It's a little weird that there are coaches. After all, Katniss and Peeta are like teammates only insofar as they hail from the same place. They'll still have to kill each other sooner or later, right? That is not how most team sports work. Granted, cricket could happen like that and I would have no idea, but the team sports I know about don't work that way.
Haymitch is face down in his own vomit, which is a gross enough image without getting into the gory details. But Suzanne Collins gets into the gory details anyway, describing the “slippery vile stuff” in excruciating detail. I mean, we don't hear about the individual food particles in there or anything, but Haymitch gets up and accidentally wipes vomit all over his face and you know, we get it, I'll spare you. Peeta takes Haymitch to his room to clean him up and Katniss wonders what his game is. Dammit Katniss, will you never trust your fellow humans?
Oh, maybe she will! Katniss realizes that she's being ridiculous and Peeta is just a nice guy. But her reaction to that realization is unexpected:
Kind people have a way of working their way inside me and rooting there.
For most girls it's the tough guys with the leather jackets and the gruff exterior that do that, right ladies?Anyway:
And I can't let Peeta do this. Not where we're going.
Where we're going we don't need niceties! Katniss runs back to her room and throws the cookies Peeta's dad gave her out the window, swearing to have nothing to do with that nice jerk Peeta. BUT BUT BUT OH NO: the cookies land in a patch of dandelions (damn!) which causes Katniss to again remember Peeta's original gesture of kindness. Wow, if you told me there was a kind of weed that could cause vivid flashbacks I never would have guessed it was dandelions!
We get a little more detail about how 11-year-old Katniss learned to provide for her family after her father's death, picking up right where we left off: The sight of the dandelion in the schoolyard that day caused her to remember the edible plants her father had once cataloged in a recipe book (Yeah, you read that right: the sight of dandelions from the train window triggers a memory in which the sight of dandelions in a school yard triggered another memory. DANDELIONCEPTION!) and after a few successful gathering sessions Katniss tried her hand at hunting, as her father had also left her a bow.* Pretty soon she was old enough to start collecting grain rations in exchange for entering herself in the Hunger Games, but her family needed more than just food so Katniss gradually learned to barter as well (as her father had left her a green visor and a knack for haggling**). It's a nice little story of too-young girl learning to survive on her own—pulling herself up by her bootstraps and then trading those bootstraps for some soap.
*Boy, Katniss's dad sure did leave lots of stuff in place in the event of his death in a freak mine accident, huh? Let me guess: he's still alive! He IS Peeta Mellark! He's hiding in Effie Trinket's wig! Haymitch is puking him out in small quantities!
**I thought about haggling skills being passed on genetically and then grossed myself out with the image of a sperm trying to talk his way into an egg. “C'mon, roll the dice on me, baby!”
As Katniss got better and better at providing for her family, her mother slowly returned from the abyss. Prim was thrilled, but Katniss says her mother's initial inaction had caused a rift between them that was never repaired. Back in the present, all of this reminiscing causes Katniss to sit in her private car and stress about her family for a while before drifting numbly into sleep. The next morning she goes to breakfast with Peeta and Haymitch and we get a better sense of the deprived life kids in District 12 lead when Katniss looks at an unfamiliar “rich brown cup.”
“They call it hot chocolate,” says Peeta. “It's good.”
I take a sip of the hot, sweet, creamy liquid and a shudder runs through me.
Do you REALLY want some hot chocolate right now? Me too. It's a nice little maneuver on Suzanne Collins's part, because it appeals viscerally to younger readers and nostalgically to the older ones. (Maybe it's just from looking at Tumblr a lot but I feel like nostalgia is being over-exploited lately. I say that as someone who is mostly immune to nostalgia; my adulthood is way better than my childhood ever was and I still get trapped for 20 minutes on Tumblr sites that are just cover art for videogames from the 90s.) Anyway Katniss swallows all of the hot creamy liquid (you are welcome) and then references the fact that Haymitch is supposed to be giving them tips. And Haymitch laughs it off. So Peeta angrily knocks his glass out of his hand, and in response Haymitch punches him in the face. Then Haymitch reaches for his bottle of booze, so Katniss stabs a knife into the table next to his hand.
Whoa, shit just got REAL! And then suddenly Drunky McVomitface starts dishing out the real advice. He tells Peeta not to ice the bruise on his face—that way he'll look tough. He assess the physical condition of our heroes and declares them “a pair of fighters” for once. And he makes a deal with them that is hard not to hear in like, Tommy Lee Jones's voice: “You don't interfere with my drinking, and I'll stay sober enough to help you.” Katniss and Peeta figure it's better than nothing, but um, is it? Look at the inverse of his statement: “If you stop me from drinking, I'm going to get really drunk.” But whatever, we have our uneasy Spaghetti Western compromise now and I'm happy with it. Haymitch's only advice for the moment is to obey their stylists when they get to the Capitol. Hold up, they have stylists? What kind of sissy battle to the death is this shit?!
The train passes through a tunnel on the way into the Capitol and Katniss has a minor panic attack—turns out she doesn't like being underground. What if the Hunger Games take place in a bunch of caves this year? Oh shit oh shit oh shit! When they emerge from the other side of the tunnel, Katniss and Peeta are struck by the “magnificence” of the Capitol. Katniss says the TV cameras have never done it justice, which is ironic because she so fleetingly describes the place that we, the readers, can't picture it at all! We hear that it's really colorful and people have weird hair and painted faces. So I'm just picturing this:
People in the streets stare eagerly at the train, and Katniss walks away from the window in disgust. But Peeta hangs out and waves to the Capitol denizens, telling Katniss, “Who knows? Maybe some of them are rich.” This statement causes Katniss to somewhat ridiculously trace back over every gesture Peeta has made so far, suddenly seeing it with new, paranoid eyes:
I have misjudged him. I think of his actions since the reaping began. The friendly squeeze of my hand. His father showing up with the cookies and promising to feed Prim...did Peeta put him up to that?
Of course! How could she not have seen the dastardly intent behind that handshake? Of course! Peeta would definitely use his last moments with his parents to plot against her for no reason! It all makes perfect sense! Hahahaha no it doesn't! Shut up, Katniss!
Stray Notes & Links
- Speaking of dandelions: Cat Marnell is a highly compelling writer and former Lucky editor who now blogs at XOJane on her favorite beauty products, vices and psychological issues. Her piece on Amy Winehouse was great, and a few days ago she wrote "How To Make Your Whole World Smell Like A Dandelion (Plus: Not Being A Pillhead Anymore Is Confusing)" which is about a profound experience involving the image of a dandelion and is certainly worth a read. If more beauty blogs had such searing, bracing, funny honesty, I'd read a lot of beauty blogs! But as it is I just read the one.
- WTF with Marc Maron is a podcast you must have heard about by now—everyone is obsessed with it! And for good reason! One of this week's episodes features an hour long interview with Parks & Recreation's Aubrey Plaza, who is great, and you should listen to it. How does it relate to The Hunger Games? Well, THG is about traumatic experiences in a girl's late adolescence, and Aubrey Plaza had a stroke when she was 20!
- You guys listen to Watch The Throne yet? What do you think? Without even knowing what happens next (thanks for being cautious about spoilers in the comments, BTW) I can tell you I'm going to name an upcoming post “No Church In The Wild.” That's just something that's for sure going to happen.
- So you're kind of on your own in the comments, I guess. Go crazy!
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