"Leave the district. Run off. Live in the woods. You and I, we could make it," says Gale.
I don't know how to respond. This idea is so preposterous. (1.23-26)
Katniss won't even consider the idea of running away with Gale because of her duty to her family and her obligations back home. If she weren't her family's breadwinner, would she be more interested in running off with Gale?
Even though it was years ago, I think he still remembers how I tried to drown him in a bucket when Prim brought him home. Scrawny kitten, belly swollen with worms, crawling with fleas. The last thing I needed was another mouth to feed. But Prim begged so hard, cried even, I had to let him stay. It turned out okay. My mother got rid of the vermin and he's a born mouser. Even catches the occasional rat. Sometimes, when I clean a kill, I feed Buttercup the entrails. He has stopped hissing at me.
Entrails. No hissing. This is the closest we will ever come to love. (1.3-4)
Katniss describes her relationship with the family cat, Buttercup. She attempted to drown the cat because she knew that she would be unable to feed it. How does the family's poverty keep Katniss from getting very attached to animals…or people?
To this day, I can never shake the connection between this boy, Peeta Mellark, and the bread that gave me hope, and the dandelion that reminded me that I was not doomed. And more than once, I have turned in the school hallway and caught his eyes trained on me, only to quickly flit away. (2.48)
The connection between Peeta and Katniss is based on a sacrifice that he made for her – bringing her a loaf of bread when her family was starving. But does that mean Katniss loves Peeta? How does she feel about him?
Finally, Gale is here and maybe there is nothing romantic between us, but when he opens his arms I don't hesitate to go into them. His body is familiar to me – the way it moves, the smell of wood smoke, even the sound of his heart beating I know from quiet moments on a hunt – but this is the first time I really feel it, lean and hard-muscled against my own. (3.28)
Katniss denies feeling romantically about Gale, but, um, we're starting to think otherwise. Why do you think she resists thinking of Gale in that special hearts and flowers way? Can she ever really think about love if she's only dedicated to her own survival? Is this why she doesn't want to have children?
I call him my friend, but in the last year it's seemed to casual a word for what Gale is to me. A pang of longing shoots through my chest. If only he was with me now! But, of course, I don't want that. I don't want him in the arena where he'd be dead in a few days. (8.58)
Ah, longing! Katniss again discusses her feelings for Gale, and while her emotions aren't fully developed, we're beginning to think that given a little time, things could totally heat up for these two. Would they be a good match?
But now Peeta has made me an object of love. Not just his. To hear him tell it I have many admirers. And if the audience really thinks we're in love…I remember how strongly they responded to his confession. Star-crossed lovers. Haymitch is right, they eat that stuff up in the Capitol. (10.33)
Appearing to be in love with Peeta will have major advantages for Katniss. But why is this romance plot so important? How does Peeta's crush make Katniss desirable to other people?
Haymitch couldn't be sending me a clearer message. One kiss equals one pot of broth. I can almost hear his snarl. "You're supposed to be in love, sweetheart. The boy's dying. Give me something I can work with!"
And he's right. If I want to keep Peeta alive, I've got to give the audience something more to care about. Star-crossed lovers desperate to get home together. Two hearts beating as one. Romance. (19.92-93)
Katniss discovers that by playing up the tragic "love" angle she may just be able to win the Games. We can also see here that Katniss really doesn't have much of a choice: if she wants food and supplies, she's going to have to smooch Peeta. Repeatedly.
This is the first kiss that we're both fully aware of. Neither of us hobbled by sickness or pain or simply unconscious. Our lips neither burning with fever or icy cold. This is the first kiss where I actually feel stirring inside my chest. Warm and curious. This is the first kiss that makes me want another. (22.75)
Excuse us? She wants another kiss? Well, well. Looks like Katniss does feel something after all. But what? Can pretending she's in love actually make Katniss in love?
I spread out my fingers, and the dark berries glisten in the sun. I give Peeta's hand one last squeeze as a signal, as a good-bye, and we begin counting. "One." Maybe I'm wrong. "Two." Maybe they don't care if we both die. "Three!" It's too late to change my mind. I lift my hand to my mouth, taking one last look at the world. The berries have just passed my lips when the trumpets begin to blare. (25.93)
Like Romeo and Juliet, Peeta and Katniss decide to end it all at the end of the Games. The double suicide stunt allows Katniss and Peeta to win the game – together. But what will be the consequences?
"Listen up. You're in trouble. Word is the Capitol's furious about you showing them up in the arena. The one thing they can't stand is being laughed at and they're the joke of Panem," says Haymitch.
I feel dread coursing through me now, but I laugh as though Haymitch is saying something completely delightful because nothing is covering my mouth. "So what?"
"Your only defense can be you were so madly in love you weren't responsible for your actions." (26.55-57)
The Games might be over, but pretending to be love turns out to be the only defense Katniss will have against the Capitol.