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 21, 2010

Hunger Games Chapter 21

Aren't these titles enthralling?  Good thing you've got a relief blogger warming up in the bullpen. Just out of curiosity, Madam Secretary, has it been about 21 days since the reaping? 

21!  In which Katniss spends hours camouflaging the cave opening inside which, Peeta (haha, okay.  Just kidding.  Sort of.) lays dying.  Katniss eats some small, bony fish (perhaps the Gizzard Shad, aka the "herring with a difference!"), and thinks about leaving the knife for poor, drugged Peeta while she heads to "the feast."  Because of the important event, school in the districts will be canceled.  Yay Capitol.

She spends the night thinking about her family.  And GALE.  She can imagine the people of District 12 shouting for her, cheering and rooting for her.  When Greasy Sae yells, how many teeth do you think you can see?  Gale won't be cheering.  He'll be cursing the Capitol like a foxy rebel, and getting mad at Peeta for all the smooch-action he's seeing on the TEEvee.

Katniss takes Peeta's jacket and Rue's socks for her hands.  And like she's just remembering something, goes in for a v. long love kiss and pretends to brush away a tear as she imagines the Capitol people (me!) crying (I am!).  "It's as cold as a November night back home," and the stress is making Katniss think of solid, strong, there-for-her-Gale.  "If only you had my back now..."

Best line of the chapter:  "If I get home, I'll be so stinking rich, I'll be able to pay someone to do my hearing."  She doesn't even think of the possibility of repair. And super kudos to the book's designer Phil Falco for keeping that line all on one page.  Katniss sees nothing along the way, and arrives early.  So early that she wonders if she's in the wrong place.  But here comes a table!  With packs, as promised!  AND FOXFACE!  Zoom, before anyone knows what to do, she's got her pack (what's in it, do you think?) and is out of there.  Katniss deems her clever.  Pshh.  Okay, maybe.

Katniss knows she has to be next, and so she goes for it.  As she's running, she gets a knife in the forehead!  But not before she gets an arrow (I guess they finally know Katniss's superpower) in Clove's arm and the teeny orange pack with a 12 on it.  But Clove is fast, accurate, and suuuper-mean.  "I promised Cato if he let me have you, I'd give the audience a good show."  Eep!

Clove calls Katniss "District 12" and Peeta "Lover Boy" which means Katniss isn't the only one not willing/trying to learn names.  A wholly gruesome scene of knives and faces follows, along with typical Bond-villain "I'm-going-to-get-you-but-before-I-do-let-me-talk-a-lot"ese from Clove, (cloves are extremely strong) where she talks about Rue as Katniss's ally.

Clove is hoisted into the air in the nick of time by Thresh who pounds her in the head with a rock, and seems to have gotten bigger since the games started.  He's about to get Katniss, but asks about her alliance with Rue.  He lets Katniss go, saying "No more owed.  You understand?" and of course she does. Thresh calls her "Fire Girl" because he's awesome. Cato (heehee, moral compass) is calling out for Clove (could it be another love connection?) and Katniss is on the lam.   Thresh got the District 11 backpack AND the one from District 2 containing the thing that Cato/Clove (Clovo? Cave?) need desperately, ha!

Cannon for Clove, but no tears from me.  Katniss reasons that Cato will go after Thresh, since he has the thing Cato needs.  She makes it back to the cave, opens her pack and the box inside it which contains one hypodermic needle.  She jams the needle into Peeta's arm, and remembers "a beautiful green-and-silver moth landing on the curve" of her wrist.  Hmm, could it be a parachute landing as she passes out?  Could she be near enough to the cave door?


  1. Heather, I love your links!

    As for Clove's "I'm going to present a personal monologue before I kill you"--I wonder if she's playing the cameras like Katniss has before. If Clove makes killing Katniss particularly dramatic, then she'll get good gifts from her sponsors? She'll have more glory if/when she wins? Either that or she's crazy and just playing into the villian cliche of giving her prey more time to escape.

  2. Excellent point, Allison. She did say she'd give them a good show.

    I know we can't "know" what a character is thinking, but do you ever wonder whether or not Clove and Cato and the other Careers feel compassion the way Katniss and Peeta and Thresh and Rue do? Or is it bred out of them like healthy spines in Dachshunds?

  3. Popping in with a quick comment: I think on the day of the feast, 20 days have passed since the reaping. Here are my figures: the feast happens on day 13 of the games, and that marks 19 days since that morning on the train when K and P rode into the Capitol.

  4. This comment has been removed by the author.

  5. I have to say, I think Katniss and Clove BOTH made embarrassingly ridiculous blunders at this point. Clove, of course, with her Evil Overlord Gloat moment. But Katniss. Katniss, Katniss, Katniss. WHY did you have to second? Didn't you just get through telling us why Foxface didn't grab your pack? What would you do if Clove ran out there, in the open, and grabbed your pack? Hint: what's your superpower? You're a sniper, Katniss, that's how you should have played it. Wait for Clove and Cato to emerge and then take them down with your superior-ranged weapons!

    Even after she makes the run for it and gets the first shot into Clove, she makes the same mistake. Clove pauses for a second to pull out the arrow and survey the damage. WHY do you turn your back on her and let her get a second knife thrown at you? You could have stuck six more arrows into her, then retrieved the backpack leisurely while covering yourself from Cato and Thresh.

    I mean, I understand that in the heat of the moment, people make mistakes. But I think it would have been better if Collins had given a better motivation for Katniss to rush. Like if they had announced that the bags would be only available for 60 seconds, or something.

  6. "I know we can't "know" what a character is thinking, but do you ever wonder whether or not Clove and Cato and the other Careers feel compassion"

    Anita, I wonder the same thing. Hopefully we might get a glimpse in the sequels. It really seems like in this book at least the Careers are just shown to be evil sadistic monsters. To me that seems to be the easy way out. There'd be a lot more moral dilemma if they were honorable fighters, like the Roman gladiators, who understand that this is what life has given them, but aren't malicious of their competition.

  7. Something else I just realized. At the beginning of the chapter when she's getting ready to go to the feast, Katniss debates "leaving the knife with Peeta so he'll have some protection while [she's] gone". Oh Katniss, if you had just kept BD1's knives back in Ch 18 you'd have the option of leaving Peeta one and still having several of your own. I understand hiding the spearheads, but why the knives?

  8. i hope katniss and peeta wins and be boyfriend,(BF) and girlfriend,(GF)