Katniss has just learned that her Avox (servant) is Darius. Avoxes have their tongues cut out, and Darius is no exception. They stare into each other’s eyes, realizing that they have nothing to say to each other. Katniss thinks to herself that if she’d stopped Gale’s whipping a little earlier, than Darius would never have been punished this way.
Katniss makes explicit what Collins had implied in the last chapter: she is responsible for Darius’s pain, and, moreover, the pain and suffering of many others. President Snow had already made this clear, and here he delivers Katniss another sinister reminder.
Katniss goes to her room and considers, guiltily, the misery that she’s caused Darius. After a few hours, Effie summons her to dinner. At dinner, Darius is a server. Katniss spills a dish of peas on the floor, and when Darius rushes over to clean it, she bends over to touch his hand. After dinner, she, Peeta, and her entourage watch a recap of the Opening Ceremony. She notes that while a few of the competitors are young and healthy, many are ill or morphling addicts.
As Katniss struggles with the ramifications of her “success” as a rebellious competitor—endangering the lives of others—she also sees the kind of self-destructive misery that claims most victors in their later lives. For now she is haunted by the Games but still active and motivated by rebellion, yet slipping into addiction is always a danger when facing such trauma.
The next morning, after a night of nightmares about the competition, Katniss eats breakfast. She and Peeta must be at the Training Center by 10 AM. Before they leave, Haymitch advises them to make friends with the other competitors, as they’re going to need allies. Otherwise, the older competitors, who’ve known one another for years, will band together and kill them off. Haymitch advises Katniss and Peeta to join with Chaff and Seeder, along with Finnick. Katniss is reluctant to make alliances of any kind, but Haymitch insists that she try. Katniss recalls that Peeta started out as part of the Careers in the last Hunger Games. She also notices that Haymitch is wearing a golden bangle around his wrist, though she doesn’t asks Haymitch about it.
Once again, we see that Katniss struggles with the “politics” of the Hunger Games: she’s an individualist at heart, even if she has immense concern for other people. In order to win this version of the Games, she’ll not only have to excel at athletic and physical challenges, but she’ll also have to make friends with the other competitors. The section ends with Haymitch wearing another ambiguous symbol: the gold bangle. As with the mockingjay and Plutarch’s watch, it’s not immediately clear what it means, but it is significant.
Peeta and Katniss arrive at the Training Center. Most of the other tributes are late. As they arrive, Katniss and Peeta decide to split up to meet more people. Peeta goes to meet Brutus and Chaff, while Katniss goes to talk to a trainer who specializes in knot-tying, and who’s not part of the competition. As she talks to him, Finnick touches her shoulder and ties a complicated knot. Katniss remembers that Finnick is from a port area, meaning that he’s had to weave nets and wield tridents for most of his life.
The decision that Peeta and Katniss split up seems sensible, but they are also clearly stronger as a unit than divided, as Finnick immediately takes advantage of Katniss being alone. Katniss, as usual, is drawn to an outsider (the knot-tying trainer) while Peeta follows Haymitch’s instructions and looks for strong allies.
Katniss avoids Finnick and goes to a training station where tributes can learn to make fire. There are two middle-aged tributes from District 3 there, Wiress and Beetee. Wiress seems intelligent, but she has a strange habit of pausing mid-sentence. Beetee seems nervous and fidgety. Nevertheless, Katniss considers them decent allies, and also reasons that they can confirm the rumors of uprisings in District 3.
Katniss’s first instinct isn’t to make political alliances, but when she puts her mind to it, she’s savvier than she seems. Thus, she aligns herself with two competitors whom the other victors seem likely to ignore. Katniss is thinking “bigger” than the Games themselves—she’s also considering the rebellions and uprisings in the other districts.
Wiress and Beetee turn out to be inventors: Beetee, for instance, has invented a music player no bigger than a piece of glitter. Katniss cautiously asks if District 3 has been having problems with Peacekeepers, and Beetee confirms that they have—orders have been backed up for a while. Wiress and Beetee watch Plutarch, who is sitting above the training stations. Wiress notices that there is a strange “ripple” effect around Plutarch—she guesses that there is a force field around him, probably to protect him from any potential attacks from the tributes.
Beetee and Wiress are noticeably different from their fellow competitors—Beetee in particular seems like a kind of “MacGyver” figure, using his intelligence and handiness with small objects to win, rather than his strength. Similarly, Wiress is observant and insightful above everything else, and in a game that’s full of strange objects and animals, being observant is a priceless asset.
The tributes eat together. Katniss is about to sit with Wiress and Beetee when she sees Peeta and a group of ten other tributes dragging all the tables together, forcing everyone to sit together. Peeta asks Katniss how she’s been doing, and he tells her that the other tributes regard Wiress and Beetee as a joke. Katniss is irritated with Peeta, and remembers that even in school, he was always surrounded by a group of bullying friends. At lunch, Katniss sits with Peeta, Chaff, and Seeder. She finds Chaff more likable than she’d initially thought, though she still finds it hard to trust him.
Although Peeta has been “running the show” for the last few chapters—training Haymitch and Katniss, etc.—here we see his limitation as a leader very clearly. Where Katniss pays attention to the unassuming, secretly talented victors, Peeta naturally gravitates to the same kinds of people: strong, muscular Careers who look down on intelligence and resourcefulness.
After lunch, Katniss tries to befriend other tributes, such as Cecilia, a mother of three, and Woof, and old man. Since both of these people are from District 8, Katniss wishes she could mention Twill and Bonnie, but she doesn’t. Katniss finds it difficult to connect with the tributes from District 1, largely because she killed their tributes last year.
Once again, Katniss steers clear of the “obvious” victors in the Games, and instead makes the acquaintance of the weak and intelligent victors. She’s limited in her political endeavors, however, by her own history with certain districts—District 1 most importantly.
The next day, there is another “training session,” in which the tributes meet one another and show off their talents. Katniss shows her archery skills at an archery station in the Training Center. The other tributes then begin to regard her with respect, she notices. Katniss tells Peeta that she keeps remembering that soon, she’ll need to kill all the other tributes—except for Peeta himself.
Katniss is an excellent competitor because she exemplifies both sides of the Games: intelligence/resourcefulness and strength/athleticism. Archery perfectly captures this combination: to be a good shot, one must be observant and intelligent but also strong.
After lunch, the tributes are required to appear before the Gamemakers, one by one, and show them their special “talent.” Peeta tells Katniss that he’s unsure what he should do—he wishes he could bake them a cake. Katniss is similarly unsure how to impress the Gamemakers.
Once again, we’re intentionally reminded of beauty pageants like “Miss America.” The eerie similarities between the Games and existing American reality television are designed to shock us, but also question our own society and constant drive for entertainment.
Katniss is the last tribute to appear before the Gamemakers, since she is the woman from District 12. Peeta goes immediately before her. When Katniss walks into the Gamemakers’ room, she sees that the Gamemakers are irritable and sharp—clearly, Peeta has done something to get their attention. Katniss decides to show a “talent” that expresses her hatred for the sadistic Gamemakers. In the Training Room, she finds a rope, a dummy used for target practice, and a bowl of berry juice. She ties a noose around the dummy’s neck, and paints a name on its chest: “Seneca Crane.”
Katniss again finds a way to work within the rules of the Hunger Games while also defying the authority of President Snow and the Capitol. Her display of rebellion is bolder and brasher than anything she’s done up to this point: it’s specifically calculated to disturb the Gamemakers, rather than serve any alternative purpose. Katniss is growing bolder, as well as more resentful of the government.