Summary and Analysis
Part 2: “The Assault”: Chapter 12
Worried that she could lose both Gale and Peeta in the same day, Katniss wakes Finnick to tell him of the rescue plan. Finnick tells her that at the end of this mission, they will either have Annie and Peeta back, or everyone will be dead and they can move on and stop living in torment. Either way, Snow will no longer have them in his grasp.
To divert the Capitol’s attention while the rescue mission is underway, the camera crew films Katniss in a propo aboveground, in which Katniss talks about Peeta and Snow. The crew next films Finnick, who describes how Snow used to sell or award Finnick’s body to Capitol citizens who desired him. Finnick learned many secrets, including that Snow, in his rise to power, poisoned his adversaries but to divert suspicion often drank from the same poisoned cup followed by an antidote that only Snow used. Segments of the propo of Katniss and Finnick are aired.
The rescue team returns safely to District 13. Finnick and Annie are reunited, and Katniss sees Gale, wounded but alive. Peeta is unconscious from knockout gas. When he does awaken and sees Katniss, he runs toward her and starts strangling her.
This chapter explores the theme of freedom and how the Capitol uses people’s love for each other to manipulate them. First, Finnick expresses relief at finally being free of worry about Annie. He says the same is true for Katniss. Whether Peeta and Annie live or die, either way he and Katniss will finally be free. Later, Katniss discusses how Snow had told her once that the Capitol is fragile. She now knows how to break the Capitol: by declaring her freedom. She calls on the other districts to do the same because only then can everyone be free of the Capitol’s horrific reign. And finally, when Finnick tells his story about Snow’s selling Finnick’s body, Katniss realizes that Finnick, too, is a slave of the Capitol, afraid of having everyone he loves killed. No one is free from the Capitol’s greed, deceit, or abuse, not even handsome and heroic Finnick. Then, when Katniss asks Haymitch what the Capitol did to him, Haymitch tells a story about the Capitol’s killing his loved ones. Katniss realizes that as long as there are people for whom you care, the Capitol will leverage them against you in order to maintain power and keep the districts in line.
The link between the smell of roses and death is strengthened as Finnick explains how the roses are meant to conceal the scent of Snow’s decaying mouth. Even Snow must mask his secrets, using something that’s meant to be beautiful, like a rose, to disguise his murderous and deceitful life.
Many secrets come to the surface in this chapter, starting with Katniss finally opening up to Panem in the propo, followed by Finnick telling his secret, as well as the secrets of many high-powered individuals in the Capitol. Likewise, Haymitch shares his past with Katniss.
As Katniss waits for the rescue team to return, she and Finnick tie more knots, continuing their symbolic exercise of trying to hang onto their sanity during such terrifying circumstances. Katniss recalls the ticking of a clock, which represents not only the slowly passing time but also the arena from the Quarter Quell and how every moment was filled with a new kind of torment: The experience of fighting in this rebellion is in many ways akin to being in the Hunger Games. Katniss’ seeing Annie and Finnick reunite serves to emphasize her own uncertainty about Peeta and Gale. She cares deeply about both of them but cannot seem to choose between the two.