Peeta blushes beet red and stammers out. “Because…because…she came here with me.”

In Chapter 9, as Caesar Flickerman interviews Peeta before the Games, Peeta reveals to Caesar and all of Panem that he’s in love with Katniss. Peeta’s revelation sets in motion the storyline of him and Katniss as ill-fated lovers that carries on throughout the Games. This storyline has a significant influence on the Games and on Peeta’s and Katniss’s survival. First, it makes Peeta and Katniss into a sensation among the viewers, in turn attracting sponsors. Haymitch has Katniss play up the romance for this reason, and in return he’s able to secure gifts that prove vital, including food and the burn ointment Katniss uses to heal her leg. Second, the novel suggests that the love storyline is the reason the Capitol decides to allow both tributes from a district to be named winners. The unprecedented move appears to be a response to Katniss’s and Peeta’s popularity, and it is essentially the reason that both Katniss and Peeta survive the Hunger Games (though Katniss, of course, has to force the Capitol in the end).

Peeta’s revelation of his love for Katniss is also the source of much of Katniss’s internal conflict in the novel. Katniss can’t discern whether Peeta is playing out a strategy devised by Haymitch or if his feelings are genuine. As a result, Katniss spends a great deal of time trying to puzzle out what he really feels. When he teams with the Careers, for instance, Katniss suspects Peeta was lying and will do whatever is necessary to stay alive. Later he confuses Katniss by saving her at the expense of being injured himself, suggesting he really does care for her. She remains uncertain about Peeta’s true feelings almost until the end of the novel, only conceding to herself that Peeta is telling the truth when he recalls details about the first time he saw her that prove he isn’t simply acting.


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