The tributes are forced to stand on their mounds for sixty seconds before they may enter the arena—otherwise, a bomb will detonate and blow off their legs. In the center of the arena lies the Cornucopia, a giant golden horn that contains survival tools like tents and weapons. Haymitch had advised Peeta and Katniss to avoid the Cornucopia and instead run for safety, but Katniss hesitates when she sees the bow and arrows that lie in the Cornucopia.
The tributes are divided by the rules of the Games, which dictate that they must kill each other to survive. The Cornucopia, however, lures everyone to the same place at the start of the Games, resulting in a bloodbath.
Just as she prepares to run for the weapons, she catches Peeta’s eye, and he seems to be shaking his head at her. When the gong rings out, Katniss misses the moment to dash for the Cornucopia and instead grabs a nearby sheet of plastic and a loaf of bread. She’s angry about missing the moment and dashes farther in to grab a backpack, but another boy reaches it at the same time, and they grapple before another girl kills him. The girl aims another knife at Katniss, but Katniss runs and hitches her pack over her head, where the knife lodges itself. Katniss jogs and walks farther into the woods for the next few hours, putting distance between herself and her competitors.
Katniss is frustrated that she missed her moment—and her frustration makes her careless, dashing farther into the fray. She also feels angry towards Peeta, who she blames for her hesitation. Even Katniss’s brief hesitation results in her almost getting a knife in the head.
Katniss begins to feel better as she walks farther into the woods, even though there’s no sign of water yet. In the late afternoon, canons sound to signal the tributes who have died in the morning. There are eleven dead, leaving thirteen to play. In a few hours, the Gamemakers will project images of the dead in the night sky so that everyone can know who died. Katniss finds herself overwhelmed by the thought that Peeta might already be dead, though she tells herself it might be better, since it means that she won’t be the one to kill him herself.
Katniss worries about Peeta, since she’s gotten to know him more over the course of training. However, rather than dwell on the thought that he might be dead, Katniss decides that his early death might be better because of the way the Games are set up—at least she wouldn’t be directly responsible for his death. It seems that Katniss and Peeta could have been good friends, but the Games prevent them from becoming too close.
Katniss examines the contents of her pack, finding a sleeping bag and some crackers and dried beef. She also finds an empty water bottle, which reminds her of how dire her water situation might become. For the moment, she sets a couple snare traps before settling into a willow tree for the night. Soon, the anthem that precedes the death recap begins to play, and Katniss notes with relief that Peeta is still alive. She tells herself that if she loses, it will be most beneficial to her family if Peeta wins.
Although Katniss continually accused Peeta of pretending to act like her friend, it seems more like Katniss is pretending that she doesn’t genuinely care for Peeta. She makes excuses for thinking about him, telling herself that she only cares about his survival because it will benefit her family. In this way, Katniss’s actions are somewhat hypocritical. She seems to be fighting to not care about Peeta because she thinks that is the only way to survive. But thinking that way is to play the Capitol's game.
Katniss dozes off only to be awakened a few hours later by the sound of branches snapping below her. Another tribute has started to make a fire, which infuriates Katniss because it is sure to reveal their destination. As dawn arrives, Katniss thinks that perhaps the fire-starter has gone unnoticed, but then she hears the footsteps of the Career Tributes, and the pleading of a girl before she’s killed. The Career Tributes often band together at the start of the Games, before the tension becomes too great and they start to turn on each other
The alliances that the Career tributes form require a certain amount of hypocrisy, since they’ll eventually have to turn on each other in order to win the Games. The fact that the strongest tributes tend to band together also emphasizes the social inequalities between districts. The strong ones become stronger by banding together, and the weaker districts are weeded out.
The pack starts to walk away, but they pause beneath Katniss’s tree, worried that the girl they left behind isn’t dead yet. One voice says that he’ll go finish her off, and Katniss is shocked to recognize the voice as Peeta’s.
Katniss believes that Peeta is a complete hypocrite now, since he was talking about defying the Gamemakers the night before and has now joined the cruelest group of tributes in the arena.