The Fiction bracket is perhaps the most diverse of all, with characters both old and young, smart and unstable, high- and low-class. Each brings with them a unique set of talents, though only four can move on in Lit Madness.
Chief Bromden knows how to deal with insanity—he’s a bit mad himself. He knows that the voices in people’s heads can make them do crazy things, and with that in mind, he goes off in search of some jabberjays. He also takes off his white hospital gown; no need to risk being confused with a whale.
Ahab is, unsurprisingly, struggling to stay focused in the arena. It’s not that he doesn’t care about winning: The problem is that he cares more about killing the white whale. The fact that there is no white whale in the arena, however, doesn’t seem to be sinking in. He occasionally yells for his chief mate, Starbuck, but it’s in vain and the other tributes think he is just shouting for coffee (and rather rudely, at that).
WINNER: Though the jabberjays take to imitating Chief’s mother, he is accustomed to ignoring the voices in his head and remains largely unaffected. He then sets the birds on poor Ahab, at which point they imitate the call of a whale. Surrounded by torturous sounds and unable to locate Moby-Dick, Ahab’s weakened mind finally breaks. His failure realized, he impales himself on his own harpoon.
Scout likes the cut of Jo’s jib. Smart, well-read, yet also tomboyish—in a different Game, Jo would be someone to admire, not defeat. But life isn’t fair, and Scout’s learned that firsthand. When she hears other tributes whispering about a mysterious and spooky presence lurking in the darkness, she bravely sets out with a smirk on her face.
It’s very difficult for Jo to ask for help, but marriage has helped her realize that she’s better when she’s part of a team. When a silver parachute descends carrying a pen, ink, and paper, she blows a kiss to dear Fritz.
WINNER: Scout’s instincts were right on: As she pushes through vines and low-hanging branches, she spots a ghostly figure. She calls out for Boo, ecstatic to see her old friend. But as she approaches, she discovers that he’s bound up in the vines. Jo sneaks up behind her and stabs her in the neck with a fountain pen.
When Jo looks back, Boo has fled. She mentally files away that, if she makes it out of the arena, she should write him into her next play.
Paranoid that every tribute she meets is out to get her, Anna sticks to the edges of the arena—clinging to the racket she stole from Hal Incandenza. Though she occasionally emerges for a bit of flirting with James Bond, she finds that the road is better traveled alone. It’s also only in privacy that she can hope to evade Little Bee long enough to bathe and fix her (normally shining) appearance.
Very good at persuading people to help her, Little Bee convinced Holden to gift her his red hunting cap and coat before he peaced out of the arena. She also steals some of the DMZ he didn’t take and pollutes the water supply. Hey, she can’t take any chances.
WINNER: After wandering for what felt like a year through the muddy forest, Anna is ecstatic to see the handsome Bond lurking across the lake. She pauses mid-wave, however, crushed to witness him openly flirting with Stephanie Plum. Mortified that yet again she’s been fooled by a man, Anna can’t even take pleasure in Bond’s quick death at the hands of Gabriel Allon. Dirty, tired, and starving—this high-society girl is convinced all eyes in the arena are openly judging her. Collapsing to the ground dramatically, she promptly dies of humiliation.
In Chiyo’s world, there is little room for sympathy—even if a child is suffering. Chiyo was never given the benefit of being treated with kid gloves, so it would not even cross her mind to hold back on Oskar. Of course, with Oskar being only nine, Chiyo’s usual methods of distraction would be ineffective.
Oskar has another trick up his sleeve, although, not being one for violence, he is reluctant to use it. We readers know that when Oskar is sad, he says he has heavy boots, like his feet are leaden and moving is an effort. Oskar gets the idea that he could put literal heavy boots (rather than his normal metaphorical kind) on his opponent, and push her into a body of water. This nine-year-old has some serious reservations about killing Chiyo, though. She’s been through enough.
WINNER: Chiyo’s had a tough life, but she doesn’t want to kill a nine-year-old. While she wanders along the arena’s perimeter and ponders her next move, a bored Gamemaker sends a forest fire crackling after her. Chiyo sets off as fast as she can, calling out for help as the flames close in. Unable to outrun the fire, she passes out from smoke inhalation. Oskar, who is perched in a tree not far away, hears the commotion but does nothing.