Summary and Analysis
Katniss wakes everyone up and explains the clock theory to them. Wiress seems relieved that someone finally understands what she has been trying to say and tells Katniss, "midnight." Katniss agrees with her, and says that it does indeed start at midnight. This causes Katniss to think back to the Victory Tour, when she danced with Plutarch Heavensbee at the party at Snow's mansion. She remembers him telling her that it starts at midnight, and showing her his mockingjay engraving on his watch. At first, she thought he meant his meeting started at midnight. Now she suspects there were more to his words than she realized.
At Finnick's suggestion, they go to the Cornucopia to survey the jungle and see if the clock theory is correct. While they rest at the Cornucopia, Wiress washes off Beetee's coil and sings as she works. Beetee, who is regaining his strength, remarks that she is very intuitive, and is like a canary in District 12 coal mines. District 12 uses canaries in their coal mines to warn them of bad air. When the air is bad, the canary stops singing and perhaps dies. But Katniss doesn't want to think about District 12 or songbirds because they remind her of Gale and her parents.
They are busy looking over a map Peeta has drawn of the arena when Katniss notices their canary has stopped singing. They turn around just in time to see Enobaria slit open Wiress' throat. Johanna kills another career with an ax, and Finnick receives a knife in the thigh as he blocks a spear aimed at Peeta. Two of the careers sprint away, and two more and Wiress are dead, but Katniss doesn't have time to react.
The ground surrounding the Cornucopia begins to spin and they are all knocked off their feet. When it finally slows down, they have lost track of which "time" they are facing, and which section of the jungle represents which portion of the clock.
They decide to head into a random section of the jungle and split up to work on different tasks. Katniss agrees to go with Finnick to get more water while Peeta and Johanna redraw the map he lost when the Cornucopia spun them around. While she walks with Finnick to a tree for water, Katniss wonders why it seems like some of the other victors, especially Finnick and Johanna, are working to keep Peeta alive. She speculates that Haymitch has convinced the others that Peeta's gift for speaking is just the thing Panem needs to successfully rise up against the Capitol.
They are about to collect some water from a tree when Katniss hears the sound of Prim screaming and takes off deeper into the jungle to look for her.
Katniss doesn't want to trust in the notion that perhaps Plutarch was giving her a hint about the arena, but all signs point to the fact that he is someone who, despite his position as Head Gamemaker, has good intentions. This cycle of distrust and confusion yet curiosity continues to bother Katniss as she's constantly questioning everyone else's motives. She is briefly distracted from her confusion by the new realization of the arena's design.
The bird motif is important in this chapter because of Wiress and her contribution to the group. At first, the canary bird and Wiress don't seem to offer anything to anyone. However, their appearance is deceiving. Just as a canary is invaluable by alerting miners to danger, so is Wiress when she finally makes someone realize the arena is a clock. The comparison of Wiress to a canary in a coal mine also foreshadows her death.
Wiress and Katniss are very similar to the canaries in the coal mines. Both women are portrayed as birds, Katniss as a mockingjay and Wiress as a canary. Just like the mines' canaries, Wiress meets a sad and cruel end, and Katniss seems to be on the same path. When the Career, someone Katniss calls "lapdogs of the Capitol," kills Wiress, it is as if Snow killed her himself. And given Snow's threats, the failed mission of the Victory Tour, and everything else since the last Games, Katniss has already decided she will be tortured and killed to punish her for the rebellions.
Both Katniss and Wiress embody the bird motif in that they are both desperately trying to overcome the attempts of the Capitol to cage and restrict them. Wiress doesn't seem to be targeted by the Capitol in the same way that Katniss is; however, the fact that her killer is a Career is significant.
As they are walking back into the jungle, Katniss concludes that some of the other victors are working to keep Peeta alive. Without a doubt, Katniss knows that they're even willing to sacrifice themselves to protect Peeta. She wonders what Haymitch has said that would convince the others to give up their lives to make Peeta the winner. She isn't sure whether to trust them or not, and wonders if his abilities as a skilled speaker have others convinced he is just what the rebellion needs. So far, everything hints that not all of the other tributes are enemies or opponents. Instead, it seems that they are also on Katniss and Peeta's side.