Katniss is both shocked and disgusted to see her fellow tribute ally himself with the "Capitol's lapdogs." When Peeta goes back to finish the girl, she overhears that the other Careers are not overly impressed with him but rather are using him in hopes that he can help them find her. Their contempt is specifically directed towards her.
Soon after, she hears the cannon and a hovercraft arrives to take the body of the dead tribute. The next morning, she hunts and catches a rabbit, using the dead girl's dying fire to cook it. She's well aware that audiences are watching, and makes sure she is presenting herself and her abilities well so as to attract sponsors.
She continues to move downhill, but is beginning to suffer from her lack of water. She finds berries, but cannot remember from her training whether they might be toxic. Though she has food, her strength is wavering. She prays Haymitch will send her water via sponsors, even speaking the word aloud so as to capture it on camera. No luck. Consumed with anger and dehydration, she is unsure whether she can go on until she realizes perhaps Haymitch has refused her water because he knows she's already near it.
When she finds mud, she knows she's close, and follows it to a pond. She collects water in her flask and treats it so she can have her first hydration in days. All is well as she hooks herself into a tree that night. All is not well when she awakes suddenly in the night to find a "wall of fire descending" on her.
There is fire everywhere, and Katniss acts quickly by leaping to the ground. She knows immediately what has happened – occasionally, when the Games are not entertaining enough, the Gamemakers will engineer occasions to spice things up. This includes climate modification within the arena.
The fire is bad enough, but worse is the smoke, which is ravaging her lungs and forcing her to vomit. She is about to change her plan, to move parallel to the flame and avoid it, when fireballs are launched directly at her. She keeps her head and is able to avoid most of the fireballs, but one finally makes contact with her calf, burning it badly.
As the sun begins to rise, she escapes the flame area and treats herself in a nearby pool of water. Her hands have been burnt but the real damage is to her calf, now covered with blisters. The water helps alleviate the pain somewhat, but she knows she will need more sophisticated healing than is at her command. The intensity of pain and her drowsiness from dealing with the smoke paralyzes her, on top of which she is scared to leave the water that provides temporary relief.
That is, paralyzes her until she hears the Careers approaching. She rushes up into the highest tree she can find, managing the pain on her palms as she climbs. When she looks down, she sees the five careers and Peeta staring up her way. Where Peeta avoids her gaze, Glimmer hands the bow and arrow – which she has claimed from the Cornucopia – to Cato, one of the Careers. He turns it down and unsheathes his sword before attempting to climb after her. It's not long before he falls back down, after which Glimmer attempts to climb and shoot her. No luck. Finally, Peeta tells them they should just wait her out, since there's nowhere she can go.
She belts herself in, scared and weak from hunger. Across the way, up in another tree, she recognizes two eyes watching her through the dark. It's Rue, who points to something over Katniss's head.
Katniss looks up at Rue's gesture to see a wasp nest above her. She worries that these aren't normal wasps but one of the Capitol's muttations, "tracker jackers." These muttations were designed as weapons during the war. When they sting someone, he suffers severe hallucinations and sometimes death.
Though frightened by the possibility, she realizes that any wasp nest could prove a boon if she can saw its branch off and send the nest down to the Careers who are waiting for her below. In order not to alert them with the sound of sawing, she decides to wait for the nightly anthem to use the music as disguise. She climbs up as far away as she can, and realizes the smoke of the recent firestorm has subdued the usually frenetic wasps. As the anthem blares, she does her best but the pain in her hands limits her effectiveness and she doesn't finish. She decides to return to her sleeping spot and wait until dawn to finish the sawing.
Back at her bedspot, she finds her first gift from a sponsor, which has been dropped from the sky with a silver parachute attached. It is ointment she uses to alleviate the pain of her burns. She settles to sleep but awakes in the early dawn, and sees the Careers (with Peeta) asleep below. Before resuming her sawing, she looks over to Rue, who is still in the tree next door, and silently warns her. As Rue escapes through the trees, she realizes that the little girl is surviving by leaping from tree to tree. Up close to the nest, Katniss sees the wasps are less subdued than before. She moves quickly and is able to saw through the branch, but not before being stung three times, on her knee, cheek, and neck.
But her pains are little compared to what happens below, where the nest explodes and the wasps attack the Careers. They flee quickly to the Lake, but Glimmer's flight is ceded by stings and she falls to the ground. Katniss drops from the tree and returns to her pool, where she pulls the stingers from her skin. Nevertheless, her injuries have swollen and are emitting pus. But Katniss has no time to relax, since she realizes that Glimmer's fall means the bow is now available. She rushes over to find that her severe stings have paralyzed her body so that Katniss must break her fingers in order to free the bow. What's more, as she tries to pull it free, Glimmer's flesh begins to disintegrate in her hands.
That's when she realizes that the hallucinations engendered by the tracker jackers have begun. She frees the bow just about the time that some of the Careers return. She readies herself to fire but lacks lucidity from the hallucinations, and is unprepared when Peeta comes upon her. Yet not only does he make no effort to kill her, but he in fact insists she run away. As she stands to do so, Cato enters the clearing, and she sees he has been stung under the eye.
She rushes away, running as best she can through hallucinations and trying not to lose herself. But one thing is crystal clear – that Peeta has saved her life.
Peeta's seeming betrayal helps Katniss to direct her fury back at her antagonists in the arena. Again, there are undertones of class resentment in her hatred of the Career Tributes, by the disgust she feels for children privileged enough to devote their lives to training for this event. Her aptitude for the Games has been shaped by necessity and never directed. One can also ask the question why, faced with her high score, they wouldn't have proposed she ally with them? Could their particular hatred of her be motivated by her low social standing?
Regardless, Katniss is able to redouble her dedication to stoically surviving now that she can disregard Peeta's confession about wanting to survive "as himself." For these chapters, at least, she is convinced she will persist without trusting anyone.
The spectacle continues to play itself out, as the wall of fire is another step of complete manipulation meant to keep audiences entertained. In the sense that our reality TV shows are actually scripted, so is the "reality" of this game not really relevant.
Finally, these chapters provide something the novel has lacked thus far: a clear, identifiable antagonist for Katniss. Once she identifies Cato in these scenes, he continues to personify the forces of the cruel Careers for the reader, even as Katniss's sense of antagonism continues to be progressively more directed towards the people up top.