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I know it's not technically allowed, but Districts 1, 2, and sometimes 4 do it, so clearly it's possible. I don't really understand why the underdog districts wouldn't make any attempt at all to train kids in secret, especially in District 12, where Peacekeepers are lax and they are literally losing children every single year since Haymitch's victory.

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  • Because they're too poor.
    – Möoz
    Jul 5, 2017 at 23:25

2 Answers 2

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The issue was mainly one of resources. Only wealthy people could afford to not have their children working. The poor districts didn't have many wealthy people. The resources for people in the poor districts were so limited that the families would starve without the children working and earning extra money, or by taking many tesserae (even then, things were tight for Katniss' family). This was part of why the Peacekeepers were so lax in the poor districts, to be harsh ensures more people died, which would raise more anti-Peacekeeper sentiment.

In addition, to train a career tribute is to essentially turn them into monsters. If you have a career tribute as a child, that kid is a psychopath. They're raised to be merciless killers in the Games (the film has them being more sociable than the book, which portrays them as silent menaces). It's understandable that parents in the poor districts wouldn't make the choice to put their children through that, even if they could afford it.

The book's introduction to career tributes may help the discussion here:

The exceptions are the kids from the wealthier districts, the volunteers, the ones who have been fed and trained throughout their lives for this moment. The tributes from 1, 2, and 4 traditionally have this look about them.

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  • 3
    +1. They didn't have the problem presented in your last paragraph, though. One boy and girl each year was chosen at the age of 12 to be a career. At the reaping, the boy and girl chosen to be careers from 6 years prior are now 18. They volunteer. if you're a career, you're 18, trained, and guaranteed a spot in the games. May 16, 2012 at 2:41
  • It's mentioned in the books that most of the parents were willing to put their kids up for the reaping since a win would guarantee a luxurious life for the whole family. In fact, if I remember right, there was a voluntary "prereaping" to pick who would become a career. May 16, 2012 at 2:50
  • Thank you for replying! While a lot of kids in these districts did need to work, such as Katniss with hunting and trading, I still don't see why it would be impossible to train a few strong kids. Katniss and Gale's families were unusually poor, since they were single-income homes with multiple kids in the poorest area of 12. Even they managed to make ends meet--and, if you think about it, Katniss unintentionally trained by hunting. Therefore, I think free time would only increase from what we saw with Katniss and Gale. May 16, 2012 at 14:34
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    Also, I don't really agree that training for the Games automatically turns a child into a psychopath, as obviously it would be clear that killing is only ok in the context of the Games (otherwise, 1, 2, and 4 would have an issue with being killed by their own Careers, I would expect!). As mentioned above, there's no need to rely on luck that the best-trained child of each gender is Reaped; they volunteer. May 16, 2012 at 14:36
  • @GabeWillard There's no indication in the books that all the careers are 18, but they are described as being larger than Katniss. They don't start training at 12, they are raised to do well in the Games.
    – user1027
    May 16, 2012 at 20:16
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And every year before that as well!

There's an impression that, while the Peacekeepers are lax in D12, they aren't necessarily lax on the other underdog districts. Even in D12, it's fairly clear that the Peacekeepers are lax but not completely delinquent; and that they're allowed to be lax because D12 keeps its place.

(Minor spoilers for the latter two books)

This is made clear as the series progresses, when the lead Peacekeeper for 12 is replaced in part in hopes of suppressing any budding sense of pride or rebellion following on from Katniss' and Peeta's victory. The Capitol has never been ignorant of the laxity in 12, it just didn't matter because 12 was behaving like a good little downtrodden peasant village.

They clearly look the other where, say, judicious, small-scale poaching is involved, but something like training for the Games would need to be hidden from their view much more carefully to avoid retaliation. The resources, in manpower, money and materials are likely lacking.

It's also made very clear in the later books that the population of Panem is a tiny fraction of the former population of North America--small enough that both the Capitol and District 13 have maintained their truce as much out of fears of human extinction in another war as anything else! District 12 is governmentally the equivalent of a state or province, but population-wise little larger than a small town, mostly concentrated in one area. The impression we get of all the other districts is similar -- most of them consist of a single relatively small community with a specialized workforce that's expected to work hard simply to survive. This wouldn't leave much spare capacity for creating and operating a training program.

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  • Thank you for replying! I do agree with much of what you said, but I ran into the same point of disagreement with a friend (which led me here!): I don't mean that there should be any kind of large, organized "training program." All it would take would be a small effort to seek the strongest kids and help them learn some skills in private. (I was picturing a basement, like a kids' Fight Club, but many locations could work.) To not even attempt this on any level, even to teach kids how to throw a punch, is essentially to willingly give them for slaughter--that's what I can't get around. May 16, 2012 at 14:44
  • I'm prepared to believe that it's happened, and that each time it has, there's been a mass, public slaughter of everyone involved. It's never made explicit, but it fits the brutality of the regime to a T, and also fits everyone's attitude that it just isn't a good idea. May 16, 2012 at 16:19
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    @AidanO -- You're welcome :-) I figured that there were likely to be a fair number of people reading this who have only seen the first movie and not read any of the books yet, as well as those who have only read the first book so far. May 16, 2012 at 16:21
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    I'll have to think about that idea for awhile. It's true that it's never really made explicit, so there are many possibilities (or else I wouldn't have needed to ask a question in the first place! heh). I guess one sticking point for me is that 4 doesn't always do it. If they are known to be able to "get away" with it, I would think they'd use the huge advantage every time. May 16, 2012 at 21:00

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