In the thirteenth chapter of Catching Fire, SLOW DOWN THIS IS GOING WAY TOO
FAST. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to readCatching Fire.
Jesus hell, we don’t get any time to think about this at all. This chapter moves at lightning speed and while I might normally appreciate the breakneck pace, something is bothering me about all of this. It’s too much in a short period of time and Collins’s best writing generally happens when she allows moments to breathe. I don’t know. I know I said that I’m willing to admit that without seeing the whole picture, I’m misjudging this. But this chapter doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to me. For now. Katniss acts out of character for herself in the beginning of this chapter, but I’m sure it’s easy to write off as an extreme reaction to the terrifying news she just heard. I am not judging her in this moment because I can’t even begin to imagine how I would react myself. Would I run out of my house, run to an electrified fence, become dejected, run to an abandoned house, hide in the cellar, scream with part of my shirt stuffed in my mouth, and then fall asleep under the sheeting you use when you are painting? No? Well, its not happening to me, so who am I to judge? I SWEAR I AM NOT JUDGING.
It’s just that this is all a lot to process, you know? I didn’t think Collins would ever return to the arena, and even if she did, it wouldn’t be with Katniss. It’s just too cruel for words. SERIOUSLY. Think how depressing this is.
Yes, victors are our strongest. They’re the ones who survived the arena and slipped the noose of poverty that strangles the rest of us. They, or should I say we, are the very embodiment of hope where there is no hope. And now twenty-three of us will be killed to show how even that hope was an illusion.
Endlessly fucked up. I can’t even comprehend this. Waking up and feeling no better, Katniss heads straight to Haymitch’s house. Haymitch is his old self, perhaps more cynical than usual, and he already has his part prepared for for Katniss when she arrives. Peeta immediately sought out Haymitch and said that even if Haymitch was chosen, Peeta would offer to take his place. THANKS PEETA. This totally helps everything. So
what does Katniss do?
What did I come for? I think. What could I possibly want here? “I came for a drink,” I say.
Nothing like some underage drinking in a YA novel! I jest. Again, in any other context, this would be 100% out of character, but there is an interesting parallel Collins creates between Haymitch and Katniss. In one moment, hope was removed from Katniss’s worldview. Who is the most hopeless in her life? Haymitch. What does Haymitch do? Get drunk.
“Peeta’s argument is that since I chose you, I now owe him. Anything he wants. And what he wants is the chance to go in again to protect you,” says Haymitch.
I knew it. In this way, Peeta’s not hard to predict. While I was wallowing around on the floor of that cellar, thinking only of myself, he was here, thinking only of me. Shame isn’t a strong enough word for what I feel.
“You could live a hundred lifetimes and not deserve him, you know,” Haymitch says.
Wow. That is brutal. True? I don’t know, but Peeta’s devotion to Katniss is certainly more in one direction than the other. Thanks for the support, by the way. Haymitch, you
are a real winner.
There’s something else I want from Haymitch. “Okay, I figured out what I’m asking,” I say. “If it is Peeta and me in the Games, this time we try to keep him alive.”
Something flickers across his bloodshot eyes. Pain.
“Like you said, it’s going to be bad no matter how you slice it. And whatever Peeta wants, it’s his turn to be saved. We both owe him that.” My voice takes on a pleading tone. “Besides, the Capitol hates me so much, I’m as good as dead now. He still might have a chance. Please, Haymitch. Say you’ll help me.”
He frowns at his bottle, weighing my words. “All right,” he says
WHAT ARE YOU GUYS DOING. Have you resolved yourself to the reality that you’ll have to participate in the Games? No uprising, no revolts, no running away? That’s it?
