Summary and Analysis
Part 2: “The Assault”:
In District 2, an impenetrable mountain — formerly used as a mine and nicknamed the Nut — serves as the main hub of the Capitol’s military. Katniss has been in District 2 for two weeks, and nothing has changed: The outer villages are controlled by rebels and the Nut remains impenetrable. Gale arrives from District 13 with a team that Katniss calls “the brains” and updates Katniss on Peeta’s slow progress. Eventually Gale kisses Katniss.
Lyme, a commander in District 2, gives the brains and Katniss a virtual tour of the Nut; they discuss various strategies for taking the Nut. Gale suggests they trap the enemy inside, cutting them off from supplies, as a means to gaining control of it. Katniss realizes what Gale’s true intention is: He wants to build a death trap.
The description of the Nut further emphasizes the ongoing theme of disguise. On the exterior, the mountain appears to be like any other, rough and rugged and lush with wildlife. Inside, however, the Nut serves as the Capitol’s military heart.
Despite the favoritism given to District 2 by the Capitol, Katniss recognizes that the people there serve as slaves. She senses this in some of the District 2 citizens who are a part of the rebel cause and hopes that soon they will realize that as long as the Capitol is powered by Snow and his likeminded counterparts, the people of Panem will never be free.
Katniss begins to gain some mental clarity. She is aboveground and able to hunt and exercise, and she also has some time away from Gale. She wants to mourn Peeta’s death; the Peeta she once knew is never coming back. Snow, who enjoys leaving presents like roses for Katniss, has now made a present of Peeta, warping him beyond recognition so that Katniss will break from never being able to reach him or his love again. She remains like the cat in the Crazy Cat game, in a form of torture. She does carry the pearl with her, the pearl that represents Peeta as he once was — near perfection.
When Gale arrives in District 2, he and Katniss begin to discuss their relationship and how Peeta affects that relationship. Gale admits to jealousy, knowing that Katniss will never be with him, not with how Peeta is now. A great deal of uncertainty remains between Katniss and Gale and includes questions of what has been real between Katniss and Peeta and what was simply an act displayed for the Games. Katniss’ feelings for both Gale and Peeta are so tightly intertwined, alluding to the knot imagery, that she cannot choose one over the other. There is guilt. There is uncertainty. There is the ongoing question of which kisses have been real and which ones manufactured.
Then, when Gale kisses Katniss, she decides to lose herself in those kisses. She resolves to let Peeta go because surely he is lost, and she surrenders herself to certain death in order to kill Snow. Gale, however, wants Katniss to make a choice between Peeta and him, knowing that he doesn’t have her even as they kiss.
Gale’s plan to crack the Nut is introduced at the end of the chapter and serves to heighten the novel’s tension. Katniss has already expressed distaste for Gale’s bombing plan that played on human emotions, and now he’s suggesting they kill everyone inside the mines, the same type of work environment in which both Katniss’ and Gale’s fathers died.