Beat Sheet – “The Hunger Games”
Note: Collins uses a flowing, organic first person narrative in this story, which defines her scene strategy. The book, unlike the movie, is 100% from her point of view, which puts a fence around what can be shown. It makes the delineation of scenes – separating one from the next – tough to call, because they flow into each other seamlessly, with vague transitions or none at all. When one of these segments has no real expositional mission, but flows into one that does, I consider that one single scene (the first being a “set-up” moment for the next). So this scene breakdown is imprecise, though each time-place shift (the criteria for a new scene) is noted.
Also notice – and don’t be confused by – the fact that Collins’s structure of titled “Parts” of this story do not align with the dramatic paradigm of the four-part structure. This is a topical choice, and the traditional expositional (especially character arc) architecture, including plot points and mid-point, are right where they should be, despite her chapterization and her use of titled Parts. Whether she planned this, or it came about as a result of her very well developed sense of story optimization… don’t know. Doesn’t matter, this is how a total pro structures an optimally-effective story, no matter how it got there.
Part 1 – The Tributes
Chapter 1 Scenes
- World building… she wakes up on day of reaping. This is a fast start, the concept kicks in immediately. No slow ramp up here.
- Katniss in the forest… showing us her hunting and survival skills, also the “rules” her world. We also meet Gale (establishes stakes, lays ground for future books, as Gale has little involvement in this first book);
- Visiting the market… establishes how her world works, relationships, foreshadowing
- Back home (after flashback), helping Prim (her sister) prepare for the reaping ceremony; introduction to her family dynamics… stakes established.
- The reaping ceremony… arrival… background on what this all means… setting up the big reveal: her sister, Prim, has been chosen as the first District 12 Tribute.
(NOTE: this feels like a hook and indeed, it is the first of a two-pronged hook… but it is NOT the First Plot Point. That doesn’t happen until page 72.)
Chapter 2 Scenes
- A continuation from the moment of Prim’s selection (an example of Collins using chapterization to create emphasis, or a “cut and thrust” into the next scene). Katniss quickly steps up to volunteer, thus saving her sister (which wouldn’t work, emotionally, if those first 5 set up scenes hadn’t existed for us). We meet Haymitch (previous Games winner, the only one from District 12). Then, Peeta is chosen as the other District 12 Tribute. (All of this is delivered in one scene… you could argue these are multiple expositional points that, by definition, become their own scene, which is valid.)
- Flashback to her first encounter with Peeta, where he discretely throws her the bread; established her initial context for the ensuing relationship; we also meet Peeta’s father. (This is critical set-up and foreshadowing, because the story ultimately becomes about her relationship with Peeta.)
- back to the Reaping ceremony, where Katniss and Peeta are presented to the crowd. Katniss realizes that to win, she’ll have to kill him if someone doesn’t do it for/before her. (Important context: the only person having fun here is Effie, her handler for the games, which is important foreshadowing of the city we’ll soon visit.)
Chapter 3 Scenes
- A series of emotional farewells from family (stakes and empathy), and from Peeta’s father (who kindly gives her some cookies for their journey), and finally from Gale (prospective love interest; provides conflict in unfolding relationship with Peeta), who encourages her to make a bow in the wild to use as a weapon. Katniss is certain she’ll never see any of them again, just as she is sure Peeta must die if she is to win (reader empathy and tension established).
(You could argue that each of these farewells is a separate scene, though Collins narrates them as a single episodic scene.)
- The train ride to the Capital city begins. Collins uses this to give us specific background about the Games. Katniss and Peeta see a video about the Tributes from the other Districts, thus showing us the antagonists who will face her in the forest. Continued dynamics with her handlers, Effie and now Haymitch. Continued tension with Peeta, who is enigmatic (we don’t know his intentions; at this point – this is all told from Katniss’ first person point of view).
Chapter 4 Scenes
- Still on the train, we see Peeta caring for Katniss (what’s his game?), much to her confusion and skepticism. She resists getting close. As a metaphor for her quiet declaration of independence (and opposition?) to Peeta, she throws the cookies Peeta’s father had given her off the train.
- Another flashback scene showcasing her skills as a hunter, with a bow. Against this background we learn the backstory of her family, specifically her father’s death and her mother’s crippling reaction to it, casting Katniss into the lead role as provider for the family.
