I know it’s too early to get out of bed, even before I open my eyes. The only sound in the room is my brothers’ even breathing. It isn’t surprising that neither of them are having trouble sleeping. Bruin is finally too old to be reaped, and Rommel has always been confident of the odds in his favor. There are too many starving Seam boys for him to worry.
That kind of logic doesn’t work for me. I’m surprised I was able to fall asleep at all.
Now that I’m awake, the relentless march of names start down their battered path in my head. There isn’t much I can do to control it anymore. They’re always there in the days leading up to the reaping, bouncing around my skull until it fills with hundreds of letter-shaped bruises.
It started intentionally. I repeated the names of those I most wanted safe, as though I could keep them locked in my mind and out of the Capitol's reach if I thought their names hard and often enough. If nothing else, it helped calm my nerves. I tried to shorten the list over time, afraid if it got too long, fate would think I was asking too much and the ritual would backfire. This year, I got to drop Bruin’s name, bringing my number down to five. As I stare into my dark room, I focus on the curves of each individual letter, the sounds and shapes they would make in my mouth. Anything to distract me from the seizing in my chest that won’t go away until the tributes are selected and I know who is safe.
I match my breathing to my brothers’, hoping it will help me join them in sleep, but it’s hopeless. I push myself up and feel for the packet of matches on my bedside table. The room feels a bit more friendly once it’s covered in soft candlelight. I can just make out the hands on the clock above Rommel’s bed. I have at least an hour before I have to get the fires going in the ovens. Most people have little to do but worry on the day of the reaping, but it’s one of the bakery’s busiest days of the year. Townspeople hoping good food might provide a distraction, Seam parents who save up all year to provide one substantial meal, knowing their kids might need it soon. Even Peacekeepers are more likely to stop by on reaping day. And when it’s over, the shop will be flooded with people weak with relief and looking to celebrate.
It’s unseasonably cool tonight, and air stings the inside of my nose. I nudge the window closed, and fold my blanket in half to make it warmer. Then I turn on my side, watch the candle dance, think of my names, and wait.
When my parents stir on the other side of the wall, I slide out of bed and pull on the first clothes I touch. I want to be downstairs before my mother comes in to rouse my brothers. We have electric lights in the kitchen, but I’ve always hated the cold sharp darkness that comes as soon as I blow the candle out. I snuff it anyway and slip down the narrow hall, not bothering to skip the steps that creak.
In the kitchen, where there is always work to be done, it’s easier to pretend it is just a normal day. Everyone in my family has well-rehearsed roles in running the bakery. I am the first one downstairs. Ren has already been by to fill the woodbox, so I quickly have the ovens lit and heating. I take a second to stand in the glow of the fire, letting it warm my clothes and fingers. I should enjoy the chill while I can—it won’t take long for the kitchen to become stiflingly hot this time of year.
I gather the ingredients and start on as much bread dough as we have space in the oven for. Before long, Bruin joins me, shaping the dough and setting the loaves to rise. The early morning hours pass quietly with everyone too absorbed in their tasks to speak. Bruin and my father never talk much, but silence is unusual for Rommel. He’s usually irritable in the mornings, only too eager to order and criticize in place of my mother when she is out of the room. Of the three of us, he would have the best chances in the arena. I think that’s why he’s her favorite.
When I finish enough bread dough to get us through the morning, I whip through a few batches of cookies before I start on the pastries that are especially popular with the Peacekeepers and cameramen from the Capitol. The small pie tins cover the counter as I shape the dough for meat pies. It must be almost sunrise, so I prop open the back door to watch the night fade as I work, sighing as the cool breeze hits my sticky face. Rommel left the pie fillings heating on the stove for me. One with chicken and corn, one with beef and potatoes, and one with pork and cheese. On a busy day like the reaping, it takes careful scheduling to keep up with the demand in the front of the store. We only have so many baking trays and pie tins, so it can be hard to keep up.
