The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins (Ch. 12 – 15)

The world of The Hunger Games is so complex that sometimes it’s hard to think about. The advanced technology to the complicated social system to the dynamic relationships between characters… everything is just absolutely littered with small details. Even something small, like tracker jackers, have a complete background story. It’s a small wonder that Suzanne Collins managed to create such a complete world on her own. Can you imagine creating a universe like the one Katniss lives in?

And can you imagine living in it? Life in the twelve districts sounds unbelievably hard. You spend your entire life working extremely hard for very little reward. Starvation, disease, and danger surround you. Of course, life in The Capitol sounds great. But even that doesn’t come without its own costs. People of The Capitol are shallow, and even they are not without their own dangers. Treason seems to be punished the same way no matter what district you’re in.

Yet, they’re never subjected to the Hunger Games like the people of the district were. I found myself wondering, between chapters, what determined who got to live in The Capitol when Panem was first created. Were famous celebrities moved there? Or just important government figures? Who decided who got to live a life of luxury and who had to toil in the fields? Was it random? Somehow I doubt it.

Of course, none of this is entirely related to the next few chapters I’m rereading. It’s just what I’ve been thinking about in between chapters. It’s crazy to think about the amount of ideas and questions you can have relating to this one story. Collins really outdid herself.

Back of the Book (

In the ruins of a place once known as North America lies the nation of Panem, a shining Capitol surrounded by twelve outlying districts. The Capitol keeps the districts in line by forcing them all to send one boy and one girl between the ages of twelve and eighteen to participate in the annual Hunger Games, a fight to the death on live TV.

Sixteen-year-old Katniss Everdeen regards it as a death sentence when she steps forward to take her sister’s place in the Games. But Katniss has been close to death before-and survival, for her, is second nature. Still, if she is to win, she will have to start making choices that weigh survival against humanity and life against love.

Disclaimer: My Chapter Thoughts DO INCLUDE SPOILERS. They assume that you have read ALL of The Hunger Games series (books 1-3). They will mostly contain spoilers, however, in the chapter that they are covering. 

Chapter Twelve Thoughts

Why did Peeta involve himself in the bloodbath at the Cornucopia? I don’t remember the full story of why he got involved with the career tributes. I know they wanted to use him to get to Katniss, but I don’t remember how they got to the point of using him. Was he too slow to escape them? Did they specifically target him after Katniss left? I don’t recall. 

Either way, it doesn’t seem like it benefitted him in any way. When Katniss views him for the first time in the arena, he is bruised and bloody. He limps. Did they maim him to keep him from escaping? And what secrets has he told them? Obviously they don’t yet know what skill Katniss is hiding. Her talent with a bow is still secret to everyone but Peeta. Even the audience doesn’t know.

I imagine watching this on tv sometimes and, even though it’s horrible, I would be absolutely hooked. I would have to watch it even if my family members were involved. How else would I know if they survived each day? It would be horrible and traumatizing, but addicting. 

Having to think about sponsors while competing in the game adds an extra level of stress to competing, I’m sure. Can you imagine having every move you make analyzed by an audience? While trying to fight for your life? The process comes across as daunting. Even as Katniss tries to provide herself with food and water, she’s thinking about how the audience will perceive her actions. She wants sponsors. She wants to show people she can take care of herself. 

Of course, in the process of doing so it becomes very obvious that she has hunting experience. It is obvious that Katniss breaks The Capitol’s laws. Why is their punishment for her doing so? How do they think she learned her hunting skills? And how are tributes from other regions allowed to hone their skills with weapons when those from District 12 are not? It is all very unfair.

The way Haymitch and Katniss communicate almost makes up for how unfair it is. While her district may have failed her in training for the games, it did provide her with a mentor that she perfectly understands. Their level of communication is close to perfect. They always understand each other. But then that advantage is almost immediately lost when the Gamemakers send a wall of fire to attack Katniss. It never ends! 

Chapter Thirteen Thoughts

The way Gamemakers sent tributes up to fail is unbelievable. They plunge children into an arena with the intent of having them kill each other. They give them weapons and tools. They force them to survive in extreme conditions. And, then, they add extra attacks just for the fun of it. Wild dogs and machine made fires being just a few. How do the Gamemakers live with themselves for making those conditions worse? They are killing children and it does not matter at all to them. 

