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Katniss wakes up the next morning and thinks about their situation. She isn’t sure whether the others have really been protecting Peeta or if there’s some other strategy, but she decides it’s safer for her and Peeta to split from the group. She doesn’t want the others to know, so she tells him out in the water where no one can hear. He agrees, but he says they should wait until the tributes from District 2 are dead. Then they’ll go. Back on the beach, Beetee has devised a plan to kill the District 2 tributes. He believes they’re probably on the edge of the jungle nearby, and he thinks they’ll move to the beach if the group heads inland. At noon and midnight, lightning always strikes the same tree. By running his wire, a highly conductive variety he invented, from the tree to the sea, they can electrocute a fairly large area just off the shore as well as any part of the beach that’s damp with the saltwater.
They break camp and begin hiking up to the lightning tree for Beetee to inspect it. After that they move to a different section until the lightning storm passes. Then they head back to the beach, where Beetee works with his wire while the others collect food and relax. Peeta finds a pearl that he gives to Katniss, and he can tell that she still intends to keep him alive, even at the expense of her own life. They sit at the edge of the water together holding hands.
They all hike back to the lightning tree, and with Finnick’s help, Beetee winds the wire around it. Katniss and Johanna are sent to run the wire back to the beach and submerge the end deep in the water. They should have enough time to get back into the jungle safely before the lightning strike. As they carry the wire down, the wire suddenly comes curling up to their feet, indicating that it’s been cut. Before Katniss knows what’s happening, she’s struck in the head. She’s hardly coherent but feels Johanna on top of her, digging her knife into Katniss’s forearm. Johanna tells Katniss to stay down and then runs off. Katniss drifts in and out of consciousness as she thinks that Johanna and Finnick must have planned this in order to divide and kill her and Peeta. When she realizes Peeta is in danger she gets up and starts stumbling back to the lightning tree.
She finds Beetee unconscious with a similar wound in his arm. In his hand is Peeta’s knife, wrapped in wire that connects to the lightning tree. He must have been trying to drive it through the gap in the force field that she can see. She hears Peeta calling for her and sees Finnick approaching with Enobaria, one of the District 2 tributes. She draws her bow preparing to shoot Enobaria and suddenly realizes what’s happening. She slides the wire off the knife and ties it around her arrow. She fires the arrow through the gap, and as it pulls the wire through behind it lightning strikes the tree. The force field bursts into a bright light and Katniss is thrown to the ground.
Explosions occur all around as a hovercraft appears and scoops Katniss up. Inside is Plutarch Heavensbee. Katniss blacks out and wakes later partially tied to a padded table, but her limbs are barely functional. She loses consciousness twice and more but eventually wakes to find herself unrestrained. Beetee is there, hooked up to machines. She doesn’t know what’s happening and grabs a syringe, thinking it best to kill Peeta quickly rather than allow the Capitol to torture him. She sneaks down a hallway and listens at a doorway to people inside talking about communications being down in various districts. The voices belong to Plutarch, Finnick, and Haymitch. Haymitch takes the syringe from her and explains everything. All along there was a plan to break the tributes out of the arena. Plutarch has for several years been part of an underground movement to overthrow the Capitol. Some of the tributes knew about the plan, like Beetee, whose job it was to destroy the force field. They’re on their way to District 13 now, and most of the districts are in full-scale rebellion. They didn’t tell Katniss or Peeta because once the force field went down the Capitol would go after them first, and they couldn’t risk the Capitol finding anything out.
Katniss doesn’t know why they would go after her and Peeta first, and Plutarch tells her because the revolution lives as long as she does. She’s the mockingjay. The tributes kept Peeta alive in the arena because they knew Katniss wouldn’t cooperate with the rebels if he died. He informs her that Peeta, Johanna, and Enobaria were picked up by the Capitol. Katniss attacks Haymitch, scratching his face badly, before she’s quickly sedated. She hears Finnick in the bed next to her, saying he’s sorry. Katniss feels betrayed, most of all by Haymitch, who used her and Peeta. Eventually she wakes to find Gale there. He’s badly injured and tells her the Capitol bombed District 12 after the Games. He got Prim and Katniss’s mother out in time, but the District 12 is gone.
