CHAPTER NINETEEN (START OF PART THREE)
This new rule is obviously meant specially for Katniss. She wonders whether Peeta's love angle has been designed to get audiences to demand an arrangement of this sort. She decides to further pursue that angle, and smiles for the cameras.
The next morning, she sets out carefully, knowing the Careers will be on the look-out. Her only lead is knowing Peeta, who Cato believes is cut badly, must have established himself somewhere near a water source. Katniss sets a fire to distract the Careers and sets off to some of the distant water. At some point, she finds a bloody trail that she follows along a stream. But it's another dead end, or at least she thinks so before Peeta's voice comes from nowhere.
She looks down into the stream and his eyes open from the mud. He has used his camouflage talent to hide himself. She gives him some water and he tells her he has indeed been cut, high up his left thigh. His wound and weakness prove problematic when Katniss is unable to easily pull him out from his hiding spot. She yanks at him, but his cries deter her. Little by little, she rolls him out and then she sets to cleaning him.
His wounds are bad. He's badly burnt, has four tracker jacker stings, and a bad fever which Katniss addresses with some pills from her pack. But most grievous of all is his leg cut, which is deep, inflamed, and obviously infected. The intensity reminds Katniss of how, when her mother has been brought seriously injured patients, Katniss rushed away, unable to handle the gruesomeness.
She tries to hide her fear over his wound, but doesn't know what she can do about it with her limited supplies. She uses the leaves remedy Rue taught her, to minimal effect. Meanwhile, Peeta is jokingly begging her to give him a kiss, since they are expected to be in love. Peeta seems a bit upset when he learns that Katniss has been given gifts whereas he hasn't, but claims not to be surprised since he believes she is Haymitch's favorite.
They head down the stream together, moving extremely slowly because of Peeta's wounds. Finally, she sees some rocks forming a cave and carries him to it. In the cave, she makes a bed for Peeta and does the best she can to disguise the opening. Peeta tries to talk to her about arrangements in case he dies, but in order to shut him up, she kisses him. It works. It's also her first kiss.
When she steps outside for air, a silver parachute drops. She hopes it's infection medicine, but it's only a pot of broth. She believes she understands Haymitch's point: "one kiss equals one pot of broth," since it pleases the audience. If she wants more, she'll have to give them more.
Through the use of argument and kisses, she slowly gets Peeta to eat the broth. Realizing she can't leave to hunt since they're so close to the stream where she found him (and they left signs), she sits on watch. When it gets too cold, she crawls into the sleeping bag with him. She isn't certain allying with Peeta was the right move, since she's now more vulnerable than before, but she trusts her instincts.
The next morning, his fever has broken. He is extremely sweet to her, which she admires since it plays to the audience. He demands she sleep and let him take watch and, exhausted, she agrees. When she wakes later that afternoon, she tends his wounds and discovers his leg has significantly worsened, suggesting blood poisoning.
Katniss heads out to gather some greens, noticing how hot it's gotten. She believes the Gamemakers must be increasing the temperature. With everything she gathers, she prepares a pot of stew and leaves it to cook in the intense heat. She also sets snares in hopes of catching game, since she is too worried about leaving Peeta alone for the length of a hunt.
She finds Peeta resting and sickly, and he asks for a story. Unable to think of anything that doesn't involve Gale (the idea of bringing Gale up to Peeta makes her nervous), she decides to tell him about how she found Prim's goat Lady.
The story she tells him leaves out details that could potentially incriminate her or Gale for poaching outside the District borders, but she reveals to her reader the full story. On Prim's tenth birthday, she was hoping for an extra-lucrative hunt so as to trade for a present. Luckily, she and Gale saw a nice-sized deer, which she killed, making her feel guilty. But the meat sold well, and with the money, Katniss made an offer to the "goat man" to buy one of his wounded goats, which he planned otherwise to sell for meat. The goat's wound seemed terminal, but when Katniss brought it to her healer mother and Prim, they were overjoyed to get right to work patching it up, and Prim loved it.
Peeta praises Katniss's kindness even as Katniss tries to downplay it. He promises to show the same gratitude for saving his life that Lady the goat did. As she tries to lower his fever, the trumpets blare again. This time, Claudius Templesmith is indeed inviting the tributes to come together, not for an ordinary feast, but for a gathering where each of them can get what he or she "desperately" needs. Assuming that she will find anti-infection medicine there, Katniss plans to go, but Peeta demands she promise not to risk her life for him again.
They eat the soup as Katniss plots how she can get him asleep long enough to escape, knowing he is serious enough to potentially try and follow her. She comes on no solution until, while gathering water at the stream, a silver parachute comes down. It's not infection medicine, but sleep syrup, which she takes as a rather cruel choice on Haymitch's part. But the message is clear enough, and so she mixes the syrup with some berries and uses the concoction to knock Peeta out.
After significantly camouflaging the cave opening and gathering a supply of food and water to leave Peeta, Katniss curls next to him to sleep, very frightened since feasts always end up with corpses. She thinks of how school is probably cancelled back home at this late point of the Games, and wonders whether there is a simmering romance between her and Gale.