A silent figure appears at the backdoor. As he moves out of the dimly lit street, I recognize Gale Hawthorne. I squint into the darkness behind him, but he appears to be alone. His hunting bag is slung over his shoulder. It’s not quite as full as usual.
My father dries his hands with his apron and walks over to him.
“I have game. Would you trade for a loaf of bread?” Gale asks. His cheeks are red with the cold. He shakes his sleeves back and holds his hands closer to the warmth of the oven. My father’s eyes dart towards the door to the front room, where we can all hear my mother readying the store for customers. At my father’s nod Gale brings a squirrel from his bag. He reaches in for another, but my father stops him.
“One is enough.” He grabs a loaf fresh from the oven and hands it over. “Good luck today,” he says to his feet. I know my father is fond of Gale, though not as fond as he is of Gale’s hunting partner, Katniss Everdeen. He has traded with them for years, and I suspect the reason he has developed a reputation for liking squirrel meat is because he knows squirrels are the easiest to find, and less popular among the Peacekeepers.
Gale nods thank you at my father, tucks the bread carefully into his jacket, and disappears as quietly as he came. This is his last year of being eligible, and I know he has a big family. The odds will not be in his favor. For Katniss’s sake I add him to my list of names until the reaping.
The morning wears on, and the front room slowly fills with people. There is a low mumbling of voices, but it is unnervingly quiet for being so busy. I’m glad my mother handles the customers on reaping day. Parents always avoid your eyes when they wish you luck. We both know they don’t really mean it. Anybody but their own children.
I watch the clock carefully now. It’s moving too quickly. Around mid-morning, my father ducks back into the kitchen. I’m making my way through the small mountain of dishes we have accumulated.
“You should take a break for breakfast, Peeta.” He puts one of the meat pies down on the counter next to me. They must not be selling well. He crosses the room to hand one to Rommel as well.
“Thanks, Dad,” I say, though my stomach is full of clawing nerves. He claps one hand on my shoulder, then takes the soapy washcloth from my hands.
I dry off and take the pie out the backdoor to eat in the narrow alley behind the bakery. The sun is shining now, but it still feels cool compared to the hot kitchen. I used to eat breakfast every day out here with Ramie Whitlock, our neighbor across the way, until the shopkeepers around us complained that our laughter woke them. Today, the only person in the back alley is his younger sister, Lesedy. She’s sitting cross legged on a barrel outside her parents’ tailor shop holding a bowl of oatmeal. I hoist myself up to sit on the empty barrel next to her. I don’t fit quite so well on mine.
“That smells good,” she tells me.
“Thanks to Rommel,” I say. “Do you want some?”
She shrugs. Most days we would both gladly devour any of the expensive delicacies from the bakery, but nobody has an appetite today. I break through the top of the pastry and taste the inside while the steam licks at my cheeks. Unsurprisingly, Rommel did a great job with it. He is a good baker—it’s hard not to be when you’ve been in a kitchen your whole life—but cooking is his true passion. I can never get the flavors to burst in your mouth quite the way he can.
“Has it been busy in there?” Lesedy asks, nodding towards the kitchen.
“About normal for a reaping day. But it keeps me occupied.”
“Do you need any help?” Sometimes when the store is busy, and she isn’t needed in her parents’ shop, Lesedy washes dishes or takes orders. Reaping days are especially tense at her house since Ramie died the day of our first reaping, four years ago.
“Sure, that would be great,” I tell her.
She picks at a loose piece of wood by her feet. “Have the camera crews started setting up yet?” The bakery roof has a good view of the square where the reaping takes place. It’s a favorite of the crews that broadcast the event throughout Panem.
“No. They never come in the kitchen anyway. You won’t have to see them if you stay in the back.”
She nods, and turns back to her oatmeal to smush clumps up against the side of the bowl. It doesn’t look very appetizing. On such a busy day, my parents are back and forth behind the front room and the kitchen so much it’s not really safe to sneak anything. Otherwise, I would have brought her some cinnamon.
