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.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Catching Fire Chapter 2

WHEREIN Katniss chats with President Snow and remembers that time Gale kissed her.

What's that? More detail? fine...

In a refreshing spin on the traditional "super villain threatens hero" conversation, Katniss and Snow lay all their cards on the table like rational adults. Katniss effusively maintains that those Poison Berries were all for survival, and that she'll continue to do whatever Snow wants her to do to save everyone she loves. Snow knows this, but says it's not good enough -- some district viewers were not convinced by her romance a la Peeta, and thus view it as an act of rebellion. They might use it to spark their own uprisings.

Prompted by a snide comment from Snow about "her cousin," Katniss wonders what he knows about Gale and how. Could he possibly be aware of their romantic connection? He might, if he saw their kiss. But how? Cameras? Spies? Kisswatchingbirds, a rare muttation that I'm sure will appear in book three? Anyway, it was only one kiss, and then things went more or less back to status quo.

And so, telling Katniss that she'd better set the bar high and convince him that she's in love with Peeta, he goes to leave. Oh, and p.s., he knows about the kiss. (Sorry, this ending cracks me up)


- When President Snow rubs a spot above his left eyebrow, Katniss reflects that this is the same place where she has headaches. And throughout their conversation, they feel startlingly like equals. What sort of comparison do you think SC is trying to draw here? To what end?

- I rather love how acquiescent Katniss is in her conversation with Snow. As I said above, I find it refreshingly honest, but that might be because it's what I'd do in her place. What did you think?

- After her kiss with Gale, Katniss can't remember if she liked it or resented it; all she can remember is the pressure of his lips and the scent of oranges on his skin. My question is: really?


  1. Ooh, Gale smells like oranges. Sigh. Wait, how? Aren't those very hard to come by in D12?

    I think Katniss has to play it openly with Snow because she can't lie, and now that she's trapped in the middle of a really big one, she KNOWS she can't lie. So she goes for the "look, Dude" method. This might work in her favor, because it's obvious that she can't lie, and so lying will seem more credible later. Does this make sense outside my head?

    Also, why does Snow smell like blood and cherries? Eww, and strangely fascinating.

  2. Perhaps Gale is diabetic? I remember learning in Lifeguard class that when someone has diabetic shock, he/she smells like fruit. Just putting that out there.

    I didn't pick up on the Katniss/Snow headache details, but now I'm thinking that SC is trying to show us that he's met his match in Katniss.

  3. Hooray for more firestarters! Perhaps SC's intention in pointing out K and Snow have headaches in the same place just serves to show K's humanity by way of her ability to in some way relate to this man who is our villain. OR, perhaps K's dad didn't really die, but was in fact stolen away to the Capitol, subjected to full-body reconstruction, and forced into the figurehead role of President Snow to save his family, and on this day he left the Capitol for the first time EVER because he had an excuse to go see his family again after 6+ years of separation! Maybe that's wishful thinking. Although, it's not hard to believe that the whole concept of the Capitol has so much momentum that the President doesn't feel he has liberty to actually make any decisions and must follow proscribed actions and behaviors.

    I agree, Andrew and Heather, that K was acquiescent with Snow, and just played it straight with him for good reason. At the same time I was disappointed that she didn't try to get more information or ask questions. I applaud her for her comment "It must be very fragile, if a handful of berries can bring it down."

    Gale might be diabetic? Interesting insight, Rebecca! And Andrew, I asked the same thing after that description of the kiss: "Really?" That girl plays it so cool with us sometimes. 3 pages into the chapter, tough-girl K says, "I don't do well with ambiguous threats. I'd much rather know the score." Really? When has she faced similar threats to know this about herself?

    I have to flag a line from President Snow in this chapter, bottom of page 21, "Whatever problems anyone may have with the Capitol, believe me when I say that if it released its grip on the districts for even a short time, the entire system would collapse." What does that mean? Is that the key to freedom for the districts or is it an equation for utter doom?

    I really wish the districts had the internet. That would really help with organizing the rebellions, right?

  4. Why isn't there a sarcasm font? I don't *really* think Gale is diabetic--that was my sad little attempt at humor. :)

    This is really stretching, but sometimes I wonder if Katniss's mother has something to do with all of this. Her past is a little mysterious aside from that she was part of a wealthier merchant family and gave that up for Katniss's dad. Maybe in her earlier life she knew (perhaps offended?) some of the gamemakers/people in the Capitol?

  5. Wow. President Snow and Katniss having a heart to heart. In chapter 2. Wow. I wonder if the rubbing of his head is an indication that Snow will be given humanizing qualities, rather than just being the faceless Big Bad that Katniss has portrayed so far. It would be interesting to see his perspective. The games have been around for 74 years, so most likely they were implemented before his time. (I say most likely because I have no idea what the life span of Capitol residents are, but it seems as though human life expectancy hasn't changed significantly). So, unless he's like 120 years old and was ruler of Panem when the first rebellion failed, he's a product of the system rather than the mastermind behind it.

    One of the things that I like about the conversation is that it shows that President Snow is not omnipotent. Snow makes very real threats to intimidate and show is power, but Katniss establishes that there are things he CANNOT do: he can't kill her under suspicious circumstances, for example. Why not? Because if people thought he murdered Katniss, it could lead to a rebellion. The question is, why does Snow care about appearances? Isn't the fear of annihilation (District 13) enough to keep the other districts in line? If the 12 Districts rebel can't the Capitol vaporize them all with the touch of a button?

    My guess is the Capitol NEEDS the Districts, since they provide all the items that a nation needs to survive. So therefore, the Districts have some leverage, the Capitol just wants to keep them oppressed to the point where they don't recognize that they have it.

  6. Right on, PK9! I think you're spot on about the Districts-Capitol relationship. The Capitol has a pretty sweet deal right now working the districts to the bones, and I think we're all on board with a district uprising.

    Yes, WHY DOES blood-breath Snow care about appearances?