Summary and Analysis
Part 2: “The Assault”: Chapter 11
Katniss spends the next three days in the bunker thinking about what will break her. Four more missiles fall, but they are dropped at staggered times; apparently the Capitol doesn’t want to destroy District 13, but rather wants to cripple it by keeping everyone underground and unable to air more propos or get more footage of Katniss as the Mockingjay.
To pass time, Katniss plays a game with Buttercup called Crazy Cat that involves the cat frantically trying to “catch” the light that Katniss shines from a flashlight. Katniss realizes that the Capitol uses Peeta similarly as the light, waving him around but holding him just out of reach, and that Snow is torturing Peeta in direct response to her Mockingjay actions. Later, Finnick tells Katniss that the Capitol is using Annie against Finnick in the same way.
On the fourth day, after twenty-four hours without missiles dropping, Coin announces that everyone may leave the bunker. Katniss is told to put on her Mockingjay uniform and join Gale and Finnick for some filming of the destruction aboveground. Coin wants to make it clear that the Mockingjay lives. But Katniss can’t perform for the propos because she’s too upset about Peeta and grows increasingly distraught.
The next day, Haymitch tells Katniss that Plutarch is sending a rescue team, including Gale, for Peeta and Annie.
The theme of games continues in this chapter, starting with Katniss recognizing that her game Crazy Cat is a metaphor for how she behaves concerning Peeta’s imprisonment. She is the crazy cat, which is interesting given that Gale used to call her Catnip, and Peeta is the light that drives her crazy as she attempts to catch it. From this game, Katniss gains clarity about how the Capitol is using Peeta to break her, something she’d been wondering about since Prim told her that the Capitol would keep him alive for just this reason. She realizes that the Capitol tortures Peeta because of her actions. The very person whom she wants to protect is the one she is hurting the most. This insight causes Katniss to begin to break and unravel.
Katniss reaches out to Finnick, who is also going through the same unraveling because the Capitol is using Annie, the girl he loves, in much the same way. Finnick’s constantly tying knots is one way that he tries to hold on to his reality. Katniss, too, begins the knot-tying practice to keep herself from unraveling. The knots serve as a symbol of strength and an attempt to maintain control and stability.
Finnick explains that he would have warned Katniss about Snow’s various game-playing tactics if he’d known sooner that Katniss truly loved Peeta. Emphasizing the theme of trying to discern real from fake, Finnick recalls how he thought that the star-crossed-lovers characterization between Katniss and Peeta was just an act. But Katniss made it clear during the Quarter Quell that her love for Peeta was real, which Snow saw, too. By showing her true love for Peeta, Katniss gave Snow the perfect weapon to use against her.
After the bombings, Snow has roses strewn aboveground in District 13. They tie into this game theme that involves using Peeta as a weapon. Snow selects roses that Katniss recognizes from her postvictory interview with Peeta. The roses are meant for a couple in love; they are Snow’s way of metaphorically waving Peeta in Katniss’ face, dangling him just out of reach like the flashlight in the Crazy Cat game.
Snow’s plan works. Katniss thinks about how she owes Peeta so much, again and again. Even in the Capitol’s grasp, he’s still protecting her and the people she loves. Without his warning, both Gale and Prim would be dead. Knowing that she is the source of Peeta’s torture, Katniss breaks down. Every day that she still exists as the Mockingjay is another day that Peeta will suffer.
At the end of the chapter, it has become clear that to get Katniss back, and Finnick, too, the rebels will need to rescue Peeta and Annie, as well as whomever else they can save. When Gale volunteers to go on the mission, he’s volunteering to save Katniss. He will always try to save Katniss, even if it means bringing back Peeta, a rival for Katniss’ love.