Last Updated on May 5, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 634
Katniss has been taken away from her family without being given the chance to say good-bye. Peeta tries to comfort her, suggesting that it will be better if she writes a note because then everyone will have something to hold on to if the worst should happen. Katniss has never been good with words, especially writing. It feels like this is just one more thing the Capitol has taken from her.
On the train, Katniss, Peeta, a sober Haymitch, and Effie watch footage of the Reaping. Peeta takes notes. Some of the returning victors stand out to Katniss. Brutus from District 2 seems like a typically violent Career. Finnick, from District 4, is handsome with bronze hair. A hysterical woman from District 4 is called, but an eighty-year-old woman volunteers to take her place. Johanna Mason is the only living female victor from District 7, and Katniss recalls that she won by pretending to be weak. Chaff, of District 11, is an old friend of Haymitch’s. Although the announcers seem distraught that the young lovers, Katniss and Peeta, have been reaped again, moments later they declare, “These will be the best Games ever!”
That night, Peeta sends Katniss to bed so she can get some rest while he continues studying the competition. Katniss tries to sleep but is already suffering from nightmares about the upcoming Games. She leaves her room and finds Peeta watching footage from previous Games. They embrace, and Katniss finds a great deal of comfort in Peeta’s warmth. Finally they decide to study together. Up to this point, they have not watched Haymitch’s victory because they felt it would disturb him. Because he is not with them now, Katniss and Peeta watch his Games.
Twenty-five years ago, Haymitch was a handsome and powerfully built young man. The Quarter Quell takes place inside what appears to be a lush paradise with woods on one side and a mountain on the other. While everyone else is still marveling at their beautiful surroundings, Haymitch dashes to the Cornucopia and takes supplies of water, food, and weapons before racing for the forest. The mountain is actually a volcano, and it kills many of Haymitch’s competitors. Eventually Haymitch is attacked and saved by his fellow District 12 tribute, Maysilee, sister of the mayor’s wife and friend of Katniss’s mother. The two form an alliance and continue to move away from the volcano. However, there is a wall of thick brush at the edge of the woods, and it is only with a flamethrower that Haymitch is able to get through.
He and Maysilee find themselves on the edge of a cliff. Maysilee turns back so they will not end up having to face each other, but Haymitch remains behind. There is more to the cliff edge than it seems. When Haymitch knocks a rock off the cliff, it hits a force field and bounces back to the exact spot from which it was thrown. When there are only two contestants left, Haymitch and another woman fight. Haymitch’s intestines are falling out of his stomach, and it is all he can do to return to the cliff edge. His combatant throws an axe at him; Haymitch dodges it. Seeing Haymitch on the ground, convulsing, the woman waits for him to die. When the axe bounces off the force field, it kills her.
Haymitch wins the Games and is treated by the Capitol’s doctors. However, the way he wins the game, Katniss points out, makes the Capitol look stupid because the force field was not supposed to be a weapon. No wonder Katniss and Peeta have never seen footage of these Games before. Haymitch appears behind them, drunk on wine. Katniss feels like she now has an understanding of Haymitch that she did not have before.