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.

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Catching Fire Chapter 4

Back on the train it's hijinks as usual. Katniss continues her introspective musings on Life and Love (which in Panem -- and especially in K's condition -- apparently means marriage and babies). In a subtle bit of foreshadowing, Katniss reflects that the Capitol likely rigs the drawings to make sure Games legacies (victors' children) are selected for added drama.

The train breaks down, sending Effie into another tizzy; this time, Katniss snaps at her and storms off. Peeta follows her outside, then invites her back to his room to "look at his paintings" (nice one, Peeta! Oh wait -- there really are paintings). And surprise surprise, Katniss hates them. Turns out they're of the Games because that's what Peeta nightmares (I verb'ed it) about.

Finally, they arrive in District 11, since the tour is in descending order, and K&P head to the Justice Building to make their speech, amazed by how vast, populous, and guarded this district is.

Always the eloquent one, Peeta delivers a perfectly admirable scripted speech, but then shocks everyone by announcing that 1 month per year of K&P's winnings will go to Thresh and Rue's families. Katniss wasn't planning to speak, but then she catches sight of Rue's look-alike little sister and reads reproach in her gaze. So she speaks, giving heartfelt memories of Thresh and Rue, and then thanking all of D11 for the bread.

An old man whistles Rue's mockingjay song, then everyone gives her a synchronized D12 salute (*tear*). K&P turn to leave, but when Katniss realizes she left her flowers and goes back, she sees the aforementioned old man being shot in the head in front of everyone.

- No one filled Peeta in on PSnow's visit and the whole rebellion thing, and yet Peeta's share-bear announcement seems to me the most overtly rebellious thing yet, as it has nothing to do with their survival. Do you think Peeta is conscientiously rebelling here or just being super nice as usual?

- Peeta admits that his paintings haven't rid him of his nightmares, but that's it still better to wake up with a paintbrush than a knife. On the other hand, isn't it also arguable that immortalizing these moments in paintings will prevent him from ever forgetting them? What's the comment here on the cathartic powers of art/the role of art in this totalitarian society?


  1. I doubt SC meant for Peety to be consciously rebelling with his fair-share announcement. It seems that if he's planning anything controversial, he talks it out with Haymitch first.

    I can't speak to the role of art in the entire society, but it definitely seems to be a source of freedom for Peety. I love to imagine him as a 12 year old boy volunteering to decorate the cakes. His witch of a mother must have gotten a lot of mileage out of that one. They do have music class in school, so I wonder about art class. What are they teaching? All of the architecture we've heard about sounds much like our own Capitol--all neo-classical. Does the "president" even dictate the school curriculum?

    And speaking of presidents...do the districts get to vote? Or is it all just hokum?

  2. Another good set of Firestarter ?'s! I think Peeta would refuse to call it rebelling--he's just doing what's right and deserved. But he and K know that it's an act of rebellion because P intentionally did not ask permission before giving the gift. He's rebelling against the Capitol's monthly-parcels-for-tributes system!

    I don't think we can know how dangerous or helpful it is for Peeta to paint these scenes. Someone get these kids professional help. Surely the Capitol knows of PTSD? Actually, the Capitol seems wholly unconcerned with the tributes' well-being.

    Heather, I assumed the Capitol votes for a President, and the Districts have no say. I tend to think the Capitol's M.O. is to subjugate the Districts and remind them of the Capitol's superiority. I'm still wondering what the citizens of the Capitol enjoy about the games? Is it humiliating the tributes by sending them to the Games and publicly gossiping about their private lives? Is it that they can affect generosity and compassion by not killing all tributes first thing? I also assumed the Capitol government selects the District Mayors. I'd very much like to learn more about the Capitol and its citizens in MOCKINGJAY.
    Did I understand this correctly when I read page 48: these stylists will be K's stylists for the rest of her life? Wonder what happened to Haymitch's stylists?

  3. I don't think Peeta's rebelling, I think he is trying to impress Katniss. He may know sharing their winnings might not have been acceptable, but I think he did it more because he know how much Rue meant to Katniss than because he wanted to stick it to the Capitol.

    And I think Peeta meant that your way of dealing with the Games is a choice. You can get caught in the system of violence like poor Haymitch or you can find a way out. Peeta's way out is painting. And I don't think it's immortalizing it, anymore than the great war poets immortalized the horrors of life in the trenches. I think painting is Peeta's way of working through his feelings on the games and paying tribute to the Tributes.

    Sarah- I think the Capitol enjoys the games like we enjoy any form of entertainment. In addition to the excitement of the bloodbath, there's the drama between the Careers (they clearly fight and have cliques and things). They like to pick a person to cheer for, much like we would a sports team. They don't have anything better to do, so they get sucked up into these games every year, and not only do they enjoy watching the drama unfold, but they get to have a hand in it by donating for gifts and things.

    And, from what we've seen of Haymitch, I don't know if they need stylists after the first year of surviving the Games. The stylists design their outfits for all the pre-Games festivities, and then if they win, the stylists design their outfits for the big tour. I think after the tour, they get left alone. So with Haymitch for example, he had a stylists before the Games, and then he won and his stylist stayed with him for the 12 District Half Way Tour, but then in the next Games, the stylist took care of the Tribute and left Haymitch on his own, since he was no longer the center of attention.

  4. Interesting what Gale surmised about rigging the Reaping. I'm surprised Katniss only thinks about her future kids, though. If President Snow wanted to punish Katniss and had the ability to rig the Reaping, Prim has 6 more years of eligibility!

    And the guy getting executed immediately, that's crazy.

    I don't think Peeta was rebelling intentionally - he had a good solid reasoning behind it. If Rue and Thresh hadn't helped Katniss, likely they would both be dead and not earning any of their winnings.