And that makes me wonder how many Gamemakers have children of their own. Do they recognize the fact that what they are doing is truly evil? That they are killing human children just to prove a point and provide their nation with entertainment? It’s horrible. They would never do what they’re doing to the children of The Capitol. 

But maybe they should have. (Spoiler Alert for Catching Fire coming up) Maybe the 75th Hunger Game should have only used children from The Capitol instead of using previous victors. It would have shown people in the twelve districts that the citizens of the The Capitol were their equals instead of their masters. It probably would have helped quell future rebellions. I wonder if anyone considered that to be an option. Probably not considering their deeply rooted superiority complex. 

Chapter Fourteen Thoughts

Finding the tracker jackers is what is really the game changer for Katniss in the games. It’s the first moment where she goes from running from threats to actually attacking them head-on. It’s also the moment that allows her to get her hands on a bow and arrow.

And, of course, the actual tracker jackers themselves just reiterate the intensity of her world. They are unbelievable scientific creations. Their current existence is only meant to reinforce the strength of the Capitol in comparison to the weaknesses of the districts. Only people in the twelve districts have to worry about tracker jackers finding them and killing them. 

Chapter Fifteen Thoughts

Okay, there wasn’t a lot for me to talk about during the last chapter. I think that was my shortest entry ever. But how much can you really talk about tracker jackers? They’re interesting, but not entirely the point of the chapter. The point of the chapter was the bow. 

How exciting everything is now that Katniss has a bow in her hands! It’s the biggest game changer of the book so far. But how lucky she was that no one found her while she was knocked out. It would have been the easiest kill of the games. 

The beginning of her alliance with Rue is also a game changer. Rue impresses me more than almost everyone else in the series. She is so young and so small, but has been a capable survivor to date. Her talent for soaring through the trees is insane. Plus, her knowledge on medical treatments helped save Katniss or, at least, prevent her from future pain. I wonder how Katniss’s sponsors reacted to her allying herself with Rue. Did they think it was a moment of weakness or were they impressed that she cared about Rue? Did they support Katniss because they liked the more selfless parts of her, or just because she scored an eleven? It’s hard to tell.

 I wonder if it ever really occurred to Katniss that, if her alliance with Rue caused them to be the last two survivors, she may have to be the one to kill Rue. I personally don’t think she’d be able to do it. Rue reminds her too much of Prim. But what if they had been the last two standing? What do you think would have happened? I think it would come down to the Gamemakers to kill someone. They probably would have sent attack after attack against both of them until someone died. 

Learning about other districts this chapter was also thought-provoking. The district where Rue is from is responsible for growing food for all twelve districts. However, they’re not allowed to eat the crops. Anyone who is caught doing so is whipped. Can you imagine feeling hungry all the time, surrounded on all sides by plenty of food? Their role in the districts sounds almost unbearable. At least in District 12 people won’t have to stare at food they can’t eat while they slowly starve to death. That sounds like agony.

Of course, this is all information The Capitol prevents the districts from learning about each other. Do you think that even citizens of The Capitol know about conditions throughout the districts? I feel like everyone is prevented from learning about each other. They don’t want people to feel sympathetic for each other. They want them to feel resentment towards each other. 

Maybe that’s the reason why Effie is so dismayed by the lack of table manners from previous tributes. She might not even know that the people of District 12 are starved. Effie probably just assumes it’s fashionable for them to be so skinny, not something forced upon them. I’m not sure how reasonable that is to assume though. It is very apparent that District 12 is impoverished. But it is possible.

Watching Rue and Katniss interact for the rest of the chapter almost made me feel warm and fuzzy inside. If they weren’t in the games, their bond would be wholesome. Of course, they’re in the games though and it’s more of alliance than anything else. Yet, it’s nice to see that they care about and trust each other from early on. When Katniss starts planning to attack the career tributes, my warm and fuzzy feelings immediately dissipate. I’ve always thought she was insane to attack the careers head on. Does she want to die?

