Why Tuesday? Tick, Tock, This is a Clock

Mockingjay is just hours away! At first, I wondered why on earth this book was coming out on a Tuesday.  More adventurous types than I will want to do all that midnight release stuff, but then they’ll have work and school the next day. It seems a Saturday would be better for schoolkids, working stiffs, and crabby morning people like me. But in my intense re-read of The Hunger Games in prep for Mockingjay day and for teaching the book in ENG 111, I clocked the days that Katniss is in the arena and  found what may be the reason for the Tuesday release, as well as some other intriguing patterns. Follow me after the jump to see why readers will be out in droves on a Monday night, and see the key to how the arena in Hunger Games is just as tied in with time as the one in Catching Fire.

Katniss only once gives us the day of the week in her present-tense tale of her experience in the 74th Hunger Games. She states that the miserable interview practice day, in which she is verbally abused by Haymitch, and physically by Effie (high heels are torture devices, right?) is a Sunday, only a “day of rest” back in District 12. Apparently, there is no structured religion in Panem, and only the day off work aspect of Sunday remains (though in Catching Fire, the crackdown in D12 puts miners like Gale in the hole seven days a week.).  But other weekday connections began to emerge as I used that day to track what happens each day of the week, an outline that only deteriorates after Katniss and Peeta are collected in the hovercraft, as we don’t know how long she is unconscious.

The Reaping, just like the big hoopla release, takes place on Tuesday, as does the first day of the Games. As I plotted all the other days, I noticed a few other intriguing thoughts as well, which you may or may not find equally fascinating.  Here are the days of the week and what happens on them:

Tuesday: Reaping, Katniss volunteers for Prim

Wednesday: Travel to the Capitol and Katniss’s debut in the “Chariot of Fire”

Thursday-Friday: Training

Saturday:  Training and individual performance.  Training scores

Sunday: Peeta asks for individual coaching. Practice for interviews

Monday: Interviews, Peeta reveals his love for Katniss

Tuesday: The Games begin, 11 tributes die

Wednesday: Katniss struggles against dehydration;  girl from 8 killed by Careers, perhaps finished off by Peeta (or maybe he just witnesses her death)

Thursday:  Katniss continues to dehydrate but finds water in the afternoon.

Friday: Fire chases the tributes together and Katniss is burned.  Katniss is trapped in a tree and Rue points out the tracker jacker nest.

Saturday: Katniss drops the nest on the Careers and Peeta. Glimmer and the girl from District 4 die.

Sunday-Monday: Katniss is out with hallucinations from the stings, then awakens and is allied with Rue.

Tuesday: The boy from 10 dies,  Katniss blows up the Careers’ supplies, Cato kills boy from 3.

Wednesday: Rue is killed and Katniss honors her.

Thursday: Possibility of dual winners announced

Friday: Katniss finds and helps Peeta

Saturday: Peeta gets worse and the feast is announced. Katniss drugs him

Sunday: Katniss goes to the feast, is attacked by Clove but spared by Thresh, then gets Peeta’s medicine to him

Monday: Katniss recovers, it rains

Tuesday: Katniss expresses her “feelings” to Peeta and they are rewarded with food. Thresh  is killed by Cato.

Wednesday: Peeta accidentally kills Foxface with the berries

Thursday: The water is dried up and Peeta and Katniss go to the lake, where they are attacked by Mutts.

Friday: Katniss kills Cato, who has been mangled all night by mutts. She and Peeta become joint winners after the stunt with the berries.

Please let me know if I have erred in the timeline. If it is, indeed, correct, a few things jump out screaming: Notice that Tuesdays in the Games are always days of violence and death. The Reaping is on Tuesday, when 23 young people are essentially given death sentences in the forms of little slips of paper. In the arena, someone always dies on Tuesday. The big bloodbath, which claims 11 Tributes, is on opening day, a Tuesday; and the boys from 10 and 3 and Thresh die on the next two Tuesdays, logical for a day named after Tyr, the Norse war god (who, incidentally, had issues with a more-than-regular canine, the Fenrir wolf).  Wednesday is also a sad day, as a girl, usually a small one, dies on each: District 8 is mobbed by the Careers, Rue dies in one of the most upsetting passages of the whole book, and Foxface, hungry and sneaky, eats those poison berries, all on Wednesdays. Remember that old rhyme about the day a person is born—”Sunday’s child is fair of face,” etc?  Wednesday’s child is, in that little rhyme, “ full of woe.”  Indeed.

The Saturdays in the arena are mirrors. Katniss gets Peeta with the tracker jackers dropped on the Careers and he saves her, getting stabbed by Cato in the process, on the first one. On the second Saturday, she drugs Bread Boy to go get the medicine to save his life. Fridays are often pivotal days of pain with resolution or resurrection, on Sunday—Peeta is at death’s door Friday and saved by Katniss and the medicine on Sunday. They are both in bad shape Friday when they are pulled from the arena.  Not too surprising with the scaffolding we’ve noted so far. No one ever dies on Mondays or Thursdays. With Katniss’s associations with the moon, it’s nice no one dies on Moon-day, but even though Thursdays are bloodless, they are usually days of stress with a big surprise at the end: Katniss finds water, Templesmith announces both District tributes can win, and Cato is taken down, but not yet out, by the scariest dogs since Cujo. The day named for Thor, thunder god, always ends with a bang.

It’s possible that the day of the week structure is just random, but I really doubt it. Collins is an old hand at TV writing, so she knows timing. It would have been easy enough to leave out that Sunday reference, or to give the days new or corrupted names, but she specifically gives us Sunday, and may be giving us more.

I’d like to know your thoughts, even if you  think I’m like Wiress—Nuts.

Tick tock.