The night is extremely cold when she decides to take off, using Peeta's jacket and Rue's socks to further warm herself. Before she leaves, she gives Peeta a long kiss, to please the audiences. She heads out, worried her bum ear will betray her. Once she arrives near the clearing, she sees neither anybody waiting nor any gifts. She waits till the morning comes, at which point a round table with several bags lifts from the ground. Each bag has a number pinned on it, indicating for which district the particular gift is intended. The District 12 gift is a small bag, which she acknowledges she could fit around her wrist.
Before anyone can make a move, Foxface darts from the Cornucopia itself, where she was obviously hiding, and sprints out into the woods, grabbing her gift on the way. Admiring the ingenuity but aware that the next step needs to be immediate, Katniss sprints out for the table. Long before she makes it, a knife is launched at her, which she deftly avoids. She turns quickly and launches an arrow towards Clove, the knife-thrower, and only nicks her arm. Clove's next knife gets her right in the forehead, spilling blood into her eyes and causing her to stagger backwards. Clove follows the assault by tackling Katniss and pinning her to the ground.
Luckily for Katniss, Clove wants to relish her victory. She taunts Katniss rather than killing her immediately, mentioning how she and Cato want her dead, and taunting her with Rue's death. She is preparing to plunge the knife down when Thresh suddenly arrives and yanks her up. He has heard Clove's taunt about Rue, and in retaliation crushes her skull with a big stone. He confirms with Katniss that she was an ally of Rue's, and Katniss tells him about the bread. He decides to spare her life as restitution, and as they hear Cato calling out Clove's name and approaching, tells her to run.
Katniss grabs her gift and is gone to the woods, stopping to look back before she disappears into the brush. She sees Thresh has taken the rest of the presents and has disappeared into the field that appeared to be a steep cliff-drop. Katniss makes her way back to the cave, stopping to clean herself and the excess blood on the way, and then opens the package to find a hypodermic needle that she quickly uses to inject Peeta. After that, she passes out.
She wakes to the sound of rain, to find her head bandaged and Peeta's swelling diminished. Peeta has prepared food and rigged the cave to minimize leaks. As he feeds her, she tells him everything she's thus far kept secret, about Rue, the supplies, and finally about Thresh's gift. They talk a bit about what it means to owe a debt, and Katniss tells Peeta how much his bread gift meant so many years before. The pressures are starting to get to Katniss, and so Peeta encourages her to sleep more.
She wakes again that night, and they eat what little they have left. Peeta tells Katniss about the area Thresh is in – it's full of high grasses in which Thresh hid from the start of the Games. None of the Careers felt confident about trying to hunt him into such unpredictable territory. Katniss is led to compare Peeta, who is smart but safe, with Gale, who would likely not be deterred by a difficulty like this.
Because of their growing hunger, Katniss decides to ramp up the romance in hopes of attracting more gifts. She tries to open herself to him emotionally, and he responds by asking her not to die for him. His request makes her aware of how much she actually treasures him, and after a personal conversation, they share a warmer kiss than any they've shared thus far.
That night, they hold each other tight in the sleeping bag, and wake the next morning to find the weather is not improving. It is obviously Gamemaker designed, meant to starve them a bit. To continue tempting Haymitch to send gifts, Katniss asks more personal questions, which leads Peeta to share that he has loved her since he first saw her. It turns out that his father, the baker, was in love with Katniss's mother, but the latter ran off with her miner father because "even the birds [stopped] to listen" when he sang. Katniss is impressed with how well Peeta sells the romance angle, but for the first time grows suspicious about the "ring of truth" to his words, and whether that suggests true feelings behind what she assumes are otherwise lies for the camera. Their intimacy continues until she initiates a kiss, which is interrupted by a clang outside. They look out to find a parachute containing a veritable feast of food.
Though it is abundantly clear to the reader that Peeta's affection for Katniss is not feigned, she maintains her emotional distance by choosing to believe it's all motivated by playing to the spectacle. It is equally clear that her camaraderie with him is providing her great emotional support through the Games, but she almost completely refuses to acknowledge this. A trend is becoming apparent: Katniss, who long ago traded her childish innocence to protect her family, is best able to embrace her emotional side when she is taking care of someone. This is true of Rue and Prim and now of Peeta. Her insistence on not being in debt not only indicates her tendency to think in terms of functional stoic life, but also the discomfort it brings her to have to rely on others. The story of the goat also illustrates how she thrives on protecting others.
And yet, for a third time, it is her kindness and humanity that save her life. She is certainly dead at Clove's hand, until Thresh saves her and lets her live in restitution. Likewise, her affection towards Peeta earns them sponsor prizes, though she attributes this solely to the popularity of their love story. The long intimate conversation between Katniss and Peeta in Chapter 22 is full of dramatic irony, as the reader watches Katniss grow closer to Peeta while she convinces herself it's all a show. The metaphor of music-as-emotion surfaces in the conversation too, when Peeta's story about her and her father's singing were what drove others to fall for them.
The theme of identity is becoming more pronounced as she grows closer to Peeta. The closer she gets to him, the more she thinks of Gale and insists on comparing them. In some way, she is being forced to choose between two identities: a kind friend to the boy with the bread, or a tough-as-nails hunter.
Katniss is refusing to give in, and is still very aware of the audience, but her ethics are becoming more apparent. Thresh's kindness – seemingly selfless, and not to his advantage – confuses her, though we can see she is starting to understand, and she certainly can distinguish herself from Clove, who would have taken joy in dismembering her.