But it’s also genius. You can’t have the Hunger Games without hunger. 

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins (Ch. 9 – 11)

I’ve been comparing The Hunger Games to the new Netflix original Cuties a lot these past few days. Possibly because I’ve been reading about both of them a lot. They’re on my mind. A lot of people are having very, very strong reactions to Cuties because it comes across as oversexualizing young girls and the images it displays are quite disturbing. However, that’s kind of the point of the movie. It’s trying to make a statement about how the sexualization of women in society can bleed into young girls’ sense of self worth and their actions to their detriment. It’s trying to call attention to what the director believes is a problem in society. The current role models for girls are overly sexual and teach girls to act in the same way. They don’t benefit these girls. Real harm can be done when children try to act like adults. It’s just taking that concept way too far. I haven’t watched the movie because of how gross and degrading many of the clips I’ve seen from it are.

I’m currently rereading The Hunger Games right now and I feel like there’s some ties between what I know about Cuties and The Hunger Games. Both are basically entertainment gone too far. There seems to be no limit for the directors of the games or the movie. Even children are subject to their advances. It’s gross and it’s degrading. But is this kind of a real-world example of what happens in The Hunger Games. People are so starved for entertainment that almost anything seems reasonable for release. Thankfully, as a society, we aren’t embracing Cuties like The Capitol embraces the Hunger Games. 

I also wonder if Panem slowly built up to releasing The Hunger Games by releasing similarly violent clips earlier on. I understand the games were meant to quell future rebellions, but what did the media look prior to the rebellions that made the television of the deaths of children seem like a reasonable option? Was it a slow build-up like in the case of rampant oversexualization of women and children? Or was it a sudden, jarring moment in popular media? And how did other countries react to it? There’s so much that we just don’t know about The Hunger Games universe that I’m absolutely dying to learn more about. Maybe some of my questions will be answered in The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes. 

Back of the Book (

In the ruins of a place once known as North America lies the nation of Panem, a shining Capitol surrounded by twelve outlying districts. The Capitol keeps the districts in line by forcing them all to send one boy and one girl between the ages of twelve and eighteen to participate in the annual Hunger Games, a fight to the death on live TV.

Sixteen-year-old Katniss Everdeen regards it as a death sentence when she steps forward to take her sister’s place in the Games. But Katniss has been close to death before-and survival, for her, is second nature. Still, if she is to win, she will have to start making choices that weigh survival against humanity and life against love.

Disclaimer: My Chapter Thoughts DO INCLUDE SPOILERS. They assume that you have read ALL of The Hunger Games series (books 1-3). They will mostly contain spoilers, however, in the chapter that they are covering. 

Chapter Nine Thoughts

Watching Katniss interact with Effie and Haymitch is always a welcome source of humor in this chapter. Waiting for the games to begin is always frightening. You wait with trepidation to see what the arena will be like, whether or not Katniss will have access to a bow and arrow, how everything will go. Some comedic relief is always welcome when the suspense gets to be too much. Plus, I adore Haymitch. I can’t help it. He’s so grumpy and I love it. 

And of course I always wonder what he would have done if he had gotten Gale to work with instead of Katniss. Katniss is unable to cultivate any fake personality. She cannot be defined as witty, funny, sexy, or really anything else. She is just herself. I wonder if he would have played up on her hatred for The Capitol and what the games stand for if she had been male. I think Gale’s hatred would have been what makes him stand out, but people don’t enjoy those traits on behalf of a girl. It’s not sexy for a woman to be angry and hateful. Only men can play into that role, even in our media.

Thankfully, however, Cinna has a better view of Katniss than Haymitch does. She doesn’t need to be any of those things; she just needs to be herself. Dressed in her radiant gown and giving the audience honest answers should be enough. Her “role” in the games could just be her honest self. And I love that. He believes in her so much that it reminds the reader over and over again about how impressive Katniss is. She is the girl who sacrificed herself to save her sister. She is genuine. She is the girl on fire. 

At the beginning of her interviews, I also found her description of the difference in appearance between members of The Capitol and people in her district interesting. They prioritize different things physically. In District 12, it is an achievement to look old. So many people die young that the elderly are appreciated and respected. They are survivors. Weighing more is a sign that they can afford to eat well and is therefore better. Members of The Capitol try their best to look younger and thinner. 

