In the book, Gale Hawthorne is Katniss Everdeen’s best friend in District 12, the coal mining district on the outskirts of the country. The two hunt together and divide up the game that they catch. Although there’s no overt romance in the relationship, Katniss continually evaluates her feelings for him. But when she is sent to compete in the games, where she faces off against 23 intense competitors, Gale is left behind. While Katniss thinks about him during the games, the story never shows him after the games begin. In the film, however, the first-person narrative is changed to a third-person narrative so viewers will see what Gale is doing as his friend competes in the games. We watch as he desperately longs for Katniss and notices that she’s developing an onscreen relationship with fellow tribute, Peeta Mellark.
In an early scene in the book, Katniss makes camp near a young woman who starts a campfire. After the young woman is discovered, she is attacked and nearly killed by some of her fellow tributes. But when they discover that she’s alive after the attack, Peeta is sent to finish the job. In the conclusion of the book, Cato; facing off against a group of mutant mutts, survives for several hours before Katniss puts him out of his misery. In the movie, however, these deaths are done quickly. The film finds the bonfire girl dying quickly after she’s attacked and Cato only suffering a few moments before Katniss ends his life.
The biggest change between the book and the movie is the reaction to Rue’s death. In the book, Katniss only knows that she receives District 11’s appreciation for her kindness in the form of a gift dropped into the arena. In the movie, the complete reaction of District 11 is brought into greater focus. The people of District 11 begin to revolt against the capital officers who watch over them. They fight against the government that has taken one of their own and sent her into a battlefield to die for their viewing pleasure.