Katniss cries for her sister, wondering, frantically, why she is in the arena. Then, she sees what’s really happening: a jabberjay, perched in the trees, is making the sound of her sister’s voice. This is only a sadistic trick of the Gamemakers, she tells herself.
While the Gamemakers’ trick horrifying, it’s almost refreshing to be reminded that Katniss cares about other people. She’s been so harsh with her calculations about killing Johanna and Finnick that it’s good to be reminded of her selfless love for Prim.
As Katniss calms herself, she hears another cry, and watches as Finnick, his face alight with fear, runs past her. She tries to call to him, but she knows that nothing will work. Finnick calls out for “Annie,” and Katniss manages to shoot with an arrow the jabberjay that’s imitating “Annie.” Finnick is still terrified, and he suggests to Katniss that the Gamemakers have kidnapped and tortured their loved ones, because the screams sounded real. Katniss realizes that Finnick could be right. This is the most harmful “challenge” they’ve encountered so far, she concludes.
Finnick’s reaction to the jabberjays is more evidence for his sympathetic character—like Katniss herself, he has people he truly cares about. This section is similar to those in which Collins stressed the similarities between Katniss and Peeta. The characters grow closer through enduring trials together.
Katniss and Finnick turn to see Peeta, Beetee, and Johanna standing only a few feet away from them. There is another force field between them, though this one, Katniss determines, doesn’t electrocute people who touch it. The two halves of the group will be unable to communicate for the remainder of the hour. Meanwhile, more birds appear, and mimic the sounds of Katniss’s loved ones: Madge, Gale, Prim, etc.
While the previous challenges in the Hunger Games have been physical—rashes, chases, etc.—this challenge is psychological, and arguably much more devastating.
The remainder of the hour passes, painfully slowly. When it’s over, Peeta tries to comfort Katniss, but she insists that somewhere, their loved ones are being tortured. Peeta speculates that the Gamemakers have only manipulated the sounds of their loved ones—there may not be any real torture involved. Beetee agrees with Peeta. Johanna points out that the entire country adores Prim—to hurt her would lead to an uprising. Katniss is amazed that Johanna would speak of an uprising out loud, knowing that they’re being watched. She’s forced to give Johanna some grudging respect for her bravery.
It’s no coincidence that Katniss begins to develop new respect for Johanna and Finnick immediately after they’re subjected to the same psychological torture. The jabberjays establish a strong bond between their victims: Katniss and Finnick, for instance, grow close in their fierce love for other people. Johanna shows that she too is thinking about the bigger picture—as Haymitch said, “who the real enemy is.”
The group moves on. Katniss asks Peeta about the woman Finnick heard, Annie. Peeta guesses that this must be Annie Cresta, the mentally unstable former champion whom Mags volunteered to replace. Katniss is impressed with this information. Finnick truly cares about a lonely, unstable woman, rather than any of the young sweethearts he pretends to love on television.
Finnick’s love for Annie adds more depth to his character. As the “playboy” celebrity of the Capitol, he could date any woman he wanted, but Annie is the only one he truly loves. This also shows how close Finnick and Mags were, as Mags volunteered to save Annie.
At the end of the day, Finnick catches more food from the water, and the group eats. A loud announcement informs everyone that sixteen tributes have died, all in all, leaving only eight behind. The remaining tributes, besides the group, are Chaff and the two surviving Careers, Brutus and Enobaria. Suddenly, a parachute falls down, containing 24 small rolls of bread. The group eats fifteen of the loaves, leaving the rest for tomorrow. Johanna jokes that whoever is still alive at breakfast can have the rest, and Katniss laughs.
Here, Katniss and Johanna further bond through finding humor in a dark situation. It’s interesting to note that humor itself is often defined as the “defiance of repression” (Sigmund Freud wrote a famous essay on this subject). Thus, by laughing at her joke, Katniss continues to respect Johanna’s bravery.
The group goes to the sector with the giant wave, and waits for the wave to recede. They then set up camp, thinking that they’ll have twelve hours of safety. Everyone falls asleep except for Peeta and Katniss. Katniss notices that Finnick calls Annie’s name in his sleep.
While Finnick has seemed to be putting on the appearance of compassion before, it’s now clear that he feels genuine love for Annie—there’s no way to keep up an act in one’s sleep, after all.
Peeta talks with Katniss about Haymitch and the inevitable end of the Games. Haymitch has promised both of them that he’ll help them survive the Games—yet only one of these promises can be honest. Peeta points out that he’ll have no reason to go on living if Katniss dies. By contrast, Katniss would have plenty of other loved ones to live for if Peeta were to die. Katniss can tell that Peeta is being sincere because he doesn’t mention Katniss’s “baby”—he’s not playing to the cameras. She also senses that Peeta is talking about Katniss’s love for Gale, and suggesting that one day she and Gale will end up together. Katniss is overcome with Peeta’s kindness and sensitivity, and she kisses him. Though she’s kissed him hundreds of times before, this is the first time she’s ever done so out of genuine love.
Just as Katniss isn’t sure what to make of Johanna and Finnick, she’s also unsure of how to respond to Haymitch’s messages, or what to think of his plans. Another interesting aspect of this section is the fact that Katniss only begins to show genuine love for Peeta during the Hunger Games, when millions of people are watching. She’s becoming more comfortable with performance and spectatorship, simultaneously expressing her true emotions and acting for her audiences.
Peeta leaves Katniss by herself, and Katniss thinks to herself that Peeta is the only person her age she knows who’s fit to be a father. She imagines a future in which there is no Capitol and no danger involved in raising a child.
Katniss’s love for Peeta seems to inspire her desire for rebellion: she wants a world in which her children can grow up without tyranny and injustice.