As Katniss prepares for her Games, she’s prepped and dressed by Flavius, Venia, and Octavia. All three of these stylists cry as they take care of her—they’ve clearly become attached to her in the past year, and don’t want her to die. Katniss wonders if the rich and powerful people in the Capitol feel any sense of sympathy for Katniss and her peers.
Katniss’s stylists represent the vapidity of the Capitol, but they’re not entirely villainous characters, as they show genuine sympathy for their friend. This suggests that most people in the Capitol aren’t actively evil, and can be sympathetic and moral—but with their willful ignorance and inaction they still support tyranny and oppression.
On the day of the Opening Ceremonies, Katniss goes to see Cinna and discuss her clothing. To her relief, Cinna isn’t tearful—he channels his feelings into his designs, he explains. Cinna explains that he’ll apply more makeup to Katniss this year. He shows Katniss the dress she’ll wear that day: it’s black, but at the press of a button, it becomes a fiery red. Katniss tells Cinna that the dress is exactly what she needs to face her opponents at the Games.
In many ways, Cinna is the character whose personality is closest to Katniss’s. Like Katniss, he struggles with guilt, and recognizes the horrors of the superficial, sadistic Capitol culture. Yet he doesn’t automatically turn to others for sympathy, much as Katniss doesn’t tell everyone about President Snow’s warning right away.
Katniss leaves Cinna to attend to a few last-minute details, and she goes to the Remake Center, where the contestants have been assembled to meet one another. Katniss doesn’t feel like meeting anyone, but she finds that the other competitors swarm around her. Finnick Odair, a famous victor who won his Games when he was only 14, greets Katniss as if they know each other well, though they’re meeting for the first time. Katniss recalls that Finnick, a beautiful man with kind eyes, won by tricking his opponents into allying with him. He’s been hugely popular in the Capitol ever since. Finnick tries to flirt with Katniss, licking his lips and complimenting her dress, but Katniss doesn’t feel any attraction to him. When he sees Peeta walking toward him, Finnick leaves Katniss. Peeta doesn’t seem jealous—he thinks Finnick is a little ridiculous.
Finnick, who’ll be an important character for the rest of the novel, debuts as a sly, manipulative victor. He’s been popular in the Capitol because he is skilled at affecting an appearance of attractiveness and complacency, even innocence. This is what makes him dangerous to Katniss: he’s similar to her, but a better showman. Finnick’s flirtations with Katniss, which she doesn’t return (at least not yet) further alienate him from our sympathy: Katniss is already locked in a love triangle with Peeta and Gale, and Finnick’s attentions seem unwelcome.
Katniss and Peeta hold hands—they’re both terrified of the Games, and nervous for the Opening Ceremony, which begins shortly. Katniss remembers preparing to kill Peeta only a year ago, during the last Hunger Games. At the time she was convinced that Peeta was trying to kill her.
Even if Finnick seems like a potential villain during the Games, Collins reminds us that appearances can be deceptive: Peeta, for example, seemed like a villain to Katniss only a year ago. Perhaps Finnick is no different.
The Opening Ceremony begins, and Peeta and Katniss rush to the chariot that will lead them around the massive City Circle in the center of the Capitol. Katniss notices the other competitors, dressed in bright outfits. President Snow presides over the ceremony and welcomes everyone to the Quell. Wearing her dark, mysterious clothing, Katniss enjoys the ceremony more than she expected—for once, she feels like herself.
In the past, Katniss has struggled to affect an image of happiness and contentment for her audiences. Now, she finds it curiously easy. It seems that she’s beginning to enjoy the thrill of deception: in other words, she throws herself into her performances precisely because she now has something to hide. Katniss’s growing enjoyment of acting and performance is a key part of her growth in the book—both as a symbolic public figure and as a young woman.
The chariot completes its cycle, and Peeta and Katniss return to the Training Center, where Cinna is waiting for them. Katniss notices that Haymitch is talking with Chaff, one of his oldest friends, and a fellow victor. Katniss has watched footage of Chaff many times, and she knows that he lost a hand in his Games. Chaff’s partner from District 11 is Seeder, a strong, 60 year-old woman. Without thinking, Katniss runs up to Seeder and whispers, “The families?” Understanding that Katniss is talking about the people who whistled during Katniss’s victory tour, Seeder replies that they’re alive.
It’s not immediately clear to us whether we should trust Chaff and Seeder, yet Collins gives us a major hint that we should respect Seeder. Like Katniss, she’s highly concerned with the safety of other people. Indeed, their concern for others is so fundamental to their personalities that when they meet one another, they can communicate this sympathy almost without having to put their thoughts into words.
Capitol “attendants” lead the competitors to elevators that take them to their rooms. Standing in the elevator with Peeta, Katniss notices Johanna Mason, a victor who won the Games by pretending to be weak and helpless, and then murdering her allies. Johanna compliments Katniss’s dress, and Katniss isn’t sure how to respond—she doesn’t trust Johanna at all. Suddenly, Johanna removes her own dress, so that she’s completely naked. Katniss purposefully ignores this sight, and Peeta laughs.
Even as Katniss learns to enjoy deception, she notices other victors who won the Hunger Games by excelling at similar feats of deception. As with Finnick, Johanna seems dangerous to Katniss precisely because they’re so similar—and now Johanna seems to be trying to seduce Peeta.
Johanna walks off the elevator, still naked. Peeta, grinning, tells Katniss that the other competitors see Katniss as “pure” and incorruptible—thus, they’re all trying to seduce her in some way. At their floor, Peeta and Katniss get off the elevator to find Effie and Haymitch waiting for them. Effie explains that they have two “Avoxes,” or assistants, for the length of the Games. The first Avox is the same red-headed girl who took care of Katniss last year. The second is Darius, the former Peacekeeper from District 12.
Just as the Hunger Games are about to begin, Collins reminds us—and Katniss—of the stakes of her performance. Katniss has already put others’ lives in danger, and now it is mercilessly revealed to her that she’s condemned Darius to a life of servitude. Both Collins and the Capitol seem to enjoy heightening the suspense by terrifying Katniss.