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The Hunger Games – Katniss Remembers her Fathers Lessons

You may have seen the film, but as usual the book is so much better.   One of the things I liked most from the books was this:  Katniss lost her father when he died in a mine blast.  While her mother was lost in despair, it was her father’s words, her father’s knowledge that kept Katniss alive.  In the film you see one tiny photo of this man on the mantle shelf.  In the book he is present all the time.  Katniss remembers the hunting skills he taught her.  She refers to his book for instructions on the plants she can eat.  Her father’s influence is seeped into every page when she is hunting in the woods.  This extract is from when Katniss first starts to remember his advice and gains the courage to do it alone:

“The next day, we were off school.  For a while I hung around the edges of the Meadow, but finally I worked up the courage to go under the fence.  It was the first time I’d been there alone, without my father’s weapons to protect me.  But I retrieved the small bow and arrows he’d made me from a hollow tree.  I probably didn’t go more than twenty metres into the woods that day.  Most of the time, I perched up in the branches of an old oak, hoping for game to come by.  After several hours, I had the good luck to kill a rabbit.  I’d shot a few rabbits before, with my father’s guidance.  But this I’d done on my own.

We hadn’t had meat in months.  The sight of the rabbit seemed to stir something in my mother.  She roused herself, skinned the carcass, and made a stew with the meat and some more greens Prim had gathered. Then she acted confused and went back to bed, but when the stew was done, we made her eat a bowl.

The woods became our saviour, and each day I went a bit further into its arms.  It was slow going at first, but I was determined to feed us.  I stole eggs from nests, caught fish in nets, sometimes managed to shoot a squirrel or rabbit for stew, and gathered the various plants that sprung up beneath my feet.  Plants are tricky.  Many are edible, but one false mouthful and you’re dead.  I checked and double-checked the plants I harvested with my father’s pictures.  I kept us alive.”

Extract from page 61 of The Hunger Games