Chapter 8 Summary
At the end of the seventh chapter, Katniss sees that Gale is being whipped for poaching. Poaching requires a weapon, which is forbidden. Fortunately, Gale was only caught with a turkey. If he were found with a weapon, he would be punished by death. Usually the Peacekeepers look the other way, but the Capitol has sent District 12 a new Head Peacekeeper. Katniss does not take any of this in as she rushes to save Gale from being whipped. She defends him by throwing herself in front of him and ends up taking a lash in her face.
Katniss would be punished further if not for Haymitch, who interrupts the whipping. Haymitch points out that Katniss is a victor, and he scolds the new Peacekeeper for ruining Katniss’s face just one week before a scheduled photo session. Haymitch threatens to call the Capitol to complain. Before the standoff can escalate any further, Greasy Sae steps in and suggests that the required number of lashes has been dealt anyway. Darius, a District 12 veteran Peacekeeper, is lying on the ground; he was punished for trying to intervene before Katniss’s arrival.
Haymitch, Peeta, and Katniss carry Gale to Katniss’s home in the Victor’s Village. Katniss’s mother is a nurse. Although she suffered from depression and failed to provide for Katniss after her father’s death, she is a confident woman when faced with the wounded. Katniss’s mother takes charge and does what she can for Gale, who has been severely whipped. When Katniss sees that Gale is not going to get enough pain medication, she lashes out at her mother. Her mother has Haymitch and Peeta remove Katniss from the room.
As Katniss calms down, she overhears the others talking. Peeta tells Haymitch about Katniss’s plan to run away. Haymitch explains that there is a new Head Peacemaker who believes in corporal punishment, though at least he does not pay starving women to sleep with him like his predecessor did. Finally Katniss overhears her mother point out that things are happening just like they did before. It is difficult to believe, but harder times are returning.
Even after Katniss has calmed down, she still knows that Gale has not received enough pain medication. His teeth are clenched shut with pain. Madge arrives with vials of “morphling,” an expensive painkiller. Katniss’s mother injects it into Gale, and he is finally able to relax. Looking at her friend, Katniss realizes that he could never run away. Gale is a born rebel. Katniss will not leave without him. She realizes that she will have to help start the rebellion.