As Katniss sees her sister moving in terror towards the stage, she leaps into the crowd and volunteers herself as replacement for Prim. While volunteers are rare, they are permitted, and so Katniss is ushered onstage, where she wonders whether the Mayor remembers the sad day long ago when he presented her with a medal to honor her father’s demise. Gale steps forward to pull Prim away.
Though distraught, Katniss stoically keeps herself from crying, knowing that to do so would be to reveal weakness to the television viewers and, worse, to the foes she will face in the Hunger Games. Her awareness of the viewing population will be a recurring concern throughout her story.
Katniss is proud to see that none in the crowd applaud what has happened, and regard it as a small show of bravery against a Capitol that expects them to act as an excitable audience. What’s more, they join together in a traditional gesture of support, by touching their fingers to their lips. She is almost brought to tears, but Haymitch’s buffoonery keeps her solid when, on his way to congratulate her, he trips off the stage and is knocked unconscious.
As he is taken away, Effie reads the name of the male tribute: Peeta Mellark, the son of the baker. This name saddens Katniss, since Peeta once showed her a great act of kindness she has never forgotten. She explains how, in the period after her father’s death when her mother was useless and she had not yet learned to hunt, she had been caught by Peeta’s cruel mother while trying to steal some scraps from the baker’s trash bin. She was standing out in the rain, still shocked from the reprimand, when she heard the mother curse and whip her son Peeta for burning two loafs of bread. When Peeta came out to throw the ruined bread away, he gave them to Kaniss instead, which not only fed her family for the day but also gave her a hope that sustained her for many years. When she saw him the next day at school, his eye blackened from his mother’s beating, his presence led her to glance at a dandelion, which then reminded her that her father had taught her skills she could use to survive. Though they never spoke at school after that, Kaniss has harbored a belief that Peeta burnt the bread on purpose so he could give it to her, and remains thankful.
The thought of having to kill this boy to whom who she owes so much sickens her, and her only release is hoping one of the other twenty-two tributes will kill him first.
After the Panem anthem is played, the tributes are walked into the Justice Building and left in a room, which she calls the "richest place I’ve ever been" because of its luxury. She continues to battle her tears to maintain her image.
Her mother and sister are allowed to see her, and she quickly lectures them on all the responsibilities they must remember to fulfill so that they can not only survive but also prevent Prim from taking tessarae. She is particularly stern with her mother, demanding that the latter not fall back into the self-pity that had paralyzed her after her husband’s death. Though she promises Prim she will win, Katniss is certain it’s impossible, considering the bigger, well-nourished and better-trained kids from wealthier districts.
The Peacekeeper orders her family out and then admits Peeta’s father, the baker. She knows him primarily through trade, and seems unsure why he’s there. He gives her a bag with cookies, after which they sit in silence for a while. Before he is led out, he assures her he will keep Prim fed.
Next is another unexpected guest, Madge. She insists that Katniss wear the circular gold pin she noticed earlier – up close, Katniss can see it’s a bird in flight (and the image from the book’s front cover).
Finally comes Gale. She insists again that there is nothing romantic between them, but realizes how close he truly is to her. He reminds her to try and obtain or make her own bow if possible, and that she is a skilled hunter who knows how to kill, even if it’s never been people.
Gale is forced to leave, and Katniss is brought by car (her first time in one!) to the train station, which is teaming with reporters. Her practiced stoicism helps her maintain a façade whereas Peeta’s face is stained from tears. As travel is outlawed between districts, she has obviously never been on a train before either, and the new experience leads her to recall what she’s learned about Panem’s geography. She recalls that the Capitol was built in what was once the Rockies, and that District 12 sits in what was once Appalachia.
Her train compartment is yet another step up in luxury for her, with nice clothing and a hot shower easily accessible. She takes a closer look at the pin Madge gave her, and realizes the bird is a "mockingjay," a species of genetically altered bird that the Capitol had devised during the rebellion. Though bred to memorize and repeat human speech (so as to act as spies), the mutated birds proved ineffective and were let out to the wild, where they mated with common mockingbirds and maintained the ability to replicate human melodies. The image leads her to remember her father, who sung wonderfully and appreciated mockingjays.
Effie fetches Katniss to a succulent dinner with her and Peeta. She is shocked at having such a fine dinner, and the exquisite detail she uses to describe her meals becomes a repeated motif throughout the novel. When Effie expresses her pleasure at their use of utensils, lambasting previous District 12 tributes for their "savage" table manners, Katniss eats with her hands to express her disapproval of Effie’s attitude.
She and Peeta are brought to watch the recap of the reapings throughout the districts, and they get their first glance at those who will be their opponents. Katniss is particularly affected to see a 12-year old from District 11, whose apparent frailty reminds her of Prim. After watching their own reaping repeated, Effie reminds the children that Haymitch’s sobriety is of value to him, since, as their district sponsor, he is responsible for lining up sponsors who can pay to have gifts sent to them during the games, an important boon towards survival. Haymitch walks in at the end of this speech, so drunk that he vomits everywhere.
Peeta offers to help Haymitch clean himself up. The offer makes Katniss grateful but also reminds her not to be too affected by his kindness since they will soon be opponents. She remembers again her early days of learning to hunt and provide for her family. One skill she mastered was identifying which herbs, roots and plants were safe to eat or use. She recalls how her father once introduced her to her namesake, the edible root Katniss, and how he told her "As long as you can find yourself, you’ll never starve." Her memories make her feel guilty for having been too stern with her mother, and sad about home. She goes to bed without wearing any of the fancy clothes they’ve offered her. She knows her look will soon be out of her control, defined by an appointed Games stylist.
Effie wakes and then chaperones her to an overflowing breakfast. Watching the drunk Haymitch at breakfast, she realizes she detests him and wonders whether previous District 12 tributes lost partially because he was too much of a clown to line up decent sponsors. When Haymitch makes a joke mocking their plight, Peeta retorts sarcastically and Haymitch punches him. Katniss drives her knife into the table near his hand, and he realizes that he might actually have fighters this year. After verbally assessing their skill-sets, he agrees to stay sober enough to help them.
His first command comes as they arrive at the station. He makes them promise to acquiesce to the demands of their stylists, no matter what they think. Meanwhile, Katniss is overwhelmed by the grandeur of the Capitol, which is much more fantastic in sight than it ever was on TV. She is surprised to see Peeta playing to the gathered crowd, until he reminds her that by attracting fans, they attract sponsors and improve their chances at survival. She realizes again that she must stay wary, for "the boy who gave [her] the bread" is also playing a shrewd game that will ultimately mean he has to kill her.