In District 12, we call them the Career Tributes, or just the Careers. And like as not, the winner will be one of them.

Katniss’s explanation of what a Career Tribute occurs when the tributes gather together for their first day of training in Chapter 7. As Katniss explains, the Career Tributes are those tributes from the wealthier districts (typically Districts 1, 2, and 4) who have trained their whole lives to take part in the Hunger Games. They know how to fight and use a variety of weapons, and they are typically large and look strong and well-fed, compared to the tributes from the poorer districts who often look undernourished. As a result, they are generally better prepared for the challenges of the Hunger Games and are typically the winners. When Katniss sees the other tributes for the first time on their first day of training, she realizes the Careers will pose the greatest threat to her survival in the arena.

In addition, the quote highlights the inequality between rich and poor in Panem, a major theme of the novel. Because of the tessera system, in which children eligible for the Hunger Games can have their names entered into the reaping additional times in exchange for extra rations of food, the poor are already more likely than the wealthy to be chosen as tributes. Since the poor are also ill-prepared for the Games when compared with the Career Tributes, they are at a serious disadvantage. Being chosen as a tribute is essentially a death sentence for the poor, whereas Career Tributes often volunteer to compete since winning for them is an honor rather than a mere matter of survival.


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