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.