The Hunger Games

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The Hunger Games Chapter 17 Summary & Analysis

When Katniss is able to crawl away from the explosion, she sees that it’s successfully blown the Careers’ food stash to bits. She tries to escape before they return, but she finds that she’s too dizzy to do anything but crawl. Katniss is unable to hear, and her left ear is bleeding. She drags herself into some bushes just as the Careers arrive and see the wreckage. Cato is furious and takes it out on the boy from District 3, killing him in a headlock.
The Careers are furious because they know that they’ll have trouble surviving without their food stash. Their more privileged backgrounds meant that they never had to learn how to gather their own meals or how to go hungry when enough food wasn’t available. Hypocrisy also comes into play because as soon as the Careers face tension, their alliance with the boy from District 3 collapses, and they’re willing to kill their own ally.
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The Careers retreat to the lake to wait for the anthem that will announce the dead tributes. They see that only two more have died, meaning that the bomber of their stash is still alive. They light a torch and head into the woods to hunt for the bomber. Katniss, meanwhile, dons her night vision glasses and snacks on some of the greens and nuts that she and Rue gathered. She wonders how Rue is doing—whether she’s worried—but at least they each know that the other is alive because neither of their faces appeared after the anthem. Katniss also worries about Peeta—she overheard Cato mention that he’d stabbed Peeta earlier. Finally, Katniss settles into the bushes for a cold night, having left her sleeping bag with Rue.
Even as the Games become more brutal and cutthroat for some of the other tributes, Katniss is developing more ties. When she finds herself alone with time to think, she worries about both Rue and Peeta, even though they’re technically her competitors. Her emotional ties to these two represent a disregard for the rules of the Hunger Games, and the danger that she poses to the Capitol.
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In the morning, Katniss awakens to hear laughter and realizes that she has hearing back in her right ear. The laugh belongs to Foxface, who’s standing among the wreckage. She seems too sly for Katniss to ask her to be an ally. Foxface suddenly stops laughing and runs away from the site as if frightened. Katniss decides that this is a sign for her to leave as well and heads back towards the stream.
Katniss again realizes that appearances cannot be taken at face value. Foxface, for example, is cleverer than she first appeared to be—so Katniss decides to trust Foxface’s instincts and leaves the area when she does.
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Katniss follows the stream back to the site where she said she would meet Rue. Her left ear is still deaf, and she worries that it won’t recover. When Katniss reaches the site, she sees that it’s still undisturbed, which worries her. Katniss settles into a tree near the site to wait for Rue as she daydreams about food, feeling hungry and finishing off the rest of her supply.
When she’s alone, Katniss forces herself to keep moving—but for Rue’s sake, she’s willing to stop and stick around in a tree to wait for her. Her alliance, unlike the Careers’ alliance with the boy from District 3, is based on loyalty and actual friendship rather than necessity.
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By late afternoon, Katniss decides to look for Rue. She finds the site of the third fire that Rue was supposed to light and sees that it’s been set up but remains unlit. Assuming this means that Rue ran into trouble along the way, Katniss goes to search for her. She hears some mockingjays singing Rue’s four-note melody and sings it back. Suddenly, Katniss hears a child’s scream, and she runs towards the voice, breaking into a clearing to see Rue entangled in a net, reaching for her just as a spear enters Rue’s body.
Katniss doesn’t care that she might give herself away by running to Rue—she’s only worried about Rue. Her compassion for others is what distinguishes her from some of the other tributes in the Games, and it’s the reason the Capitol finds her dangerous—because she can forge bonds with others even when the Capitol is trying to keep them divided.
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