Skip over navigation

Catching Fire

Suzanne Collins

Chapter 19-21

Chapters 16-18

Chapters 22-24

Summary: Chapter 19

Katniss looks around and sees that in the water there are strips of land radiating out from a central island like spokes. When the gong sounds, signaling the tributes can move, she dives into the water and swims hard for one of the strips, then sprints to the Cornucopia. She finds a bow and arrows immediately, but when she turns Finnick is there with a trident and net. He says it’s lucky they’re allies, and just before Katniss looses an arrow she spots a bangle on his wrist. It’s the one Effie gave Haymitch when training began, and Katniss understands Haymitch meant it as a sign that she should trust Finnick. They fight off a few of the other tributes until Katniss spots Peeta still out in the water. Finnick volunteers to get him and swims out. Mags, meanwhile, swims slowly to land. The four form a group and head away from the Cornucopia into the dense jungle.

Katniss climbs a tree and sees the massacre taking place at the Cornucopia. She’s not surprised but still disappointed, thinking that the tributes were all friends. Finnick seems to know her thoughts and says the tributes didn’t win their Games by chance, except maybe for Peeta. As they hike through the jungle looking for water, Peeta takes the lead, chopping down the dense vegetation. Katniss notices a shimmer in the air indicating a chink in the force field, and before she can say anything, Peeta is sent flying back by the field. Katniss runs to him and finds his heart has stopped.

Summary: Chapter 20

Finnick shoves Katniss out of the way, and initially she thinks he’s trying to kill Peeta. Instead he begins working to resuscitate him. Peeta wakes up and Katniss runs to him, crying hysterically. She sees he’s wearing a chain with a mockingjay hanging from the end. Finnick says Katniss seemed to know the field was there, and she lies and says she can hear it. She doesn’t want the Gamemakers to know that she’s aware of the chinks. They resume walking with Katniss in the lead. They travel a great distance without finding water, and Katniss climbs a tree to get a look. She sees the island is a small, perfectly symmetrical circle.

They make camp for the evening and Katniss goes out to hunt. She kills a large rodent in a tree and notices the rodent’s snout is wet. It was drinking, but she can’t find a water source. They eat it along with the small nuts that are everywhere. The next morning they learn which tributes died, and then they receive a gift. Nobody knows what it is at first, but Katniss realizes it’s a spile. They drive it into a tree and soon have a steady drip of water emerging. In the middle of the night, a gong sounds and a lightning storm takes place in the distance. After the storm ceases, Katniss sees a heavy fog moving toward them, only it doesn’t look natural. She wakes everyone and tells them to run as her skin begins to blister from the fog.

Summary: Chapter 21

They run away, with Finnick carrying Mags. Peeta has difficulty because of his artificial leg, but Katniss stays with him. The fog is often right behind them, and when Peeta finally stumbles, Katniss notices the left side of his face sagging. The fog doesn’t just burn; it’s also a nerve agent. Finnick offers to carry Peeta if Katniss can carry Mags, but Katniss doesn’t get far before her legs barely work. Finnick, whose arms are beginning to twitch, can’t carry both. Before they can decide what to do, Mags kisses Finnick and runs into the fog, collapsing in a horrible seizure. Katniss wants to scream, but she drags herself behind Finnick as he carries Peeta away.

Eventually they can’t run anymore. Katniss watches the fog, expecting it to overtake them, but it stops moving forward, as if it had pressed against a glass. They notice monkeys in the trees as they crawl toward the edge of the sea in front of them, and they find that soaking in the salt water removes the toxin. Finnick is so debilitated that Katniss and Peeta have to help him, but soon he’s recovered. Peeta goes to make a hole for the spile in a tree, and when Katniss and Finnick head toward him they notice the monkeys again. Scores of them sit gathered and waiting. Suddenly they attack, and Katniss, Peeta, and Finnick do all they can to fight them off. Katniss runs out of arrows, and as Peeta reaches to give her the sheath he’s carrying, a monkey leaps at him. Out of nowhere another tribute, the woman from District 6 who is addicted to the drug called morphling, jumps in front of Peeta, and the monkey bites into her chest.

