Study Guide

The Hunger Games Quotes

  • Friendship

    KATNISS: Take care of them, Gale. Whatever you do, don't let them starve!

    Gale's friendship is taken as a given in the film, which is why Katniss instantly turns to him when she volunteers. Considering their intimate discussion a few hours earlier, we're pretty sure she can count on him.

    CINNA: That was one of the bravest things I've ever seen. With your sister? My name's Cinna.

    KATNISS: Katniss.

    CINNA: I'm sorry that this happened to you, and I'm here to help you in any way that I can.

    It's interesting: this is really the first time anyone in the Capitol expresses concern for Katniss's fate, instead of just trying to help her make the best of it. You could do worse in this world than to have a butt-kicking fashion designer on your side.

    CINNA: Yeah, but I don't want to do that. I want to do something that they're going remember. Did they explain about trying to get sponsors?

    KATNISS: Yeah, but I'm not very good at making friends.

    CINNA: We'll see. I just think that somebody that brave shouldn't be dressed up in some stupid costume, now should they?

    KATNISS: I hope not.

    Making friends here is more than just a way to keep your sister safe while you battle to the death. It could help you in that battle to the death, which means Katniss needs to learn how to make friends.

    GALE: Listen to me. You're stronger than they are. You are. Get to a bow.

    KATNISS: They may not have a bow.

    GALE: They will if you show them how good you are. They just want a good show. That's all they want. If they don't have a bow, then you make one, okay? You know how to hunt.

    KATNISS: Animals.

    GALE: It's no different, Katniss.

    KATNISS: There's 24 of us, Gale. Only one comes out.

    GALE: Yeah, and it's gonna be you.

    Gale comes through again: making sure Katniss knows that she really has a shot at this. It gives her hope at a moment when she really needs it.

    KATNISS: He made me look weak.

    HAYMITCH: He made you look desirable, which, in your case, can't hurt, sweetheart.

    As Katniss says, she isn't good at making friends, which might explain why she goes all Sean Penn on Peeta instead of realizing that he just gave her a big head start.

    HAYMITCH: He says he wants to be trained on his own from now on.

    KATNISS: What?

    HAYMITCH: This kind of thing does happen at this point. There's only one winner, right?

    Is Peeta bailing on his friendship with Katniss? Maybe it's just unbearable to him to think that they're supposed to try to kill each other.

    KATNISS: I'm not gonna leave you. I'm not gonna do that.

    And here it is: when the chips are down and it's kill or be killed, Katniss stands up for Peeta. She risks herself to keep him alive, not just because he might help her later, but because he's her friend.

    KATNISS: You fed me once.

    PEETA: I think about that all the time. How I tossed you that bread.

    KATNISS: Peeta...

    PEETA: I should have gone to you. I should have just gone out in the rain and...

    KATNISS: Shhh...

    Aww Peeta. You literally saved her from starving and all you can do is think about how much more you could have done. That's a real friend, that is.

    RUE: Is all of that true?

    KATNISS: What?

    RUE: You and him?

    We love this moment in part because it's a pure moment of friendship: two girls, just being girls and talking about a boy crushing on one of them. It's even more amazing because it's happening in the middle of the Games. That in itself is an act of defiance against the Capitol. In fact, friendship in the Games is an act of defiance.

    KATNISS: We could go home. We could. We're the only team left.

    PEETA: We could go home.

    This is the first time the two of them have had any real hope. The idea that they could both walk out of there means that their friendship suddenly goes from being a liability to being a VERY big asset.

  • Fate and Free Will

    EFFIE: A dramatic turn of events here in District 12. Yes, well. District 12's very first volunteer. Bring her up.

    This is the first time we see fate and free will in opposition to each other. Destiny seemed to pick Prim for death in the arena (and we're pretty sure she'd be killed very quickly). But Katniss steps in and changes the plan.

    PEETA: Yeah, our mentor. You're supposed to tell us how to get sponsors and give us advice.

    HAYMITCH: Oh, okay. Embrace the probability of your imminent death. And know, in your heart, that there's nothing I can do to save you.

    Leave it to fatalistic Haymitch to point out just how tough it is to change the outcome of the Games. Sometimes, you can make all the right choices and still lose.

