Chapter 4 Summary
Haymitch has informed Katniss that she will be expected to marry Peeta. Their lives as victors will always be politically symbolic. Katniss is crushed in spite of Haymitch’s consolation that she could do a lot worse than Peeta. When Katniss stepped in for her sister Prim at the Reaping, she gave up her life. Even though she survived the Hunger Games, she is still forced to repress her emotions and desires so that she can be a symbol of the Capitol’s authority over the outlying districts. Now that the Victory Tour has begun, she will have to give up her body to her stylists, who will remove all her body hair and who fantasize about the “alterations” that they would like to see done to Katniss’s body.
One morning, as the District 12 victors travel by train to District 11 for their first stop on the Victory Tour, Katniss lashes out at Effie, the woman in charge of organizing their agenda. Peeta comforts Katniss by explaining that although he and Katniss have not been close since their return to District 12, he would like them to try to be friends. Katniss agrees to try, and Peeta takes her to see his paintings. All of the paintings depict scenes from the Hunger Games, and Katniss hates them. Peeta explains that he remembers the details so vividly because he sees these details in his nightmares at night. Painting is cathartic for him, though he still suffers from nightmares, as do Katniss and Haymitch. Perhaps Haymitch is right: Katniss could do a lot worse than Peeta. His comfort allows Katniss to gain control of her emotions, and she apologizes to Effie.
When the train arrives in the agricultural district, District 11, Katniss tries to prepare herself for the first stop of the Victory Tour. Her primary job is to quell rebellion before it can begin by pretending to be madly in love with Peeta. Unfortunately, her ally, Rue, was from District 11, as was Thresh, who spared Katniss’s life in the Games. Katniss struggles to “put on a show” for Panem. However, when Peeta declares that he and Katniss would like to dedicate one twelfth of their annual winnings to the families of Rue and Thresh, Katniss genuinely kisses Peeta, who always seems to do what is right.
Katniss realizes that she must address her debt to Rue, who died helping her in the Games. First she explains why she respected Thresh. He was powerful and independent. However, she knew Rue; Katniss explains all the things that bring the little girl from District 11 to mind. In response to her words, a member of the audience sings the four-note song that Rue and Katniss shared as a signal. Katniss realizes that this signal is intended as a gesture of defiance toward the Capitol just before her guards “escort” her back to the train. As the doors close behind her, Katniss hears Panem’s Peacekeepers execute the old man who whistled.