- Back on the train; more Haymitch prep context, with his advice on how to survive the opening minutes in the arena cornucopia (run in the opposite direction).
- A narrative bridge as Katniss reflects on his all as the train arrives at the Capital. She realizes/believes that Peeta is already playing the Game, strategizing, and that his kindness is his attempt to position himself to kill her when the time comes.
Chapter 5 Scenes
- They are being prepared for introduction to the people. Cinna, her stylist, who right away seems to be an ally, is introduced, talks about her costume, helping her with strategy already: they will be presented as a united front.. Peeta is all smiles and helpful.
- The parade of Tributes for the citizens, Peeta and Katniss in flaming (literally) uniforms. This is a key moment in the story, in which the two are deliberately pitched to the crowd as a team (which everyone knows might come down to one killing the other). Peeta takes her hand, as if he buys into this.
The scene includes the immediate aftermath, where the flames are extinguished. There is an interior monologue going on in Katniss’ brain: so this is how it is. Peeta is luring her in, making her vulnerable. The closer he is, the more dangerous he is.
At the final moment Katniss finally returns the gesture of affection and buy-in to the strategy. She kisses him on the cheek, “Right on his bruise.” It’s on. Her journey just changed, shifted into a higher gear. She’s now strategizing. She’s in survival mode. For her, the Games have finally begun.
(Page 72, at the 19.4 % mark; almost exact at the optimal 20% target milestone.)
***************** THIS IS THE FIRST PLOT POINT ******************.
The Part 1 setup is over…we now move into Part 2, in which the overall context driving the mission of these scene is how Katniss RESPONDS and reacts to her new quest. Notice how all of the scenes in Part 2 align with this.
Chapter Six Scenes
- A lot of orientation here (for us and for Katniss, sizing up the other Tributes, and the politics of the game (sponsors, favorites, etc.) Katniss isn’t encouraged by what she sees. A theme of social/class prejudice, already on the table in this story, now comes into play.
- At dinner with the District 12 “team.” We see the servant girl (muted criminal) that Katniss thinks she recognizes. This is a catalyst for Peeta to step forward and have her back, which Katniss continues to be confused about. Is it strategy or true friendship? She’s sure it’s the former, yet she has her first hint of doubt here.
- Talking with Peeta after this dinner and the muted girl (with an explanation from her handlers, which is scary, contributing to the stakes). Peeta lied for her, had her back (because it would be dangerous for Katniss to admit she knows the girl.
- We see a flashback to when she really did run into the girl, in the woods while she was with Gale. The girl was victimized by the Peacekeeper forces.
- After the flashback about the girl in the woods, with Peeta. He talks about his recollection of her (Katniss) back home, how he helped her with the bread that day.
- A short scene in which Katniss goes back to her room. The mute girl is there, distant. Katniss is guilty, she (out of fear) had just watched the Peacekeepers kill her friend and mutilate her. Just as if she was watching the Games, just like people will watch her suffer and die. She wonders if this girl will enjoy watching that happen.
Chapter 7 Scenes
- Next morning. Katniss prepares for the day, her first in her training. Eats alone, remembers home.
- Peeta and Haymitch arrive, Peeta dressed identical to Katniss. Offers to coach them separately. Discuss their respective skills; Peeta is supporting. Haymitch agrees, people will be clamoring to help her. Haymitch instructs to stay together always, in and away from training. This is strategy.
- Training begins. Katniss (and us) is oriented about the training stations. Katniss sizes up the other Tributes, now out of their intro uniforms, and some are intimidating. Especially the boy from District Two (a “Career,” bred for this since early childhood); foreshadowing. The Gamekeepers show up to observe. Eating protocol, with politics (deliberately like a high school clique). She and Peeta are grateful to not be alone.
- (A time-spanning scene that delivers several periods of the day.) Second day of training. We meet Rue (who will be a player in this story later). Later they download Haymitch and Effie. After that she and Peeta are along, and Katniss finds herself laughing with him. Catches herself, tells him they should stop pretending when they are alone; rejecting him and the strategy… she knows.
- Third day of training. Tries to impress the Gamekeepers with her bow shooting skills. They seem not to notice, which angers her. So she shoots and arrow into their midst, freezing and momentarily terrifying them. She has their attention now.
