I watched the Hunger Games movie for the first time today. I never really had much interest in it until a friend recommended it to me. I watched the movie and I am kinda curious as to how Reaping works.

Please take into account that:

  1. I am not at all familiar with the Hunger Games
  2. I have done some research
  3. Don't get it

I know that the reaping has something to do with putting your name into something (most likely the Reaping) but I am not familiar with how it works.

Answers would kindly be accepted ; )

3 Answers 3


Easiest to just let Katniss explain it.

A brief bit of history on the Hunger Games:

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. 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.

On eligibility and the number of times your name is in the pool to be drawn from:

You become eligible for the reaping the day you turn twelve. That year, your name is entered once. At thirteen, twice. And so on and so on until you reach the age of eighteen, the final year of eligibility, when your name goes into the pool seven times. That’s true for every citizen in all twelve districts in the entire country of Panem.

But here’s the catch. Say you are poor and starving as we were. You can opt to add your name more times in exchange for tesserae. Each tessera is worth a meager year’s supply of grain and oil for one person. You may do this for each of your family members as well. So, at the age of twelve, I had my name entered four times. Once, because I had to, and three times for tesserae for grain and oil for myself, Prim, and my mother. In fact, every year I have needed to do this. And the entries are cumulative. So now, at the age of sixteen, my name will be in the reaping twenty times.
The Hunger Games - Chapter One

And on volunteering:

“I volunteer!” I gasp. “I volunteer as tribute!”
There’s some confusion on the stage. District 12 hasn’t had a volunteer in decades and the protocol has become rusty. The rule is that once a tribute’s name has been pulled from the ball, another eligible boy, if a boy’s name has been read, or girl, if a girl’s name has been read, can step forward to take his or her place.
The Hunger Games - Chapter Two

In addition, once someone volunteers, nothing can be done to undo this action. It is not mentioned how Panem tackles the case of multiple volunteers of the same gender.

  • Yours trumps mine, what with the quotes :) If you add that the number of names is speculated in-universe to be irrelevant I'll delete my answer since yours does a better of it.
    – Mac Cooper
    Feb 22, 2014 at 13:56
  • I have to say I found this answer more understandable for me. Still both answers are really good. Feb 22, 2014 at 13:58
  • @MacCooper I accepted this answer and i'll just vote up your answer and this answer. Thanks for the help. Feb 22, 2014 at 14:05
  • 1
    @AnthonyGrist, yeah either the second or the third. If I remember correctly Katniss speculates that it was no random chance that Prim (with one single entry) was chosen; the fact that this is before Katniss annoys the Capitol and therefore the Capitol had no reason to screw her over, suggests that the random chance is not always actually random. I'll see if I can find a quote.
    – Mac Cooper
    Feb 23, 2014 at 11:42
  • 1
    Volunteering and reaping works quite different (in practice) in the districts where kids are trained to be volunteers; might be worth noting something about that (as the other answer briefly does).
    – Tim S.
    Feb 24, 2014 at 15:09

Every year after the age of 12 and until the age of 18 every person's name is put into the big bowl. This is cumulative, so at thirteen you have two bits of paper in the bowl; at fourteen, three, and so on. They are able to apply for tesserae, which is grain and oil (as the district is so poor, food is rare) but each year someone takes it, their name goes in once more, and stays in, thus increasing their chance (Gale's name was in there an awful lot, so he had more chance than most of being picked. Prim's name was in there once, so had a tiny chance of being chosen)

Once a year a boy and a girl are chosen from the bowl, supposedly at random (it is speculated by Katniss that the random chance is not actually all that random), but anyone can volunteer immediately afterwards, as Katniss does. In other districts, the Games are an honour and people volunteer all the time; in District 12, this is not so.


First you should have some background information: the Hunger Games were established at the end of the Dark Days when District Thirteen held an uprising and rebellion against the Capitol. The Games are a punishment for the rebellion and a warning for future residents of Panem that something worse may come their way if they rebel again.

The Reaping happens once a year, a few months before the Games begin. A person's name will automatically be submitted into the Reaping once he or she is twelve years old, and will no longer be submitted under one of two conditions: 1) Said person has turned 18, and is no longer eligible for the games, or 2) they had been Reaped already and won the games. People will also have a chance to enter their names into the Reaping more than once in exchange for goods.

A representative from the Capitol - in this case, Effie Trinket - to Reap the tributes. A short video about the history of the games will play, and then Effie will then draw the names of the two unlucky people. First she will pull the girl's name, and the tribute will walk up to the stage to stand next to Effie. Then, she will draw the boy's name, and he will do the same.

Others may also volunteer as tribute in the games as a replacement of the person who had been Reaped. Katniss had volunteered for her little sister, Primrose (Prim), because she knew that Prim had no chance of surviving in the arena. In District Twelve, volunteers are rare, but in the more luxurious districts, such as District One or Two, volunteers are much more common, because they had been training for the Games, also known as Careers.

The two tributes will have a short time with people they are close to before they head for the Capitol, and then they go to a training center where they spend the next few weeks getting ready for the games.

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