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What role does debt play in the novel?
Debt, not of the financial sort necessarily but in the form of owing
someone for their help, comes up multiple times in the novel. The most
significant instance concerns Katniss’s first encounter with Peeta. Katniss
was starving at the time, and Peeta essentially saved her life by giving her
bread from his family’s bakery. Moreover, he apparently burned bread
deliberately to help Katniss, despite knowing he would be punished as a
result. Katniss describes how she has felt indebted to Peeta ever since.
Thresh also brings up debt when he spares Katniss after learning about her
alliance with Rue. He says they are “even” and no more is “owed.”
These feelings of indebtedness, Katniss suggests, stem from the
experience of growing up poor. When Peeta expresses his surprise that Thresh
let Katniss live, Katniss tells him he wouldn’t understand because he’s
“always had enough.” What she implies is that Peeta has never been dependent
on another person for either his or his loved ones’ wellbeing, so he can’t
understand the feelings of debt associated with that experience. The tessera
system plays into this mentality of indebtedness. The poor take extra food
rations essentially on credit, which is paid back in the form of extra
entries into the reaping. They often need the tessera in order to survive,
so they take them knowing they will have to pay back what is essentially a
Does Katniss truly begin wanting a relationship with Peeta, or is
she playing a role to gain a strategic advantage? Explain.
Though Katniss does begin to develop sincere romantic feelings for
Peeta, she never appears to want their friendship to turn into a real
relationship, and she primarily keeps up the romance with Peeta for the
strategic advantage it provides. In numerous instances in which they kiss,
Katniss thinks of what Haymitch would want to see rather than thinking that
she actually wants to kiss Peeta, and only once does she say they shared a
kiss that left her wanting another. In one of the most dramatic moments of
their romance, Katniss tells Peeta he doesn’t have competition anywhere,
referring to Gale, but even in this situation she thinks of what Haymitch
would want her to say.
Just as tellingly, when they’re on their way back to District 12
Katniss makes it clear she doesn’t think she’s the type of person who can be
in the sort of relationship Peeta wants. By all indications, she felt this
way well before any romance began between them. Early in the novel, for
instance, she thinks she could never get married and have children knowing
that they might one day have to take part in the Hunger Games. Katniss’s
feelings, in other words, have not changed, and she is still not interested
in a relationship, perhaps with anyone.
Why does the author spend so much time focusing on the dresses
Cinna creates for Katniss?
Given that Katniss’s life is at stake in the Hunger Games, the
author’s focus on Katniss’s appearance at various times can seem frivolous.
But as becomes clear over the course of the novel, appearances are extremely
important to Katniss’s survival. The author’s focus on Cinna’s dresses
subtly emphasizes this theme by forcing the reader to take notice of
Katniss’s appearance. Katniss’s dress for the opening ceremony, we learn,
makes her (and Peeta, who is similarly dressed) stand apart from the other
tributes. The significance of this move isn’t fully clear until Katniss is
in the arena and in need of sponsors. By making her stand out, the dress
makes her popular, and this popularity is amplified by the public romance
she shares with Peeta. Consequently, she becomes more likely to receive
gifts, and these gifts actually turn out to be vital to her