  1. You have intrigued me. I think if I have time I would love to take your associations and see if they fit into Catching Fire’s arena and the trends we see there.

  2. I think it’s more boring due to the fact that most CD’s and new books are released on a Tuesday, altho there are notable exceptions!

  3. wow.

  4. As always, enjoy your musings!
    Just frustrated here as my friends who pre ordered from Amazon received the book TODAY (monday!)! Have you had any other reports of this?

  5. I know a lady in Germany who got her copy on Saturday.

  6. Kristy Claire says

    Oh, Lor, you just became my new favorite person!!!! I pre ordered on Amazon and was thinking I’d have to wait a few days for my copy. Yay!!! Now, if I can just get home before my husband does and checks the mail …

    Professor, I may need your help figuring a preemptive strike for this …

  7. Your timeline matches the one I did for my own personal enlightenment exactly.

  8. The dragon task in ‘Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire’ was on a Tuesday.

    Just sayin.’

  9. I’m wondering if this is a concidence too or if it was intentional. There are exactly 54 days from July 1 to August 23. This meant that anyone who started July 1 and read one chapter a day would finish Catching Fire today, which would make August 24 the natural day for Chapter 1 of MJ.

    The only reason I thought about this was because of the readalong blog…

  10. DVDs, CDs, and video games are all released on Tuesdays. I assume books are as well. I don’t think there’s a secret plot to it.

  11. Actually, if memory serves, I believe at least the last three HP books came out in Friday/Saturday midnight releases, and I’m postive the New Moon DVD came out that way, too, as I made up some excuse about needing Cheerios to go get mine early Saturday morning!
    Anybody in the industry know about the timing issue?

  12. Timing is always everything. Comedy, Theatre, and Sales – timing is everything. Why Tuesday?

    No reason. There is not a comedic reason where it’s funny, and as far as Sales goes, Tuesdays are the WORST days to sell stuff on, especially if you’re targeting mall audiences. Now if it’s there to sync up with the start of school, that’s one thing, but even still – TUESDAY?!

    No no no, there’s no good reason to do that unless (1) you have the publicity already established to launch you into the weekend via pre-orders and (2) you have some alterior motive behind tuesdays.

    Dvds I understand, being as tuesday is a good movie night – some weeks even tied with friday for date night thanks to our business culture. CDs, thanks to iTunes, also make sense for business commutes and such. Video games too – that’s one of the first things unleashed highschoolers do after school – go rent a game and beat it before the next school week. you NEVER release on a monday for anything, but if you’re going to release media, tuesday makes sense.

    Not books. Books are a “come to me” industry not a “go to you” as a general rule (i know the exceptions). Because of that, you NEED the weekend.

    I agree with John wholeheartedly.

  13. I have a former student who used to work in editorial at Scholastic, and she howled with laughter at the thought that anyone in sales at a publishing company would read a book to figure out what day to release it. Bookselling is a business, not a hobby, and it is run as a business.

    Books are released on Tuesdays (as are CDs, DVDs, video games) because it reduces distribution costs to have them all out for one day, because it dovetails with publication of reviews, because it gives word of mouth a chance to grow before the weekend, because it gives booksellers time to get everything on the shelves before the weekend, because it’s the lowest sales day of the week so bookstores can focus on the new releases and figure out if they need to place a new order before the weekend, and because it’s always been done that way so it’s what everyone expects.

    Only the hugest books (e.g., Harry Potter) deviate from the Tuesday release pattern. MOCKINGJAY had 10% of the initial print run of DEATHLY HALLOWS (1.2 mil compared to 12 mil), and didn’t merit special treatment that would throw off the regular distribution schedule.

    Your idea was cute, John, but sometimes it’s possible to overthink things. MOCKINGJAY was released on a Tuesday because books are released on Tuesdays.

  14. I concede.

    Faulty assumptions
    + specialized sales & marketing experience
    = my wishful thinking

  15. Oh, I’m certain the people who make such decisions didn’t say “Oh, it’s all about Tuesday!” Let’s release the book in resonance with the deeper meaning!

    It’s more of a wonderfully appropriate serendipity that it plays that way, in contrast with the usual release shin-digs we see, adding to the day of the week structure of the book; and it was the reason I started thinking about the days. And though the release day is probably random, we can be assured that Collins’s arrangement of events is not; and, really, it’s her artistry we like to talk about, not the artistry of the publishing industry, ugh!
    Then again, perhaps we ought to re-order our mockingjays and our eggs. If Collins, a media insider, already knew the books would come out on Tuesdays (also a big, big TV night, right?) perhaps her placement of the Reaping, Game opener, and other pivotal events is more of the beautiful job she does showing the ugliness of the industry she knows very well.

  16. About the Tuesday release i think your leaving out a rather large piece of information. Tuesday was the 23 day in the month and as you said, 23 young peoples lives are given up to the reaping. Just maybe another coincidence though.

  17. The fact that we are all wondering about this and how much Suzanne Collins planned any of it is a testament to her genius. That we know that she is capable of something like this wether it is actually the case or not shows our respect for this author.

  18. I don’t know about why the release date was on a Tuesday, but I think your analysis of the days during the Games is intriguing.

    What about this…a lot of authors parallel Jesus’ crucifixion. Thursdays being tense could be partly because Jesus went through extreme stress before the crucifixion, sweating blood only happens when you’re extremely stressed. (Supposedly Thursday if the crucifixion is on a Friday, I’m not a historian, just a Christian.) Fridays are days of extreme pain, with resolution or resurrection–Jesus’ death and burial, subsequently the beginning of his resurrection. Sunday-resurrection–Jesus rises from the tomb, Easter Sunday. Once you said that timeline, I just couldn’t shake the feeling that maybe Collins was alluding to that as well.

    Interesting ideas!

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