Catching Fire (Book 2 of The Hunger Games Trilogy) By Suzanne Collins Summary and Analysis Part 1: Chapter 4

Summary

Haymitch and Katniss silently return to the train, where Haymitch tells Katniss she could do worse than Peeta. Unable to fall asleep, Katniss lays awake in bed all night pondering what her new life will be like. Ultimately, she agrees with Haymitch that there are worse husbands out there than Peeta.

Before Katniss has a chance to fall asleep, Effie knocks on her door, announcing that it is time for breakfast. After breakfast, Flavius, Octavia, and Venia begin prepping Katniss for their first stop, in District 11. The waxing, bathing, and polishing takes all morning, and Katniss joins the others for lunch when it is completed. She is in a bad mood because she doesn't know what to do, and she barely acknowledges the others' attempts to engage her in conversation.

The train comes to a stop because a part has malfunctioned and must be replaced. This will cause an hour delay, which sends Effie into a fit. Exhausted, miserable, and annoyed by Effie's frantic fussing over the delay, Katniss rudely snaps at her and tells her no one cares. When no one steps in to agree with her, Katniss heads toward the exit.

Peeta joins her outside and apologizes for the way he has treated her since returning home from the Games. He says it wasn't fair to hold Katniss to anything she did or said during the Games. He realizes she was doing everything she could to keep them alive, that it was all part of the strategy necessary to secure victory and survival. He says he wants them to be friends because he doesn't want them to continue ignoring each other and also admits his jealousy of Gale.

Katniss accepts his apology and offers one of her own, though Peeta tells her she has nothing to be sorry about. The two are enjoying their rekindled friendship, and re-board the train so Peeta can show Katniss his talent, painting. While Peeta's paintings are vivid and beautifully done, Katniss hates them because he has painted various scenes from the Hunger Games. They are very lifelike and bring up painful memories for Katniss, who finds out that Peeta has also been having nightmares since the Games.

The train arrives at District 11, the first stop on the Victory Tour. District 11 is also the home of Thresh, a strong tribute from the Games whom Katniss greatly respected, and of Rue, a young girl she formed an alliance with during the Games and who reminded her of Prim. The group is shocked by the district's large size and comments on how poor and dilapidated it looks.

Peeta and Katniss are thanked by the mayor and offer some personal words of thanks to the families of Rue and Thresh. Peeta announces he wants the families to each receive one month of their winnings every year for the rest of Katniss' and his lives. Touched by his kindness, Katniss gathers up the courage to say some words about Rue and Thresh. She is shocked when an old man in the crowd whistles the mockingjay tune that Rue and Katniss used to signal to each other during the Games. She is even more surprised when the rest of the audience presses their three middle fingers to their lips and extends them to her, the gesture from District 12 that means goodbye or thank you.

Under different circumstances, she would be touched by their acts of gratitude. However, she feels she has just caused more trouble and given more fuel to the fire that is the growing rebellion. Her suspicions are confirmed when they witness the district's Peacekeepers shooting the old man.

Analysis

This chapter marks one more of Katniss' freedoms that the Capitol and Snow have taken away. She is upset she will be forced to be with Peeta the rest of her life, but that is not what troubles her the most.

In District 12, one of the few freedoms people have is the decision of when and whom to marry, or if to marry at all. Before the Games, Katniss had never wanted to get married — to Gale, Peeta, or anyone. But now she will have to marry Peeta and will have to watch her children compete and possibly die in the Hunger Games. The forced relationship she will be forced to pursue demonstrates that while some relationships have strengthened Katniss, others are slowly breaking her. The relationship motif is important in understanding how the Games will affect every decision Katniss makes for the rest of her life.

This realization adds to the theme of imprisonment Katniss feels. She will forever be imprisoned in a marriage she doesn't want and will never be able to break free from the Capitol's controlling grip on her life. Even if the Capitol can't trap her in another arena, they can condemn her to a different type of torture: that she might have to watch her and Peeta's children sent off as tributes.

The scene in which Peeta and she reconcile is significant because their goals have switched. Prior to this scene, Peeta had wanted a romantic relationship with Katniss, though she only wanted to be friends. However, President Snow's threats have changed things completely, and now she has to make her romance with Peeta as believable as possible. Peeta is hoping to be just friends while Katniss needs to go back to being in a romantic relationship with him. Though they each have different ideas of what their relationship now means, they both hope to return to normal. Katniss enjoys his friendship again, and is relieved their broken relationship seems to have mended.

The motif of dreams and nightmares is introduced in this chapter when Katniss discovers that Peeta, too, is plagued by nightmares of their Games. The nightmares serve as a reminder to them both that they can never really escape the Games, contributing to the theme of imprisonment. The nightmares are, inadvertently, a weapon of the Capitol used to manipulate and abuse them. Even Haymitch is tormented by nightmares, and while Peeta paints to help relieve the fear he relives each night, Haymitch has turned to alcohol to counteract the effects of the dreams.

When the old man from the crowd whistles, he illustrates what the mockingjay tune means to the people of District 11, and possibly across Panem. The mockingjay, Katniss and Rue's friendship, and the whistling are all related to one another. They are intricately connected as symbols of rebellion, and as threats to the Capitol. And while Katniss should be happy others are willing to openly rebel against the Capitol, she is terrified that this means Snow will kill her family and friends. Snow has found a way to turn her mockingjay symbol against her, to entrap her in a permanent state of fear and pain.

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During the Victory Tour, the paintings that Peeta shows to Katniss illustrate what?




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