“Are you nervous?” I ask her. This is only her second year being eligible. Although if I’m honest, this kind of thing doesn’t get any easier with experience.
She gives me a halfhearted shrug. “Of course. But if I was going to get picked, I’d rather it be sooner than later.”
“Why?” I ask. At thirteen, she would be easy prey to an eighteen year old from District 2.
“It seems less scary. I could die in seconds. If I was much bigger, they would expect me to try.” She pulls a face that makes her look startlingly similar to her brother.
“Well it won’t be you. Your name is only in there three times.” I don’t want to comment on what she said. Not because I don’t see her point, but because I don’t want to think about the burst of anger her words make me feel.
She gives me a small smile and takes the bite of meat pie that I offer her.
With Lesedy helping with the dishes, the rest of the morning passes quickly. The store reaches its peak in the late morning, with a constant line of customers needing my mother’s attention. Around lunch, their numbers dwindle as citizens of District 12 retreat to their homes to prepare for the reaping that starts at two.
The camera crews arrive, trooping right through the store room and up the stairs to our private rooms to get access to the roof. My mother’s mouth is white with rage when they don’t stop to ask for permission, but she knows better than to say anything. She just goes back to stocking the shelves, her blue eyes snapping around the room for something else to get mad about. She’ll get over her anger after the reaping when they buy the most expensive treats on their way out. All week I have been decorating cakes to entice them.
At one-thirty, the store closes, and there is nothing left to do but wash my face and get dressed. And after that, there is nothing left to do but wait. I open the curtains in the bedroom to watch the flurry of last-minute activity in the square below. Workers from the Seam hang banners with colors almost bright enough to disguise their fraying edges and years of weather stains. The stage is already set up, and someone is testing the microphone. Peacekeepers swarm the area, setting up ropes to hold the different ages apart. The oldest kids are in the front, with the youngest at the back. I remember my first few reapings. When I was trembling with nerves, I would search the mass of kids in front of me to find my brothers. Those of us with blond hair stand out from the crowd of dark-haired Seam kids.
The square is already crowded with people arriving. Parents move to the side while Peacekeepers send their kids into the roped off areas. I scan the crowd for any sign of Katniss. Her name has probably been entered at least twenty times by now with the tesserae. Twenty is nothing compared to some kids. There are thousands of slips.
The camera crews above me must have finished setting up. I only hear their muted chatter coming from the roof above me. It’s hard not to feel watched when they are around, even when their cameras aren’t aimed at me.
My mother calls me, and I head back downstairs with stiff legs.
“There’s flour behind your ear, Peeta,” she says as she slips out of her apron. She fixes Rommel’s collar around his neck, then gives us a final once over. “Stand tall. Don’t let me catch you shrinking behind any of the other boys when they are calling the name.” She’s looking at me. From his first reaping, Rommel never had that problem. We leave the bakery as a group, but my parents and Bruin quickly break off to join the other adults.
Peacekeepers direct the hoard of teenagers into lines to sign in, and I’m separated from Rommel. It feels deceptively anonymous to be in such a large crowd. The reaping is the only time District 12 groups together in the same place, and even though we are the smallest district, adults overflow into the surrounding streets. Parents who are reluctant to let their children out of sight find perches to watch on shop steps. Some even climb onto balconies.
The lines move quickly, and soon I am herded in with the rest of the sixteen-year-olds. A few push around, looking for their friends. A friendly face if the unthinkable happens and their name is called. Nobody wants to stand at the front of the group. As though lack of visibility would be of any help. I don’t bother to look for anyone, and find myself next to Tavi, the grocer’s quiet son. He gives me a small nod.
“It’ll be over soon,” I tell him.
“Yeah, in two years,” he mumbles.
I scan the crowd again for Katniss. It doesn’t help that she is shorter than most of the girls our age.
The mayor and Effie Trinket climb onto the stage and walk to the short row of seats. In front of them sit two glass balls filled with paper slips so white they look almost garish compared to the dingy greys and browns that make up most of the square. I wonder which ones have Katniss’s name on them, and Rommel’s, Lesedy’s, and mine.