    HAYMITCH: He's a Career. You know what that is?

    KATNISS: From District 1.

    HAYMITCH: And 2. They train in a special academy until they're 18. Then they volunteer. By that point, they're pretty lethal.

    Here's another example of destiny. The Careers are supposed to win. Everybody knows that. It's only through hard work that that destiny can be avoided.

    SNOW: Hope. It is the only thing stronger than fear. A little hope is effective. A lot of hope is dangerous. A spark is fine, as long as it's contained.

    It's a rare admission from Snow that a given situation can get out of hand regardless of how preordained it seems to be.

    CAESAR: Well, I'll tell you what, Peeta. You go out there and you win this thing, and when you get home, she'll have to go out with you. Right, folks?

    PEETA: Thanks, but I don't think winning's gonna help me at all.

    CAESAR: And why not?

    PEETA: Because she came here with me.

    CAESAR: Well, that's bad luck.

    PEETA: Yeah, it is.

    "Bad luck" is just another word for destiny. Can you say "lose-lose situation"?

    PEETA: One of us should go home. One of us has to die. They have to have their victor.

    KATNISS: No. They don't. Why should they?

    Here's a point where it seems like fate is against our heroes; only one of them can survive. Even though mutual suicide is pretty grim, it still represents a way they can defy that fate.

    HAYMITCH: They're not happy with you.

    KATNISS: Why? Because I didn't die?

    HAYMITCH: Because you showed them up.

    KATNISS: Well, I'm sorry it didn't go the way they planned. I'm not very happy with them either.

    The Capitol tried everything to kill Katniss, but she showed them that they can't control everything. Of course, take one step back and you could argue that none of this was really a fate vs. free will situation at all; it was a reality TV game, with hundreds of decisions being made by the show runners at any given moment. Even what we think might have been an expression of free will by Katniss was being watched and manipulated by the game crew. Sometimes they let her "choices" stand; other times they blocked them.

  • Survival

    KATNISS: It's a mockingjay pin. To protect you. And as long as you have it, nothing bad will happen to you. Okay? I promise.

    It's a beautiful thought, though it doesn't quite work for Prim. For Katniss, however? That symbol might just have given her the hope she needs to survive all of this.

    KATNISS: Prim. Listen. You're gonna be okay. Don't take any extra food from them. It isn't worth putting your name in more times. Okay? Listen, Prim. Gale will bring you game. You can sell cheese from your goat.

    PRIM: Just try to win. Maybe you can.

    KATNISS: Of course. And maybe I can. I am smart you know.

    PRIM: And you can hunt.

    KATNISS: Exactly.

    Katniss's world has just ended, and she's more concerned about Prim's survival. That actually bodes well for Katniss in the arena; it's her own motivation to survive.

    KATNISS: There's 24 of us, Gale. Only one comes out.

    GALE: Yeah, and it's gonna be you.

    Here's a real buddy: telling Katniss that she can emerge triumphant, even if the odds are most decidedly not in her favor.

    CAESAR: And this moment here, this moment is a moment that you never forget. The moment when a Tribute becomes a victor.

    Or, in other words, the moment one teenager bludgeons another teenager to death with a brick. Survival in this world is presented as a great triumph, even though the whole contest is basically an exercise in sadism for no purpose other than to entertain people.

    HAYMITCH: When you're in the middle of the Games and you're starving or freezing, some water, a knife, or even some matches can mean the difference between life and death. And those things only come from sponsors. And to get sponsors, you have to make people like you.

    Survival in the Games means more than just building a fire or fighting the other Tributes. It means making a good impression on television; in order words, being a celebrity.

    KATNISS: You fed me once.

    PEETA: I think about that all the time. How I tossed you that bread.

    One of the reasons that Katniss, and to a certain extent Peeta, do well in the Games is that they're already used to fighting for survival. That's something the District 1 Careers may not have had to do.

    KATNISS: I told her that I would try to win. That I would try to win for her.

    CAESAR: Of course you did. And try you will.

    Caesar condescendingly says "try," then doesn't go any further. This is one of the few points where Caesar and the government he represents acknowledge that 23 of their 24 Tributes aren't going to survive.

