What do they do all day, these people in the Capitol, besides decorating their bodies and waiting around for a new shipment of tributes to roll in and die for their entertainment?
Katniss is understandably angered and baffled by the reaction that the people of the Capitol have to the Games. For them, their perception of the Games is completely detached from reality. The Hunger Games are, at their core, the live televising of child murders – but the Capitol residents interact with them more like fiction or sports. They become attached to their favorite tributes and their personal circumstances, they make bets on survivors, and they devote long hours of their day to watching the Games. And yet, when the Games end and over 20 children have been killed, they not only emotionally detach themselves from the dead tributes with ease, but also already begin to look forward to the next batch of tributes.
For the Gamemakers, this is the final word in entertainment.
Katniss notes that the Gamemakers will not end Cato’s suffering because his slow, violent death by mutt is the climax of the Hunger Games, and what the audience has been waiting to see. That the final battle between the last tributes is as bloody and brutal as possible is paramount to the Games – not only does it satisfy the audience, but it also reinforces to watchers in the outlying districts that the Capitol has absolute power over the lives and deaths of Panem’s citizens.
Everything is about them, not the dying boys and girls in the arena.
Here, Katniss refers to her makeup and styling team who are attending to her after she’s won the Games. As they pamper her, they enthusiastically discuss the Games and their reactions to certain events. The divide between the residents of the Capitol and the outlying districts is made abundantly clear in this passage. Whereas Katniss and her peers understand the brutal reality of the Games and the trauma that comes with the violent death of countless children, the Capitol people are brainwashed to view the Games as one might view a fictional television show – as entertainment or as a dramatic conversation starter. They are so detached from reality that they are ultimately apathetic to the murder of children.
They’re betting on how long I live! . . . They’re not my friends.
Despite the fact that she’s been told that her appearance is of the utmost importance, Katniss finds it difficult to put on a friendly face when encountering the people of the Capitol. She knows that they won’t see her as a complete human being, and that her pain, her fear, and ultimately her death will only entertain them, not horrify them. The fact that the audience bets on which children will live and which will die only solidifies the terrifying inhumanity of the Games.
The audience in the Capitol will be getting bored, claiming that these Games are verging on dullness. This is the one thing the Games must not do.
The Hunger Games serves two major purposes: to entertain the residents of the Capitol and to murder the children of the outlying districts as a reminder of the consequences of rebellion. If the Games become boring, it means the Gamemakers are not fulfilling either of these purposes. Katniss understands this, which is why she’s wary when things in the arena become too uneventful. The Gamemakers will break up the monotony by forcing tributes to survive natural catastrophes or encounter other competitors.