You can see why someone like Madge, who has never been at risk of needing a tessera, can set him off. The chance of her name being drawn is very slim compare to those of us who live in the Seam. Not impossible, but slim. And even though the rules were set up by the Capitol, not the districts, certainly not Madge's family, it's hard not to resent those who don't have to sign up for the tesserae. (1.51)
The tesserae make the poor in District 12 more vulnerable during the reaping (that is, the selection of the tributes). The result is a tension between the upper and lower classes, such as we see in the interaction between Gale and Madge, the rich mayor's daughter.
I can't win. Prim must know that in her heart. The competition will be far beyond my abilities. Kids from wealthier districts, where winning is a huge honor, who've been trained their whole lives for this. Boys who are two to three times my size. Girls who know twenty different ways to kill you with a knife. Oh, there'll be people like me, too. People to weed out before the real fun begins. (3.13)
Much like the reaping, the Hunger Games favor the rich: those who can afford the time and training it takes to compete. The Career Tributes (those who have been preparing for the Games all their lives) are therefore at an incredible advantage.
I try to imagine assembling this meal myself back home. Chickens are too expensive, but I could make do with a wild turkey. I'd need to shoot a second turkey to trade for an orange. Goat's milk would have to substitute for cream. We can grow peas in the garden. I'd have to get wild onions from the woods. I don't recognize the grain, our own tessera rations cook down to an unattractive brown mush. Fancy rolls would mean another trade with the baker, perhaps for two or three squirrels. As for the pudding, I can't even guess what's in it. Days of hunting and gathering for this one meal and even then it would be a poor substitution for the Capitol version. (5.26)
The Capitol is a place of seemingly infinite wealth, especially compared with District 12. One meal of theirs, as Katniss notes, would take her days to assemble. How does this make life in the Capitol different?
The exceptions are the kids from the wealthier districts, the volunteers, the ones who have been fed and trained throughout their lives for this moment. The tributes from 1, 2, and 4 traditionally have this look about them. It's technically against the rules to train tributes before they reach the Capitol but it happens every year. In District 12, we call them the Career Tributes, or just the Careers. And like as not, the winner will be one of them. (7.51)
Katniss finally meets the kids from the rich districts in the Training Center. The wealth of their region has given them a decided leg up over the competition. Why do you think their districts see competing in the Games as an honor?
They do surgery in the Capitol, to make people appear younger and thinner. In District 12, looking old is something of an achievement since so many people die early. You see an elder person, you want to congratulate them on their longevity, ask the secret of survival. A plump person is envied because they aren't scraping by like the majority of us. But here it is different. Wrinkles aren't desirable. A round belly isn't a sign of success. (9.74)
Katniss explains the different attitudes about weight and age in the Capitol and District 12. Most of it has to do with economics. How does this compare with how we live now?
So they're fighting in a pack. I'm not really surprised. Often alliances are formed in the early stages of the Games. The strong band together to hunt down the weak then, when the tension becomes too great, begin to turn on one another. I don't have to wonder too hard who has made this alliance. It'll be the remaining Career Tributes from Districts 1, 2, and 4. Two boys and three girls. The ones who lunched together. (11.38)
The Career Tributes, the kids from the rich districts, have teamed up to pick off the weak contestants. This includes the players from the poor districts…like Katniss.
I open the parachute and find a small loaf of bread. It's not the fine white Capitol stuff. It's made of dark ration grain and shaped in a crescent. Sprinkled with seeds. I flash back to Peeta's lesson on the various district breads in the Training Center. This bread came from District 11. I cautiously lift the still warm loaf. What must it have cost the people of District 11 who can't even feed themselves? How many would've had to do without to scrape up a coin to put in the collection for this one loaf? (18.48)
The people of District 11 send Katniss a loaf of bread after Rue's death. Why is the loaf of bread so important to Katniss?
It's not that Peeta's soft exactly, and he's proved he's not a coward. But there are things you don't question too much, I guess, when your home always smells like baking bread, whereas Gale questions everything. What would Peeta think of the irreverent banter that passes between us as we break the law each day? Would it shock him? The things we say about Panem? Gale's tirades against the Capitol? (22.57)
According to Katniss, Gale and Peeta have different views about the Capitol. She says the reason for this is that Gale is poor and Peeta is not. Do you agree with her?
"I was still in bed!" "I had just had my eyebrows dyed!" "I swear I nearly fainted!" Everything is about them, not the dying boys and girls in the arena.
We don't wallow around in the Games this way in District 12. We grit our teeth and watch because we must and try to get back to business as soon as possible when they're over. To keep from hating the prep team, I effectively tune out most of what they're saying. (26.36-37)
Katniss overhears the stylists in her prep team dishing about the Games as if they were talking about the latest episode of The Bachelor. We learn that the affluent society of the Capitol experiences the Hunger Games very differently than District 12. For them, it is mere entertainment.
"They have all those supplies," Rue says.
"Say they didn't. Say the supplies were gone. How long would they last?" I say. "I mean, it's the Hunger Games, right?"
"But Katniss, they're not hungry," says Rue.
"No, they're not. That's the problem," I agree. And for the first time, I have a plan. (15.76-79)
Katniss and Rue discover that being from a poor district gives them an advantage: they know how to be hungry and they know how to hunt and gather food. How will they use this to their advantage over the Career Tributes?