Within District 12 Katniss and her family live in a neighborhood called “the Seam." Composed of the poorest of the District’s families, the Seam is a collection of dilapidated buildings and “black cinder streets.” The poverty and desolation contained within the Seam are conveyed through rich descriptions of the place and its inhabitants. For example, the men and women of the Seam are described as having “hunched shoulders, swollen knuckles," with nails and faces full of coal dust (Collins 10). In this way the reader is given a clearer picture of Katniss’s place in her society.
The reaping is one of the most pivotal moments in The Hunger Games. The moment Katniss volunteers as tribute in the place of her sister she sets off a change of events that will rock her world and change Panem as a whole. As such, Collins takes particular care as she crafts the scene, especially with regards to the emotions, feelings, and actions of the characters. For example, the instance when Effie Trinket calls Prim’s name, we don’t simply read about Katniss’s horror. We feel it, as “every wisp of air” is knocked from Katniss’s lungs and she struggles to inhale and exhale (Collins 40). Another example is the image we are given of Prim right after her name is called: her “blood drained from her face, hands clenched in fists at her sides” (Collins 41). Here, Prim’s fear jumps off the page and hits the reader.
Cinna is Katniss’s stylist for the Games. New to the Games, he specifically requested to be delegated to design for the District 12 tributes, despite their unpopularity. Unlike past District 12 stylists, Cinna decides not to focus on coal, District 12’s major contribution to Panem, but rather the element that coal produces: fire. All of his creations for Katniss evoke fire in some way, either literally or metaphorically. Words like “ablaze," “flames," “heat," and “illuminate" help to paint a picture of how Cinna manipulates fire in his clothes.
Thanks to Cinna and his dress creations, Katniss makes a name for herself before the Games even commence. Known amongst the districts as the girl on fire, it is Cinna’s idea to add synthetic fire to Katniss and Peeta’s costumes. This notoriety is crucial in the Games because tributes vie amongst one another for sponsors. The more famous the tribute, the more supplies and help they can expect from those watching in the Capitol and the districts.
Tracker Jacker Hallucinations
Another one of the Capitol’s mutations, tracker jackers are killer wasps that were genetically modified in the Capitol’s labs. They are bigger than regular wasps, and their stings cause lumps the size of plums, along with vivid hallucinations. Katniss cuts down a tracker jacker nest above the pack of sleeping Careers and Peeta, causing the death of Glimmer. In the process Katniss receives several stings from the tracker jackers and experiences haunting visions. For example, butterflies “balloon to the size of houses then shatter into a million stars," “trees transform to blood and splash down over [Katniss’s] boots," and “ants begin to crawl out of the blisters in [Katniss’s] hands” (Collins 340). With these horror-filled, frantic, and frenetic illusions, Collins conveys the seriousness of tracker jacker stings and depicts how they can be lethal.
The Hunger Games Questions and Answers
The Question and Answer section for The Hunger Games is a great
resource to ask questions, find answers, and discuss the novel.