The novel often pays special attention to the clothing Katniss wears, emphasizing the theme of the duplicity and power of appearances. At the start of the novel, as Katniss returns from the woods, she changes out of her old clothes, which she clearly feels fit her character better, into the new clothes she got after winning the Games. She finds these new clothes uncomfortable, but she also recognizes they’re more suitable to her new “status,” as her mother puts it. In a sense they hide her feeling of still being the same poor but self-sufficient girl she was before the Games. Designing clothes also happens to be the talent she’s developing, even though it’s really Cinna doing all the work, which is again a kind of duplicity. After Peeta publicly proposes, Katniss has to film a special about finding her wedding dress as though she’s thrilled with the events, when in fact she’s distraught about them.

Later, President Snow tries to demonstrate his control over Katniss by choosing the dress she’s to wear during the tributes’ interview with Caesar Flickerman, but Cinna turns that desire for control against him. He rigs the dress so that it burns away when Katniss twirls, leaving her clad in the highly symbolic mockingjay costume. He turns President Snow’s bid for control into a statement against the Capitol. He also designs the costume Katniss wears for the televised introduction to the tributes, and the novel gives special emphasis to Katniss’s detailed description of the fabric, which mimics a glowing coal ember to suggest power and also recalls Katniss’s nickname of “the girl who was on fire.” In each instance, the clothes are significant because they project an image, one that can be misleading, like the wedding dresses, or extraordinarily powerful, like the mockingjay costume.


Secrets proliferate throughout the novel, creating much of the conflict that drives the plot. For the most part, there are two types of secrets: those that characters try to keep from the Capitol, and those that characters try to keep from Katniss. The first category includes Katniss’s hunting in the woods and her time spent with Gale. It also includes the entire rebellion, which works surreptitiously to bring down the Capitol. These things are kept secret because the Capitol brutally punishes anyone that breaks its law, though we do learn that Capitol does, in fact, know about Katniss’s rendezvous with Gale in the woods outside District 12.

The second category, secrets kept from Katniss, include all the rebellion’s plots, which neither Haymitch nor the other tributes tell Katniss about. Several events in the Quarter Quell, for instance, like the tributes’ plan to escape and the reason the tributes are doing everything they can to keep Peeta alive, aren’t revealed to Katniss until the very end of the novel. Katniss also isn’t told just how highly symbolic she’s become to the rebellion. She suspects something after meeting the two refugees from District 8 who show her the mockingjay cracker, but it isn’t until after she’s out of the arena that Haymitch explains the full scope of her symbolic value. It’s a secret he’s kept from her throughout the novel, even lying to her at times to protect it. He’s also lied to her to keep the truth from her about District 13.

The two categories overlap in several instances. The tributes all hid the truth about their plans to escape during the Quarter Quell from Katniss and the Capitol. There are also secrets that don’t fall into either category, such as the truth about Katniss’s relationship with Peeta, which everyone, for various reasons, works to hide from the public.


Mutliple characters’ mouths disturb Katniss, until finally they become the central image of a nightmare. As Katniss and President Snow talk in her house at the start of the novel, Katniss notices his lips and mouth, thinking he must have had cosmetic surgery. His lips are overly full, suggesting there’s something unnatural about them, and the effect discomforts Katniss. Later, when Katniss first meets Finnick, she notes how he wets his lips with his tongue. Rather than make him seem more alluring in her eyes, it brings to mind Cray, the former Head Peacekeeper of District 12 who was notorious for luring young girls into his bed. She pictures Cray salivating over a vulnerable woman. At the end of that same chapter, Katniss learns that Darius, another Peacekeeper from her district, has been turned into an Avox. The Capitol has, among other things, cut out his tongue, rendering him mute. Katniss has already been suffering from nightmares, and shortly after she has a terrifying one about tongues and mouths. In it she watches Darius’s tongue being cut out, then finds herself at a party where a man with flicking wet tongue in a mask reveals himself to be President Snow. His lips are dripping with bloody saliva. The dream ends with her own tongue feeling dried out, as it did when she nearly died of dehydration in the Games.