Chapter 2 Summary

At the end of the 74th annual Hunger Games, Katniss and Peeta bluffed that they would each eat poisonous berries rather than kill each other. The bluff worked, but now that President Snow comes to visit her, Katniss learns that it did not work as well as she hoped. The previous Head Gamemaker, Seneca Crane, was executed, and now Katniss waits to learn what her punishment is.

Snow, who is likened to a viper, explains to Katniss that some districts have interpreted their bluff with the poisonous berries as an act of rebellion. President Snow outlines how Katniss’s victory could spark a rebellion and civil war that would lead to countless deaths. Although Snow’s words sound sincere, Katniss knows that he is ruthless; this impression is reinforced by a mysterious smell of blood that emanates from the president. Even the smell of the rose he wears in his lapel cannot overpower the scent of blood that seems to emanate from him.

Katniss agrees to put out any spark of rebellion during her victory tour by pretending to be in love with Peeta. She does not feel she has much choice. Snow knows a great deal about Katniss. Most of Panem believes that Katniss is in love with Peeta, but President Snow knows that this was just a strategy, at least on Katniss’s part. He also knows that Katniss cares deeply for Gale. While Katniss was in the Hunger Games, it was reported that Gale was Katniss’s cousin. However, they are not related and have been close friends for years. Snow also reveals that he knows that Katniss spends her Sundays with Gale hunting illegally.

If President Snow knows that, what else does he know? Katniss reflects on her time since the Hunger Games. At first it was good to see how her victory had brought moderate prosperity to District 12. However, before long, her relationship with Peeta cooled and Kat returned to her daily schedule of hunting and gathering. One day while hunting, Katniss was surprised when Gale took her face in his hands and kissed her, saying he wanted to do it just once; afterward he acted like it never happened. Although Katniss has not figured out how she feels about the kiss—or whether her kisses with Peeta count—she does know that Gale’s life could be in danger if Snow is aware of that kiss.

Katniss will do her best to convince Panem that she and Peeta are madly in love and that their bluff was not an act of rebellion. Snow demands that Katniss aim higher; he argues that she will have to convince him that her love is true. As he leaves, President Snow reveals that he knows about the kiss with Gale.