The Hunger Games

The Hunger Games Summary and Analysis of Chapters 5-6


Katniss is put through a rigorous grooming routine in the Remake Center, where she is scrubbed immaculate and her body rid of hair. Her prep teams includes Venia, Flavius, and Octavia, a flamboyant bunch who don't realize that their horror at the hygiene she's learned in District 12 is highly patronizing.

When they are done, she meets her main stylist, a young man named Cinna who she finds both endearing and attractive. He admires the simple braid that her mother tied for her, and surprises her by confesses he was not assigned the usually undesirable District 12, but in fact requested it. He brings her to a lunch, another fine meal available at moment's notice, and acknowledges that their luxury must seem despicable to her.

As tributes are usually dressed to indicate somehow the industry of their district, Katniss is afraid she'll be embarrassed as have previous District 12 tributes by unsightly coal themes. But Cinna's idea is to suggest coal through fire, and designs a fire-colored costume and cape that will actually be lit with synthetic flame during her introduction to the public. He daydreams of her being known as "the girl who was on fire."

When she and Peeta join again, to be introduced, she sees they are dressed in tandem. Cinna and Peeta's stylist, Portia, are working together. Despite her attempt to distance herself, she and Peeta laugh and comfort one another as they watch their soon-to-be opponents paraded out in pairs, district by district. As they are let out, now aflame, Haymitch instructs them to hold hands, which Katniss does before starting to, for the first time, play to the crowd herself.

Their chariot ride and its associated fanfare actually gets her excited, a mixed feeling because she will soon be asked to murder. They arrive at President Snow's mansion, and after he gives a speech, they are let in, where she notices the other tributes eye them angrily for the attention their flames received. Though she still doesn't trust Peeta, she recognizes the strategy of a unified front and pretends closeness.


They are introduced to the Training Center, where each pair and their team are assigned their own floor. Both Haymitch and Effie will live there as well. Their lodgings provide yet another step up in luxury. Katniss plays with all the gadgets in her room until Effie calls her to dinner. As they eat and begin to plan strategy, Haymitch shows a newfound lucidity. When Katniss recognizes one of their dinner servants, a red-headed girl, the adults are shocked and dismissive, since this girl is an Avox, a criminal whose tongue was cut out. It is a crime to speak to an Avox casually, so Peeta comes forward and lies to cover for Katniss's slip, suggesting the Avox just resembles someone from their school.

They all watch the replay of the ceremony, and Katniss begins to piece together Haymitch's strategy, realizing the unified front is a type of rebellion against the idea that every tribute works only for his or herself.

In the corridor, Peeta grills her about the girl, and Katniss is unsure whether to reveal her secret to him. Peeta suggests they check out the roof, presumably where their conversations cannot be monitored. Outside, Katniss admires the sight of so much electricity and looks down at the excitable streets of the big city. Near a garden, where fans will block out any eavesdropping devices, Katniss tells him how one day, she and Gale were out hunting and saw this girl and another boy in tattered clothes, fleeing through the woods. She didn't try to help them, but instead spied from the brush as a hovercraft appeared above, capturing the girl in the net and murdering the boy by spear. The girl and Katniss made eye contact as the former was pulled up into the hovercraft, and Katniss continues to feel guilt over her inaction. Peeta offers her his jacket, and she accepts his kindness, which leads him to both inquire about Gale and to suggest that his father knew her mother once upon a time.

When Katniss arrives in her room, she finds the red-headed girl tidying up. Her guilt returns but she knows it would be dangerous to apologize out loud to the girl, who she realizes probably despises her for having not intervened on that day long ago.


The meticulousness with which the spectacle of the Games is built becomes apparent in these chapters. The idea of characterizing tributes through design speaks to the vacuousness of the spectacle – it is, in effect, a "reality show" where reality is a deliberately designed illusion. This is not at all dissimilar to our own reality shows, so it serves as a social critique. The fanfare that greets them provides a great irony for Katniss, since she finds herself excited by the very elements she ought to disdain. She is excited to be in a position she detests.

In terms of class, Katniss is aware that the design process usually continues to penalize those of lower social station, since District 12 tributes tend to be decorated in an unflattering coal motif. Cinna's masterstroke is to emphasize the individual in his tributes, rather than generalize them into their class. While it should be noted that his fire strategy is very much a play to the spectacle of the Games, it also allows them to have an identity that is about them, rather than about where they are from and what industry their parents are engaged in. The theme of class is also seen in these chapters as the luxury continues to increase and overwhelm Katniss.

The design specifically gives Katniss an identity that holds metaphoric significance – "the girl who was on fire." Fire, traditionally a metaphor for consuming passion, is something that does not define Katniss, a stoic hero, at this point, but does set her up for her growth into a fuller person who can accept emotion.

But her stoic front is very much on display in these chapters, even as it comes in conflict with Haymitch's strategy of selling her and Peeta as a unified front. Peeta gives her plenty of reason to trust him – both in the past through the bread incident, and in these chapters through lying for her when she recognizes the Avox - but she cannot see him as an ally unless she is able to understand it as a functional advantage. The idea of selflessly trusting someone is too foreign to her, as she is so accustomed to working alone.

This all plays into the theme of community and revolution, which manifests in these chapters in two ways. First, the aforementioned strategy of presenting a unified front. Katniss's confusion about this, whereas Peeta easily accepts it, indicates her inability to yet understand the comfort of trust. But the more intense manifestation involves the red-headed Avox. Katniss has a deep ambivalence about the incident she relates, where she and Gale refused to sacrifice themselves for the girl in the woods. While it made functional sense to stay hidden, Katniss battles a feeling that she showed weakness by not sacrificing herself for the girls' safety, an indication of the mindset she will continue to develop through the novel. Also note that Avox is built from the Latin [I]a (a negation prefix) and [I]vox (voice).

Lastly, the introduction of President Snow suggests that Panem operates under the guise of a democracy – he is President, after all. It's one of the traditional dystopic ironies, a government of the people that is hardly operating in those people's best interests.