Katniss Everdeen (District 12), wakes up on the day of the reaping, when the tributes are chosen to take part in the annual Hunger Games. Her mother and little sister, Prim, sleep nearby. Her father died in a mine explosion years earlier. The district’s female tribute is chosen, and to Katniss’s horror, it’s Prim. Katniss volunteers immediately in Prim’s place. The male tribute chosen is Peeta Mellark and Katniss remembers how years ago, while searching for food for her family, Peeta gave her bread. Once they arrive at the Capitol, the time for expected death comes. From a small underground room, Katniss is lifted into the arena and the Games officially begin. Katniss becomes allies with Rue, a tribute from District 11 who reminds Katniss of her little sister. Katniss realizes that the Career tributes would have difficulty surviving without the supplies at the Cornucopia, so she and Rue devise a plan to destroy all of their supplies. She manages to blow up the supplies; however when Katniss does not find Rue at their meeting spot, she goes looking for her and finds her just as another tribute stabs her with a spear. An announcement is made that now two tributes from the same district can be declared winners. Katniss finds Peeta severely injured from a fight with another tribute. Thinking Peeta may die, Katniss impulsively kisses him. Haymitch and sponsors will reward her for playing up the romance between her and Peeta. Another announcement is made, this time saying each tribute will find an item they desperately need at the Cornucopia. At the "Feast", Katniss gets into a fight with a female tribute. The tribute is just about to slit her throat when Thresh, the male tribute from District 11 who came to the Games with Rue, spares Katniss because of how she treated Rue and kills the girl instead. Once Peeta's leg is healed from the medicine, they leave the cave to find food. They find poisonous berries that could be used to kill Cato, the only tribute left. By the lake next to the Cornucopia, Katniss realizes there are mutant wolves, engineered by the Capitol, chasing Cato, and they all climb on top of the Cornucopia. Cato starts attacking Peeta, but Katniss and Peeta manage to push him over the edge. Then another announcement is made that there can only be one winner. Neither Katniss nor Peeta will kill the other, so Katniss takes out the poisonous berries and just as she and Peeta pop them in their mouths, the announcer shouts for them to stop and declares them both winners. Once they are back at the training center, Haymitch warns Katniss that she’s in danger because the Capitol took her stunt with the berries as an act of defiance, so she has to convince everyone that she was desperate at the thought of losing Peeta and not being rebellious, or even her family could be at risk. Katniss explains to Peeta about the romance strategy during the Games. Peeta is angry and hurt, but as they arrive back in District 12, they hold hands one more time to greet the crowd and cameras.
A mockingjay pin was given to Prim from Katniss right before the reaping in order to "protect her", however Prim ends up giving it to Katniss when she goes into the Hunger Games to help her win. The mockingjay represents defiance in the novel, with the bird’s symbolism deriving initially from its origins. The mockingjay, we learn, came about as a result of a failed project by the Capitol to spy on the rebellious districts, and since then the bird has served as a reminder of this failure and the districts’ recalcitrance—Katniss describes them as “something of a slap in the face to the Capitol.” The mockingjay pin Madge gives to Katniss is at first an emblem of that resistance. Later in the novel, however, the birds come to symbolize a different sort of defiance. Mockingjays become a link between Katniss and Rue, with the two using the birds to communicate. When Rue dies, Katniss decorates her body with flowers as a means of memorializing Rue, but also to defy the Capitol. When Katniss later sees mockingjays, they remind her of Rue, and that memory inevitably stirs her hatred of the Capitol and her wish to rebel, and take revenge, against it. The mockingjay consequently takes on an additional layer of symbolism, representing not only a general rebellion against the Capitol, but also Katniss’s specific desire to defy it.
Fire plays different roles throughout the story, but most often it represents Katniss. Notably, fire is the element that gives the various outfits Cinna designs for Katniss their character. Her first dress, for example, is covered in synthetic flames, while later outfits use fire more subtly but still maintain it as a motif. Katniss’s fire dress earns her the epithet “the girl who was on fire,” and this title comes to pertain to more than just her dress. After Katniss’s surprisingly high training score is announced, Haymitch explains that they must have liked her “heat.” Cinna calls her “the girl who was on fire” again, this time using “fire” to refer to Katniss’s spirit and temperament. During the Games, the phrase takes on a literal meaning after Katniss is struck in the leg by a fireball and thinks the Gamemakers must be laughing at “the girl who was on fire.”
Three Finger Salute
"Then something unexpected happens. At least, I don’t expect it because I don’t think of District 12 as a place that cares about me. But a shift has occurred since I stepped up to take Prim’s place, and now it seems I have become someone precious. At first one, then another, then almost every member of the crowd touches the three middle fingers of their left hand to their lips and holds it out to me. It is an old and rarely used gesture of our district, occasionally seen at funerals. It means thanks, it means admiration, it means good-bye to someone you love."
At first the three finger salute is used to effectively say goodbye when Katniss and Peeta are selected for the 74th annual Hunger Games.
"A few steps into the woods grows a bank of wildflowers. Perhaps they are really weeds of some sort, but they have blossoms in beautiful shades of violet and yellow and white. I gather up an armful and come back to Rue’s side. Slowly, one stem at a time, I decorate her body in the flowers. Covering the ugly wound. Wreathing her face. Weaving her hair with bright colors. They’ll have to show it. Or, even if they choose to turn the cameras elsewhere at this moment, they’ll have to bring them back when they collect the bodies and everyone will see her then and know I did it. I step back and take a last look at Rue. She could really be asleep in that meadow after all.
