The Hunger Games – Quotes from the Book

Compiled by Stacey Tuttle

Please note:  imbedded links below will take you to devotions inspired by that particular topic or quote, or click here to see all the Hunger Games inspired Devotions.

Back story:  Panem “rose up out of the ashes of a place that was once called North America.”  North America was destroyed with droughts, storms, fires and other natural disasters.  Then a brutal war took place over the land that remained. “The result was Panem, a shining Capitol ringed by thirteen districts, which brought peace and prosperity to its citizens.  Then came the Dark Days, the uprising of the districts against the Capitol.  Twelve were defeated, the thirteenth obliterated.  The Treaty of Treason gave us the new laws to guarantee peace and, as our yearly reminder that the Dark Days must never be repeated, it gave us the Hunger Games.”[1]

“The rules of the Hunger Games are simple.  In punishment for the uprising, each of the twelve districts must provide one girl and one boy, called tributes, to participate.  The twenty-four tributes will be imprisoned in a vast outdoor arena that could hold anything from a burning desert to a frozen waste land.  Over a period of several weeks, the competitors must fight to the death.  The last tribute standing wins.”[2]

“Taking the kids from our districts, forcing them to kill one another while we watch—this is the Capitol’s way of reminding us how totally we are at their mercy.  How little chance we would stand of surviving another rebellion.”

“Whatever words they use, the real message is clear.  ‘Look how we take your children and sacrifice them and there’s nothing you can do.  If you lift a finger, we will destroy every last one of you.  Just as we did in District Thirteen.’”[3]

“To make it humiliating as well as torturous, the Capitol requires us to treat the Hunger Games as a festivity, a sporting event pitting every district against the other.”[4]

“They [took] part in the boldest form of dissent they can manage.  Silence. Which says we do not agree.  We do not condone.  All of this is wrong.”[5]

When they were younger, Peeta Mellark took compassion on the starving Katniss and, risking a beating from his mother “accidentally” dropped 2 loaves of bread into the fire so they were partly scorched, so that his mother would say they were unworthy of sale.  He was told to feed them to the pigs, but discreetly gave them to Katniss instead.  Later she said, “To this day, I can never shake the connection between this boy, Peeta Mellark, and the bread that gave me hope, and the dandelion that reminded me that I was not doomed.”

Katniss re: thanking Peeta for the help he gave her with the bread:  “We’re going to be thrown into an arena to fight to the death. Exactly how am I supposed to work in a thank-you in there?  Somehow it just won’t seem sincere if I’m trying to slit his throat.”[6]

  • Gale:  “You know how to kill.”
  • Katniss: “’Not people,’ I say.”
  • “’How different can it be, really?’ says Gale grimly.”
  • “The awful is that if I can forget they’re people, it will be no different at all.”[7]

Jabberjays:  “They’re funny birds and something of a slap in the face to the Capitol.  During the rebellion, the Capitol bred a series of genetically altered animals as weapons.  The common term for them was muttations, or sometimes mutts for short.  One was a special bird called a jabberjay that had the ability to memorize and repeat whole human conversations.  They were homing birds, exclusively male, that were released into regions where the Capitol’s enemies were known to be hiding.  After the birds gathered words, they’d fly back to centers to be recorded.  It took people awhile to realize what was going on in the districts, how private conversations were being transmitted.  Then, of course, the rebels fed the Capitol endless lies, and the joke was on it.  So the centers were shut down and the birds were abandoned to die off in the wild.”[8]

Katniss about Peeta:  “It’s because he’s being kind.  Just as he was kind to give me the bread.  The idea pulls me up short.  A kind Peeta Mellark is far more dangerous to me than an unkind one.  Kind people have a way of working their way inside me and rooting there.  And I can’t let Peeta do this.  Not where we’re going.  So I decide, from this moment on, to have as little as possible to do with the baker’s son.”[9]

Katniss:  “What must it be like, I wonder, to live in a world where food appears at the press of a button?  How would I spend the hours I now commit to combing the woods for sustenance if it were so easy to come by?  What do they do all the day, these people in the Capitol, besides decorating their bodies and waiting around for a new shipment of tributes to roll in and die for their entertainment?”[10]

Katniss: “The idea of the girl with her maimed tongue frightens me.  She has reminded me why I’m here.  Not to model flashy costumes and eat delicacies.  But to die a bloody death while the crowds urge on my killer.”[11]

Peeta talking about Katniss: “She has no idea.  The effect she can have.”[12]

Katniss:  “I can’t help comparing what I have with Gale to what I’m pretending to have with Peeta.  How I never question Gale’s motives while I do nothing but doubt the latter’s.  It’s not a fair comparison really.  Gale and I were thrown together by a mutual need to survive.  Peeta and I know the other’s survival means our own death.  How do you sidestep that?”[13]

Katniss:  “All I can think is how unjust the whole thing is, the Hunger Games.  Why am I hopping around like some trained dog trying to please people I hate?”[14]

Haymitch and Katniss prepare for her interview:

 “’No only are you hostile, I don’t know anything about you.  I’ve asked you fifty questions and still have no sense of your life, your family, what you care about.  They want to know about you, Katniss.’

