mirror and invert them, to see how District 12 might actually envy people who are larger than they are. I like it.

Also, I want to see the movie version of this scene done well because Caesar sounds terrifying.

Collins sort of rushes through all of the other tributes and part of me actually wanted much more detail as she cycled through the various teenagers and kids. But that also conflicted with my desire for the Games to start IMMEDIATELY, so I guess it didn’t bother me too much.

Katniss’s interview was executed well; I love that Collins doesn’t have her immediately know what to do. The moment she freezes and her mouth goes “as dry as sawdust” was a great touch. Even though Katniss is confident and proud, she’s still in a place where all of that sort of doesn’t matter. She’s in a completely foreign and completely new environment and it makes her character all the more real to know that she isn’t flawless.

She continues to gain momentum as she is asked leading questions by Caesar, imagining that she’s merely talking to Cinna. Seeing Katniss giggle? Why is that such a huge moment to me? I don’t think I’ve seen her laugh more than once and she’s only smiled a few times. Is she starting to find her humor in all this? (Could she please find her humor in all this?)

I’m glad her interview goes well and is also not terribly long. The final interview is Peeta, who plays up his self-deprecating sense of humor to his own advantage. Until Caesar asks a certain question:

“Handsome lad like you. There must be some special girl. Come on, what’s her name?” says Caesar.

Peeta sighs. “Well, there is this one girl. I’ve had a crush on her ever since I can remember. But I’m pretty sure she didn’t know I was alive until the reaping.”


“So here’s what you do. You win, you go home. She can’t turn you down then, eh?” says Caesar encouragingly.

“I don’t think it’s going to work out. Winning…won’t help in my case,” says Peeta.

“Why ever not?” says Caesar, mystified.

Peeta blushes beet red and stammers out. “Because…because…she came here with me.”




OH FUCK, THIS IS ALL GOING TO BE SO, SO, SO, SO AWFUL. And I can now see I’ve reached the end of Part I and am moving on to Part II: The Games.


About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
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352 Responses to Mark Reads ‘The Hunger Games’: Chapter 9

  1. helloimbella says:

    Oh, I didn't mean it like THAT. I had about two seconds before I had to get to school, and I just really, really wanted to bring up what was on my mind, but I couldn't read through all the comments AT THAT TIME.

    Reading through my six-in-the-morning written comment, I realise that I sound like the most stuck-up person in the history of the world. *le sigh* Someone just TAKE AWAY MY COMPUTER.

  2. Sizzlelucid says:

    Someone was mentioning Lady Gaga's wardrobe designer is secretly Cinna. Katniss was hoping that Peeta wouldn't be dressed exactly like her.

    So here you go. Equal parts disturbing/amusing. I found this on a facebook thread.

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  3. bread says:

    I like Katniss a lot and I can see why Peeta would love her. She isn't perfect by any means but his mom was right, she is a survivor. When the going gets tough, she just gets even tougher. I find that very attractive especially since they live in a place that requires all of those survivor instincts. Katniss is also a person that sees right and wrong, despite growing up in a place where life is so tough that people just want to get ahead. I like that about her. She is a survivor but still operates according to her principles.. which I think causes her to spaz out because her principles aren't considered "normal" or ideal.

  4. Judie says:

    It would be okay if you hated Katniss a little bit. I kind of do. And I think the Bella Swann comparison is right on the money in a lot of ways.

    [WORDPRESS HASHCASH] The poster sent us ‘0 which is not a hashcash value.

  5. Warmouth says:


  6. samibear says:

    I find it odd that so many people didn't see the Peeta thing coming. I saw that a mile off. Does this make me super smart? (Please say it does, I could use a boost right now!)

  7. Katie says:

    Katniss shares a lot of traits with Bella, so don't feel too bad.

  8. Kylie says:

    I had the same reaction at the end reveal as you did. I was flabbergasted. In my case, it was because I was reading through so fast that I just wanted to know what happened and I wasn't really thinking too hard about the characters. I SURE PAID BETTER ATTENTION AFTER THAT, THOUGH.

    Katniss has a huge amount of rage for the situation and I can't blame her. She's basically like a lion in the Colussium; she's a beast that battles for the pleasure of others and her death will only add to the excitement. It's chilling and awesome.

  9. tzikeh says:

    You wrote: "The actual interview process itself reminded me of something someone told me about Collins’s idea for the series, which was a combination between reality TV and an American Idol-type program."

    Just a clarification–Collins said that she was flipping channels when news footage of the war in Iraq, combined with flipping past "Survivor," is what gave her the idea.

  10. purplejilly says:

    i DO see some of Bella in Katniss, in several ways. I agree with you on that..

  11. Val says:

    Mark you are right… Katniss *is* Bella Swan, just taken out of Forks and placed in a different world. The most obvious similarity is the unreasonable reactions to people and situations. I know you're totally in the book right now, and it's really exciting. I get that, because that was the way I felt while reading the first book. But by the time book 3 came around, i wondered why I was reading about this really weak character.

  12. notemily says:

    OMG Fearless. I thought I was the only person in the world who read those books. Man, I loved them, but they're so bad. "Fear gene"? WTF

  13. dumbxblonde07 says:

    So I'm reading this along with your reviews (sadly, way way behind) and had to comment here about Peeta (who when I read his name in my head, it's Peter, but really weird: Pee-tah): I KNEW IT!!!

    Okay, back to catching up I go!

  14. Maybe I'm the only person…but I started laughing reeeally hard when Peeta said that. This is my reason for really hating him. Sure he's generous and stuff, but I saw this moment coming so easily, maybe because of Katniss's excessive talk of how she needs to remember that she has to kill him. I thought, "Just watch…he probably loves her."

    I hate how this blossoms honestly.

  15. Stephanie M says:

    Man, from the first time Peeta was introduced I just knew… he was soooo crushing on Katniss. Painfully obvious. haha.

  16. Cadence Rex says:

    When I first read the series, I also thought that Katniss had a lot in common emotionally with Bella. I completely agree with what you said.


    Katniss is that way for a reason – and a GOOD reason at that. Swan has NO excuse.

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