    SNOW: (to Crane) I like you. Be careful.

    As we learn at the end, survival in Panem is never guaranteed, even if you're literally running the show.

    THRESH: Just this one time, Twelve. For Rue.

    Thresh lets Katniss live. Why? Because Katniss protected Rue (who was from his District), which suggests that mercy and compassion can be survival tools as well.

    PEETA: She saved my life.

    KATNISS: We saved each other.

    Another case where being a decent human being means having someone to watch your back and, in return, having the strength to survive.

  • Power

    GALE: If no one watches, then they don't have a game. It's as simple as that.

    Like our world, reality television holds enormous power in Panem. Everyone watches the annual Games. And, having decided that TV's a useful tool for controlling the population, the Capitol now needs to play by television's rules if they hope to hold on to power.

    SNOW: This is how we remember our past. This is how we safeguard our future.

    This is what we call an excuse. He's citing heritage and tradition and all that jazz as the reason for the Games. In reality, it's just a raw exercise of power: we're killing your kids because we can. That should keep y'all in line if you're ever thinking of another uprising.

    EFFIE: I think it's one of the wonderful things about this opportunity, that even though you're here and even though it's just for a little while, you get to enjoy all of this.

    This is an expression of power that, frankly, isn't much better than throwing them into an arena and killing them. The nice things on the train just remind them of how little they have. The Capitol is happy to let them enjoy it for a few days instead of using those resources to make life better for people at home. As part of the power structure herself, Effie can't even see how ridiculous her words sound to Katniss and Peeta.

    CAESAR: Now see that? I love that. Two young people holding their hands up, saying, I'm proud I come from District 12. We will not be overlooked. I love that!

    Caesar trivializes any power or pride that Katniss and Peeta might be expressing, saying essentially, isn't it just so darn cute how these two dirt-poor and soon-to-be-dead kids want to be acknowledged? In order to survive, Katniss and Peeta totally pretend to buy in to the charade.

    HAYMITCH: Tomorrow they'll bring you in one by one and evaluate you. This is important, because higher ratings will mean sponsors. This is the time to show them everything. There'll be a bow. Make sure you use it. Peeta, you make sure to show your strength. They'll start with District 1, so the two of you will go last. I don't know how else to put this. Make sure they remember you.

    Katniss and Peeta are going to get sized up like pieces of meat and assigned numbers that may make a difference between life and death. Any slight degree of power they have comes from their ability to impress the judges.

    SNOW: Hope. It is the only thing stronger than fear. A little hope is effective. A lot of hope is dangerous. A spark is fine, as long as it's contained.

    SENECA: So?

    SNOW: So, contain it.

    Snow's power clearly isn't absolute. Things can get out of hand, at least from his perspective, and that means he needs to make sure none of the citizens of Panem see any serious chance to regain power.

    PEETA: I just don't want them to change me.

    At the end of the day, that's what power boils down to, doesn't it? Being able to change someone who doesn't want to be changed, whether it's shooting them in the head or forcing them to kill. Peeta's only control over his life is to be true to himself somehow.

    HAYMITCH: Don't kill her. You'll just create a martyr.

    SENECA: Well, it seems we've already got one.

    HAYMITCH: I hear these rumors out of District 11. This could get away from you.

    SENECA: What do you want?

    HAYMITCH: You have a lot of anger out there. I know you know how to handle a mob. You've done it before. If you can't scare them, give them something to root for.

    SENECA: Such as?

    HAYMITCH: Young love.

    Haymitch is smart. He seems to be giving Seneca some advice about how to keep from losing his control over the masses, but he's really trying to help Katniss and Peeta survive. We can see why he was a Hunger Games winner. He knows how to play the power game.

    SNOW: So you like an underdog?

    SENECA: Everyone likes an underdog.

    SNOW: I don't. Have you been out there? 10? 11? 12?

    SENECA: Not personally. No.

    SNOW: Well, I have. There are lots of underdogs. Lots of coal, too. Grow crops, minerals, things we need. There are lots of underdogs. And I think if you could see them you would not root for them either. I like you. Be careful.

    Here's the Marxist class struggle. The poor Districts supply the elites with what they need to survive, while they themselves are starving. Snow knows the risks in trying to keep poor people down.