Chapter 8 Scenes
- Alone after, she reflects. She’s scared, sure she’s made a fatal error.
- At dinner this is discussed. Haymitch supportive.
- After dinner, to view the scoring (resulting from the Training). She’s get an 11, the highest score of all (apparently she impressed the Gamekeepers). She’s now the favorite to win the Hunger Games. Which, she knows, puts her in the bullseye of the other Tributes.
- A flashback of the day she met Gale. This connect to her proficiency with the bow and hunting for food (giving her and us some sense of hope for her). Move forward in time, with Katniss realizing she feels for Gale (stakes).
- Next morning Katniss is greeted with the news that Peeta has requested to be trained separately from now on.
Chapter 9 Scenes
- Next morning. Katniss feels betrayed, but glad the “strategy” and the charade is over. Meets with Effie to talk about wardrobe.
- Meets with Haymitch to talk strategy, now that she’s the favorite. Haymitch believes gaining favor with the people is and advantage, they (through sponsors) can send help to her in the Games. Peeta’s strategy is to be “likeable,” which (he says) she’s not. She needs a story.
- Next day, with Cinna, her stylist. Her training with Effie and Haymitch is over. He dressed her, tries to cheer her up, to coach her toward being more likeable. Wants to be considered a friend.
- Press conference, televised. Haymitch tells them they must still present themselves as a couple, which Katniss doesn’t like. We see Caesar, the host. Katniss sizes up other Tributes as they are interviewed. She nails it, ends up having established herself as a crowd favorite. When Peeta is interviewed, he makes it clear that they’re a couple, and he’ll die before she does.
Part 2 – The Games
Note that this ISN’T part of the dramatic structure. This is a chapterization and topical strategy. You could argue that it completes the “set up” for the plot – everything prior to this has certain been all about setting up the Games – but in terms of character arc (which DOES align with classic dramatic structure in terms placement), but true as it is, this isn’t relevant. No new information enters the story at this point, we simply move from one focus (training) to another (the Games themselves).
An author needs to understand and plan both (topical structure and dramatic structure). You often see them aligning, but not here.
Chapter 10 Scenes
- Peeta is still being interviewed. He’s affirming this as a love story between them, one that she (Katniss) wasn’t aware of… until now. Hearts flutter. As the Tributes are transported back to their quarters, Katniss confronts Peeta, outraged. They debated this with Haymitch, who says she’s just been helped. What Peeta did gave a much stronger shot, because now people love her, will root for her, and sponsors will step up.
- The Games begin the next morning. Effie and Haymitch say their farewells, though they’ll continue working on their behalf to line up sponsors (this is important foreshadowing). Haymitch gives last minute critical advice: to run away from the opening confrontation at the Cornucopia, which is a blood bath.
- She can’t sleep. Goes to the roof, reflecting on it all. Peeta is there, too, doing the same thing. He’s resigned to dying, he wants to die as “himself.” They discuss how the Gamekeepers can manipulate the Games from behind the scenes, to get the most popular outcome (foreshadowing).
(NOTE: the first PINCH POINT occurs in this scene, on page 141, almost exactly at its target point at the 37/38th percentile mark. This story densely populated with many pinch point moments – when the antagonistic force comes front and center for the reader, reminding us of what’s at stake – but notice how this moment is different: it relates to the depth of the character’s most inner self, the desire to not give in, to die as themselves, which will be their only victory. You’ll notice later how the other Tributes turn into blood-lusting sadists in the arean… our heroes will die before they allow themselves to sink that far. It all comes front and center in this scene.)
- Cinna prepares her to enter the arena. Warmth between them. He gives her the mockingjay pin (foreshadowing, both for this and subsequent books) as she enters the chute and hears the announcement: the Games have begun.
Chapter 11 Scenes
- She’s elevated into the arena. The Tributes await the opening horn. She considers going in, trying to score a weapon. When it sounds… she runs, as fast as she can away from the Cornucopia, where weapons await, and where half the Tributes will die within the first few minutes. She does exactly as Haymitch advised.
- He does snatch up some supplies, and reverses ground to get a backpack. Has to fight for it, but her adversary is killed from behind. She’s next.
A knife is thrown, but it lodges in the backpack. Hers to use.
Now she runs.