The clock strikes two, and the ceremony begins as it always does, with the history of Panem. We could all probably recite the speech from memory by now. Mayor Undersee stands at the microphone as he speaks, but his eyes aren’t on the notes in his hands. They sweep through the cluster of sixteen-year-olds. He must be looking for his daughter, Madge. Once he spots her, his shoulders drop a little. His eyes flick back to her every few sentences.
I don’t pay attention to any of the speech. I couldn’t even if I tried, with the names so loud in my head. Please not Katniss. Not Katniss. Not Rommel. My mother would never get over that. Not Lesedy. She still closes her eyes every time they show the bodies.
My attention is drawn back to the mayor when District 12’s only living victor, Haymitch Abernathy, climbs clumsily onto the stage, obviously drunk, and yells something along the lines of “Time to shine!” He makes it to his chair and leans into Effie with his arms outstretched. Her nose crumples, and she immediately stands up out of his reach. The mayor eyes the Peacekeepers behind him and quickly moves back to the microphone to introduce her and keep the show going.
With a professional air, she plasters a bright smile on her face that barely escapes being a grimace. She looks wildly out of place here. Her whole body is a mess of unnaturally bright colors, from the candy pink wig on her head, to her heavily powdered white face, and green suit. In Twelve most people’s clothes have been worn and washed so many times, they are a sad shadow of the color they once were. I doubt Effie’s clothes have ever been worn before today, let alone washed.
“Ladies first!” Effie chirps as she walks to the first glass bowl. She gives the slips in the ball a dramatic stir, pulls one out, and takes it back to the microphone. I swallow hard against the heart pounding in my throat. I'm both afraid to listen, and afraid not to. She glances around at the crowd with a wide smile and reads:
Katniss makes her way to the Meadow, then through the fence that is meant to keep the people of the impoverished District 12 inside. Though it's forbidden, Katniss hunts and gathers food in the woods using the skills her father, who died in a mine explosion when she was 11, taught her.How is Peeta presented in Part 1 of The Hunger Games? ›
Peeta is first introduced at the reaping for the 74th Hunger Games when he is selected as the male tribute representing District 12 alongside female tribute Katniss Everdeen.What happens to Peeta in Hunger Games 1? ›
In the 74th Hunger Games, a mutt (one of the wolves designed to look like the dead Tributes) mauls Peeta's calf. Katniss makes a tourniquet to staunch the blood flow, and this saves Peeta's life but he ends up having his leg amputated below the knee.Did Peeta really have a crush on Katniss before the Hunger Games? ›
2. Peeta fell in love inside the arena, not before. So Peeta stands on stage and tells the truth: that he's had a crush on Katniss for years. Peeta doesn't confuse a crush for the four-letter word, and neither should we.What was Katniss upset about in Chapter 1? ›
Instead, she's worried about losing a good hunting partner. Just as she masks her love for Gale, she also must mask her true feelings about the Capitol. She recalls how, as a girl, she used to terrify her mother by saying bad things about the Capitol.What kind of person do you think Peeta is? ›
Though we have a limited perspective on Peeta since we only seen him through Katniss's eyes, he comes across as thoughtful, artistic, and genuinely kind.Is Peeta a real name? ›
The name Peeta is primarily a male name of American origin that means Rock. Variation on the name PETER.How old is Peeta? ›
Josh Hutcherson played 16-year-old Peeta Mellark, from District 12. Peeta, the son of a baker, had a childhood crush on Katniss but the two never spoke to each other until the reaping, when he was selected as the male tribute for the Hunger Games.Do Katniss and Peeta sleep together? ›
The two don't have sex on screen. It's only implied that they get it on via snuggling and other affectionate acts in close quarters — but if you have read the book, they really imply that they took their relationship to the next level. Plus, in the epilogue, they have two kids.Does Peeta have a fake leg? ›
Peeta's Leg Amputation
You wouldn't have guessed it from the way the film made it appear; however, Peeta's injury was much worse than you thought. It was so bad, the Capitol deemed his leg unsaleable, hacked it off and replaced it with an artificial one.
