Part II: “The Games”
When Katniss glimpses herself on the screen, she knows that her surprise and blush are clear to all. Caesar responds to Peeta’s revelation in a pained voice, and some in the crowd give “agonized cries.” Then the interviews are over, everyone stands for the anthem, and Katniss sees herself and Peeta on the screens—“Poor tragic us.” She doesn’t believe a word. Back on the twelfth floor of the Training Center, she accosts Peeta, pushing him into a flower urn that shatters and cuts him. “You had no right!” she shouts. When Effie, Haymitch, and the stylists intervene, Katniss turns on Haymitch and blames him for the idea, but Peeta claims it. Haymitch wants Katniss to be grateful that Peeta made her look “desirable” to sponsors. The “star-crossed lovers” story will help them survive, Cinna agrees, and her reaction of surprise was genuine. Peeta, picking shards out of his hands, accuses her of being worried about “her boyfriend,” who will know a bluff when he sees it. Katniss denies having a boyfriend, but she knows they’re all right. And now she’s sent Peeta into the arena with injured hands. She apologizes, and Portia takes Peeta to get his hands treated while the others eat dinner. When they watch the interviews recap, she sees how well Peeta has done: She’s been “made beautiful by Cinna’s hands, desirable by Peeta’s confession, tragic by circumstance . . . unforgettable.” Then it’s time for goodbyes. In the morning, they won’t see Effie and Haymitch before traveling to the arena. Effie has grown attached to her charges and gets teary. Haymitch gives a final word of advice: Don’t run to the Cornucopia. Run away from it, find water, and stay alive.
Katniss showers off the gold shimmer and makeup and tries to sleep but can’t for worrying about what the terrain will be like. She goes to the roof for fresh air and finds Peeta there, watching the party in the Capitol streets. He says that he knows he won’t win but hopes at least to “die as myself,” not to be changed by the Games. Katniss doesn’t understand and says that her only hope is to get home, whatever it takes. They part in bitterness, Katniss thinking to herself, “We will see how high and mighty he is when he’s faced with life and death.”
Cinna arrives before dawn to take her to the arena. A hovercraft picks them up from the roof, their hands and feet held to the ladder rungs by a current. A woman inserts a tracker into Katniss’s arm, and she and Cinna eat breakfast—as much as she can stand to eat. The flight isn’t long—about half an hour—and she and Cinna are soon in her part of the Launch Room, which the districts called the Stockyard, where “animals go before slaughter.” Katniss will be “the first and only tribute” to use her room because, after the Games, each arena is preserved as a historical site and vacation destination, where, she’s heard, “the food is excellent.” Cinna helps her dress in the clothes the Gamemakers provide, noting that the fabric of the simple outfit reflects body heat and suggest that the nights will be cool. Katniss is grateful for the flexible boots that remind her of her hunting boots. Then Cinna pins her district token, Madge’s mockingjay pin, on the outfit. He took it from the train and pushed the review board to allow it despite its sharp pin. She sips water as they sit and wait on the call and she becomes more terrified. Cinna holds her hand until the call comes, then walks her to a circular metal plate and reminds her: “Run, find water. The rest will follow.” He says he’d bet on her, if it were allowed, and kisses her forehead. A glass cylinder descends around her, and the plate begins to rise. Soon she emerges in the sunny arena and hears Claudius Templesmith, announcer of the Hunger Games, give the word to begin.
Cinna’s character emerges clearly in this chapter. A young but clearly brilliant stylist, he knows what is required of him by the Capitol, yet he has real affection and sympathy for Peeta and especially Katniss. Everything he’s done so far, he’s done not to advance his career (as in Effie’s case) but to help Katniss shine, to set her apart, to fortify her for the ordeal ahead. He calms her when she’s angry, listens without judgment when she raves, and here at the end of their time together, holds her hand and encourages her. Cinna’s relationship with Katniss suggests that not all Capitol dwellers are silly, or shallow, or sadistic; thoughtful readers will ask themselves what his sympathetic character development helps them predict about upcoming action.