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Catching Fire

Suzanne Collins

Chapters 4-6

Chapters 1-3

Chapters 7 to 9

Summary: Chapter 4

Katniss feels anxious and angry as she realizes she will never be free of the Capitol’s control. The train stops temporarily for repairs, and Katniss jumps off and sits outside by herself until Peeta walks up. To Katniss’s surprise, Peeta apologizes for the way he acted after the Hunger Games. When he found out she was just pretending to be in love with him, he was hurt, but he came to realize she was doing it for survival. They agree to be friends, and Peeta takes her back on the train to see his paintings. They are all images from the arena that they saw during the Hunger Games, and both admit they have nightmares about the Games all the time.

They arrive at the first stop on their tour, District 11, which was the home of Rue, the young girl Katniss befriended during the Hunger Games who was killed. It’s an agricultural district where much of Panem’s food comes from, and it’s heavily guarded. Katniss and Peeta are scheduled to give an address in the main square. Katniss doesn’t plan on speaking because she worries she’ll be overcome with emotion. She notices Rue’s family in the audience, and after Peeta gives his speech, she spontaneously steps to the microphone. She thanks the families of the tributes, and suddenly an old man whistles the code Katniss and Rue used in the Games. In unison all the people in attendance raise their hands in the gesture of respect used in District 12, and Katniss knows immediately the Capitol will see it as a gesture of defiance. After she and Peeta are pulled off stage, Katniss sees she forgot the flowers she was given, and dashing back out to grab them, she sees the old man who whistled dragged out and shot.

Summary: Chapter 5

A group of Peacekeepers rushes Katniss and Peeta into the building where Haymitch and Effie are waiting. Haymitch and Effie don’t know what’s happened, but more gunshots ring out outside. Haymitch motions for Katniss and Peeta to follow him, and when they’re in a place that’s safe to talk Katniss tells Haymitch what happened. She tells Haymitch she messed up, because she was supposed to calm any rebellion, not stoke it. On learning this, Peeta explodes in anger. He didn’t know anything about the threats against Katniss and her loved ones, and he worries his family could be in jeopardy now. Haymitch and Katniss can’t keep secrets from him anymore the way they did during the Games.

The Victory Tour continues, and Katniss notices that in some districts the people are particularly excited to see them. She senses an undercurrent of rebellion. Katniss suggests they stage a public marriage proposal once they arrive in the Capitol. Peeta agrees halfheartedly; Haymitch explains that Peeta wishes Katniss wanted it because of genuine love, not necessity. In the Capitol, during a televised interview with the popular host Caesar Flickerman, Peeta proposes and Katniss accepts. President Snow comes out to congratulate them, but he signals to Katniss that it’s not enough.

Summary: Chapter 6

During a feast at President Snow’s mansion, Katniss has several people come up to her to show her the mockingjays they wear as pins or embroidery on their clothes or even tattoos. Katniss wore her mockingjay pin throughout the Hunger Games, and she thinks it must have become the big new fashion accessory. Katniss eventually can’t eat anymore, but her prep team explains that she can drink a liquid that will make her throw up so she can eat more. She and Peeta are shocked at the idea. As they dance together, both are revolted by the behavior in the Capitol and Peeta for a moment wonders aloud whether they should stop trying to subdue a rebellion. A moment later, the new Head Gamemaker, Plutarch Heavensbee, asks Katniss for a dance. He tells her he’s got a planning meeting that night for the Quarter Quell, and before he goes, he checks the time. When he rubs his finger across the face of his watch, the image of a mockingjay appears for a moment before vanishing. Katniss wonders why he’s so secretive about it as she moves on.

Eventually they return to the train to head back to District 12 for the last event of their tour. Katniss wakes up in the morning and Peeta is there. He points out that she didn’t have any nightmares, and she recounts a dream she had where she was following a mockingjay that was actually Rue through the woods. They get back to District 12 and are taken immediately to the mayor’s house, where they’re to be prepped for their event. Katniss looks for Madge, her friend and the mayor’s daughter, and passing the study she finds the television on. An update appears on the TV, and Katniss sees images of violent mobs rioting in District 8. She realizes it’s an uprising.

