Peeta lies on the ground, unconscious, having just been electrocuted by a force field. Over Katniss’s protests, Finnick bends over Peeta, pinches his nostrils shut, and blows into his mouth. Slowly, Katniss realizes that Finnick is saving Peeta’s life by blowing air into his lungs. She remembers seeing her mother performing similar actions as a nurse.
The association between Finnick and Katniss’s mother sends an important message: perhaps Finnick, like Katniss’s mother, is more compassionate and loving than he first seems. Katniss isn’t yet sure what to make of Finnick, but by now he’s given her plenty of reasons to trust him.
After Finnick blows into Peeta’s mouth, Peeta slowly regains consciousness. Katniss begins to laugh and cry with joy, and she realizes that now there’s no way she could force herself to kill Finnick in his sleep. Finnick laughs off Katniss’s tears, saying that she must be emotional from her pregnancy.
Finnick’s second reference Katniss’s pregnancy suggests that he knows or senses that it’s a lie. This could also indicate that Finnick knows that Katniss is only pretending to be in love with Peeta, and thus that he’s still trying to flirt with Katniss.
The group of four carries on exploring the jungle. Finnick questions how Katniss saw the force field. Knowing that everything they say is being recorded, Katniss lies and says that she was able to hear it—if the Gamemakers know that she can detect the “ripple,” they might try to change the force fields and make them truly undetectable. The others accept Katniss’s explanation.
Katniss is savvy enough to know that power doesn’t only come from physical strength, but also from controlling important information. Thus, she doesn’t explain her knowledge of force fields to the remaining members of the group, Peeta included—and so hides it from the government as well.
Katniss takes the lead in the group, still under the pretext that she has superior hearing. She notices Mags eating a nut growing on one of the trees, and yells for her to spit it out. Finnick only laughs. Katniss wonders how Finnick could be so cavalier about Mags and yet save Peeta’s life.
Just because Finnick saved Peeta’s life doesn’t mean that he’s a good person, as he seems perfectly willing to let Mags, someone he supposedly loves, endanger her own life. Again it’s difficult to interpret his actions.
Katniss realizes that the force field that nearly killed Peeta is guarding the edge of the arena. She tries to find a high-enough point to look beyond the arena. Climbing a tree, she sees the entire arena for the first time. It’s a perfect circle, with the jungle-island in the middle. Katniss can see “rippling squares” in the distance on all sides—they are surrounded by deadly force fields.
Collins reminds us of the physical structure of the arena. It’s important to keep this in mind throughout the rest of the book, as it determines the obstacles the characters encounter. For now, the primary obstacle is the arena itself—they can’t escape from it or risk electrocution.
Katniss climbs down and reports what she’s seen to Finnick, Mags, and Peeta. It occurs to her that their island is particularly small, and seems not to have any fresh water, perhaps because the government wants these unpopular Games over quickly—and thus, more tributes are supposed to die sooner.
Katniss is again “thinking bigger” than she was in the Games last year. She recognizes that the Games are a political tool, and thus the structure and format of the Games reflects specific political decisions and strategies.
It is late afternoon. Because Mags and Peeta are exhausted, the group sets up camp. They eat more of the nuts that Mags tried earlier, and Katniss says that she’s going to try to hunt. As she walks into the jungle she hears the traditional cannon of the Games, which shoots once for every death so far. She counts eight cannon booms. To her frustration, she doesn’t find any animals to hunt, with the exception of a big rodent, which she shoots. Carrying this, she returns to the camp. Mags, Peeta, and Finnick have built a hut from branches. She tells them that she’s found no drinkable water, but notices that the rodent—which they decide to call a “tree rat”—had a wet mouth, as if it’s been drinking recently. The group cooks nuts and rodent, and eats fairly well.
Mags’s consumption of the nuts on the island (whether foolish or calculated) has paid off—without her initial sampling, the group wouldn’t have any food to eat. This reminds us that the older competitors have legitimate value—it’s not only a matter of being young and athletic that leads one to winning the Hunger Games. In much the same way, Katniss is intelligent enough to find a path that may lead to water, thereby saving the lives of her new allies.
The group tries to fall asleep. Late at night a loud broadcast is made throughout the arena, naming the 8 dead tributes. All the tributes from Districts 1 through 4 are still alive, but Seeder, a mother of three, has been murdered. Then, a parachute falls from the skies, landing next to the group. Inside the parachute, Peeta finds a small metal rod. No one is sure what to do with it until Katniss remembers that she’s seen something like it before: it’s called a spile. It can be rammed into a tree trunk and used to drain syrup or other fluids. The group collectively realizes that this is how they’ll find water. They jam the spile into a nearby trunk, and slowly, water drips through it. They drink—they’ve been parched all day.
The spile that falls from the sky is a strikingly literal form of “deus ex machine,” a plot device in which the solution to a problem appears inorganically—that is to say, in a manner unrelated to the characters or the plot of the book so far. From the first book, we learn that gifts like this are the result of outside help—usually Haymitch putting rich fans to work.
The group finally falls asleep. The next morning, Katniss and Finnick awake to a loud tolling sound. There are 12 rings, which, they presume, stand for the 12 Districts, but they’re unable to determine what the rings mean. In the distance, they see lightning, and it begins to rain. Suddenly, a fog trickles down to where the group is resting. Katniss walks through the fog, and immediately her body begins to blister.
It’s not exactly clear what the twelve rings mean, though perhaps it’s relevant to note that there are twelve “spokes” in the wheel of the arena, as well as twelve districts. Before Katniss—or we—can think about this matter any further, a new, unexpected danger appears.