Motifs are recurring structures, contrasts, or literary devices that can help to develop and inform the text’s major themes.


Drugs like morphling are used freely throughout the districts to help those who fall victim to the ravages of war deal with their physical and emotional pain. An unnamed drug is used to knock Katniss out of her hysteria after she figures out how Snow is using Peeta against her in her role as the Mockingjay. However, the drugs do not give her or others peaceful sleep. The doctors seem careful to make sure patients do not become dependent on the drugs, as Johanna and Katniss are weaned off their morphling drips after arriving in District 13. Haymitch offers to have Katniss sedated while a team including Gale goes to the Capitol to rescue Peeta and the other surviving tributes. After Katniss gets shot, she is on morphling, and after she finds Haymitch in Snow’s mansion, she takes a stray morphling tablet while Haymitch self-medicates with alcohol. That such drugs are readily available and often used to avoid pain underscores the reality that it’s easy to postpone pain but harder to confront it, and that the drugs don’t erase it, only delay its effects.


Throughout the novel, secrets are utilized for various means. At times, they are kept from people for their own well-being, and to keep them from interfering with ongoing plans and operations. At other times, they are exposed because truth is often used as a weapon. Katniss keeps her early involvement in the revolution secret from her mother and Prim because she feels they have had all they can handle. The truth about how Snow is using Peeta as a weapon against Katniss is kept secret from her for as long as possible. Finnick reveals he learned many secrets from important Capitol residents in his role as a sexual slave, including the biggest secret of all: President Snow poisoned his adversaries to gain power but drank the same poison followed by an antidote to avoid suspicion. Therefore, he has bleeding sores in his mouth, a secret that ultimately consumes him.


That Snow and Katniss promise not to lie to each other underscores the frequency with which deception is used throughout the story to achieve various ends. Because Snow is so evil, Katniss claims he must be lying when he tells her he did not kill Prim and the Capitol children. Snow, however, subverts expectations by calling Katniss a liar in turn and reminding her of their agreement, suggesting that the idea that Coin was responsible for the destruction has already taken root in Katniss’s mind. This agreement initially seems paradoxical since Panem is based on lies and falsehood, but it ultimately serves to set up the dawning realization that Snow is not the only tyrant who would sacrifice children for his own purposes.