Analysis

As the Games begin, Finnick quickly proves that Katniss can count on him as an ally, suggesting Haymitch may have brokered some sort of deal behind her back. Right from the start, when Katniss and Finnick first come face to face, Finnick already has it in mind that they should work together. He suggests as much when he says it’s a good thing they’re allies, and then he actually proves it when he kills a tribute who is coming up on Katniss from behind. He also shows that he’s willing to protect Peeta. He swims out to retrieve Peeta when Peeta is stuck on the metal platform in the middle of the water, and more notably, he revives Peeta after his heart stops from the shock of the force field. It’s possible, of course, that Finnick recognizes how strong an ally Katniss could be and that she would only partner with him if he looked out for Peeta, but the bangle Finnick wears suggests that Haymitch is somehow involved in his looking out for Peeta and Katniss. It’s the same bangle Effie gave Haymitch so they would all look like part of a team, and Katniss knows Haymitch’s method of communicating well enough to know that he’s signaling to her to trust Finnick.

In fact, the sacrifices other tributes make for her and Peeta are bewildering to Katniss, and they imply that something’s going on which Katniss doesn’t know about. As Katniss recognizes after Finnick resuscitates Peeta, Finnick had no good reason, at least that she knows of, to revive Peeta. Peeta’s death, had it occurred, wouldn’t have been Finnick’s fault, so he didn’t need to worry about Katniss using it as an excuse to break their alliance. He also essentially saved an enemy whom he would later have to kill or who might kill him. Mags also sacrifices herself for their benefits. She may have known she wouldn’t survive the Games because of her age and frailty, but if her concern was just for Finnick, the two of them could have easily survived by running away and leaving Katniss and Peeta to die. Instead, she removed herself as a burden, allowing Finnick to carry Peeta out and letting Katniss only have to bring herself to safety. Lastly, the female morphling addict from District 6 clearly sacrifices herself to save Peeta specifically, but why she would do it is uncertain. All of these events suggest an effort by at least some of the tributes to help Peeta, or Katniss and Peeta, survive.

Katniss focuses primarily on keeping Peeta alive as the Games get underway, and she realizes quickly that she can’t do it on her own. Right from the start Katniss sees that Peeta may be at a disadvantage in the arena. For instance, because he seems not to know how to swim, or because he’s now unable to swim since losing his leg in the first Games, he’s stuck out in the water. Despite the risk to herself, Katniss doesn’t hesitate to go get him, but it’s actually Finnick, a much stronger swimmer than Katniss, who dives in and fetches him. Later, after Peeta gets shocked by the force field and his heart stops, Katniss doesn’t know how to help him. But Finnick revives him, causing Katniss to recognize that, without Finnick, Peeta would have died. This last event forces Katniss to acknowledge that she might not be able to keep Peeta alive by herself, and that realization leads her to temporarily break down in tears as she comes to terms with how limited her control is. That point is underscored twice more in the section. As Katniss and the others run from the fog, it’s again Finnick who essentially saves Peeta, and their survival is only possible because Mags sacrifices herself. Finally, during the monkey attack, the woman from District 6 also sacrifices herself, jumping in to intercept the monkey that would have killed Peeta. The lesson to Katniss is that, if she does intend to keep Peeta alive, she has no choice but to accept help from others, which also means trusting them no matter how uncomfortable it makes her.

The willingness to kill each other that many of the other tributes show at the Cornucopia is a great disappointment for Katniss, perhaps because of what it represents as much as the actual violence. Finnick reminds her that none of the tributes won their Games by chance, implying that they’re all to some degree born killers. But Katniss’s disappointment appears to go deeper than just objecting to their readiness to attack one another. Their display of unity in the interview with Caesar Flickerman was a kind of revolt against the Capitol, and Katniss thought it might also provide some encouragement to the rebels. That the tributes have all cast aside that unity and are fighting each other dispels that sense of solidarity. Moreover, they’re doing exactly what the Capitol wants, which again emphasizes how much power the Capitol has over the people of Panem, even the ones who are willing to stand up to it.

Follow Us