For no apparent reason the monkeys begin to retreat, and the group carries the injured woman out to the sand. As she lies dying, Peeta, knowing she was fascinated with colors, describes the colors of various things to her. It’s still night, so they decide to get some rest. Finnick takes first watch, and Katniss can see that he’s distraught over Mags’s death. When she wakes she finds he’s collected water and shellfish for them. The blisters caused by the fog have scabbed over and itch, and when Katniss looks to the sky and asks Haymitch to send something for their skin, a parachute almost immediately arrives with an ointment. It turns their skin green but offers immediate relief. Katniss and Finnick decide to wake Peeta with their faces all green, and they get a laugh from the fright it gives him. A loaf of bread parachutes down, and Katniss realizes Haymitch is telling her to be friends with Finnick.
From the beach they see a massive wave hit part of the island, and a bit later three people come out of the jungle walking toward them. It’s Johanna Mason, Wiress, and Beetee. Beetee is injured, having taken a knife in the back at the Cornucopia. Johanna says it rained blood in the jungle, and Wiress seems to have lost her mind. She repeats “Tick, tock” over and over. Johanna angrily shoves Wiress, and when Katniss shouts at her she slaps Katniss and says she saved them for her. They treat Beetee’s wound and Katniss helps Beetee and Wiress wash all the blood off. While everyone rests, Katniss and Johanna keep watch. Johanna asks what happened to Mags, and when Katniss tells her she says Mags was Finnick’s mentor and half his family. She also explains that she saved Wiress and Beetee because Haymitch told her that if she and Katniss were going to be allies she had to save them for Katniss. A gong sounds twelve times again and Katniss sees a lightning storm start. She realizes then that the island is a clock face, and each section has its own danger that is triggered at a certain time. That’s what Wiress means by “Tick, tock.”
Katniss wakes everyone and explains what she figured out. She then remembers Plutarch Heavensbee saying “It starts at midnight” and showing her the mockingjay on the night of the feast. Beetee asks for the wire he had that Katniss took off when she bathed him, and Finnick gets it for him. Johanna doesn’t understand why he wants it so badly. Peeta points out that Beetee won his Games by using wire to create an electrical trap. Katniss thinks Johanna must have known this and wonders why she would pretend not to. They head to the Cornucopia to watch the jungle, and Wiress begins singing as she washes Beetee’s wire in the sea. Peeta creates a map on a large leaf while Finnick and Johanna load up with weapons.
Katniss notices Wiress has stopped singing and notches an arrow as she turns to find Gloss, the male tribute from District 1, has slit Wiress’s throat. Katniss’s arrow skewers his head as Johanna hits the female tribute from District 1, Cashmere, who is Gloss’s sister, square in the chest with an axe. The tributes from District 2, Enobaria and Brutus, also attack, and Finnick deflects a spear from hitting Peeta and takes a knife in his thigh before they flee. As Katniss goes to chase them, the ground under the Cornucopia begins rapidly spinning, then stops abruptly, leaving everyone disoriented. They realize that the spinning caused them to lose track of which section is which. They cautiously enter a section of jungle, and Peeta wants to go deeper to gather water. But Johanna says he should stay and make another map and leave Katniss to do that. Katniss realizes that the tributes are all working to keep Peeta alive, and the only reason she can come up with is that he’s by far the best speaker of the group and the most moral. She wonders if he’s being kept alive to serve as the leader of the rebellion. Just then she hears her sister, Prim, screaming and rushes into the jungle to find her.
Katniss finds a jabberjay making the noise that sounds exactly like her sister. She kills it and understands that it’s a trick by the Gamemakers. Just as Finnick catches up to her she hears an unfamiliar voice crying out, and Finnick rushes after it. He runs to it, shouting “Annie!” but when Katniss reaches him and shoots the bird making the sound, he also realizes it was a trick. They think the Gamemakers must have collected the screams the birds repeat from their actual loved ones. It’s a psychological blow to both. They decide to leave, but heading back, they literally walk into a transparent wall separating them from Peeta, Johanna, and Beetee. It’s impenetrable, and Katniss realizes they’re trapped inside for the hour.