It is very comparable to the society I live in where many people try to stay young and thin forever. We have constant access to food and healthcare. Looking old or plump isn’t a good thing. I wonder if people in the past appreciated heavier set bodies and elderly people more than we do now. Obviously we had closer familial ties in the past, but I bet that feeling of respect extended into what we prioritized in physical appearances.

When Rue comes out, looking so completely innocent, it makes me think about what would have happened had she and Katniss been the last remaining tributes. I don’t think Katniss would ever be able to bring herself to kill someone who reminds her so much of her sister. I don’t know if Rue would be capable of killing Katniss. I wonder if they would have separated and allowed the Gamemakers to eventually decide who wins. Maybe the Gamemakers would have had to bombard them with constant attacks in order to end one of their lives. Had something similar ever happened in previous games? Had anyone ever refused to kill another person before?

Chapter Ten Thoughts

Peeta gives me chills when he tells the audience that he has feelings for Katniss every single time I read the end of chapter nine. There is something about his confession that just blows me away. It’s definitely similar to how the audience felt about it. It just comes across as so brave to confess to something that can be used against you. It also benefits Katniss more than himself. Does he plan on her winning? Has he already accepted his own demise? I think so. Peeta doesn’t believe he can win. 

Of course, it is also admirable that Peeta would rather lose as himself than win acting as someone else. He doesn’t want the games to change him as a person. Do you think people in The Capitol ever think about the mental consequences of the games? Does it occur to them that such intense violence changes a person, usually for the worse? They sometimes see the results – such as with Haymitch’s drinking – but it seems like they usually blame something else for those harmful behaviors. They ignore the more dire consequences. It’s despicable. 

But we kind of do the same with real world celebrities. Fame of any form can have real negative consequences and yet most of those negative consequences are brushed under the rug. I wish we could all be more open and honest about the problems that plague us. It would help us all get the help we need. Thankfully we are seeing positive changes in our overall society regarding these mental issues and addiction issues. It seems like people are starting to get help for them. They’re being more honest with their fans. I wonder if books like The Hunger Games play a role in that. They make it so obvious that everyone has issues, particularly if they’re being watched 24/7. 

Chapter Eleven thoughts

The beginning of the 17th annual Hunger Game. It’s the moment we’ve all been waiting for. The excitement, the drama, the intrigue, the suspense. It always makes me feel nervous, even when I know the ending of this book. How can Katniss possibly survive this? She is being pitted against dozens of other competitors. She is in unfamiliar territory. She is terrified. 

And I’m always terrified right alongside her. 

But, unlike myself, Katniss is equipped to handle the stress. During the sixty seconds when the tributes wait for the games to truly begin, she is already making plans to escape the Cornucopia. Her excitement at the sight of the bow always brings me a sense of foolish relief. She has to survive if there’s a bow there ready for her. 

At the same time, you know that she won’t be able to get it. Suzanne Collins likes to build suspense too much for that. Plus, it would be stupid to head straight for the heart of the Cornucopia. Katniss would likely die in the process. We can’t have the book end too soon! It would also be a much, much darker story if the main character died. It would be more reminiscent of classic dystopic fiction where the main character either dies or loses themselves to the overbearing, corrupt governmental system.

When another tribute lights a fire nearby to where Katniss is strapped to a tree, it always made me wonder about what other mentors were like. Did no one warn the girl? Fire is an easy way to give away your precise location. Did no one care to explain that to her? Or was she just so scared and cold that she forgot? I’ve always wanted to learn more about the other tributes. It is so horrible that The Capitol is so willing to throw away their lives. Some are even trained all their life just to die. They all had background stories and lives. How could their government just condemn them to death? 

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins (Ch. 7 – 8)

I found myself wondering these past few chapters what a different version of The Hunger Games would look like. What if Gale and Katniss were the ones competing instead of Gale and Peeta? What if Prim had actually gone to the games? What would the reactions of other characters if they had been plunged into The Capitol?

