Catching Fire is the second novel in Suzanne Collins’s popular Hunger Games series. Katniss is back in District 12, a poor, coal mining district, after her victory in the 74th annual Hunger Games. Life in the district has not changed very much, but Katniss finds life very different now that she is a victor. Her family is no longer struggling to make ends meet, and Katniss no longer has to illegally hunt to feed her family. However, when Catching Fire begins, Katniss is once again steeling herself against the cold as she illegally checks trap lines in the woods.
Katniss’s childhood friend, Gale, is now old enough to work in the mines. Working in the mines is dangerous; both Kat and Gale lost their fathers to mining accidents. It is frustrating for Katniss that Gale will not allow her to use her victor’s income to support both of their families. Gale is stubborn and independent. Fortunately, Gale’s mother, Hazelle, has no qualms about letting Katniss help out. Katniss takes her poached game to Hazelle before she goes to the Hob, a black market in an abandoned building, and buys things from as many vendors as she can to spread her wealth around the district. She also buys liquor for Haymitch, her former mentor and now fellow victor, before heading home.
When she returns to the Victor’s Village, Haymitch is passed out from drinking. Yelling and shaking do not wake him, so Katniss dumps a bucket of water on him. Haymitch wakes up swinging a knife before he gets his bearings. When he complains about having water dumped on him, Katniss replies that if Haymitch had wanted to be babied, he should have Peeta wake him up. As if summoned, Peeta arrives and begins slicing bread for the three victors. These are District 12’s three living victors.
Peeta won the 74th Hunger Games alongside Katniss, which should have been impossible. However, part of their strategy was pretending to be in love to attract sponsors during the Games. At the end of the Games, they threatened to kill themselves rather than each other, and this bluff allowed them both to win. Now that they have returned to District 12, the relationship between Peeta and Katniss has cooled. They are about to leave District 12 on a Victory Tour. The Victory Tour will require Katniss and Peeta to travel throughout all of the districts of Panem as symbols of the Capitol’s authority. They will be expected to continue their loving relationship.
The meeting between the three victors is interrupted by Katniss’s mother, who announces that Katniss has a visitor: President Snow.