It had been the worst day of your life, and you were barely holding it together. Walking down the hall, you looked up and met Haymitch’s eyes, the only one who really understood what was going on inside your head. Embracing you, he reassured you that everything was going to be okay.
I hadn’t realized before how hard Haymitch is playing the game in chapter 7. Part of his strategy is obvious, but this time I noticed something more subtle. The morning of the first training session, Haymitch says: “‘One last thing. In public, I want you by each other’s side every minute’… We both start to object, but Haymitch slams his hand on the table. ‘Every minute! It’s not open for discussion! You agreed to do as I said! You will be together, you will appear amiable to each other. Now get out. Meet Effie at the elevator at ten for training.’”
At first glance, meeting at the elevator at ten seems like a throwaway line, but then I noticed that it comes up again twice in the next page. Earlier in the chapter, Katniss’ irritation with the matching training outfits had been established. And earlier in the book, Katniss remarked on Effie’s efficiency at getting them places on time. And yet on the next page, it’s almost ten while Katniss is still brushing her teeth. A few minutes later, after riding the elevator down to the training gym, Katniss notes, “Although it’s not yet ten, we are the last ones to arrive. The other tributes are gathered in a tense circle… While someone pins the number 12 on my back, I do a quick assessment. Peeta and I are the only two dressed alike.” (emphasis added)
It looks like Haymitch (and his fellow strategists) planned to build on Cinna’s success in presenting Katniss and Peeta as a pair at the tribute parade by ensuring that they make an entrance in their matching uniforms by arriving just on time on the first morning of training. The night of the parade, Katniss noticed the other tributes’ envious glances. Afterwards, Collins had Haymitch explicitly tell us that he, Cinna, Effie, and Portia were sitting down to hash out their strategy: “Tomorrow morning is the first training session. Meet me for breakfast and I’ll tell you exactly how I want you to play it,” says Haymitch to Peeta and I. “Now go get some sleep while the grown-ups talk.”
In continuing to present Katniss and Peeta as a team, Haymitch, et. al., were furthering a strategy that had been publicly presented to all of Panem, and managing it for a different audience — the Gamemakers and the other tributes, who might be wondering if the dynamic D12 duo is for real.