Plus, it’s interesting to imagine what type of persona they would have cultivated throughout the games. Would Gale play off on his distrust for others? Would the stylists use Prim’s purity to gain her fans? How would the people of The Capitol react to them? Would anyone feel any sense of compassion for these children being sent off to what is essentially war?

It doesn’t seem like they would care at all. It’s just a television show to them.

Back of the Book (

In the ruins of a place once known as North America lies the nation of Panem, a shining Capitol surrounded by twelve outlying districts. The Capitol keeps the districts in line by forcing them all to send one boy and one girl between the ages of twelve and eighteen to participate in the annual Hunger Games, a fight to the death on live TV.

Sixteen-year-old Katniss Everdeen regards it as a death sentence when she steps forward to take her sister’s place in the Games. But Katniss has been close to death before-and survival, for her, is second nature. Still, if she is to win, she will have to start making choices that weigh survival against humanity and life against love.

Disclaimer: My Chapter Thoughts DO INCLUDE SPOILERS. They assume that you have read ALL of The Hunger Games series (books 1-3). They will mostly contain spoilers, however, in the chapter that they are covering.

Chapter Seven Thoughts

Learning about how adept Katniss is with a bow and arrow never really shocks me, but sometimes I feel like it should. It is utterly remarkable that she is so gifted. I get that it’s mostly due to her attempts to stay alive, but it’s still a natural gift. Sometimes I wish I was gifted in the same manner. Her abilities come across as almost supernatural. However, I’m not sure I would like to be so gifted in archery. I prefer things like reading and writing, or drawing. Of course, practice makes perfect. Maybe one day I’ll be so gifted at writing that it will seem superhuman. What do you wish you were extremely talented at doing?

Yet, I don’t think I ever remembered Katniss as particularly petite. Maybe the movie is blurring my memory. A lot of the scenes describe her as much smaller than most of her competition. It puts her at a disadvantage to a degree. But she is better fed than many of the others are and that gives her more strength. 

Seeing the sheer amount of underfed tributes did make me wonder during this chapter what the point was in providing these people with an education. If you aren’t going to care for your citizens, why bother to teach them? The priorities of Panem sometimes confuse me. They seem to have no regard for human life throughout the twelve districts, but they will provide an education for their children. Weird.

Anyways, it always did seem to me that Haymitch was super talented as well. As readers we don’t tend to dismiss him as the same blubbering drunk almost everyone in the book does. We know better than that. But how many of us really acknowledge how intelligent he is? Haymitch is extremely smart and understands The Hunger Games better than almost every one. Even past victors seem to lack the complete understanding he has of how to gain an edge. He is very sly and cunning. I wonder what he would have been like if he had never been entered into the games. Would he be so smart? Perhaps he would be even more sly and intelligent. After all, he wouldn’t rely on alcohol to numb his mind quite so often.

Most of this chapter is interesting but not necessarily worth remarking on. I’d say it comes across as a filler chapter if the things you learn weren’t so interesting. However, like most chapters, chapter seven ends with a bang. Katniss’s private session with the Gamemakers is always thrilling to read about. I remember the first time I read this book I was shocked. What would they do to her for challenging them? I was frightened for her. It seemed like such a bold and fearless move. 

Chapter Eight Thoughts

Katniss’s initial sense of fear after challenging the Gamemakers is always right in line with how I feel. That scene is terrifying. The things that the leaders of Panem do to their citizens are abhorrent. They’re real monsters. Can you imagine trying to challenge such an evil organization? They’re okay with putting children to death. What are they willing to do to people who disrespect them?

I probably would have had a heart attack if I was Katniss. I can’t imagine something worse than having to fight in the games, but I’m sure the Gamemakers can. They’re absolute sadists.

But this scene also makes me wonder what they do if something happens to a tribute prior to the games. In all 74 games it had to have happened at least once, especially considering the extra care The Capitol puts towards keeping the tributes alive prior to the games. Do they draw another person from the district? Or do they simply pretend that the dead tribute entered the games and died on the first day? While the first option seems to make more sense, I think the latter would be what they actually do. The Capitol doesn’t want to look weak or foolish. Having a tribute die before the games would make it obvious that even they make mistakes. It might cause rebellion.