- Fleeing through the woods. Later, hears the cannons sounding, indicated the dead. Eleven have died, nearly half. She wonders if Peeta is among them, not sure how she feels about it. At least she won’t have to kill him it he has.
Stops, inspects the pack, hoping for water. No. Twilight coming. Sets some traps to get food.
- Night now. She’s perched in a tree, strapped in. Sees the death recap broadcast into the sky holographically. Sees who has died, who hasn’t. Peeta is alive. So are five Careers. And Rue. Isn’t aware she’s dozed off.
- Awakened by snapping sounds nearby. A pack of aligned Tributes. Hears them kill another Tribute. Hears them talking – they’re after her. And… Peeta is among them.
Chapter 12 Scenes
- The pack is right below her. They send Peeta back to the kill to look for supplies, and she hears them considering killing him now. Hey decide not, he’s their best chance of finding her (Katniss).
- Dawn. The pack moves on. Before Katniss can get out of the tree, a hovercraft appears to fetch the body of the girl they killed the night before.
- She runs. Hunts. Tries to find water. Knows she’s being televised, that the viewers are some mixture of rooting for her and rooting for her death. She tries to impress them. Feeling weak, sick. Almost eats deadly toxic berries. Climbs a tree for the night.
- Morning. She feels worse. Needs water. Considers the lake near the Cornucopia. Sets off.
- Finds mud, which means water. Finds a pond. Slowly drinks, eats a rabbit. Rests. Night comes. Climbs a tree. Sleeps. But is awakened suddenly…
… by a wall of fire.
Chapter 13 Scenes
- She flees the fire. Considers it all as she runs, realizes the Game has changed, the odds being manipulated from offstage. Her leg is wounded, burned badly. The fire ceases, quiet returns. She rests, feeling helpless, until dawn.
- She baths in the small pond, washes away blood, assessed the damage. But fatigue overcomes her and she dozes off.
- She’s awakened when they find her, but she has time to hide. Climbs a high tree, but they stop directly beneath her. Resigned to her death, she calls down to them mockingly, playing to the television audience. They try to climb after her, but can’t make. One girl shoot an arrow, misses; the arrow is now hers. They decide to leave her until morning, strike a camp a at the base of her tree.
Then she hears something. Not from the ground, but to the side, up in the next tree. It’s Rue, who sees the whole thing. Rue points to something, signaling her help.
Katniss is no longer alone.
****************************** Mid-Point ******************************
A new context has changed the story. This new information transformes Katniss from the RESPONDER that she has been, into a pro-active ATTACKER of her problem.
This happens on Page 185… at 49.5 % of the story’s total length, PRECISELY on target for this milestone.
Chapter 14 Scenes
- Rue has shown Katniss a hive of deadly, genetically engineer wasps, hanging directly over the sleeping pack below. If Katniss can cut it, allow it to fall on them, she’ll have a chance. But doing so without getting stung herself will be nearly impossible. She waits until the nightly anthem plays over the arena loudspeakers, masking the sound of her cutting (she has the knife from the cornucopia attack).
- The anthem finally sounds, she begins to cut. But with her injuries it is too painful, too slow, it’s not going to work.
Then she notices that something has been delivered to her, resting on her bag up in the tree. Haymitch. It’s a salve, which will heal her wound very quickly. Her pain vanishes immediately.
She returns to cutting loose the hive of wasps. But she is stung, knowing that this will result in great pain and possible hallucinations. She keeps at it… the hive finally falls. The pack panics, runs, but two of the girls are stung to death. Katniss is now alone, and safe. For now. But already feeling the effects of being stung herself.
She descends. Finds a bow next to the body of the newly dead pack girl. The warrior now has a weapon, the weapon of her choice.
But the poison stings overcome her. She falls, just as one of the hunters arrives… but it’s Peeta. Tells her to run. Saving her afterall.
She flees in a poisoned haze. Just as one of the Careers almost reaches her. She falls into a next of stinging ants and passes out.
Chapter 15 Scenes
- Awakens to agony. As she comes to her senses she flashes on Gale, as they discussed leaving the District. They should have. Then she remember she has the bow, her strong suit. She has a chance.
(Note how she things to herself that having the bow gives her “an entirely new perspective on the Games.” Which is precisely the definition of the post-Mid-Point scenes where this happens. Not a coincidence.)
