Katniss follows Haymitch’s advice and doesn’t resist the prep team who prepare her to see her stylist. They clean her up and remove her body hair. Katniss finds it hard to hate her prep team, even though they’re so vain and superficial—they’re sincerely trying to help her, in their own way. As the prep team finishes with her, Katniss waits for her stylist to come. The only part of her that’s been left untouched are the braids that her mother did for her the day before.
Katniss and her prep team are from such different worlds that Katniss doesn’t even regard them fully as human beings. She also recognizes that their attention to her appearance will help her in the arena, since she’s beginning to learn how important appearances are to people in the Capitol.
When her stylist, Cinna, arrives in the room, Katniss is surprised by how natural he looks. The only thing that seems altered on him is the metallic gold eyeliner that he wears. Cinna compliments Katniss’s hairstyle as he takes her in. He reveals that he actually volunteered to take District 12—usually a stylist’s last choice—but he doesn’t say why.
Cinna surprises Katniss because he looks relatively natural. Most stylists in the Capitol dye their hair, skin, or opt for plastic surgery that makes them unrecognizable. Cinna’s entire manner, however, is understated.
Katniss puts on a robe, and she and Cinna walk into a sitting room, where they sit by a window revealing the city. With a push of a button, Cinna is able to conjure their lunch, a lavish array of chicken and oranges in cream sauce. Katniss tries to imagine how long it would take her to prepare a similar meal at home and concludes that it would take days of hunting and trading, only to create a poor substitution of the dish before her. Cinna watches her as she thinks of this, and when she looks up, he says, “How despicable we must seem to you.” Then he changes the topic to address her costume for the opening ceremony.
Katniss’s contemplation of the dish before her reveals how different life is in the districts. Whereas in the train, Katniss only focused on stuffing herself with the food in front of her, she now sits back and wonders how she might recreate the dish—and realizes that she wouldn’t be able to. The knowledge that there are people in the Capitol who have so much and people in the districts who have nothing is truly sinking in for Katniss.
For the opening ceremonies, it’s customary to wear something that represents the district of the tribute. Because District 12 is a mining district, Katniss assumes that she and Peeta will be in some kind of coal mining getup. However, Cinna tells her that he believes the coal mining idea is overdone. Instead, he says, he wants to focus on what people do with coal—they burn it.
The fact that each of the tributes wears clothing that represents his or her district emphasizes how divided they are. Each district only specializes in one type of output.
A few hours later, Katniss is dressed in a simple black unitard that covers her from ankle to neck, with a fluttering cape made of streams of orange, yellow, and red. Cinna plans to light the cape on fire right before their chariot takes to the streets. He assures Katniss that it isn’t real fire, but she remains unconvinced. She and Peeta are nervous as the opening music begins and they await their entrance.
Katniss’s costume is fairly simple, despite the pyrotechnics. Instead of dramatically altering their appearance, Cinna makes sure that Katniss and Peeta are recognizable so that the audience will be able to spot them in the arena.
When it’s their turn to roll out, Cinna lights the fake flames and gestures for Peeta and Katniss to hold hands. The flames immediately draw the crowd’s attention, and they roar Katniss’s name as she passes. The chariot finally rolls to a stop before President Snow’s mansion, and the president gives the official welcome from his balcony.
Peeta and Katniss make a strong impression on the audience. They go from being the underdog district to the district that the audience is cheering for throughout the opening ceremony. Having an attractive—and dramatic—appearance makes a big difference for the tributes.
When the chariot pulls back into the Training Center, Peeta compliments Katniss on her appearance with the flames, and she decides that part of his strategy is to act likable. She decides to play along, and stands on her tiptoes to give him a kiss on his cheek.
In the atmosphere of the Games, it becomes increasingly difficult to tell which appearances signify the truth and which are calculated, since they are constantly forced to perform for an audience. Although Peeta seems genuine, Katniss decides that his likable manner is probably calculated.