Summary and Analysis
Part 2: “The Assault”: Chapter 16
Awakening in the District 13 hospital, Katniss remembers parts of what happened after she was shot, including that someone from the crowd shot her, not the man with whom she was speaking. Johanna Mason, who was in the Quarter Quell and rescued from the Capitol when Peeta was, is also in the care unit.
Gale visits Katniss, and they continue to disagree on what is and is not justifiable during this war. He informs her that the rebels have taken over District 2; many of the workers from the Nut turned on the Capitol’s soldiers.
Katniss rehabilitates from her injury, the rebels take time to regroup and strategize their next move, and people delight in Finnick and Annie’s wedding ceremony. Haymitch tells Katniss that Peeta is improving and even seems like himself at times; he wants to see her. Peeta is in restraints during their meeting, his expression that of wariness and suspicion. He says some hurtful things to her, and Katniss responds harshly. She finds herself strangely angry with Peeta and fights to control herself. The conversation spirals further downward with the mention of Gale and Katniss’ continued uncertainty together.
Katniss’ waking up thinking of Peeta is significant in that despite how far away he is from her now as he tries to recover his memories, the promise he made to Katniss about protecting her remains. She continues to hold onto this promise.
As Katniss talks with Johanna, it’s clear that Katniss still doesn’t trust herself as the Mockingjay. Just as Peeta and Gale have said, and Snow has understood as he made her a target, she doesn’t understand the effect she has on people. Even Coin has shown wariness at Katniss’ influence on others. Despite seeing this effect earlier in District 8 when she visited the hospital, Katniss is still trying to grow into her Mockingjay identity. The Capitol, which fears Katniss above all others, continues to worry about her power.
Plutarch’s story about the meaning behind “Panem,” from the Latin phrase Panem et Circenses, helps Katniss further understand how the Capitol uses the districts — for both food and entertainment, or “bread and circuses,” to be specific. A strong link exists between the Capitol’s need for “bread” and its use of Peeta, a baker’s son, who once saved Katniss with bread.
The wedding represents a union not only between Finnick and Annie but also between the many districts as so many traditions, such as dancing and vows, as well as objects, like Katniss’ dresses, are shared. Various districts contribute their traditions, creating a blended ceremony that represents exactly what the Capitol fears: the districts uniting. This spirit of unification is something that Katniss began when she allied with Rue during her first Hunger Games, bringing the districts together by showing kindness to a child from another district. That spark has grown into the flame that is now Finnick and Annie’s wedding.
Throughout this chapter, the image of the sea is strong, particularly because of Finnick and Annie’s wedding and that they are from District 4, a fishing district. Many of their traditions harken back to their aquatic roots. Katniss, however, also feels as if she is being tossed about on a sea as she struggles to find steady ground about her feelings for Peeta. When Haymitch brings word that Peeta is making progress and wants to see Katniss, it’s like she’s being tossed around again. She mourned Peeta in District 2 and gave up on him. Now there’s a possibility that he could get better.
Bread plays a significant role in helping Peeta understand that he once loved Katniss. Bread first saved Katniss when she was starving and Peeta gave her some; and now that story of when she was starving potentially saves her in Peeta’s mind. Bread is what links the two of them together. Still, the meeting between Peeta and Katniss ends sourly. Despite Johanna’s remarks about Katniss being truly good, a defender of the helpless, Katniss still chooses to believe what Peeta says: She is manipulative and deadly. After all that they have been through together, she cannot say whether she ever loved Peeta or not.