Summary and Analysis
Part 3: “The Assassin”:
Boggs is angry with Coin for sending Peeta to the unit and surmises about Coin’s various reasons for doing so. Essentially, Katniss has already achieved what Coin needed her to: Katniss has been the rebels’ rallying cry and has successfully united the districts; if Katniss dies, she becomes a martyr to fight for.
Gale, who has noticed Katniss’ preparations to desert the unit and go after Snow herself, tells Katniss that when she abandons the unit to go after Snow by herself, he is coming with her. Katniss doesn’t protest. Later, Katniss and Peeta talk — with others around them to safeguard Katniss. The next morning, Jackson, a unit member, develops a game for Peeta called “Real or Not Real,” in which Peeta describes a memory and then someone answers real or not real.
Coin and Plutarch are dissatisfied with the propo footage from the “Star Squad,” so they send the unit into a residential block to deactivate some pods. During the filming, Boggs triggers a bomb that blows off his legs.
Boggs continues to try to protect Katniss, telling her that he will ensure that Peeta doesn’t hurt her. He warns, though, that Coin does have motivations of her own, particularly when it comes to remaining in power. Katniss has served the purpose she was intended for, which was to unite and rally the districts; now Coin plans on using Katniss in whatever way Coin needs to in order to remain in power. Katniss is now a player in Coin’s Games, similar to how she was a player in the Capitol’s Games.
The theme of real versus not real is particularly strong in this chapter as Katniss sees just how lost Peeta is during his struggle to understand which of his memories are true and which ones have been manufactured by the Capitol. Peeta ties knots in a rope that Finnick gave him, an activity that’s meant to help Peeta cope with his situation much in the same way Katniss and Finnick have struggled to do so. Katniss believes that the rope is a subtle message from Finnick to Katniss: She needs to be gentle with Peeta and to reach out to him.
Steadily Katniss is rediscovering her feelings for Peeta. When Peeta asks Katniss if her favorite color is green and she says yes, she then shares even more memories with him, telling him facts about himself. She goes beyond color, describing the person Peeta once was. In this small moment between them, she gets a glimpse at just how much she cares about and loves the Peeta she used to know.
Jackson’s developing the “Real or Not Real” game for Peeta represents Peeta’s search for truth and identity, as well as the larger search for truth and identity that exists for many characters, including Katniss, throughout the novel. During one of his “Real or Not Real” questions, Peeta recognizes that the real ones aren’t “shiny,” which possibly indicates that Peeta does have the ability decipher real from not-real.
Also emphasizing the “Real or Not Real” theme is the propo footage that the crew tries to film; the footage is highly staged to a ridiculous extent. Coin and Plutarch are trying to manufacture an image for their “Star Squad,” something around which the rebels can rally. They still haven’t grasped that the best propo footage is genuine — action without a mask — the same way that Katniss was more effective as the Mockingjay when she was allowed to show her own identity. No makeup, no script — just the natural Katniss.