Katniss leaves a marker in the woods for Gale to follow and thinks back to what happened after she saw the uprising on television. She found Madge and they talked about Katniss’s mockingjay pin. Katniss thought how the mockingjays were a mistake, a hybrid of mockingbirds and a species created by the Capitol as a weapon that backfired against it. In the woods, Katniss arrives at an abandoned house, and before long Gale arrives. She tells him about President Snow’s threats against him, her family, and possibly even his family. She says they should run away, and to her surprise, Gale is thrilled. He tells her he loves her, but Katniss only replies that she knows. She says she can’t think of anyone that way right now. They argue briefly after Katniss says Haymitch and Peeta would have to come with them, and then Katniss mentions the uprising. Gale is shocked but elated. He says District 12 should take up the fight, too, and that he won’t run away. He tells her it’s no longer just about them and their families anymore and leaves.
On her way home Katniss finds Peeta and tells him they need to run away. He agrees to go, and as they approach the town’s main square they notice something is going on. A crowd is assembled. Katniss begins pushing through until she sees Gale bloody and slumped to his knees, the turkey he killed hunting nailed to the post he’s tied to, and an unfamiliar new Head Peacekeeper with a whip.
Katniss covers Gale with her body as the whip comes down across her face. Before the Peacekeeper can strike again Haymitch shouts for him to stop. He yells at the Peacekeeper, saying Katniss’s face won’t be ready for her photo shoot the next week, and it’s enough to get the Peacekeeper to worry. One of the usual Peacekeepers of the district says Gale has received the punishment required by protocol, so the new Head Peacekeeper leaves. They rush Gale to Katniss’s mother, who often treats injuries, and along the way Katniss learns that the former Head Peacekeeper of their district is now gone. Katniss’s mother treats Gale, and Haymitch and Peeta take Katniss out of the room. When her mother comes in she asks Haymitch if it’s starting again, and Katniss wonders what she means.
Madge arrives to bring Gale painkillers, which makes Katniss jealous. She spends time sitting next to Gale, touching his face, and imagines what it would have been like had their roles been reversed. She realizes she loves Gale. She feels selfish and cowardly, and reflecting back on the moment when she and Peeta threatened to eat the poisonous berries at the end of the Games, she thinks she doesn’t really know what her motivation was. It may, in fact, have been an act of defiance. She kisses Gale and as he awakens briefly, she says she’s not going anywhere. She’s going to stay and cause all sorts of trouble.
Katniss goes to lie down and has a nightmare about being back in the Games. She wakes to find there’s a blizzard going on outside, which should give her some time with Peeta, Haymitch, and Gale to think and plan. Her concern in fighting the Capitol isn’t her safety but her family’s, until she realizes they’ve already suffered a great deal at the hands of the Capitol. The thought that no one has the right to treat them as they’ve been treated motivates her. Days pass as the storm clears and the snow is removed, and finally Katniss, Peeta, and Haymitch take a walk outside where they can’t be overheard. Katniss comes right out and says she wants to start an uprising. Haymitch dismisses the idea, and coming up to the town center they see everything has changed. Peacekeepers are everywhere, there are now machine gun nests on the rooftops, and whipping posts and a gallows have been set up. In the distance the Hob is burning. Katniss and Peeta check on Hazelle, Gale’s mother, and learn that the mines are closed until further notice.
Weeks pass and the mines haven’t reopened. Food shortages spread and people are beginning to starve. The Peacekeepers are also cracking down harshly on every offense, no matter how minor. One morning, after having received a crate of wedding dresses approved by President Snow himself, Katniss goes into the woods despite the risk. She finds her bow and hikes to the old house where she met Gale, too distracted to notice someone inside. When she finally does, she hears the click of a weapon behind her. Turning with an arrow drawn, she sees a woman staring back who drops the gun to the ground. In her outstretched hand is a small cracker with a mockingjay stamped in the center.