For some reason I remember Haymitch being furious with Katniss for shooting at the Gamemakers. He seemed more amused than anything else. Did he react poorly in the movie or something? I did recently rewatch it and I feel like it’s muddling some of my memory of the book. Of course, I’m almost happy about not remembering everything perfectly because it brings a sense of newness to this read. I always feel like I’m learning new things about the characters even if I’ve read the books dozens of times.

I also remember thinking Katniss’s score of eleven was a good thing. Everyone reacted like it was. Even Haymitch seemed excited. But looking back now it doesn’t seem like an advantage to receive such a significantly high score. Like Katniss mentioned earlier, those with high scores tend to turn into targets early on. Everyone seemed to act like the Gamemakers gave her an extremely high score because of how impressed they were with her tenacity and talent. But maybe they were more annoyed than anything else and wanted to practically guarantee Katniss wouldn’t survive the games. They don’t really want a victor with too much pluck. They want one they can manipulate. It’s how they quell future rebellions.

I think Gale would understand that, watching the games from so far away. Since he and Katniss are perfect hunting partners, they are used to noticing things that the other does not. Maybe he would notice that Katniss’s score was too high and that she should be more wary of the Gamemakers. He always had a deep, deep distrust of The Capitol. That would definitely extend into everything about the games, even the scores. I almost wish we could see what he would be like as a competitor in the games. Can you imagine a version of The Hunger Games where Katniss and Gale are the ones competing? Who would survive? Would either of them be able to live on after that?

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins (Ch. 3 – 4)

Sometimes it surprises me all over again how good books stay good even as you get older. Some concepts just have a huge impact on us all. The idea behind The Hunger Games is definitely one of those concepts. As a child, the idea of competing in the games was terrifying. I couldn’t imagine having to fight for my life. I live in a world of comfort. As an adult, the idea of the games is absolutely horrifying. These are children being sent off to kill each other. Babies. It is horrible to think about. Imagine a world where you make an entertainment platform off of the deaths of children. It’s disgusting.

But that’s why I can still enjoy this book and it’s why millions of people have enjoyed this book. The distaste for this event is universal. Yet, it’s also universal to enjoy the drama and intrigue. This idea is so out there that you just have to read more. What is the world like in which this could happen? How do the citizens of the Capitol justify this? How can they enjoy watching kids die?

Back of the Book (

In the ruins of a place once known as North America lies the nation of Panem, a shining Capitol surrounded by twelve outlying districts. The Capitol keeps the districts in line by forcing them all to send one boy and one girl between the ages of twelve and eighteen to participate in the annual Hunger Games, a fight to the death on live TV.

Sixteen-year-old Katniss Everdeen regards it as a death sentence when she steps forward to take her sister’s place in the Games. But Katniss has been close to death before-and survival, for her, is second nature. Still, if she is to win, she will have to start making choices that weigh survival against humanity and life against love.

Disclaimer: My Chapter Thoughts DO INCLUDE SPOILERS. They assume that you have read ALL of The Hunger Games series (books 1-3). They will mostly contain spoilers, however, from the chapter that they are covering.

Chapter Three Thoughts 

I never fully appreciated the differences between Prim and Katniss. Katniss is so strong and bold. Everything she does is geared towards survival. She is an adept hunter and woodsman. Prim is much, much softer than her. It is a testimony to Katniss’s strength that she has enabled Prim to, more or less, remain unchanged. Prim has been able to have a childhood. She is able to be soft and kind. It is admirable that Katniss has been strong enough to protect her from the harsher sides of their life.

Relationships like that between siblings are always really touching in my opinion. I know most of the time it’s due to lackluster parenting, but it’s still a powerful bond. Being protective of your siblings is nothing to shake a finger at. It’s wonderful that Katniss has been her sister’s protector in life. I also feel like her relationship with Prim gives a lot of children who have the same type of parental relationship with their siblings a role model. It’s hard to feel like you’re the only one who has to take care of your siblings. It’s too easy to feel alone when you’re in that type of situation.