‘But I don’t want them to!  They’re already taking my future!  They can’t have the things that mattered to me in the past!’

 ‘…If you won’ talk about yourself, at least compliment the audience.  Just keep turning it back around … I give up, sweetheart.  Just answer the questions and try not to le the audience see how openly you despise them.’” [15]

Katniss and Cinna discuss how she should behave during her interview:

“’Why don’t you just be yourself?…The prep team adores you.  You even won over the Gamemakers.  And as for the citizens of the Capitol, well, they can’t stop talking about you.  No one can help but admire your spirit.’

My spirit.  This is a new thought.  I’m not sure exactly what it means, but it suggests I’m a fighter.  In a sort of brave way.  It’s not as if I’m never friendly. Okay, maybe I don’t go around loving everybody I meet, maybe my smiles are hard to come by, but I do care for some people.”[16]

“They do surgery in the Capitol to make people appear younger and thinner.  In District 12, looking old is something of an achievement since so many people die early.  You see an elderly person, you want to congratulate them on their longevity, ask the secret of survival.  A plump person is envied because they aren’t scraping by like the majority of us.  But here it is different. Wrinkles aren’t desirable.  A round belly isn’t a sign of success.”[17]

Katniss furiously discussing with Haymitch Peeta’s confession of love:

“’You are a fool,’ Haymitch says in disgust.  ‘Do you think he hurt you?  That boy just gave you something you could never achieve on your own.’

‘He made me look weak!’ I say.

‘He made you look desirable!  And let’s face it, you can use all the help you can get in that department.  You were about as romantic as dirt until he said he wanted you.  Now they all do.  You’re all they’re talking about.  The star-crossed lovers from District Twelve!’ says Haymitch.

‘But we’re not star-crossed lovers!’  I say.

… ‘Who cares?  It’s all a big show.  It’s all how you’re perceived.’”[18]

Katniss about Peeta: “He has done me a favor and I have answered with an injury.  Will I never stop owing him?”[19]

“Peeta actually is charming and then utterly winning as the boy in love.  And there I am, blushing and confused, made beautiful by Cinna’s hands, desirable by Peeta’s confession, tragic by circumstance, and by all accounts, unforgettable.”[20]

Peeta and Katniss discuss how he wants to die:

“‘I want to die as myself.  Does that make any sense? … I don’t want them to change me in there.  Turn me into some kind of monster that I’m not.’

I bite my lip, feeling inferior.  While I’ve been ruminating on the availability of trees, Peeta has been struggling with how to maintain his identity.  His purity of self.  ‘Do you mean you won’t kill anyone?’ I ask.

‘No, when the time comes, I’m sure I’ll kill just like everybody else.  I can’t go down without a fight.  Only I keep wishing I could think of a way to . . . to show the Capitol they don’t own me.  That I’m more than just a piece in their Games,’ says Peeta.”[21]


“The arenas are historic sites, preserved after the Games.  Popular destinations for Capitol residents to visit, to vacation.  Go for a month, rewatch the Games, tour the catacombs, visit the sites where the deaths took place.  You can even take part in reenactments.  They say the food is excellent.”[22]

I don’t recognize these berries, perhaps they are edible, but I’m guessing this is some evil trick on the part of the Gamemakers.  Even the plant instructor in the Training Center made a point of telling us to avoid berries unless you were 100 percent sure they weren’t toxic.  Something I already knew, but I’m so thirsty it takes her reminder to give me the strength to fling them away.[23]

Katniss:  “What is Haymitch doing?  Despite my anger, hatred, and suspicions, a small voice in the back of my head whispers an answer. Maybe he’s sending you a message, it says.  A message.  Saying what?  Then I know.  There’s only one good reason Haymitch could be withholding water from me.  Because he knows I’ve almost found it.”[25]

“Then I remember my mother saying that if a burn’s severe, the victim might not even feel pain because the nerves would be destroyed.”[26]

“All the things I dread most, all the things I dread for others manifest in such vivid detail I can’t help but believe they’re real.  … This is the nature of the tracker jacker venom, so carefully created to target the place where fear lives in your brain.”[27]

Maybe being the least prestigious, poorest, most ridiculed district in the country has its advantages.  Such as, being largely ignored by the Capitol as long as we produce our coal quotas.”[28]

Katniss:  “That the Careers have been better fed growing up is actually to their disadvantage, because they don’t know how to be hungry.  Not the way Rue and I do.”

Katniss:  “To hate the boy from District 1 [who killed Rue], who also appears so vulnerable in death, seems inadequate.  It’s the Capitol I hate, for doing this to all of us.”

