The boy took one look back to the bakery as if checking that the coast was clear, then, his attention back on the pig, he threw a loaf of bread in my direction. The second quickly followed, and he sloshed back to the bakery, closing the kitchen door tightly behind him.

This quotation occurs toward the end of Chapter 2, as Katniss relates her first encounter with Peeta once Peeta has been selected as District 12’s male tribute. 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. The bread Peeta gave her allowed them to have their first real meal in a long while, and when Katniss saw Peeta the next day at the same time she saw the dandelion in the schoolyard, she realized that, if she wanted her family to eat, she would have to hunt and forage like her father taught her to feed them. Since then, Katniss has associated Peeta with this realization.

The quote and the events leading up to it additionally laid the groundwork for the relationship Peeta and Katniss would later develop, and they foreshadow how Peeta acts in the arena. Just before Peeta gives Katniss the bread, Katniss hears some sort of commotion in the bakery and she notices that Peeta emerges with a welt on his cheek, suggesting his mother hit him. Katniss suspects she hit Peeta because he burned the bread, and she also suspects he burned the bread deliberately so that it would be considered damaged and he could give it to Katniss. In other words, Peeta endures a physical beating so that he can help Katniss. He does the same later in the Hunger Games, when he saves Katniss after she’s dropped the tracker jacker nest on the group of Career Tributes. When Peeta finds Katniss stunned from the tracker jacker stings, he allows her to run away and fights Cato to protect her, suffering a serious injury in the process.


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