- Rue comes to her as she tends to her wounds and refreshes with water from the pond in which she’s awoken. Wants an alliance. Tends to her stings with some medicinal leaves she has with her. Katniss shoots game, they eat.
Rue tells K that the “sunglasses” in her pack are actually for night vision. Then, together they decide they need an offensive plan.
Chapter 16 Scenes
- The death cannon wakes them. There are 8 Tributes left, including Peeta, wherever he is. They decide to raid the Careers’ stash of food. Hatch a plan. They’ll use the mockingjays to communicate from a distance.
- They separate to get ready to implement their plan, an attack on the Cornucopia fortress where the pack is stockpiling their booty from the kills they’re making.
- Katniss reaches the Cornucopia, assesses the situation. Sees the booby traps. Overhears them talking about her, their rage and intent to kill her. Slowly. (That is a deliberate touch by the author to ratchet up the dramatic tension and stakes.)
She finally sees her opportunity, takes it. Shoots an arrow into the stockpiling, releasing apples, which tumble onto the surrounding landmine. The whole thing blows up.
Chapter 17 Scenes
- Aftermath of explosion. K wants to flee, but she’s still dazed. Another blast knocks her down again. She hides as the Career pack returns to the devastated pile. She remains there to wait this out, see her next opening.
She awakens in the morning, sees one of the girls going through the pile, laughing. The others are gone for now.
She returns to where she and Rue separated. Climbs a tree to wait for her to return. Eats, waits.
After a while she goes to the next agreed upon meeting place. Soon she hears a scream, runs to it. Sees Rue in a net. Just as she gets there, a spear pierces Rue’s body.
(NOTE: this is the SECOND INCH POINT, smack on the page, 232, that marks the 62 percent mark, the optimal target for this moment. This is the first time Katniss must directly kill another combatant, and both she and the reader experience the darkness of the circumstances directly – the mission of a pinch point – as Rue’s fate is sealed.)
Chapter 18 Scenes
- K quickly shoots the boy who had thrown the spear.
K sings Rue a song as she dies. Then reflects on her, then where she (Katniss) is within the flow of the Games now. She decorates the body so the Gamekeepers will show it, and leaves the spear in it so the Careers can’t use it further if she loses control of it later.
Then the hovercraft comes for Rue’s body.
- She regroups, in hiding. A tiny parachute arrives with a loaf of bread. It’s from Rue’s district, in gratitude. She climbs a tree, settles in for the night. The evening anthem shows the dead for that day: Rue, and her killer. There are six Tributes left.
- She returns to the site of Rue’s third fire, consolidates supplies, and waits. Kills some birds, eats. Goes to water, camps. An uneventful day. She reflects on the boy she killed.
And then the unexpected happens: she hears an announcement from the Big Cheese of the Games, stating that there’s a rule change: if two Tributes from the same district survive to be the last two standing, they will be declared co-winners.
She calls out Peeta’s name.
Part Three – The Victor
Again, this isn’t a plot point along the character arc. It’s new information, certainly, and a new game for Katniss. And example of an author inserting as many twists, context shifts and plot points as she wants, which doesn’t negate the overall four part model or the major milestones that separate them. That milestone – the second plot point – is still to come.
Chapter 19 Scenes
- Katniss is happy at this news, filled with hope. Peeta’s love story strategy has worked after all. She reflects on it all, then goes to sleep.
- Goes looking for Peeta. Sees blood, follows the trail. Finds him, hiding in camouflage (which was foreshadowed back at the Training Center). He’s injured. Cracks a joke about her kissing him. She rolls him into the stream to clean him up. Feeds him. Another kiss comment.
Moves him into a cave to hide. Kisses him to get him to stop talking about dying, her first kiss… ever. Haymitch sends food, as if to encourage them to keep this up, the audience will love it.
Chapter 20 Scenes
(Note: this chapter plays like one long scene, with no discernable breaks. You could argue there are several scenes here, but that’s not a critical call, provided one sees what’s going on, strategically. It’s written as a sequence of time compression, a narrative device Collins uses frequently to rapidly forward the story. She’s going for pace and exposition.)
- Cares for him, feeds him. Then sleeps. Wakes, checks his leg, it’s worse. Feeds him again. Tells a story from the past.
