The crowd goes crazy over Peeta’s declaration of love for Katniss. When the interviews are over, Katniss encounters Peeta and shoves him, making him fall over an urn and cut his hands on the broken shards. Katniss says he had no right to share that about her. Effie, Haymitch, and some others arrive. Haymitch says Katniss shouldn’t be angry because Peeta made her look desirable, something she couldn’t achieve on her own. They didn’t tell Katniss because they wanted her reaction to be real. Katniss realizes Haymitch is right, she may gain an advantage with sponsors now, and she apologizes to Peeta.
Katniss and Peeta say their goodbyes to Haymitch and Effie. In the morning they will leave for the arena. Haymitch tells them that, when the gong sounds and the Games officially begin, they should run away. They aren’t prepared for the bloodbath at the Cornucopia. That night, Katniss has difficulty sleeping. She finds Peeta on the roof. He says he wants to die as himself, not as some kind of monster, and wishes he could think of a way to show the Capitol they don’t own him. In the morning, Katniss boards a hovercraft. She is injected with a tracker, and with Cinna, departs for the arena. When they arrive, she and Cinna go into an underground room. She dresses in the outfit given to all the tributes, then Cinna takes out the gold mockingjay pin and puts it on her. He reminds her of Haymitch’s advice: run, then find water. He says if he could bet, his money would be on her, and he wishes good luck to the girl who was on fire. Then she is raised up through a cylinder into the arena, and the seventy-fourth Hunger Games officially begin.
The tributes must wait sixty seconds before they are released. While she waits, Katniss surveys the field. Just in front of her is a small tarp. In the Cornucopia, a large structure literally shaped like a cornucopia, she sees a tent pack and a bow and arrows. She thinks she might be able to reach the bow before anyone else but remembers Haymitch’s instructions to get away and find water. She’s preparing to run when she notices Peeta. He is looking at her and shaking his head as if telling her “no.” The gong sounds, and because Katniss was distracted by Peeta, she misses her chance. She grabs the tarp and decides to sprint to an orange backpack further in. She gets there at the same time as another boy, and while they struggle for it, blood sprays Katniss’s face. The boy falls, and Katniss sees a knife in his back. She runs for the woods while putting the backpack on, and a knife hits the pack and lodges firmly in it. Briefly she looks back to see the tributes fighting. Several already lie dead on the ground. She continues into the woods and doesn’t stop for a long time while she looks for water.
During the Games, a cannon sounds to mark the death of a tribute, and once the main battle is over, Katniss hears eleven cannon shots. That means thirteen tributes remain. At night they’ll play the Capitol’s anthem and project the images of the dead into the sky for everyone to see. She wonders if Peeta is alive, then checks the contents of the backpack. It contains a sleeping bag, a little food, a bottle of iodine for purifying water, an empty bottle, and some other items. Katniss was hoping for water, and she knows she won’t last long without it. There was a lake by the Cornucopia, and she’s worried it may be the only water source in the arena since it’s sure to be guarded by Career Tributes. Eventually it gets dark, so Katniss makes her bed in a tree and uses her belt to secure herself to a branch. The faces of the dead tributes are projected one after another in the sky, and Katniss is relieved that Peeta is not among them.
Someone starts a fire nearby. Katniss lies in her sleeping bag, and when it’s almost dawn, she hears several people running toward the fire. A girl pleads and then screams, and Katniss realizes several tributes are hunting in a pack. They stop a few yards from her tree and discuss why the cannon hasn’t sounded to announce the girl’s death. The voices belong to some of the Career Tributes, but another voice says he’ll go back to make sure she’s dead. It belongs to Peeta.
Katniss is shocked that Peeta joined the Careers. She sees he is badly bruised and realizes he must have fought at the Cornucopia. While Peeta goes to check on the girl, the Career Tributes talk about killing. They wonder why Katniss scored an eleven in training, and as Peeta returns Katniss realizes he hasn’t told them about her skill with a bow. The cannon sounds and the Careers move off. Katniss climbs down and is on the move again. Checking the snares she set the day before, she finds a rabbit, which she cooks, then eats as she walks opposite the direction the Careers went. As she travels, she becomes increasingly exhausted and dehydrated. Waking the next morning, she has an awful headache and her joints hurt. Though severely fatigued, she continues searching for water. At one point she begins to curse Haymitch. She knows she must have a sponsor and Haymitch could easily send her water, but then she realizes he may not be doing so for a reason. Eventually she collapses and thinks she can’t go on, until she realizes she is lying in mud. Crawling through a tangle of plants, she finds a small pond. She rests there for several hours and rehydrates, then finds a tree to sleep in. In the middle of the night, she’s woken by a huge fire moving toward her.