    HAYMITCH: They don't take these things lightly. When they ask, you say you couldn't help yourself. You were so in love with this boy that the thought of not being with him was unthinkable. You'd rather die than not be with him. You understand?

    Haymitch is letting them know that even though they've survived the Games, they're still under the Capitol's control. Katniss has to convince the Capitol that she wasn't rebelling—she was just in love. Otherwise, she'd be too big a threat.

  • Versions of Reality

    CRANE: I think it's our tradition. It comes out of a particularly painful part of our history...

    CAESAR: Yes.

    CRANE: ...but it's been the way we're able to heal.

    Crane is talking about events that took place 75 years ago. It would be kind of like explaining how we have to kill 24 German or Japanese children every year as a way of "healing" from World War II. He's excusing murder, but he's doing so on television. Somehow that makes everything okay.

    KATNISS: So you're here to make me look pretty.

    CINNA: I'm here to help you make an impression.

    And as we're going to see, making an impression is the name of the game here. Be bold, be memorable, stand out from the crowd. If you do it right, the people will love you for it. Cinna wants to create a new version of Katniss; he knows the people will believe it. He's going to turn this down-to-earth, unpretentious country girl into a glammed-up superstar. It's a commentary on our celeb-obsessed culture.

    GALE: If no one watches, then they don't have a game. It's as simple as that.

    Gale is putting his finger on one of the few places where people in their position (i.e., under Panem's boot) can make a difference: by turning off the television.

    EFFIE: A dramatic turn of events here in District 12. Yes, well. District 12's very first volunteer. Bring her up.

    Effie's talking like a sports broadcaster here: putting a spin on Katniss's sacrifice for the cameras. Everything's packaged, everything's commented on, all in the name of spinning a story out of the reality unfolding before the cameras.

    HAYMITCH: I don't know how else to put this: Make sure they remember you.

    Television is a harsh medium. You need to be interesting if you want to hold people's attention In the Hunger Games, holding their attention means staying alive.

    CAESAR: And this moment here, this moment is a moment that you never forget. The moment when a Tribute becomes a victor.

    We wonder how many times this particular clip has been shown. Caesar treats the image of one boy murdering another so passively, like it's no big deal. The more you see of such images on the TV, the less it affects you.

    HAYMITCH: Now, I can sell the star-crossed lovers from District 12.

    KATNISS: We are NOT star-crossed lovers.

    HAYMITCH: It's a television show, and being in love with that boy might just get you sponsors which could save your damn life.

    Television is a storytelling medium. Even reality TV or sporting events are designed to tell a story. The same is true here: Haymitch wants the TV to capture an interesting tale for these two, whether it's true or not.

    CINNA: Did they explain about trying to get sponsors?

    KATNISS: Yeah, but I'm not very good at making friends.

    CINNA: We'll see.

    At least Katniss understands how important television is here, and how looking good on television can help her. Her problem? She's too authentic.

    EFFIE: You realize that your actions reflect badly on all of us, not just you.

    CINNA: They just want a good show. It's fine.

    EFFIE: How about it's just bad manners, Cinna? How about THAT?

    Cinna acknowledges that what's on television isn't the same as reality, but that it can have an impact, both good and bad, on that reality.

    CAESAR: Ladies and gentlemen, from District 12: Katniss Everdeen, the girl on fire!

    By giving Katniss a catchy nickname, Caesar makes her memorable. That's exactly what she needs to stay alive, and what might even turn her into a real enemy of the Capitol.

  • Violence

    SNOW: War. Terrible war. Widows, orphans, a motherless child. This was the uprising that rocked our land. Thirteen Districts rebelled against the country that fed them, loved them, protected them. Brother turned on brother until nothing remained. And then came the peace, hard fought, sorely won. A people rose up from the ashes, and a new era was born. But freedom has a cost. And the traitors were defeated. We swore as a nation we would never know this treason again. And so it was decreed that each year the various Districts of Panem would offer up, in Tribute, one young man and woman to fight to the death in a pageant of honor, courage, and sacrifice. The lone victor, bathed in riches, would serve as a reminder of our generosity and our forgiveness. This is how we remember our past. This is how we safeguard our future.

