Summary and Analysis
Part 1: "The Ashes":
Once in District 8, Katniss and the team, including the camera crew, visit a warehouse that’s been turned into a makeshift hospital. Katniss is concerned about the location, but Boggs reassures her. The district’s Commander Paylor takes Katniss to see the wounded, who call out Katniss’ name and are overjoyed to find out that she is alive; she is an inspiration to them.
Back outside, Katniss and the crew are wrapping up when Boggs receives an alert that an air raid is imminent. Within seconds, Capitol hoverplanes are overhead and targeting the hospital. Katniss and Gale break away from their group and climb to a rooftop, where there are rebels with machine gun nests. Katniss and Gale begin shooting down hoverplanes with their explosive arrows.
Once the raid ends, Katniss realizes that the hospital has been destroyed. She’s also surprised that the camera crew has been filming her the entire time. Learning that President Snow just aired the bombing as a message to the rebels and overcome with fury, on film she tells the rebels they must not cease fire and that she has a message for President Snow. “Fire is catching!” she says, “And if we burn, you burn with us!”
Katniss’ transformation from doubt to belief occurs in this chapter. With each passing moment in the hospital, Katniss gains strength from those around her fighting for the cause. She finally understands that she does indeed have a unique kind of power, the kind of power that leads to people fighting for you and fighting to protect you. She understands that choosing to be the Mockingjay was never necessary, for she already was the Mockingjay to so many people. This is an important shift in Katniss’ character as she continues to discern what her true identity is. Additionally, Katniss, who often feels alone in her fight, comes to realize that this fight isn’t just about her. It’s about everyone who has experienced pain, sadness, and abuse at the hands of the Capitol.
When the Capitol begins bombing the hospital, Katniss does what she always does at the sight of someone in need who is helpless: She runs to help, disobeying orders and fighting anyone in her way. This is the true Katniss, a girl who offers aid to the helpless in the most hopeless of situations. It’s a trait that gets her in trouble with authority, but it’s also what makes her the Mockingjay and has allowed her to emerge as a source of inspiration in the revolution.
The scenes in which Katniss fights alongside Gale are reminiscent of their time in the woods together. It’s as if all of those moments together, of knowing just what the other is going to do, has led up to the present when instead of hunting animals, they are hunting humans.
The chapter closes with Katniss invoking the power of fire to send a message to President Snow. The image of fire serves as a symbol for revolution and for a hunger for freedom. Snow saw this during Katniss’ first Hunger Games. Now, Katniss has seen just what kind of power she holds, and as the hospital burns down behind her, she makes a decision. The fight for the cause will continue. There must not be a cease-fire. Even if it means all of Panem goes up in ashes like District 12, the fight will continue. That spark that Katniss started in the first Hunger Games has been stoked and will keep growing and spreading. Katniss will see to that.