Summary and Analysis
Part 2: Chapter 17
Katniss leaves the training center and joins the others for dinner, where they ask Peeta and her about their private sessions. Peeta used the dyes to paint a picture of Rue after Katniss covered her with flowers when she died. He says he wants to hold them accountable for killing Rue, and Effie tells him that that kind of thinking is forbidden. Katniss then tells the team she hung a dummy of Seneca Crane.
As expected, the team is very upset with Peeta and Katniss and tells them they have only made themselves targets for the Gamemakers. Once dinner has been served and everyone calms down, they gather around the television to watch the scores of the tributes. Katniss and Peeta, for the first time in Hunger Games history, have been given perfect scores.
Peeta walks Katniss to her room for the night, and they express their desire to remain unchanged by the Games. Even though they are most certainly going to die, they don't want the Capitol to make them another pawn in the Games. For the first time in a long time, Katniss distances herself from the Quell. She remembers the uprisings, Bonnie and Twill, the old man shot in District 11, and how everyone will be watching her to see how she handles her death sentence. She decides she will let President Snow kill her, but not kill her spirit.
That night, Katniss and Peeta hold each other and sleep without any nightmares for the first time in a long time. When they awake, they find out they have the entire day to themselves. They gather some food and enjoy a picnic on the roof. All day, Peeta sketches her as she drifts in and out of sleep.
When Katniss' prep team wakes them up the next morning to style Katniss for the final time, they are very emotional and sad. Their teary goodbyes almost break Katniss' heart, and she realizes that though they are very shallow and self-centered, their love and care for Katniss is very real. Cinna arrives to dress Katniss for her televised interview with Caesar Flickerman, and she finds out President Snow has ordered her to wear one of the wedding dresses from her bridal photo shoot. She and Peeta arrive at the interview with the other tributes and wait their turn.
The other tributes' interviews clearly reflect their betrayal, rage, and hatred of the Capitol. The audience is all worked up when it is time for Katniss to go on.
When Katniss joins Caesar on stage, she does as Cinna instructs and twirls in her wedding dress. As she spins in a circle, Katniss' dress seems to be engulfed in flames. When she is done turning, her dress is now completely black with feathers and wings. Cinna has transformed her into a mockingjay.
Peeta's painting and Katniss' dummy are meant to send a message to the Gamemakers, and essentially to President Snow. Instead of quietly accepting their doomed fate as tributes in the Quell, they make a point to show they will not surrender.
This resolve to not give up is echoed when Peeta and Katniss go to bed for the night. They didn't plan to make their private training sessions so personal against the Capitol, but the message they sent has no doubt made them priority targets for the Gamemakers.
Katniss' personal vendetta against the Capitol becomes more apparent in this chapter, her hatred more vibrant. Lately, she has been so concerned with saving Peeta that she has forgotten the real reason the Capitol, Snow, and the Gamemakers are punishing her: for her ability to inspire hope and rebellion in others.
This chapter marks an important shift in Katniss' attitude as she decides she will remove herself from the Games completely. She will not save Peeta because he deserves it, though he does. She will not die in the Games because the Capitol wants her to, though Snow is determined to end her life.
Instead, she will die a martyr's death for the rebels. She will fight to the very last and hope that her acts are enough to give the rebels the boost they need to fight the Capitol. She realizes this is all so much bigger than herself, and she is hopeful that her death will be enough to spark rebellions across Panem.
She also takes pleasure in the fact that her choice to keep Peeta alive is in itself a slap in the face to the Capitol. A tribute is never supposed to play the Game with any agenda but personal survival. This new fire inside her — new motivation and new inspiration — is what keeps the nightmares away for the night. Instead of tossing and turning for hours while images of Snow, death, and torture haunt her, Katniss enjoys sleep for the first time in a long time. She is at peace with her decision to die for the rebels.
Again, the mockingjay emerges as the symbol of Katniss, the rebellion, and hope. Cinna's costume transformation is his own way of saying that he, like Katniss and Peeta, will not succumb to the Capitol's threats or intimidation. He ensured that the entire country, including Snow and the Gamemakers, saw Katniss dressed as a mockingjay. The significance of the mockingjay and the girl on fire will be more fuel for the rebels.