An announcement is made – a backpack with needed supplies awaits each Tribute at the Cornucopia. A ploy to force the combatants together. Peeta and K argue, he wants her to stay with him, fearing she’ll be killed. She wants to go, they need those supplies.
Then Haymitch sends medicine to speed Peeta’s recovery.
To get her way, K drugs him with some berries she knows will knock him out. She’s free to go for it.
Chapter 21 Scenes
- She prepares for this effort. Visualizes people back home (District 12) rooting for her. Heads out into the woods.
- She arrives at the staged scene, sees the waiting backpack. As she watches one of the other Tributes dashes out, grabs her pack and runs off. This inspires K to go for it.
But she’s sideswiped by yet another Tribute (Clove, a knife specialist), who pins her down, taunts her about Peeta, is about to kill her.
Just in time, though, Thrash grabs Clove off her. He is Rue’s district mate, and he’s furious at Clove, believing it was her who killed Rue. He kills her. Then turns to Katniss. Lets her live – a one-time pass – for her kindness to his friend Rue.
She returns to the cave. She has a syringe full of the City’s best medicine to cure and save Peeta. She administers it, then falls asleep.
They have new hope. She and Peeta will now be a team, after all.
***************************** PLOT POINT TWO **************************
A change in the story that sets the stage for a final countdown, then a showdown. Something had to happen to change the course of Katniss’ quest, and her relationship with Peeta (which has from the beginning been the spine of this structure), and this is it.
This is on page 297… the 79th percentile. Very close to being right on cue.
Chapter 22 Scenes
- Katniss wakes back in the cave, delirious from her injuries sustained at the Cornucopia. Peeta, now healed, nurses her. Lots of rambling discussion about the situation, Thresh and Cato, and then about one of them needing to die to save the other. In her inner dialogue, K doesn’t want to lose Peeta now (this is the mission of this scene, but it needed to be outed organically in context to their discussion). They kiss, but this is different.
- Later that evening, the return to the topic their suddenly real romance. Then a parachute delivery comes… a feast. They assume it’s from Haymitch, as a reward and sign of approval of their new level of love for each other. This was his strategy and hope all along.
Chapter 23 Scenes
- More banter about their relationship. Playing to the audience. Pondering how Haymitch won. Considering life back home if they survive as a winning couple (because of the new rule that allows this). More eating, getting stronger. Talking of home.
- They finally leave the cave to hunt for food. They talk about missing cheese, from Peeta’s stash outside the cave. The cannon sounds, the hovercraft comes to pick up the body of the other lone girl survivor to this point (Foxface); she’d eaten the poisoned berries (from earlier foreshadowing) Peeta had stashed.
- Katniss explains the berries to Peeta, who would have eaten them himself at some point. They plant the berries in a pouch, leave it behind in the hope that Cato will find them and eat them, too. They light a fire to try to draw him close, knowing he’s looking for them. Soon they decide to return to the cave.
- Katniss contemplates where she and Peeta are at this point. (Notice how much of the narrative, especially here in Part 4, is K’s inner dialogue, which allows us to experience both her fear and her courage as she considers options… as well as her deepening feelings for Peeta – this is the mission of this, and several other scenes in this section.)
- They return to the lake for water (the Gamekeepers have dried up other water sources; they are forcing a final showdown with Cato). Who does indeed appear to them now (mission). But… he’s running from something. A pack of wild wolf-like creatures (genetically engineered mutations) has been chasing him… and now they’re chasing down Katniss and Peeta, as well.
- All three (Katniss, Peeta and Cato) run to the safety of the Cornucopia, climbing to the top of the structure where the mutations can’t reach them. Peeta has lagged behind, and Katniss must help him up before the mutations tear off his legs. Upon closer examination, Katniss realizes these mutations are, in fact, the actual life forces of the dead Tributes (this little twist isn’t in the movie, by the way, which treats the mutations with more focus and a different approach; this is a metaphor for the Gamekeepers turning these children against each other.) They get to Peeta as he’s climbing, and he kills one with his knife.
Cato, who has been reeling from his own injuries, suddenly has Peeta in a death headlock. They square off. Katniss draws an arrow and aims at his head. A stalemate: if she shoots him both he and Peeta will fall into the open jaws of the mutations who await at the base of the Cornucopia.
Katniss shoots and arrow into his hand, Peeta gets free just as Cato falls into the pack of vicious mutts. She grabs Peeta and saves him from falling.
