Welcome to the Hunger Games read-along! Beginning July 1st, 2010, we will be reading and chatting about one chapter a day of both The Hunger Games and Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins in anticipation of the release of Mockingjay on August 24th.

In the unlikely event that this is your first read of these amazing books, welcome! And more importantly, beware of spoilers! There will be spoilers.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Catching Fire Chapter 1

Roughly six months after the events of The Hunger Games, we once again open on District 12. And the times, they are a'changing.

Katniss has moved in to her lavish new house in the victors' village, but still prefers to do her living in her cozy old ramshackle home. Gale (whom the Capitol has turned into her cousin for the K&P fans) is working in the coal mines, so Katniss only gets to see him on Sundays when they hunt. And the relationship between Katniss and Peeta has hardened into an icy formality that will have to warm up fast if they hope to survive the upcoming tour of the districts -- essentially a cruel farce of a victory lap.

We start to see the indelible effects of the games on its survivors, as K&P and Haymitch all struggle to keep their minds off the horrors they've seen: "I hunt. He bakes. Haymith drinks." In a particularly harrowing moment, Haymitch pulls a knife on Katniss when she wakes him.

And at the end of the chapter, as Katniss comes home from running the errands that keep her sane, who should be waiting in her house but snake-eyes President Snow.

Two quick "fire starter" (har har) questions for this chapter:

- How do you read Gale's refusal to accept Katniss's financial aid? An unwillingness to accept dirty Capitol money? Resentment towards Katniss and her romance with Peeta? Or just plain old stubbornness?

- What is SC getting at with the detail about people who've known Katniss and Gale for years forgetting that they're not actually cousins? Is this a critique of the "truth-lazy" district viewers and the tired complicity we've forgiven them because of the big scary Capitol?


  1. Andrew, good questions! I could get into this new format...

    I don't understand why Gale is being pouty. He should be thrilled that Katniss is alive! Hello? Tributes usually DIE! Take the money and feed your starving siblings, Gale. Who cares if Katniss made out with Peeta on TV.

  2. I agree with you, Allison. I understand why Gale might be upset that Katniss has (or faked) feelings for Peeta, but he should understand that her life was at stake. I think Gale's refusal to take money is based more on it being from the Capitol than resentment. It seems like people in District 12 really value self-sufficiency.

    The detail about people forgetting that Gale and Katniss are not really cousins: I thought it might be people trying to protect them. The Capitol watches everyone, correct? Some people might be truth-lazy but others might recognize the danger Katniss and Gale are in.

  3. Hi everyone! Thanks for being so welcoming yesterday! I'm enjoying the discussion!

    I don't think I can manage to only read a chapter a day, so I've decided that I'll probably read Catching Fire sometime in the next couple of weeks (to shorten the wait between CF and MJ). So I'll probably jump in late once I start reading and read your synopses and comments and add my own in one blitz until I've caught up.

  4. I agree, Gale is totally being an idiot. Wouldn't it be better to accept Katniss' help and not have to take out so many tesserae? That way he won't run as big a chance of getting selected for the games next year. Unless he feels that by doing so he is buying into the class system so ingrained in the Districts. (And we know he doesn't like that given how bitter he was around Madge in the beginning of the HUNGER GAMES -- an understandable feeling from someone who's been on the bottom rung his whole life -- but it still shouldn't play into his decision about whether or not to accept Katniss' help.) If he really wants to look after his family and has put them first for so long, why wouldn't he keep doing it? So, yeah, long story short,he's being an idiot. I guess it's a good thing he's the hot one:)

  5. I like the fire starter questions! While I also want to chime in with a "Gale, stop being a stubborn fool!" exclamation, I have to wonder if he's just too proud to accept any charity. Even from K. In ch 7 of THE HUNGER GAMES, K is enraged because she thinks Peeta is suggesting that people in District 12 pitied her and helped her out by making trades with her that were strongly in her favor. We see there that it's an important part of K's identity that her hardwork and skill are what kept her family alive. Perhaps Gale feels the same way. I think Rebecca and I are on the same page with that one.

    Claire, maybe Gale's not taking out additional tesserae now that his siblings are older and their eating habits have leveled out?

    Good question about the Dist 12ers forgetting Gale and K aren't actually cousins! Do they believe everything the TV tells them or are they just being complicit? And is it true complicity or a facade? ***SPOILER ALERT, SERIOUSLY, DON'T READ WHAT COMES NEXT UNLESS YOU'VE FINISHED THE BOOK BECAUSE IT WILL RUIN THE UNFOLDING OF THIS BOOK'S PLOT*** I don't think we get a solid answer in this book, but I SRSLY hope that it's a facade of complicity while District 12 brews up a rebellion with 100% participation!

    We're introduced to a couple of District 12 Peacemakers in this chapter for the first time. Head Peacekeeper, Cray, who drinks too much and we can just call "the bad one." And Darius, a young, fun Peacekeeper who's well liked. ***SPOILER ALERT, AGAIN*** We don't see anything about these two later, but I'm just waiting for the point in the rebellion in MOCKINGBIRD where Darius has to choose whether to assist or squelch the rebellion. Maybe Cray will even redeem himself, quit drinking, help the rebels, and everyone will live happily ever after. Hooray!

  6. Well... I finally broke down and started reading. Sarah, Gale's not taking any more tesserae - he turned 19 this year, so he's not eligible for the games anymore (and therefore should not be able to purchase tessarae).

    I find it interesting that Katniss now knows Peacekeepers by name (or at least that she now tells us that she knows Peacekeepers by name) - in book one they were just faceless minions of the Capitol.

  7. As for why he's not accepting money, I think it's way too early to have any clue what's going on in his head - we've seen him for one chapter in THG, and some random flashbacks throughout, but we've barely touched the surface of who Gale Hawthorne is.

    It could be resentment of the Capitol, or of Katniss' "romance", or pride like the Weasleys in Harry Potter.

  8. I agree, Gale is being a total idiot, but with good reasons. He won't let any of his siblings take out the tesserae because he doesn't want to accept charity. Still, even though Katniss knows how he feels, he still won't accept money from her because of that. And he is resentful towards Peeta. he also HATES the Capitol as we found out in the 1st chapter of THG. he has good reason to not want to accept the money. but he is being a very stubborn idiot.

  9. actually, Gale turned 18 in the book1 so that was his last reaping. This time around he can no longer get tessarae, but is allowed to work in the coal mines.

    Hello everybody, just stumbled across this sight yesterday! I have already finished the books but its always so much fun to discuss them with others, so here I am! ^ ^,