Analysis

Over the course of this section, Katniss comes to realize both that the threat of a rebellion against the Capitol is real and that she is now something of a symbol of that rebellion. Before the Victory Tour, Katniss was hardly aware that any outright uprising against the Capitol was possible, let alone imminent. Moreover, President Snow’s fears that she could be a symbol of defiance around which people would rally seemed farfetched to her. But during the tour’s first stop in District 11, Katniss begins to realize that an uprising isn’t as outlandish as she thought. It first becomes apparent when the crowd, in unison, puts up the gesture of respect Katniss used after Rue’s death in the Hunger Games. That everyone did it simultaneously indicated that the gesture was planned, which means that the people of District 11 had started to organize. As the tour continues, Katniss notes that in certain districts people were elated to see her, and beneath that excitement she could sense fury. Those emotions suggest that in these districts also Katniss has become a symbol to rally around. It’s not entirely clear whether or not anyone is following Katniss’s cues as if she were a full-fledged leader, but it is at least evident that her actions matter. One of these districts is District 8, and when Katniss happens to see the update on the television in Madge’s room, it’s this district that is in the midst of an all-out violent rebellion.

As Katniss travels among the districts and then to the Capitol, the mockingjay appears to become increasingly symbolic, though it’s full meaning isn’t yet clear. The mockingjay became a prominent part of the Games when Katniss and Rue began using the birds, which can mimic sounds, to communicate with one another. After Katniss gives her speech in District 11, an old man whistles the four-note melody she and Rue had devised for the mockingjays in the arena. It’s at that point that everyone raises up the gesture of respect used in District 12, implying that the melody was a signal. Katniss also continues wearing the mockingjay pin that she wore throughout the Hunger Games, and during the feast in the Capitol, she notices how many people have the image of a mockingjay somewhere on their clothing or body. She dismisses it as a fashion trend, but her encounter with the new Head Gamemaker, Plutarch Heavensbee, suggests it may be something more. When Heavensbee shows her the mockingjay image that briefly appears and vanishes on his watch face, he seems very furtive about it, as if being caught with it could be dangerous. At the same time he reveals information that he’s supposed to keep secret. His behavior all suggests that he’s trying to establish trust between Katniss and himself by putting his safety in her hands to some degree, and the mockingjay he showed her figures in somehow. Though Katniss doesn’t understand what it signifies yet, she does suspect it has some meaning, even if she’s still reluctant to admit it.

As if the brutality of the Hunger Games wasn’t enough, we see further reasons the people in the districts would want to rebel against the Capitol. First, when Katniss travels to District 11, she sees how oppressive the Capitol can be. She notices, for instance, that the security around District 11 is much tighter than in District 12. Massive fences close off any escape, and armed guards monitor the perimeters. Furthermore, Katniss sees the Peacekeepers publicly execute the old man who whistled the melody in the crowd, and even after she’s been herded inside she continues to hear gunfire, indicating that others are likely being killed. That brutality is completely disproportionate to any crime the audience may have committed. Though they all participated in a gesture that could be read as defiance, nobody actually attacked or even threatened any of the Peacekeepers. Later, Katniss notices a different sort of behavior that’s worthy of contempt at the feast in the Capitol. Her team of stylists show her a liquid that will make her vomit so she can eat more, and Katniss immediately thinks of all the people starving in her district, including Gale’s family. That the Capitol would waste so much while others are in need is at best ignorance and at worst an outright insult to the suffering of the people in the districts. In response Peeta even suggests that he and Katniss might not want to suppress any rebellion.

Another major focus of this section is Katniss’s relationship with Peeta, which in some ways improves and in others becomes yet more complicated. The main reason their relationship improves is that they have a real conversation about everything that happened after the Hunger Games, and they agree to move beyond all of it and be friends. The talk eases some of the tension between them, but at the same time a new source of tension has come about. Katniss realizes that she and Peeta will have to get married to perpetuate the appearance that they’re in love and their threat of suicide at the end of the Games was not an act of defiance. When Katniss suggests Peeta propose to her publicly during their stop in the Capitol, Peeta agrees but it also clearly hurts him. As Haymitch explains, Peeta does want to marry Katniss, but he wishes she wanted to marry him out of love, not just necessity. Peeta also gets angry because he feels like Katniss and Haymitch are constantly manipulating him. By the end of the section, though Katniss and Peeta have resolved some of their conflicts, they’ve also encountered new ones that keep their relationship from being simple.

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