Cato is fighting off the mutts in a bloody confrontation.
- Cato’s fight and death takes a disturbingly long time, much to the delight (assumes Katniss) of the audience (a horrific context). Katniss cares for Peeta’s wounds while still atop the Cornucopia. At dawn, there’s enough light for Katniss to see Cato, still barely alive. She uses her last arrow to end his suffering. The mutts disappear into a hole in the ground. Katniss and Peeta have won the Hunger Games.
- Or so they think. The Gamekeepers announce they changed their mind, that the earlier rule revision has been revoked: there can only be one winner afterall (how much do we HATE the people behind all this? That’s part of the appeal, and why the author prompts us to FEEL that hatred frequently, along with our empathy for Katniss).
Katniss and Peeta discuss. Then have an idea. They won’t let them win. They have the berries (a very Romeo and Juliet potential outcome), they’ll commit simultaneous suicide. They have every intention of following through… Katniss actually puts the berries in her mouth. This is no bluff.
The Gameskeeper suddenly, urgent, orders them to STOP… and announces that the TWO OF THEM have just won the Hunger Games.
Katniss and Peeta, however, have won more than that.
Chapter 26 Scenes
- The hovercraft comes for them. They are taken back to the Training Center for medical treatment and rest. Katniss narrates her inner feelings the entire time, contemplating what this means.
She gets closure with the Avox girl (the muted servant) she recognizes earlier. Turns out the girl didn’t wish her dead, afterall. Humanity resides with the meek and oppressed, not the oppressors.
Time passes, she heals. (Not really its own scene, but – as described in the Prologue of this document – it’s simply a part of the time-compression narrative strategy applied here.)
- She finally reunites with her team. Cinna prepares her to be presented to the people through another televised event. She is still a product to be used by the Gamekeepers (who want to alter her physically through surgery, giving us our first sense that Katniss is not out of the woods).
Haymitch warns she is still in danger. She’s beaten the Game, and humiliated the Gamekeepers and the President. They will try to get even with her, punish her, in some way. His counsel is to make sure she explains it all – the near-miss with the poison berries to achieve the outcome – as a result of her LOVE STORY with Peeta, going nowhere near the politics and her need to defy and beat the Gamekeepers.
Katniss decides this is actually worse than being hunted in the arena.
Chapter 27 Scenes
- We experience the televised documentary with Caesar (could that guy be any creepier?) The program includes video footage of her journey, hitting the highlights. Katniss notices they omit anything that could be perceived as rebellion (such as her covering Rue’s body with flowers; this is a statement on big brother politics and media spin).
Her interview will follow on an interview the next day.
- Katniss and Peeta are taken to the President’s celebratory dinner gala. Haymitch is there, and he has her back. (A one-paragraph aside – which is why this isn’t a separate scene – before Katniss moves us forward to her next experience.)
It’s time for her interview with Caesar.
- After a brief greeting from Peeta (who is concerned because it seems they are keeping them apart), they are on the air, sitting together. The context of their answers to Caesar’s questions and prompts – all of them – is that of their great love for each other getting them through this, and ultimately allowing them to triumph.
Peeta reveals he’s been fitted with a prosthetic leg (which explains why they had been kept apart; Katniss had no idea). In the end, the final moment is all about love… perfect for the Games. Katniss and Peeta teeter between the truth of it, and pandering to this expectation in order to save themselves long enough to get out of town, back to District 12.
- The journey home. Haymitch assures them they barely dodged a bullet with the Capitol, who thought the stunt with the berries was rebellious.
Peeta senses K’s affection in the arena was, after all, just a strategy. Now that it’s over he senses her distance… and Katniss can’t complete refute this. She’s confused about her own feelings how that she’s going home.
There is distance, but there remains one more parting shot for the crowd, the television audience. They manage one final gesture of being united, a bit forced by both, all for the crowd.
(NOTE: the movie, which has been showing us behind the scenes point of view that explains much of how the Gamekeepers manipulate the arena, as well as the politics – there’s a sub-plot going between the President and the head Gamekeeper, none of which is in the book. The film ends with a resolution of that sub-plot and a final image of a very unsatisfied President… we know he’s not finished with Katniss. The sequel is set-up here in a way that it isn’t in the book – precisely the point of the filmmakers.)