At the training center, each district has an entire floor. Effie has been corralling Peeta and Katniss around, and she says that she’s been talking them up to everyone she knows in the Capitol, emphasizing how they’ve been struggling to overcome the barbarism of their district. However, Effie adds, Haymitch is the only one who can seal sponsor deals for them.
Effie doesn’t understand why the people of District 12 don’t have proper manners, not realizing that their entire lives are set up differently from hers. As a result, she dismisses them as barbarians. Katniss finds this to be hypocritical, since Effie is helping the Capitol send the tributes to slaughter and that, justifiably, seems much more barbaric to her.
Katniss’s quarters are larger than her entire house back home. She experiments with the automatic gadgets, programming the closet to pick an outfit to her taste and conjuring food from an automatic menu until Effie summons her to dinner.
Katniss notices more and more ways in which the Capitol is wealthier than her district. They have better food, more electricity, and more advanced technology.
When Katniss arrives, she sees that the stylists will be joining them for dinner in order to strategize about the Games. Haymitch also seems to be pulling himself together, appearing as clean-shaven and sober as Katniss has ever seen him. Katniss also tries her first glass of wine, but decides to switch to water halfway through because she doesn’t like the foggy feeling it gives her.
Haymitch’s clean-shaven appearance is encouraging and signals a shift in his behavior. Although he continues to drink, he doesn’t do so sloppily, and he tries to remain sober enough to give advice.
A red-haired girl comes to set a cake on the table, and when Katniss turns to ask her a question, she finds that she recognizes the girl. She blurts this aloud, and the girl looks terrified, shaking her head as she hurries away from the table. When Katniss turns back, the four adults—Haymitch, Effie, Cinna, and his partner, Portia—are watching her carefully. Effie says that the girl is an Avox, someone who has committed a crime. As punishment, their tongues are cut off so that they can’t speak. Haymitch says that she was probably a traitor of some sort.
Katniss doesn’t know what an Avox is because the Capitol prevents people in the districts from knowing details about other districts and the Capitol. This ignorance almost gets Katniss into trouble, since there’s no good reason she should know the girl.
Katniss finally recalls who the girl is, but senses that she should conceal this knowledge. Peeta comes to her rescue, saying that the girl looks like someone they know from school, which helps everyone to relax.
Peeta again comes to Katniss’s rescue—each time he does this, Katniss is unsure whether he’s genuinely trying to help her or whether it’s part of his strategy in the arena.
After dinner, the party moves into the sitting room to watch a replay of the opening ceremonies. Haymitch comments that the handholding is the perfect touch of rebellion, which gives Katniss pause. She realizes that the other tributes stood stiffly next to each other, not touching, as if the Games had already begun. Haymitch sends Peeta and Katniss off to get some rest while the adults strategize.
Because Haymitch understands that the Capitol’s control is based on division—turning the districts and tributes against one another—he recognizes that handholding is a sign of rebellion. It shows that Katniss and Peeta are not yet participating in the Games, since they’re still appearing in public as a team. The affection they show for each other is defiant, a refusal to be divided by the games, even if it’s just an act.
When they’re alone, Peeta corners Katniss and asks her about the Avox. Katniss hesitates, and Peeta, sensing her hesitation, suggests that they go up to the roof, where they can see the whole city. He warns her that the wind can be a bit loud though, and Katniss realizes that he means that they can’t be recorded up there. Katniss follows Peeta up a flight of stairs to the roof, where they admire the scenery for a minute, before Katniss tells the story of the red-haired girl.
Katniss explains that she and Gale had been hunting in the woods one day, hiding as they waited for game to pass by. Suddenly, all the birds stopped singing at once, and a pair, a boy and a girl, appeared, running as if their lives depended on it. Suddenly, a hovercraft appeared above them, and a net dropped down on the girl, pulling her up, and a spear impaled the boy before he was pulled up to the hovercraft as well. Peeta asks whether the girl saw Katniss, and Katniss responds that she doesn’t know—even though she does. The girl had locked eyes with Katniss and called out for help right before the hovercraft appeared.
Katniss lies when she says that she doesn’t know whether the girl saw her—possibly because she doesn’t want to appear responsible for the girl’s capture, but also because she feels guilty. The past with the Avox is a time when she did not help someone in trouble, when she allowed (justifiable) fear of the Capitol to keep her divided from others.
Katniss believes that the girl and the boy were from the Capitol from the way they were dressed, but she doesn’t know where they were going or why they would leave. Peeta blurts out that he would leave the Capitol too and then looks around nervously before covering up his statement with a joke about the quality of food. Then he changes the topic to Gale, asking whether he and Katniss are related. Katniss says that they aren’t, and Peeta asks whether Gale went to say goodbye to her after the reaping. Katniss responds that he did, and that Peeta’s father visited her too. Peeta seems surprised by this news and says that his father always liked Katniss and her sister. He explains that his father knew Katniss’s mother when they were kids.
Peeta is careful to monitor his appearance so that he doesn’t seem to be questioning the goodness of the Capitol—he presents himself as a simpler person than he is, which will endear him to the audience. The fact that Peeta’s father knew Katniss’s mother also makes sense to Katniss because they grew up as part of the same merchant class, showing how the social classes are divided and unequal, even within the district.
Peeta and Katniss return indoors and say goodnight. When Katniss enters her room, the red-haired girl is there, collecting Katniss’s discarded clothing from the floor. Katniss wants to apologize to her, but remembers that she isn’t to speak to an Avox except to give an order. The girl avoids Katniss’s eyes, and Katniss feels ashamed that she didn’t try to help the girl in the woods. As Katniss tries to drift off to sleep that night, she wonders whether the redheaded girl will enjoy watching her die in the Games.
Katniss wants to apologize to the redheaded girl, but she knows that she isn’t allowed to speak to her except to give orders—another way to assure that people from different classes and groups are divided. Katniss feels like a hypocrite because she just sat there and watched as the girl was captured, much like the Capitol audience will sit and watch her suffer in the Hunger Games in a couple days.