More and more birds arrive and torture them with the distressed voices of their loved ones. When it’s over Peeta reassures Katniss that the voices weren’t real, and Beetee confirms for them that it’s not difficult to manipulate a recording of someone’s voice. Johanna says they’d never hurt Prim because the public loves her, and to Katniss’s surprise she shouts loudly that they’d never want the whole country in rebellion. Peeta asks Katniss whose voice they used against Finnick, and he guesses it’s Annie Cresta, the girl Mags volunteered for. In her Games, she went mad when her district partner was beheaded, but she managed to survive and win because of her strong swimming skills after a broken dam flooded most of the arena. Katniss recognizes that despite Finnick’s image, the woman he loves is a broken girl back home.
That night the faces of the dead are projected into the sky. Sixteen have been killed. Only their group remains, along with the tributes from District 2 and Chaff. Peeta and Katniss take the first watch. Peeta says they both know what the other is trying to do, but Katniss should consider their circumstances. If she dies, he has nothing, and his family doesn’t need him the way Katniss’s family needs her. He takes out his mockingjay necklace and opens it to reveal pictures of Katniss’s family and Gale. She knows he’s not doing this for the cameras. It’s how he really feels. Katniss says that she needs him, and for a time they kiss while the others sleep. She feels an emotion for Peeta then that she only felt once before, when they were together in a cave in the first Games. Finnick wakes and offers to keep watch, so Katniss goes to lie down. She imagines a world without the Games and the Capitol.
Katniss seems to confirm that the tributes are working together to keep Peeta alive, and while she has a theory as to why, she doesn’t have a definitive answer. Katniss finally concludes that all the efforts and sacrifices to protect Peeta by Finnick, Mags, the morphling addict from District 6, and now even Johanna suggest that Peeta is vitally important for some reason, so much so that his survival is worth dying for. As Katniss tries to determine why, she realizes that the two features Peeta possesses which none of the other tributes have are a fundamental goodness and the ability to persuade and connect with an audience when he speaks. Katniss has little doubt that the other tributes and Haymitch recognize these qualities in him. She thinks it was Peeta’s goodness Finnick was referring to, for instance, when he said earlier that none of them were victors by chance, except maybe for Peeta, since Peeta is perhaps the only one of the group who is totally unwilling to harm anyone else. Since the tributes have all seen Peeta speak as well, they also know what a natural and persuasive speaker he can be. The only conclusion Katniss can draw, even if it seems far-fetched, is that they want Peeta to be the leader and voice of the rebellion. If that’s the case, and they genuinely believe the fate of the rebellion may hinge on Peeta’s survival, it makes sense that the tributes might sacrifice themselves for him.
The fundamental, self-sacrificing goodness of Peeta’s character comes out again in this section. The most notable instance is when he tries to convince Katniss that her life is more worth saving than his own. Katniss realizes that what he says isn’t for the sake of the cameras. He would truly give his life to save hers without hesitation, not because he doesn’t value his own life, but because he loves Katniss and understands what it means that more people rely on her than rely on him. We also see Peeta’s desire to prevent violence when he puts himself in the middle of a potentially violent confrontation between Katniss and Finnick. Having realized that the tributes won’t hesitate to kill each other, Katniss immediately wonders whether she can trust Finnick, and the discussion she and Finnick have quickly escalates to the point that both are ready to reach for their weapons. It’s unlikely that Peeta simply doesn’t notice their tension as he steps between them. Instead, he more likely does it to keep them from attacking each other, and in doing so he is able to quickly defuse the situation. Katniss, in that scene, thinks of how Peeta wouldn’t attack his friends as the other tributes did, but would instead try to persuade them to join together. It’s that willingness to sacrifice himself for the good of others and his desire to prevent conflict as seen in these two instances that Katniss believes would make him an excellent leader.