Katniss:  “I really think I stand a chance of doing it now.  Winning.  It’s not just having the arrows or outsmarting the Careers a few times, although those things help. Something happened when I was holding Rue’s hand, watching the life drain out of her.  Now I am determined to avenge her, to make her loss unforgettable, and I can only do that by winning and thereby making myself unforgettable.”[29]

Katniss: “I spend the night half-sitting, half-lying next to Peeta, refreshing the bandage, and trying not to dwell on the fact that by teaming up with him, I’ve made myself far more vulnerable than when I was alone.  Tethered to the ground, on guard, with a very sick person to take care of.  But I knew that he was injured.  And still I came after him.  I’m just going to have to trust that whatever instinct sent me to find him was a good one.”[30]

Katniss:  “We’re supposed to be making up this stuff, playing at being in love, not actually being in love.  But Peeta’s story has a ring of truth to it. … It would explain … why Peeta took a beating to give me the bread on that awful hollow day.  So, if those details are true . . . could it all be true?”[31]

Katniss:  “It’s funny.  Haymitch and I don’t get along well in person, but maybe Peeta is right about us being alike because he seems able to communicate with me by the timing of his of his gifts.  Like how I knew I must be close to water when he withheld it and how I knew the sleep syrup just wasn’t something to ease Peeta’s pain and how I know now that I have to play up the romance.  He hasn’t made much effort to connect with Peeta really.  Perhaps he thinks a bowl of broth would just be a bowl of broth to Peeta, whereas I’ll see the strings attached to it.”[32]

On why Haymitch won his Hunger games:  “He’s not particularly handsome.  Not in the way that causes sponsors to rain gifts on you. And he’s so surly, it’s hard to imagine anyone teaming up with him.  There’s only one way Haymitch could have won…  He outsmarted the others.”[33]

Katniss:  “I allow myself to truly think about the possibility that I might make it home…   No more fear of hunger.  A new kind of freedom.  But then . . . what?  What would my life be like on a daily basis?  Most of it has been consumed with the acquisition of food.  Take that away and I’m not really sure who I am, what my identity is.”[34]

Katniss:  “I’ve spent so much time making sure I don’t underestimate my opponents that I’ve forgotten it’s just as dangerous to overestimate them as well.”[35]

Katniss:  “I feel almost as if it’s the first day of the Games again.  That I’m in the same position.  Twenty-one tributes are dead, but I still have yet to kill Cato.  And really, wasn’t he always the one to kill?  Now it seems the other tributes were just minor obstacles, distractions, keeping us from the real battle of the Games.  Cato and me.”[36]

Regarding Katniss’ prep team after the Games: “Even though they’re rattling on about the Games, it’s all about where they were or what they were doing or how they felt when a specific event occurred.  ‘I was still in bed!’  ‘I had just had my eyebrows dyed!’  ‘I swear I nearly fainted!’  Everything is about them, not the dying boys and girls in the arena.”[37]

“Although I do not yet understand Cinna’s design, it’s a reminder the Games are not quite finished.  And beneath his benign reply, I sense a warning.  Of something he can’t even mention in front of his own team.”[38]

“During the highlights, they periodically show the winner’s reaction up on a box in the corner of the screen…  Some are triumphant, pumping their fists in the air, beating their chests.  Most just seem stunned.”[39]

Haymitch and Katniss discuss her defense for defying the Capitol:

“You’re only defense can be you were so madly in love you weren’t responsible for your actions.” …

“Got it…Did you tell Peeta this?”

“Don’t have to…He’s already there.”[40]

“I’ve never been in such a dangerous place in my life.  It’s so much worse than being hunted in the arena.  There, I could only die.  End of story.  But out here Prim, my mother, Gale, the people of District 12, everyone I care about back home could be punished if I can’t pull of the girl-drive-crazy-by-love scenario Haymitch has suggested.”[41]

A few notable Ironies:

  • The Peacekeepers force people to “volunteer” for the Hunger Games
  • The Treaty of Treason (Treaties are about making peace)
  • Hunger games as considered festivities, games – but they aren’t really games at all.
  • Panem hosts, forces even, “games” where people have to kill each other.  The stated purpose of those Games is to keep peace and harmony.
  • Effie Trinkett says that Katniss and Peeta have “successfully struggled to overcome the barbarism of [their] district,” which Katniss finds “ironic coming from a woman helping to prepare [them] for slaughter.”[42]
Quotes from the Movie:
Snow to Seneca:  “Why not just round up all of them and execute them?  Hope.  … A little hope is good, a lot of hope is dangerous.  Contain the spark.”
Haymitch to Seneca:  “Don’t kill her.  You’ll only make a martyr of her.”
Haymitch:  “Give them something to root for.  Young love.”

[1] P. 18

[2] P. 18

[3] P 19

[4] P. 19

[5] P. 24

[6] P. 32

[7] P. 40

[8] P. 43

[9] P. 49

[10] P. 65

[11] P. 80

[12] P. 91

[13] P. 112

[14] P. 117

[15] P. 117

[16] P. 121-122

[17] P. 125

[18] P. 135

[19] P. 137

[20] P. 138

[21] P. 142

[22] P. 144

[23] P. 166

[25] P. 169

[26] P. 179

[27] P. 195

[28] P. 203

[29] P. 242

[30] P. 263

[31] P. 301

[32] P. 305

[33] P. 306

[34] P. 310-311

[35] P. 324

[36] P. 327

[37] P. 354

[38] P.365

[39] P. 362

[40] P. 357

[41] P. 358

[42] P. 74