After Peeta is rescued in the film, Gale tells Katniss how easy the rescue was. He says that the Capitol had a chance to kill them during the attempt and opted not to.Why did Peeta choke Katniss? ›
Peeta chokes Katniss in Mockingjay because the Capitol has convinced him that she is a mutt designed to destroy the Districts. At the end of Catching Fire, he was captured by the Capitol when Katniss escaped the arena.Did Katniss fake love Peeta? ›
Katniss realizes that if she pretends to be in love with Peeta people will want the capitol to let them survive. Katniss has stopped pretending to love him when Snow shows up and tells her he knows she doesn't really love him and that he doesn't want the capitol to know that because that might cause issues.Who was Katniss in love with? ›
Eventually, Katniss Everdeen and Peeta Mellark end up together, but it's not entirely clear how she truly feels about him. Many have put Katniss and Peeta's relationship into question and, notably, Katniss was caught in a love triangle throughout The Hunger Games saga.Who does Katniss love more Peeta or Gale? ›
Katniss Everdeen was in the middle of a love triangle with Gale Hawthorne and Peeta Mellark throughout The Hunger Games franchise, but in the end, she ended up with the latter.What is the reaping in the Hunger Games Chapter 1? ›
Her father died when she was 11 from a mine explosion. She meets Gale, her close friend. They catch fish and trade them for bread and salt. It is the reaping for the Hunger Games: treated like a festive event.What happens in Chapter 2 of the Hunger Games? ›
Summary and Analysis Part 1: Chapter 2. Katniss volunteers to take her sister's place as tribute, thinking about how the odds had been in Prim's favor, that her name was one in a thousand and never should have been drawn in the first place. Prim protests, but Gale carries her off.What is Chapter 1 of mockingjay about? ›
Summary: Chapter 1
The Capitol has bombed District 12 into rubble. Katniss Everdeen stands alone among the ruins of her former home. She tries to remember what happened in the arena a month ago, but she struggles due to the concussion she suffered.
Katniss lives with her mother and younger sister in the Seam, the poor part of District 12 of a country named Panem. Katniss sneaks under a gap in the fence surrounding District 12 and enters the woods. From its hiding place in a log, Katniss retrieves the bow her father made her before he died in a mining accident.What is reaping Hunger Games? ›
• REAPING: Each year before the Hunger Games, the citizens of each district gather to pick their tributes in an event known as the reaping. All children, beginning at age 12, are entered into a random drawing. Each year that goes by that a child is not picked, their name is entered an additional time until age 18.
“I volunteer!” I gasp. “I volunteer as tribute!” At the outset of Chapter 2, just after Prim has been selected in the reaping, Katniss volunteers to serve as the female tribute for District 12 in the Hunger Games.What was the reaping in the Hunger Games? ›
Reaping: The annual drawing of names to decide which tributes will go to the games. Children must enter the reaping at age 12 and add one entry each year until age 18. Because the entries are cumulative, at 18 one name has been entered seven times.Why did Katniss drown Buttercup? ›
Origins. Malnourished and scraggly, Buttercup was found by Prim and brought home. Katniss was averse to adopting him for posing an additional burden to the family. She tried to drown Buttercup in their header tank to spare them from further suffering, but is stopped by Prim and reluctantly allows him to stay.Why did Katniss get a 12? ›
Katniss Everdeen - 12, for hanging a dummy with the name "Seneca Crane". It is implied that she received this score so that she would be targeted by other tributes to be killed off.Did Peeta give Katniss bread? ›
Katniss credits Peeta's actions with essentially saving her life at the time and helping her realize that she would have to act as the provider for her family. When Peeta gave Katniss the bread, Katniss and her family were basically starving.