Chapter 1 Summary

After North America, an all-but-forgotten entity now, was ravaged by a series of natural disasters, a new country arose. Called Panem, this new country organized the continent into thirteen districts. Those districts were ruled from a distant city known as the Capitol. Eventually the “Dark Days” came, and the districts rebelled against the Capitol. They were defeated, and District 13 was destroyed. Now every year two children from each district are selected to compete in the Hunger Games, a sort of gladiatorial death match in which only one person is allowed to survive. The Hunger Games are a punishment of disloyalty and a reminder of the Capitol’s power.

Katniss Everdeen, or Kat, is a teenager in District 12, an especially poor district whose economy is based on coal mining. Coal mining is dangerous and not very lucrative, but it is all that most people in District 12 have, especially in the Seam where Katniss lives. Sadly, Katniss’s father was killed in a mine explosion. Now it is up to her to feed her mother and her younger sister, Prim.

Katniss is well aware that her mother and sister rely on her efforts to survive. Jaded with the weight of responsibility, Katniss spends her days illegally hunting in the woods for game with her bow and arrows. She illegally sells the game in her community. Hunting is perhaps the best part of Katniss’s life because she gets to spend the time with her best friend, Gale. Gale is a little older than Katniss, but he has an even larger family to support than she does. They have taught each other a great deal about hunting and trapping over the years.

Although Katniss and Gale have every reason to be disappointed with their lot in life, they are especially tense on the day that The Hunger Games opens. On this day, representatives and television crews from the Capitol have come to District 12 to draw the names of the two competitors who will be sent some distant outdoor arena where they will be forced to kill their opponents or be killed themselves. Each year, every teenager’s name is entered into the draw, an event known as the “reaping.” However, both Kat and Gale have entered their names additional times to receive bread and oil to support their families. Any 17 year old would have five entries, but Gale has at least forty. Kat has well over twenty.

The drawing of names is a difficult time for District 12, particularly because they have almost never won the Hunger Games. Their only living victor is Haymitch, who is now little more than a town drunk. However, although these are sad times, the people of District 12 attend the draw in their nicest clothes. The odds are stacked against them, but neither Kat nor Gale is chosen to compete in the games. Instead, Kat’s younger sister, Primrose Everdeen, is drawn.