They both spit out the berries to the roar of the Capitol crowds, now being broadcast for them to hear. A hovercraft appears and Katniss grabs hold of Peeta so both are pulled up together. Peeta slumps from blood-loss almost right away, and doctors remove him, ready to operate. Katniss tries to stay with him, but is kept separated by a glass door. For the first time, she understands how it is her mother and Prim do not run away from a victim's wounds like she does: "it's because [they] have no choice" as healers. As Katniss stares into the glass, she sees her reflection and realizes how much she's suffered over the past weeks.
The hovercraft lands and they take Peeta away. Katniss tries to force herself in, but is knocked unconscious by needle. When she wakes, she is in a bed, in a room with no doors or windows. She's been cleaned, is comfortable, and she can hear from both ears! However, she cannot leave the bed, as she is belted into it, and she is attached to some fluids. After a while, the wall slides open and the redheaded Avox brings her dinner. Discreetly, she learns from the Avox that Peeta is alive. The food is simple broth, but she understands that they usually keep the tributes a few days before introducing them to the public so that the tributes can recover.
She weathers a few days of "continual twilight" as she recovers. Finally, she awakes one day to find she's no longer trapped in the bed. The wall slides open for her, and she walks through a hallway that boasts no doors, so she can't find Peeta quickly. She is looking around when she hears Effie's voice calling her name and then turns to see a chamber at the end of the hall, where wait Effie, Haymitch, and Cinna. She rushes down to them, no longer caring how she looks to the audiences, and convinced that they are merely keeping Peeta away so that the reunion can be televised. Meanwhile, Cinna is to prep her for her reintroduction to the public.
The prep team – Vinia, Flavius and Octavia – take care of her while she gets her first real meal. She notices how skinny she's gotten. While the team talks about the Games in a way that shows their disaffection from its real suffering, she forces herself to be tolerant. Cinna's designs for her are no longer fancy – instead, they include a simple dress with padding over her breasts to suggest more weight gained back. Overall, the effect is one of simplicity and female innocence. She doesn't understand the angle yet, but it does remind her that the Games aren't really done yet.
She meets her team in a chamber under the stage onto which she will soon be raised for her reunion with Peeta. Haymitch strangely asks her for a hug, and while in the embrace, whispers to her that she's in trouble – the Capitol's furious for her threat to stage a suicide, and wants revenge. Her only defense, he tells her, will be to really sell the lovers angle, since the spectacle of a love-crazed girl would make it seem less an act of rebellion. She asks if he's told Peeta the plan, and Haymitch answers cryptically, "Don't have to…He's already there."
She is in a great state of confusion, about what her rebellion meant, about how she feels about Peeta, about how she can manage this potentially dangerous situation, when the platform raises her to the stage.
The crowd goes wild as she is raised up, and she suddenly understands that Cinna's simple design is meant to further the image Haymitch needs her to present. She looks over to Peeta, cleaned and handsome, and throws herself into his arms, where he kisses her as the crowd goes wild again.
They sit together on a small couch, and Katniss leans into him intimately. Caesar Flickman, the host again, introduces the program (which is mandatory viewing for all citizens) and then they watch a re-cap video. Katniss realizes it's been edited to emphasize the love story. She notices how well Peeta "sells" the love story angle, even before they reunited in the arena, whereas she seems callous and self-interested for her survival techniques. She hates watching the death of other tributes, and is moved to see her goodbye to Rue replayed. They do not show the image of Rue's corpse decorated with flowers – "even that smacks of rebellion." The video follows them up through her banging on the glass door in the hovercraft wanting be closer to Peeta during his surgery.
After the video, President Snow brings out a crown that splits into two. Despite his apparent joy, Katniss sees his unforgiving eyes up close. After the show, they are brought to the President's house for a Victory Banquet, where they are the center of attention, mainly taking pictures with sponsors and important people.
When they get back, they are quickly separated and led to their rooms. Katniss wants to try and find Peeta to talk, but her bedroom door is locked. The next morning, she is awoken and reminded she needs to get ready for her interview. After a quick breakfast, Cinna dresses her, again emphasizing simplicity, and she meets Caesar for an interview, this time just in front of cameras and not a live audience. Peeta comes out to meet her, and reminds her in secret that Haymitch won't be able to keep them apart once they're back home. The comment makes her feel guilty, but she doesn’t have time to analyze the feelings.
Again, she curls up next to him to push the image. Peeta handles most of the difficult questions with his characteristic charm, but Caesar finally asks her when she fell in love with Peeta. She has no answer, but he offers maybe it was when she called his name out after the dual victor announcement (see Chapter 18). Through the conversation, Katniss learns that Peeta lost his leg in the surgery and now has a fake limb. She feels guilty, as though her poor tourniquet was the problem. Overall, they perform extremely well in selling the defense that, regarding the berries move, Katniss was madly in love.
Back in her room, Katniss finds the mockingjay pin has been returned to her. She and Peeta take a car to a train that will take them home for a few months before they are to tour the districts. Finally, the train leaves the station and Katniss begins to feel free again. After a huge dinner, she changes her clothes and make-up and forces herself to remember who she is – a hunter who "lives in the Seam."
The train makes a brief stop, and Katniss finds herself thinking of Gale. She and Peeta walk a bit away, but Haymitch catches them and congratulates them on pulling off the strategy. Peeta is confused but quickly realizes that Katniss's affection for him was all "for the Games." She insists it wasn't all that way, but "the closer we get to District Twelve, the more confused I get." Nevertheless, Peeta is crushed and walks away.
She grapples with herself about how to express her confusion, to explain that she already misses him. But there isn't much time to reach any decision before they arrive back at their district. Peeta holds out his hand, ready to sell the picture one last time. Katniss isn't ready to declare herself one way or the other, but the door is about to open. She gets ready to confront this next, very different, section of the Hunger Games.
Katniss's understanding of the Capitol (and its spectacle) as antagonist gains a lot of traction in this final section. The reader realizes (and Katniss sees up close) that the spectacle really isn't the fight to the death but is much larger. Her self-awareness and firm identity proved benefits in the ring, but in this next phase they will prove fatal liability. So she has to continue crafting herself an image, and continue to play to the spectacle. But unlike the beginning of her adventure, now she knows who her enemy is, and while she doesn't make any explicit statement of intent, the reader can guess that Katniss is not through fighting.
In fact, she seems to have gained great insight into how these Games separate people from one another. Her feelings about the prep team when they blather on about the Games in a detached manner are disgusting to her, but she understands that they are not actually enemies – instead, they are equal victims of the mind control engendered by this spectacle. Katniss has seen through it, though, suggesting a conflict yet to come. Before she leaves the Capitol, Cinna makes sure she has her mockingjay pin, also indicating that the revolution is just beginning.
The obvious and horrific injustices aside, the spectacle also confuses her about her identity. Certainly, she curls up to Peeta and plays the lovers angle out of self-preservation, but she also gains comfort from it. The irony is she would love to explore these feelings with Peeta, but she's forced to be so close to him in a proscribed way that only confuses more.
Her identity is further confused by class differences. As they approach the Seam, she transforms herself back to the girl she believes she is. However much she's grown and changed over the previous few weeks, she wants to treat this new identity as though it was merely constructed for the Games. She is unable to tell Peeta how deeply she cares. She is "the girl from the Seam" and they don't run in the same circles.
The novel suitably ends with these conflicts still simmering, since this is the first volume of a trilogy. Katniss has in her a revolutionary spark and a great insight that sees the truth of their unjust world head-on, but she's still a very young woman, and has much more to learn about herself than she ever thought.