Katniss makes this symbol and as the movie shows, the first riots and protests of the uprising against the Capitol begin. From then on, the significance of the gesture completely changes and it becomes a symbol of the revolution - effectively, a way for the citizens of the Districts to say goodbye to the overbearing force and power of the Capitol.
Rue, the girl tribute from District 11, is small and remindsKatniss of Prim. Rue is able to hop from tree to tree like a squirrel, a skill that helps her outrun and evade her competition. She tips Katniss off to the tracker jacker nest that saves Katniss' life. She and Katniss ally and Katniss discovers that Rue has six younger siblings that she's had to care for. Rue knew that she could trust Katniss by the mockingjay pin that she wore, explaining that she loves mockingjays, particularly because of their music. In District 11, Rue worked in the orchards and would climb high in the trees and, when it was quitting time, she would sing a special song to let the others know that it was time to go home. The mockingjays would carry her song through the orchards. Rue is killed by the boy from District 1, and Katniss is there to sing Rue a final song and decorate her body with flowers. Rue, like Prim, makes Katniss promise that she will win, and there are moments when it is her promise to Rue, more so than her promise to Prim, that gives Katniss the strength she needs to fight on. She wants to make sure that Rue's death will not go unremembered. In many ways, Katniss' alliance with Rue is also an alliance with District 11. To thank her for her kindness to Rue, District 11 sends Katniss a loaf of bread, and Thresh, the boy tribute from District 11, lets Katniss go unharmed when he could have easily killed her. Rue, in life and in death, saves Katniss multiple times.
Suffering as Entertainment
The Hunger Games present the tributes’ suffering as mass entertainment, and the more the tributes suffer, ideally in battle with one another, the more entertaining the Games become. Katniss at various points talks about past Games and what made them successful or unsuccessful, and the recurring motif is that the viewers want to see the young tributes battling one another and not dying too quickly (because then the entertainment is over). The principle is best exemplified in Cato’s slow death at the end of the novel. Once the mutant wolves have defeated Cato, they don’t kill him immediately, and Katniss realizes that the Gamemakers want Cato to remain alive because it creates an exceedingly gruesome spectacle. It is the finale of the Games, and so they want to deliver prolonged suffering the audience at home won’t be able to turn away from. The suffering, however, doesn’t have to be purely physical. It can be psychological as well. Katniss’s and Peeta’s romance, for instance, is the subject of so much fascination because it is presumed to be doomed. They become the “star-crossed lovers,” meaning ill-fated, and that promise of suffering adds drama and makes them fun to watch.
Peeta, the son of a baker, is the boy tribute from District 12 who claims to have been in love with Katniss since they were 5 years old. Even though they don't speak and Katniss doesn't consider Peeta a friend, he saves her life when they are 11 and she is starving behind the bakery. He gives her a loaf of bread, one that he burned on purpose, and ever since that moment Katniss has felt like she owes Peeta. During his interview before the start of the Games, Peeta professes his love for Katniss, which angers her since she believes that Peeta's comments make her look weak when, in fact, they make her even more desirable. While Peeta doesn't have much faith that he can win, he does tell Katniss that he wants to make sure that when he's in the arena, he remains true to himself, that he doesn't let the Games change him. Peeta causes Katniss to question her own identity and think about making a difference in the Games, wondering how she can be more than just a piece in the Capitol's Games. From the start, Peeta does everything he can to help Katniss survive. He joins the Careers in order to lead them away from her and even fights off Cato, who wounds him badly. To survive, Peeta uses his exceptional camouflaging skills to hide until Katniss finds him and nurses him back to health. While Katniss doubts Peeta's love for her, thinking that he is only keeping up the "lover boy" act, he seems genuine throughout the novel and feels betrayed in the end when he discovers that Katniss has not been as sincere as he has.
Connection to Brave New World?
In Brave New World, they have a motto of “Community, Identity, Stability.” This motto would work for the way the Capitol is running Panem in the Hunger Games too. They try to convince the population, that they are all necessary to the nation, which they are. Each District serves it’s purpose with the jobs that it does. The only problem is that the Capitol is the only one who receives all the goods from each District. Each District is limited to the things that they create. The Hunger Games has a lot of similarities to Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World. It seems like those who are given the resources by the government, are more likely to succeed. In Brave New World, it said “‘The lower the caste,’ said Mr. Foster, ‘the shorter the oxygen.’” This was referring to the different caste levels of humans they were creating. They denied some of the eggs oxygen, so that they couldn’t be intelligent, and they would be used practically as slaves. The Hunger Games is similar because they are unable to leave their own Districts. Each District has fences and boundaries because the Capitol fears that they might get too strong together. Either of these worlds would be terrible to live in. One would be in constant control, and the other would be unnatural and forced.
Based off of Thomas Foster's How to Read Literature like a Professor, Katniss's whole time spent in the arena of the 74th annual Hunger Games is her quest. However Foster claims that every quest has a true reason to go there. I believe that Katniss's true reason for being in the Hunger Games was so she could prove their country that even a poor girl can defy the Capitol. The berries are the perfect example of this. Katniss and Peeta's act of defiance with the berries caused tension and inspired the districts and set the whole rebellion in motion in the later 2 books.