Katniss and Peeta rekindle their romantic relationship to some degree, only now Katniss seems much more responsive to Peeta than she has previously. The trigger that unleashes Katniss’s feelings for Peeta is the thought of what would happen if he died. After he explains that it makes more sense for her to survive than him, she counters by saying that she needs him, and when she kisses him, the feeling she had when they kissed in the cave during the last Games comes rushing back to her. The difference is that now there are no interruptions, and as they continue kissing, she feels herself responding more to him than she ever has. The fact that nothing interrupts them seems to play a role, but other factors appear to be at work as well. Katniss is not kissing Peeta now to play to the audience in order to elicit gifts, as she did in the previous Games. She’s also not hampered by any conflicting feelings about Gale, as she has been at other times. Perhaps for the first time she kisses Peeta with no ulterior motive and no other considerations. Her reason is entirely that she feels a romantic attraction to him and his strength of character, and it seems to have been brought on by the goodness he’s continually displayed and the care he’s shown for her.
Katniss’s opinion of Johanna, meanwhile, also seems to improve in this section, though it remains far from high. From the start the two have felt animosity toward one another. In fact, Katniss’s dislike of Johanna began with their first meeting, when Johanna flaunted her naked body in front of Peeta after training. Since then they’ve had a few run-ins, including one instance in which Johanna slapped Katniss, and of the all the members of their small group, Katniss obviously trusts her the least. She thought Johanna was lying, for example, when Johanna questioned why Beetee was so intent on retrieving his wire. The event that changes Katniss’s mind slightly is when Johanna shouts aloud that “they,” meaning the Gamemakers and the Capitol, wouldn’t’ want the whole country to rebel. It’s a brazen move that Katniss knows could bring the Capitol’s wrath down on Johanna and get her killed, and recognizing that Johanna feels the same about the Capitol as she does establishes a connection between them for the first time. Later, Katniss laughs at one of Johanna’s jokes, and she notices that Johanna seems pleased, suggesting that a friendship is slowly budding between them.
This section shows a much different side of Finnick’s character than Katniss has seen before, and she comes to understand that he’s not the person she initially thought. Before meeting Finnick, Katniss already knew of him from his appearances on television, and he always seemed to be an arrogant, superficial man who went through lovers in the Capitol at a rapid clip. Their first meeting seemed to confirm this image of him, but in the Games he’s proven to be quite different than Katniss expected. He’s loyal, dutiful, and far from self-absorbed, as evidenced by his caring for Mags and Peeta, despite the risk to himself, and by small acts like collecting food for everyone without being asked. He’s also not the emotionless womanizer Katniss believed. He feels genuinely hurt by Mags’s death, and his reaction to the jabberjay that sounds like Annie shows that he has strong feelings for Annie and a desire to protect her. When Katniss learns more about Annie, she realizes that Finnick doesn’t care about women in the Capitol. He’s in love with, as she puts it, “a poor, mad girl back home.” What all these details suggest is that Finnick’s public persona is likely a deliberate façade, and that his true feelings aren’t reflected in it. In that way he’s much like Katniss.
Katniss’s memory of her encounter with Plutarch Heavensbee raises some important questions about the reach of the rebellions spreading through Panem. On recognizing that the island’s dangers are divided up according to a clock face, and that the dangers kick off at the island’s “midnight,” she makes the connection that Heavensbee was perhaps trying to pass this information along when he showed her his clock. His exact words, she remembers, were “It starts at midnight.” If Heavensbee was passing on information, it would explain why he was acting so secretively, and it would also mean that Heavensbee wanted Katniss to survive, or at least have an advantage. Moreover, now that Katniss knows the mockingjay is the symbol of the rebellion, it casts the vanishing mockingjay on his watch’s face in a new light. The evidence suggests that Heavensbee himself is part of the rebellion. That he is Head Gamemaker, which is a powerful position in the Capitol, implies that the rebellion has spread far more than Katniss realized, even reaching top posts in Panem’s government.