I also love Madge as a character. She is so completely understated, yet ends up having a huge impact on the storyline. Katniss would never be the same without her mockingjay pin. It completes her persona throughout each novel in the series. Another thing I never fully realized is how casually Suzanne Collins threw in Madge giving Katniss her pin. It seems so unimportant for something that ends up vital to the series.

Good writing at its finest. 

Katniss’s conversation with Gale during this chapter has always interested me. His take on her involvement in the games is so blunt and to the point. He believes she can win because she hunts and, at the heart of it all, The Hunger Games is just a hunt. You just have to think of your competitors as prey instead of people. It is an absolutely brutal thought process, but it isn’t incorrect. A normal human will have a hard time killing someone they view as a person. If she refuses to view her competition as people, it will be easier for Katniss to win. It makes sense, but it’s still horrifying. 

Once Katniss is on the train, the descriptions of wealth begin. The Capitol is so exceedingly better off than people in the twelve districts that even their train cars are decked out beyond the amenities that Katniss has in her home. There’s a shower with hot water! Katniss had never showered before. The difference in wealth and lifestyle between the various districts as well as between the Capitol and the districts catches my attention every time I read this book. They have so little in common. The Capitol takes their wealth for granted; people in District 12 starve to death. And, of course, there’s parallels to that in the real world. While I make a four course dinner for eight people one night, people around the world starve to death. It’s horrible, but it’s real, and a lot of it is based on the decisions of worldwide governments. I think I read somewhere once that we have more than enough food to feed every person on the planet; we just don’t. 

Plus, I love the extra attention Collins pays to details when describing the better parts of life – the luxuriousness of the shower, the taste of the food, everything. I could read about the food for hours on its own. It all just sounds so wonderful. Even just the description of taking a shower makes me want to take a shower of my own.

However, Effie Trinket does really bother me, but, of course, she’s meant to. Her derision towards people of District 12 is so obvious that it hurts. She has no real understanding of their experiences. When she looks down on the previous tributes for how they ate with their hands, it’s disturbing. Those two children had never had enough to eat. The sheer amount of food they were given as their first meal in the train would be overwhelming to them. Table manners would be the last things on their mind. It “upset her digestion” to watch two kids that had been slowly starving to death eat. How ridiculous is that. 

And yet, again, realistic. As a society, we judge people everyday on traits they can’t help. We judge them for being dirty if they don’t have access to a shower. We judge them as poor if they don’t have a good job. We judge them as stupid if they can’t get a good education. It’s unfair. But it’s real. It is to be expected that a spoiled rich girl from The Capitol would judge a poor child from District 12 and find them wanting. They have had none of the benefits growing up that she has had. Even regular access to food is out of reach. 

Chapter Four Thoughts

Learning more about Katniss’s mother’s mental illness always hurts a little bit. The distance that can emerge between people because of mental illness can be all consuming. Losing your mother to it is hard. I lost my own to her bipolar disorder. She became someone I couldn’t recognize. She became someone dangerous.

Of course, Katniss’s mother isn’t necessarily dangerous in a physically life-threatening way. But she is dangerous in the fact that she loses herself to her depression. She becomes unable to care for her children. Treating people who suffer from these conditions needs to become a priority for our society. They deserve better. Their children deserve better. You can’t raise a child if you can’t care for yourself in any regard. 

The same is true in The Hunger Games: they all deserved better. Katniss’s mom should have had access to proper healthcare. Katniss should have had access to food for her family. They should all have gotten better from their government and their society. But they didn’t. 

And, worse, The Capitol makes a game of their deaths. When Katniss and Peeta depart the train, Katniss is “…sicked by their excitement, knowing that they can’t wait to watch us die.” They are excited to see the tributes, even fully aware of the fact that they will be forced to fight for their lives as a form of brutal entertainment. They don’t see children, they see deaths. And they love it. 

But it’s hard to blame them. Do you think you would believe any different if you had grown up in The Capitol? They have no real understanding of what life is like in the district. The concept of starvation is unfamiliar and nonthreatening. They don’t view the tributes as people, just entertainment. How would you feel, living life in paradise, if you had no entertainment? The Hunger Games are their best and most interesting entertainment all year. It prevents boredom from setting in. Their lives are actually meaningless, they just don’t know it yet.