Well, Katniss is fairly drunk, so maybe I should wait until she sobers up before wondering if she’s accepted all of this. It’s actually kind of scary to see her stumble at the stairs of her house, drunk to the point of incoherence, in front of her mother
and Prim. The next morning, she wakes up hungover and vocalizes why this was so frightening:
I’m not ready to see my mother and Prim. I have to pull myself together to be calm and reassuring, the way I was when we said our good-byes the day of the last reaping. I have to be strong. I struggle into an upright position, push my wet hair off my throbbing temples, and brace myself for this meeting. They appear in the doorway, holding tea and toast, their faces filled with concern. I open my mouth, planning to start off with some kind of joke, and burst into tears.
So much for being strong.
Man, this is all just too depressing for me. I can’t process how fucked up this is. WHY. JUST WHY. Katniss has always been the one in her family to act as an emotional stone in a way. For her, it seems like a sign of weakness to express anything that differs from her outlook on life. She shouldn’t be so hard on herself, though, but I guess there’s no reason saying that. She’s going to take this personally and she’s going to feel shitty about it. I wish I could be more eloquent, but words escape. This sucks so much.
Guess who makes it all worse? Peeta. He arrives later that evening, as Haymitch and Katniss sit in abject depression at his house, not speaking. (True story: It’s probably my favorite image in Catching Fire so far.) Back to Peeta. He arrives with a box full of empty liquor bottles, announcing that he’s now gotten rid of all the alcohol and told Ripper not to sell anymore to Haymitch or risk getting turned in to the Peacekeepers. It’s now the introduction of Peeta the Sanctimonious Asshole.
“However it falls out, two of us are going to be in the arena again with the other as mentor. We can’t afford any drunkards on this team. Especially not you, Katniss,” says Peeta to me. “
What?” I sputter indignantly. It would be more convincing if I weren’t still so hungover. “Last night’s the only time I’ve ever even been drunk.” “Yeah, and look at the shape you’re in,” says Peeta.
Officially off of Team Peeta. Seriously, dude? Thanks for being understanding and
sympathetic to Katniss. So you’re also giving up and going with the Games?
“Effie’s sending me recordings of all the living victors. We’re going to watch their Games and learn everything we can about how they fight. We’re going to put on weight and get strong. We’re going to start acting like Careers. And one of us is going to be victor again whether you two like it or not!” He sweeps out of the room, slamming the front door.
YEAH, NOT A FAN OF PEETA ANYMORE. So much for personal identity over hegemony, right? Apparently not, though, as Catching Fire immediately lapses into my
least favorite part of the story so far.
But after a few days, we agree to act like Careers, because this is the best way to get Peeta ready as well.
YEP. GIVING UP. Before, I couldn’t seem to elaborate on why I didn’t like the pace of the book during the Victory Tour scenes. It’s starts again here, as Collins cycles through months and months of training and studying in just a mere page. I finally figured out why I don’t like this: it doesn’t fit with the narrative style. Collins willingly chose to narrate this book in first-person present. It more or less worked in The Hunger Games because we were living in the moment, even if she sort of brushed through certain moments. But it’s now the second time in this book that we’re essentially fast-forwarding through some fairly important info, as if this is a montage scene in a film. We don’t even get to learn what happened during Haymitch’s Games, despite this seeming to be a perfect time to tell that story. (Of course, this could easily still happen in the future, so it’s not really a valid criticism right now.)
Even worse, the reaping happens before the end of the chapter. If I understand it right, then four or five months just passed in a tiny handful of pages. We’re supposed to believe that Katniss and Peeta responded well to physical training, that Haymitch isn’t in the best shape, but the entire time we’ve just been told it. None of it was shown to us. It doesn’t help me believe this world or this story at all. It feels really lazy.
Predictably, Effie draws Haymitch’s name for the reaping and Peeta doesn’t hesitate to take his place. And then in just two tiny paragraphs, Collins stuffs Katpee, Haymitch, and Effie onto a train, without fanfare, and sends them off to the Capitol. Just like that. I
understand that the Capitol organized this on purpose, to restrict any sort of joy or signs of support. They don’t want to inspire another uprising. But it feels far too much like the last section and I can’t help but feel…disappointed.