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Catching Fire

Suzanne Collins

Chapter 10-12

Chapters 7 to 9

Chapter 13-15

Summary: Chapter 10

Katniss asks the woman what the mockingjay symbol on the cracker means, and she replies it means they’re on Katniss’s side. A girl walks up and the two explain that they’ve run away from District 8. They’re surprised to learn Katniss doesn’t know about the mockingjay symbol. The older woman’s name is Twill and the younger one is Bonnie. They’re on their way to District 13, which shocks Katniss since it was demolished seventy-five years earlier. Inside the house, Katniss realizes they’ve run out of food so she gives them some bread Peeta gave her. They tell Katniss about the uprising. It had been planned for weeks, and when it began the people quickly overtook the Peacekeepers. At first they were successful, but Peacekeepers started arriving by the thousands and hovercrafts bombed the rebel strongholds. Within two days the rebellion had been suppressed. Once things returned to normal, the factory where the idea for the uprising was suspected to have originated exploded, killing Twill’s husband and Bonnie’s whole family. Twill and Bonnie escaped and have been on the run since.

They say they’re not sure what they expect to find in District 13, but the Capitol has been using the same footage of the area for years. In one shot showing the demolished Justice Building, the same mockingjay always appears in the top-right corner. They think the people of the district moved underground, and the Capitol leaves them alone because their principal industry was nuclear development. They could have nuclear weapons. Katniss thinks the idea is preposterous, but she also sees how desperate Twill and Bonnie are so she doesn’t say anything. She leaves them with food and begins her walk home. On the way she realizes nothing she might have done would have prevented an uprising in District 8, and President Snow was likely just trying to distract her to keep her from doing anything inflammatory. As she arrives at the fence she always sneaks under to enter the woods, she sees it’s electrified.

Summary: Chapter 11

Katniss needs to get back inside the fence so she walks the perimeter looking for the right tree. She finds one with limbs that reach past the fence, climbs out, and drops to the ground. Immediately she knows she’s hurt herself, but she heads home hiding her limp as best she can. She finds two Peacekeepers waiting for her, and by their surprise she knows they must have expected she wouldn’t be able to make it back past the fence. They ask where she’s been, and she lies convincingly with the help of Prim. Peeta and Haymitch are there as well, and Katniss thinks must have been called there. The Peacekeepers leave and Katniss explains she hurt herself but won’t say how in case the house is bugged. Her mother judges her foot broken.

Peeta goes with Katniss to her room as she gets ready to go to sleep. When she didn’t return earlier he thought she and Gale had run away. Over the next few days Peeta comes by often to help Katniss with a book that her father started years earlier containing all he knew about plants, notably whether they were edible. Peeta does the drawings for Katniss as she fills in the information. Each afternoon Katniss watches television looking for news reports from District 13. She realizes that it’s true what Twill and Bonnie said: the same footage is always used. She wonders what’s there now.

Summary: Chapter 12

After weeks of recuperating, Katniss is mostly healed. Her prep team arrives to get her ready for a photo shoot in which she’ll model her wedding dress options. One of them mentions that they’ve had no seafood for weeks. Panem’s seafood comes from District 4, and Katniss is certain the district must have revolted. Katniss asks what else they’ve been without and from that information discerns which areas may have rebelled. The photo shoot goes smoothly, but Katniss wakes early the following morning from a nightmare. She goes to see Haymitch and the two take a walk to town. Katniss relays what she knows and Haymitch informs her of possible uprisings in two other districts, meaning nearly half the districts have perhaps attempted some kind of rebellion. For a revolt in District 12 to have any chance, Haymitch says, everyone in the district would have to be involved, and failure could mean the whole district being wiped out, like District 13.

That night on television, a special broadcast about Katniss’s wedding dresses airs, followed by an announcement regarding the Quarter Quell. President Snow talks about the two previous instances: in the first, the districts voted on the children who would participate in the Games, and in the second, each district had to send twice as many tributes. This year, to remind the rebels that they can’t defeat the Capitol, the male and female tribute of each district will be selected from that district’s Hunger Games winners. In District 12, there are only three, and Katniss is the only female. It means she is headed back into the arena.

