Summary: Chapter 16

Reeling from the shock of seeing Darius as an Avox, Katniss has terrible nightmares all night. In the morning she goes down late to breakfast, where Haymitch starts going over their strategy for the first day of training. He says they have to keep up the love the act, and they have to find or create a pack, because otherwise they’ll be at a serious disadvantage. In training Katniss manages to strike up a friendship with the tributes from District 3, Wiress and Beetee, who are both inventors. At one point they notice a slightly shimmering patch in front of the judges who are watching. They say it’s a small gap in the force field protecting them. Later Katniss talks to Peeta and tells them she wants Wiress and Beetee as allies. He says some of the others make fun of them and call them “Nuts and Volts.” Katniss doesn’t care. She wants them on her side. The other person she wants to team with is Mags, the old woman from District 4. Mags’s speech is garbled, leading Katniss to believe she’s had a stroke, but she’s also friendly and volunteered to save a young woman from her district. Katniss heads to the archery station and shows off her lethal skill with a bow. That evening, Haymitch tells her he’s gotten requests from half the tributes to team with her.

The next day the tributes are all supposed to demonstrate a skill for the Gamemakers privately. Katniss and Peeta talk just before their turns and agree they don’t want to kill anyone. When Katniss is called, she isn’t sure what she’ll do. She sees Plutarch Heavensbee, who won’t meet her gaze, and she has an idea. She ties a noose from a length of rope and puts it around the neck of a target dummy. Using berry juice, she writes a name on the front, then steps away to show the Gamemakers. It says “SENECA CRANE,” which is the name of the former head Gamemaker who was executed for the debacle of Katniss’s and Peeta’s victory.

Summary: Chapter 17

Katniss is pleased with the surprise she’s given the Gamemakers. At dinner Haymitch asks Katniss and Peeta what each did. Peeta reveals that he painted a picture of Rue after she’d been killed. Everyone at the table is startled. Katniss then explains her audience with the Gamemakers, and the shock is even greater. Peeta adds that they don’t want to partner with anyone. Later, Katniss and Peeta talk about what each did and why they did it. Katniss wanted to show the Capitol that she’s more than a piece in their games, and they agree that at least they will die fighting. The following day they learn their coaching sessions have been canceled, meaning they have a whole day free. They order some food and go up to the roof, where they spend the hours happily talking, playing Games, and lying on a blanket together. At one point Peeta says he wishes he could freeze that moment, and Katniss jokingly says she’ll allow it.

The day after all the tributes are scheduled to appear on Caesar Flickerman’s show. Katniss’s prep team can hardly keep from crying as they get her ready. Katniss will be wearing a wedding dress, and she learns President Snow commanded that she be put in a specific dress. It’s not the one she and Cinna would have chosen. She notices it’s very heavy, and Cinna says he made some alterations. He tells her to make sure she twirls in it though. Peeta, meanwhile, is dressed in a tuxedo. The tributes, each in their own way, vent their rage about the Quell, and the audience, who has come to know all of them over the years, is distraught. Finally, Katniss tells Caesar she’s sorry he won’t be able to go to her wedding, but she’s glad he saw her dress. When she twirls in it, the dress catches fire and burns away, leaving Katniss in an outfit made of feathers. She realizes she’s dressed as a mockingjay.

Summary: Chapter 18

It’s Peeta’s turn to be interviewed. He’s obviously feeling upset, and to Katniss’s surprise, he tells Caesar Flickerman that the two of them are already married. It’s not official, but there’s a marriage ritual in District 12 that they did, and in their minds they’re as married as they could ever be. Caesar says it’s better that they had some time together before the Quell, but Peeta says if they’d known about the Quell they wouldn’t have done it, because now Katniss is pregnant. The audience bursts into an uproar as people cry and shout, and before they can be calmed the tributes spontaneously begin reaching for each other. A moment later they’re all standing together in a row holding hands in the first show of unity among the districts since the last rebellion, called the Dark Days. Afterward Peeta asks Katniss if he was wrong to do it, but she says he wasn’t, and she thinks no matter what happens, the tributes have staged their own sort of rebellion.

Katniss and Peeta return to the Training Center where they see Haymitch. He tells them about the chaos outside. He won’t see them again after that night, so they say their goodbyes. Before he leaves, he tells Katniss to remember who the enemy is. Katniss and Peeta sleep in the same bed, but they have to part when they wake because each tribute enters the Games alone. With Cinna, Katniss boards the hovercraft that takes her to the arena. She dresses in the uniform they give her, a jumpsuit made of a thin material, a belt coated in plastic, and nylon shoes with rubber soles. He kisses Katniss’s forehead as she steps onto a large metal plate, around which a glass cylinder comes down. Without warning three Peacekeepers burst into the room and beat Cinna with metal-studded gloves, opening cuts all over. Katniss bangs on the glass but can’t do anything, and then the plate lifts her up into the arena. All around she sees only water.