The Gamemakers are shocked by this display, and two of them look like they’re ready to faint. Plutarch Heavensbee tries to conceal his displeasure, but Katniss sees that he’s as shocked as any of the other Gamemakers.
Katniss’s “talent” show has had its intended effect, and disturbed and rattled the Gamemakers. It’s amusing that, unlike Katniss and the other victors, the Gamemakers aren’t particularly good at putting on an appearance of calmness and happiness—they display their fear almost instantly.
Katniss is dismissed from the Gamemakers’ room and sent to her room, as the other tributes have been. There, Haymitch, Effie, and Peeta are waiting. Peeta explains, a little reluctantly, that he painted a picture of Rue on the floor, as she looked just after her death. Katniss explains her “talent” as well, but Haymitch is dismissive of both of these stunts. Effie in particular is certain that Peeta and Katniss will be punished for their misbehavior, but Katniss and Peeta smile and say that they’re proud of what they did.
Katniss and Peeta both defied the Gamemakers with their “talent” without discussing it beforehand—this is a reminder of their strong personal bond. One interesting difference between their “talents” is that Katniss’s was calculated to disturb the Gamemakers, while Peeta’s paintings, though they had the same effect, were first and foremost a sincere expression of his love for Rue and the other dead tributes.
Katniss and Peeta retire to their room. Katniss suggests a disturbing possibility: Snow will make sure that they’re killed during the Games. Peeta acknowledges that this is possible. Katniss privately wonders if she’ll be killed and Peeta spared. In the last Games, after all, Peeta was motivated to defy the government by his love for Katniss, rather than any political goal. Katniss decides that she must find a way to defy the Capitol even if she dies for it: in this way, she’ll continue to serve as an inspiration for rebels in Panem. Peeta and Katniss fall asleep in the same bed, and Katniss doesn’t have any nightmares.
In this section Collins suggests a major difference between Katniss and Peeta. In spite of his appearance of political savvy and leadership, Peeta is ultimately less politically-minded than Katniss. Where Katniss wants to disobey and defy the government, almost for its own sake, Peeta is motivated by his love and affection for others—at heart, he’s apolitical and more complacent.
The next morning, Katniss and Peeta wake up in each other’s arms. Peeta says that he wants to spend the remainder of his life with Katniss, and to her own surprise, Katniss agrees. They spend the entire day watching the skies and eventually the sunset. They don’t see any of the other tributes or anyone from their entourage.
It’s a little surprising that Katniss “falls” for Peeta so quickly, but perhaps this is because she thinks she doesn’t have long to live. She could die in only a few days, so she wants to spend her remaining time with someone who understands and respects her.
The next day is the last day of festivities before the Games begin. Katniss spends much of the day being dressed and made up by her prep team. Venia, Octavia, and Flavius are tearful, knowing that they might be saying goodbye to Katniss forever. Cinna shows Katniss a special dress he’s designed for her that evening. The dress was originally intended to be Katniss’s wedding dress, but Snow has mandated that she wear it to the Games instead. Cinna instructs Katniss to raise her arms high and twirl, but not until the end of the ceremony, when everyone is looking at her.
Katniss’s stylists and makeup artists seem like dull, superficial people who rejoice in the Capitol’s entertainments, but Collins also suggests that they have a sensitive human side that goes against the Capitol’s sadism, as Octavia and her colleagues tearfully say goodbye to Katniss. Moreover, Cinna seems to have a trick up his sleeve—we can sense that he’s changed Katniss’s wedding dress in some secret way.
The tributes gather in the Training Center to be interviewed by Caesar Flickerman. Many of the tributes criticize Katniss’s dress, calling it ugly and heavy. Katniss shrugs off these criticisms, and focuses on the bizarre spectacle of the tributes answering fluffy questions from Flickerman, only a few hours before most of them will die. Some of the tributes “play along,” smiling and cracking jokes. Finnick recites a poem he wrote to the “love of his life,” a ploy calculated to get the audience on his side. Surprisingly, many of the victors, such as Seeder, Chaff, and Beetee, suggest that the Quell should be called off, and even imply that Snow is too weak to cancel it.
Here the gruesomeness of the Hunger Games is on full display: not only will almost all of the tributes die in only a few hours, but they’re first being forced to perform before a studio audience. We see that most of the victors try to use their celebrity status to rebel against the Games. Beetee and Chaff do this with direct appeals, while Finnick plays up romantic sympathy for himself so that the public will be angry if he dies—thus making the Games less popular with his many fans.
When it is time for Katniss’s interview, Flickerman asks her how she’s feeling. In response, Katniss gives an answer about her upcoming wedding, and stands to show the crowd her dress. She raises her arms and twirls. In response, she hears screams, and realizes that she is on fire. But because she trusts Cinna, she continues to spin. Suddenly, the flames are gone—the top layer of the dress has been burned off, revealing its true form. Katniss is now wearing a dress designed to look like a mockingjay.
Our suspicions are confirmed: Cinna did tamper with Katniss’s wedding dress before she wore it (the dress Snow sent her weeks before), and it seems likely that he did so as a sign of rebellion against the government. It’s important that Katniss wasn’t informed of this arrangement beforehand—indeed, this fact foreshadows major plot developments late in the novel.