The Hunger Games are set up as entertainment for the citizens of the Capitol and are essentially a very extreme reality television show. As with American reality TV, appearances matter a lot in the Hunger Games, and they don’t always depict reality. The tributes need to learn how to appeal to their viewers in the Capitol so that they can gather support from sponsors. In Katniss’s case, she pretends to be in love with Peeta, and she allows this romance to capture the attention of her audience.
Surface appearances also cover up the real brutality of the Hunger Games and the citizens who watch them. In the days leading up to the Games, for example, the tributes are housed in fancy rooms, dressed in designer clothes, and fed with lavish buffets. They participate in interviews so that their audience in the Capitol might get to know them before they fight to the death. The citizens of the Capitol are obsessed with changing their own appearances as well, and they delight in exotic hair colors, advancements in plastic surgery, and extreme makeup. They’re so steeped in the artificial world of appearance that it seems they no longer understand the division between what’s real and what’s fake, and this confusion numbs them to the reality of the Hunger Games and their own complicity in the system that allows—and demands—that he Hunger Games take place.
Appearances Quotes in The Hunger Games
“District Twelve. Where you can starve to death in safety,” I mutter. Then I glance quickly over my shoulder. Even here, even in the middle of nowhere, you worry someone might overhear you.
Peeta Mellark, on the other hand, has obviously been crying and interestingly enough does not seem to be trying to cover it up. I immediately wonder if this will be his strategy in the Games. To appear weak and frightened, to reassure the other tributes that he is no competition at all, and then come out fighting.
The people begin to point at us eagerly as they recognize a tribute train rolling into the city. I step away from the window, sickened by their excitement, knowing they can’t wait to watch us die. But Peeta holds his ground, actually waving and smiling at the gawking crowd. He only stops when the train pulls into the station, blocking us from their view.
Cinna has given me a great advantage. No one will forget me. Not my look, not my name. Katniss. The girl who was on fire.
Rebellion? I have to think about that one a moment. But when I remember the other couples, standing stiffly apart, never touching or acknowledging each other, as if their fellow tribute did not exist, as if the Games had already begun, I know what Haymitch means. Presenting ourselves not as adversaries but as friends has distinguished us as much as the fiery costumes.
I can’t help comparing what I have with Gale to what I’m pretending to have with Peeta. How I never question Gale’s motives while I do nothing but doubt the latter’s. It’s not a fair comparison really. Gale and I were thrown together by a mutual need to survive. Peeta and I know the other’s survival means our own death. How do you sidestep that?
“He made you look desirable! And let’s face it, you can use all the help you can get in that department. You were about as romantic as dirt until he said he wanted you. Now they all do. You’re all they’re talking about. The star-crossed lovers from District Twelve!” says Haymitch.
“…Only I keep wishing I could think of a way to…to show the Capitol they don’t own me. That I’m more than just a piece in their Games,” says Peeta.
Peeta, who’s been wounded, is now my ally…it just makes sense to protect each other. And in my case—being one of the star-crossed lovers from District 12—it’s an absolute requirement if I want any more help from sympathetic sponsors.
“Listen up. You’re in trouble. Word is the Capitol’s furious about you showing them up in the arena. The one thing they can’t stand is being laughed at, and they’re the joke of Panem,” says Haymitch.