Summary and Analysis
Part 2: “The Assault”: Chapter 17
Learning that she won’t be allowed to participate in the rebel attack on the Capitol, Katniss storms into a war meeting in the command center and demands that she be allowed to participate in the attack. Coin tells her that she has three weeks to train, after which the decision of Katniss’ participation in the attack will be left to the Assignment Board. Johanna wants to train also.
Katniss and Johanna become training allies. They improve in their training, drawing strength from each other and offering encouragement.
Distracted and uplifted by training, Katniss goes to dinner one night and sees Peeta, shackled; he sits with her and others, and the mood at the table grows heavy. Peeta verbally lashes out at Finnick. Gale and Katniss leave the table and discuss Peeta. That night when Johanna returns to her and Katniss’ room, Johanna tells Katniss about how Delly castigated Peeta for his being so mean to Katniss and that Peeta started having an argument with himself as if he were two different people.
This chapter establishes the beginning of Katniss and Johanna’s friendship as they support one another in their training. Their newfound friendship is strengthened by the fact that they become roommates. One night, as Katniss and Johanna get ready for bed, Katniss lets Johanna look through her keepsakes. When Johanna finds the pearl, Katniss comments on how Peeta has changed. Johanna says the arena has changed all of them, making it clear that it’s okay if Peeta’s never exactly the same as he once was. None of them will ever be; Katniss has thought about this before in her reflections on her friendship with Gale. Despite change, they must continue to move forward.
The theme of identity is emphasized when Gale insinuates that Peeta has become something not himself. Johanna clarifies, stating that Peeta has turned into his evil mutt identity given the way he verbally attacks Finnick and Katniss. Gale even sees a bit of himself in how Peeta acts and speaks. Gale admits to Katniss that some of Peeta’s emotions toward Katniss mirror how Gale felt toward Katniss when he had to watch her kiss Peeta. Gale says that Peeta can’t see clearly right now, so Katniss shouldn’t believe the terrible things that Peeta says. Meanwhile, in Peeta’s mind, Katniss is still the mutt, and Katniss continues to try to figure out who she is, wondering if it’s true what Peeta says of her, if she is in fact as deceitful and awful as he tells her she is.
Peeta’s arguing with himself as if he were two distinct individuals furthers the identity theme. His two identities are warring against each other to determine which of them — the real Peeta or the Capitol- manipulated Peeta — will ultimately gain mastery.