Summary and Analysis
Katniss panics when she realizes President Snow has travelled all the way from the Capitol to District 12 and paid her a personal visit. Snow never leaves the Capitol. His presence can only mean that she is in serious trouble. She is terrified of meeting him, and his stench of blood and roses nauseates her.
Snow tells Katniss that things between them will be much easier if they agree to be truthful with one another. He indirectly threatens her and Gale's families if she refuses to cooperate with him. The way he lingers on her cousins tells Katniss that Snow does not believe Gale is her cousin, which was a lie concocted by District 12 during the Games so that Panem wouldn't view their friendship as a threat to Peeta and Katniss' supposed romance. He hints that he is aware there are romantic feelings between Katniss and Gale, which endanger the love story Peeta and Katniss have worked so hard to build and maintain.
According to Snow, at the end of the Games, when Katniss gave Peeta and herself poisonous berries to eat to commit suicide and ensure there were no victors, Katniss created a big problem for the Capitol. Most people in the districts believe that Katniss' attempt at suicide was an act of insanity as she was overcome by her love of Peeta. However, some people saw her act as defying the Capitol and are now threatening rebellion.
Snow pretends to care about the people in Panem, saying that a rebellion would kill many people, and the survivors would have to deal with horrendous conditions. A rebellion, Snow claims, would collapse Panem's stable system.
Katniss proposes that Snow simply execute her or arrange to have her "accidentally" killed, but he says her death would only add more fuel to the uprising and create serious trouble. Instead, Snow tells Katniss that the Victory Tour is her final chance to convince everyone she is madly in love with Peeta — even though he knows Katniss isn't sure of her feelings for Peeta or for Gale.
Katniss begins to realize that she has been watched more closely than she thought. No longer are the woods a safe haven where she and Gale are free to say how they feel. Instead, the Capitol has invaded even that sacred sphere of her life. The woods are now ruined.
Katniss decides that the Capitol views her and Gale's weekly hunting trips — and the one time that Gale unexpectedly kissed her, which Snow knows about — as flaunting her defiance in front of the entire district. In the Capitol's eyes, she's been ignoring Peeta and the relationship they are supposed to be in. Katniss tries unsuccessfully to refute Snow's claims that she is indifferent to Peeta and his feelings for her. She realizes her carelessness has endangered hers, Peeta's, and Gale's families. She begs Snow not to harm Gale, but Snow tells her he is more concerned with her relationship with Peeta than her friendship with Gale.
Snow instructs Katniss that she must convince all of Panem that she is in love with Peeta during the Victory Tour, and she must also convince Snow himself. Doing so is her only chance to save her family and friends.
Before she participated in the Hunger Games, Katniss hated the Capitol because of its humiliating, sadistic, and cruel manipulation. Gale and Katniss would frequently mock the Capitol and the Games. But now her hatred of the Capitol is personal. When she returned home after surviving the Games, nothing was the same; everything had changed for the worse. From her broken relationships with Gale and Peeta to her loss of self-identity, the Capitol has continued to break her spirit long after the Games are over.
President Snow's unscheduled visit to her home is too personal for Katniss to handle. She is trapped in her own world, unable to escape the effect of the Games. Even the woods surrounding District 12, which have always been a sanctuary for Gale and Katniss, are not safe from the prying and manipulative eyes of the Capitol. She no longer has a place she can escape to for hunting or expressing her true feelings. Snow's knowledge of Katniss and Gale's kiss confirms what Katniss has felt since she returned home: She is a prisoner of the Capitol, unable to escape the terrifying realities of her victory in the Games.
The Capitol's suffocating grip on Katniss' life tightens during her conversation with Snow. When Katniss reflects on her kiss with Gale, she says that Gale ruined their effortless friendship. Previously, some invisible barrier between them allowed them to enjoy each other's friendship with ease and comfort. But their relationship has severely changed because of the Games, her pretend relationship with Peeta, and the Capitol's influence. In Katniss' eyes, Gale's kiss was a direct result of the relationship she and Peeta have had to falsely maintain as a result of the Games. The same relationships that she once relied on are now sources of loneliness and confusion.
In this chapter, fire is presented as a motif by President Snow's accusations that Katniss is the spark that will ignite a violent rebellion. Her nickname, "the girl on fire," has a double meaning. She is giving fuel to the fire of unrest and dissent in Panem, creating a blaze that has the potential to alter the course of Panem forever. However, the same fire of rebellion that she unwittingly helped create has the power to destroy her family, friends, and the ability to live the life she wants.
Though she no longer competes for her life in the arena, she has been fighting the Capitol since the second she and Peeta were declared victors. She fights for her old happiness, her friendship with Gale and Peeta, and her loved ones' safety. The Games are not over for Katniss.