A great deal of information about the Games, the rebellion, and Katniss’s role in all of it is finally revealed, and it changes Katniss’s understanding of several earlier events. Katniss believed, for instance, that the tributes were doing everything they could to keep Peeta alive because they thought he could be the voice of the rebellion. In fact, Peeta is only valuable because his death would likely mean Katniss wouldn’t cooperate with the rebellion. In other words, the focus wasn’t even on Peeta but on Katniss. Katniss had also suspected that Plutarch Heavensbee was trying to tip her off, and not only does she have that suspicion confirmed, she learns he’s been part of an underground rebellion for years. A plot has been in the works since the Games began, with many of the tributes playing a role, which causes Katniss to realize that everyone, most notably Haymitch, has been lying to her for weeks. Moreover, Haymitch’s dismissals of Katniss’s ideas about District 13 were also apparently lies, which suggests that District 13 may in fact be home to a rebel population. Rather than feel relieved or excited, however, Katniss feels mostly betrayed for not having been told.
Katniss, in fact, begins the section with her trust of the other tributes already quickly fading, and by the end that trust has entirely disappeared. With the field of tributes diminishing, Katniss believes that soon the remaining tributes will face off against one another, which makes her wary of them. But she also doesn’t trust them because she can sense that something is going on regarding Peeta, and while she has her theory about why they might be protecting him, the fact that she ultimately doesn’t know makes her uncomfortable. In the context of the Games, where the rule is literally kill or be killed, she feels safer concluding that, even though the others have been helpful so far, they could still turn against her and Peeta at any moment. Later, as Katniss and Johanna begin running the wire to the beach, Katniss immediately assumes Johanna and Finnick have been plotting to kill her and Peeta after Johanna attacks her, and even when she’s later recuperating in the hovercraft she assumes it’s because the Capitol wants to torture her rather than let her die quickly. Finally, when she learns the truth about everything, her trust in those around her vanishes completely.
A great irony underlies the way the rebellion used Katniss and Peeta for its own purposes. Between this novel and the last, both Katniss and Peeta have said they don’t want to be treated as pawns in the Capitol’s games. That feeling—that they aren’t totally in control of their lives and that a more powerful force is manipulating them agains their wills—is in large part why both rebel against the Capitol and want it to fail. Now Katniss learns that the rebellion, with Haymitch’s assistance in particular, has been using her and Peeta as pawns in its own schemes. It has taken Katniss as its symbol without informing her and then used Peeta essentially as leverage to keep her in line. (Alhough, unlike the Capitol, it did so by keeping him alive rather than threatening to kill him, so the rebellion at least has that in its favor.) The rebellion, in other words, treats Katniss and Peeta much like the Capitol does.
What’s notable about the way the rebellion uses Katniss is that it’s made her a symbol in appearance only. She wasn’t ever told that a rebellion was in the works and she didn’t have any part in its planning or organization. She was essentially excluded from it. But even so, the rebellion still took advantage of her image. It seems highly probable, for instance, that Cinna was also aware of everything going on and designed Katniss’s mockingjay costume with the rebellion in mind. The rebellion used her much as the Capitol did, by making her an unwilling part of a publicity campaign, which is something Katniss always hated about the way the Capitol treated her. The major differences are that she doesn’t have to give interviews or deliver speeches for the rebellion, at least not yet, and in theory she sympathizes with it, which can’t be said about her feelings toward the Capitol. Even so, Katniss never consented to any of the ways she or her image have been used, and that’s why she feels betrayed rather than feeling like she’s helped out a cause she believes in. It’s why Katniss feels so much hatred for Haymitch when she learns he participated in these deceits knowingly. Notably, the entire situation implies that Katniss’s image is perhaps of more value to the rebellion than Katniss’s actual involvement.
While the final chapters tie up a number of loose ends, they also raise new questions to be addressed in the final novel of the series. Katniss now knows that an uprising is underway across Panem, and the fact that Plutarch Heavensbee, who holds a relatively powerful position as Head Gamemaker, is involved suggests that the rebellion is more far-reaching and organized than Katniss had ever imagined. The full scope of the rebellion, however, isn’t clear, nor is it clear exactly what is happening in the districts. The Capitol has evidently bombed District 12 out of existence, and communications are down in several districts. From these details it sounds like in the brief time Katniss has been unconscious a full-scale war has broken out between the Capitol and a potentially large and well-organized resistance. It’s also not certain what, if anything, exists in District 13. Katniss has heard plenty of speculation, which Haymitch provided very logical and reasonable counter-arguments for. But Katniss learns that the hovercraft she’s in is headed to District 13, so obviously something must be there. Whether it’s the home of underground rebels armed with nuclear weapons, however, remains to be seen. Lastly, Katniss discovers that Peeta has been taken by the Capitol. It’s impossible to discern what his fate will be, but it seems likely that Katniss won’t rest until she’s rescued him.