    Nice try, Snow. So there was a time when people were violent 75 years ago, and we need to keep up the blood sport because reasons? That's some twisted logic, that is.

    HAYMITCH: He's a Career. You know what that is?

    KATNISS: From District 1.

    HAYMITCH: And 2. They train in a special academy until they're 18. Then they volunteer. By that point, they're pretty lethal.

    They're more than lethal; they're kind of psychotic. This is the only event that matters in their entire lives and they're trained to attack without mercy. Everyone knows that the Games are about these little killbots butchering the kids from other Districts, even if they never say so in public. Panem glorifies the Careers and their brand of violence.

    GALE: Listen to me. You're stronger than they are. You are. Get to a bow.

    KATNISS: They may not have a bow.

    GALE: They will if you show them how good you are. They just want a good show.
    That's all they want. If they don't have a bow, then you make one, okay? You know how to hunt.

    KATNISS: Animals.

    GALE: It's no different, Katniss.

    KATNISS: There's 24 of us, Gale. Only one comes out.

    GALE: Yeah, and it's gonna be you.

    Does Gale actually believe that killing people is no different from killing animals? We'll give him the benefit of the doubt and say he's just trying to buck up Katniss.

    GALE: We could do it, you know. Take off, live in the woods. Well, we do anyway.

    KATNISS: They'd catch us.

    GALE: Well, maybe not.

    KATNISS: Cut out our tongues... or worse. We wouldn't make it five miles.

    Violence clearly isn't limited to the Games. The Capitol aims to destroy anyone who tries to oppose it.

    PEETA: I just don't want them to change me.

    KATNISS: How would they change you?

    PEETA: I don't know. They'd turn me into something I'm not. I just don't want to be another piece in their game, you know?

    KATNISS: You mean you won't kill anyone?

    PEETA: No. I mean, I'm sure I would, just like anybody else when the time came, but I just keep wishing that I could think of a way to show them that they don't own me. If I'm gonna die, I want to still be me. Does that make any sense?

    KATNISS: Yeah. I just can't afford to think like that. I have my sister.

    Both of these crazy kids understand that something happens when you kill someone else: you lose something that you can never get back. Their problem is that the Capitol is making them do it, and they need to figure out how to hold onto themselves in the process. Ask any war veteran about this.

    SNOW: Seneca, why do you think we have a winner?

    SENECA: What do you mean?

    SNOW: I mean, why do we have a winner? I mean, if we just wanted to intimidate the Districts, why not round up twenty-four of them at random and execute them all at once? Be a lot faster.

    What's mot chilling about this exchange is the cold-blooded, emotionless way Snow says this. You just know he's thought a lot about the best ways to intimidate the Districts. We've got a sneaking suspicion that executions have been in his bag of tricks all along.

    HAYMITCH: Don't kill her. You'll just create a martyr.

    SENECA: Well, it seems we've already got one.

    HAYMITCH: I hear these rumors out of District 11. This could get away from you.

    Live by the sword, die by the sword. If you encourage violence, violence may end up visiting you, too. That's something Haymitch isn't afraid of reminding Crane, if it gets Haymitch what he wants.

    CLOVE: Where's Lover Boy? Oh, I see. You were gonna help him, right? Well, that's sweet. You know, it's too bad that you couldn't help your little friend. That little girl, what was her name again? Rue?

    KATNISS: Yes.

    CLOVE: Yeah, well, we killed her, and now we're gonna kill you.

    Clove is nuts, in part because she views killing Katniss not as something that she needs to do to survive, but because she really seems to be enjoying it. The Careers have been well trained to enjoy violence.

    KATNISS: Maybe Cato likes berries too.

    Katniss is past the point of playing nice. Even our heroine needs to get violent in order to stay alive in this twisted scenario.

    CATO: Go on. Shoot. Then we both go down and you'd win. Go on. I'm dead anyway. I always was, right? I didn't know that till now. How is that? Is that what they want? Huh? I could still do this. One more kill. Bring pride to my District. Not that it matters.

    Too late, Cato realizes the truth: having been brought up solely to kill everyone in the Games, he literally has nothing else to fight for outside of the arena. He's been a victim of the Capitol as much as the people he's killed.