Analysis

A main focus of this section is the political unrest that Katniss learns is spreading through Panem, and the events gives Katniss a sense of hope that leads her to wonder if District 12 should revolt soon. Although Katniss learns from Twill and Bonnie that the revolt in District was quite quickly and brutally suppressed, she seems unfazed by the information. Instead she seems to gain encouragement from the fact that it even happened, and then that two women were able to escape and survive. As Katniss learns about other possible uprisings, she becomes even more hopeful and excited. (Ironically, it’s the wealth of the Capitol that gives Katniss some of her information. By asking her prep team from the Capitol, which is not accustomed to doing without anything, what they’ve been unable to get in the past weeks Katniss is able to discern where uprisings may have occurred.) At the end of the section, Katniss asks Haymitch whether he thinks a rebellion could work in District 12, which suggests she’s wondering if they should try it. Haymitch, of course, has a pessimistic view of the situation, but even so it doesn’t seem to dispel Katniss’s hope.

The meaning of the mockingjay image and Katniss’s role as a symbol to the people of Panem come into focus a bit more after Katniss’s chance meeting with Twill and Bonnie in the woods. Twill’s reply to Katniss that the mockingjay image in the cracker means they’re on her side has a few implications. First off, it implies that Katniss is actually on a side. For much of the novel, Katniss has tried to avoid trouble and giving the impression that she’s against the Capitol, but it seems people in the districts, or at least in District 8, think of Katniss as having a particular agenda. If Katniss represents one side, the Capitol represents the other side. In other words, Katniss, despite her best efforts, has become an opponent of the Capitol, at least in image, and the symbol for Katniss’s side of that battle is the mockingjay. Interestingly, all this symbolism has developed without Katniss’s knowledge, and the people in the districts evidently don’t know this. That fact is made clear when Twill and Bonnie realize that Katniss knows nothing about the mockingjay symbol.

Where before the Capitol just seemed to want to limit Katniss’s role in any revolt, it now appears to be actively targeting her with the intent to eliminate her. The first attempt involves the fence that surrounds District 12. Katniss realizes that the fence’s electric current being restored and the two Peacekeepers waiting at her house are more than just coincidence. One of the Peacekeepers even betrays his surprise at seeing her, indicating he didn’t expect her to make it back. What the Capitol seemed to be hoping for was one of two outcomes: either Katniss wouldn’t realize the fence was again electrified and would be killed when she touched it, or she would be caught outside the fence, allowing the Peacekeepers to arrest her. The second effort by the Capitol to get rid of Katniss, the Quarter Quell, hasn’t actually taken place by the end of the section, but it is underway. Having the tributes come from each district’s pool of victors guarantees that Katniss would have to compete again, since no other women from her district have ever won the Games. Again, it seems like more than a coincidence. President Snow’s speech during the broadcast, in which he says the Quarter Quell will remind the rebels that “even the strongest among them cannot overcome the power of the Capitol,” appears to be a direct reference to Katniss’s status as a symbol of the rebellion. These efforts make it clear that Katniss, whether actually or just symbolically, has become a threat they can’t tolerate.

The theory about District 13 that Katniss hears from Twill and Bonnie presents a new mystery in the novel, though as of now there’s no consensus on whether it might be possible. The evidence that Twill and Bonnie tell Katniss to explain their theory, that the footage the Capitol uses of the Justice Building in the district has been reused for years, leaves Katniss skeptical. She realizes Twill and Bonnie are desperate and may be clinging to any hope, but while she never seems to buy completely into it, she can’t seem to dismiss it either. She wonders why the Capitol would tolerate rebels, even if they did have nuclear weapons, implying that she doesn’t believe it’s possible. On the other hand, she also seems to hope that it is. In their discussion at the end of the section, Haymitch says she entertains the idea because she, like Twill and Bonnie, is desperate. He also offers a convincing explanation for why the Capitol reuses the footage: that it’s just easier than actually going to the district each time. Even so, Katniss has been able to verify that they do, in fact, reuse the same footage over and over, and the mere possibility that District 13 has become a rebel outpost lingers as a tantalizing idea in her mind.

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