The Hunger Games

chapter 7

what is the training center and how does it end

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Katniss and Peeta are led together to their first training session with Haymitch, where they decide they will train together for their first stage. Tributes are trained by their mentors for three days before training with all the tributes at once, culminating in a private session with the Gamemakers, who design and execute each year's contest.

Haymitch inquires further into their abilities, and each child accuses the other of downplaying his or her abilities – Peeta is convinced Katniss's hunting skills are formidable, and she praises his strength. Haymitch warns them to keep their skills a secret from other tributes, and also stresses that they should continue to stay by each other's sides. Katniss isn't certain whether Peeta meant his protestations about her abilities as evidence of his affection or contempt, and she lashes out at him.

The next day, they are both led to the basement training gymnasium, which is organized into several training stations. Each tribute is given a cloth square with his or her district number on it, though only Katniss and Peeta are dressed in tandem. The representative, Atala, explains that children can move from station to station at will, but cannot fight one another. This occasion provides Katniss's first glimpse at the other tributes, and she sees that though she is smaller, she is healthier than most – with the exception of the group she calls "the Careers." They are tributes from richer districts who are trained from birth with the expectation they will compete in the Games. This group in particular seems to regard her with contempt.

Following Haymitch's instructions, Peeta and Katniss avoid the heavy-duty skill tables, and instead focus on knot-tying and camouflage, the latter of which proves to come naturally to Peeta. Over the next three days, they continue to train while avoiding archery and weightlifting. All the while, Katniss feels annoyed with Peeta but they maintain the image of a unified front even as no one else talks to them. During their time, she learns that the little girl from District 12 is named Rue and notices Rue seems interested in them. Also, she continues to keep Peeta at an emotional distance, even if they pretend otherwise by staying together.

On the third day, they are called individually from a group lunch to audition before the Gamemakers, where they will be judged via a number score that will communicate their talents to sponsors. As the female tribute from the last District, Katniss is called last and immediately notices that the Gamemakers, who have been there all day and endured 23 previous displays, are drunk and distracted. She has some trouble with the more professional bows available, but eventually begins to display her aptitude at archery. Their indifference to her work, manifested in their attention to a newly-arrived roasted pig, angers her and she fires an arrow directly to their balcony, skewering the apple in the pig's mouth with her arrow. She knows it was a mistake and leaves immediately.