by Suzanne Collins
Competition Quotes in Catching Fire
How we cite our quotes: (Chapter.Paragraph)
I owe it to the rebels who, emboldened by Cinna's example, might be fighting to bring down the Capitol at this moment. My refusal to play the Games on the Capitol's terms is to be my last act of rebellion. So I grit my teeth and will myself to be a player. (19.2)
There are all kinds of reasons to compete in the Games and give it your all. Usually, though, staying alive is at the top of that list. Katniss' approach is a little different this time around. She will play – she has to – but she'll do so on her own terms. It's the only way she can think of to honor Cinna, to show the people of Panem what the Capitol is really like, and to take action against them in her own "last act of rebellion."
I still don't understand what happened there. Why he [Finnick] essentially abandoned her [Mags] to carry Peeta. Why she not only didn't question it, but ran straight to her death without a moment's hesitation. Was it because she was so old that her days were numbered, anyway? [...] The haggard look on Finnick's face tells me that now is not the moment to ask. (21.32)
As the Quarter Quell goes on, some of the players' actions don't seem to jive with typical competitive behavior. Finnick should have stuck with his ally Mags, but he didn't. Instead, he saved Peeta, when by all rights he could have refused to. And why did Mags give up her life "without a moment's hesitation"? In the previous Games, tributes were definitely not so willing to sacrifice themselves. This is a hint that something else is going on. The competitors seem to be following a new set of rules.
"So what were you doing with Nuts and Volts?" I ask.
"I told you – I got them for you. Haymitch said if we were to be allies I had to bring them to you," says Johanna. "That's what you told him, right?"
No, I think. But I nod my head in assent. "Thanks. I appreciate it." (22.83-85)
In moments like this, the Hunger Games seem like an elaborate game of strategy, like chess. Haymitch has made a move for Katniss' side, which she didn't even know about. Johanna's play is to bring in the allies Katniss supposedly requested (although she didn't actually). Katniss, for her part, has to act like she knows all about this and that Johanna has done exactly the right thing.