Summary and Analysis
Part 3: “The Assassin”:
The squad scrambles back into the tunnels, where the hissing grows closer. As they run, Katniss begins to gag on the smell of roses, something that’s mixed with the mutts’ blood; mutts — four-legged, white, reptilian-looking beasts — have been sent to kill Katniss.
Katniss tries to get the unit to leave her, saying that the mutts are after her, and the others have to get away; they refuse. Attempting to get away from the mutts, the unit climbs ladders from the tunnels and eventually surfaces at the Transfer, a series of tunnels used by delivery trucks just below street level.
Katniss leads the squad away from the mutts, who have followed them, and activates the Meat Grinder pod. Huge mechanical teeth chew the streets to dust. Jackson and Leeg 1 stay behind, sacrificing themselves to protect the others from the mutts. The mutts continue to pursue the remaining squad members, driving themselves mad with their desire for Katniss. Katniss sees Finnick below her just before a mutt kills him.
Katniss gives the Holo the nightlock order and tosses it down the tunnel, killing the mutts below. Pollux, Gale, Cressida, Peeta, and Katniss are all who remain of the group. Peeta begins to panic, saying that he can’t control himself much longer and to leave him behind. Katniss kisses him in an attempt to calm him down. He regains some control and tells Katniss, “Always.”
The squad climbs the last ladder and surfaces in an apartment’s utility room. Just as Katniss rises to her feet, a woman with magenta hair and a bright turquoise silk robe enters. She recognizes Katniss and starts to call out for help, but before she can, Katniss sends an arrow through the woman’s heart.
Snow’s presence is very strong in this chapter, embodied in the death-crazed mutts that pursue the unit. With them comes the smell of roses, the same smell that is Snow’s calling card and something that he knows will send Katniss into a psychological stupor. He continues to play games with Katniss, sending these mutts after her as a “gift” and as a message, wanting her to think of him just before she dies. Not only do the beasts carry the scent of roses, they are also white in color. Snow treasures white roses above all others, and his name alone evokes images of white. Furthermore, the creatures are reptilian, again alluding to Snow’s snakelike eyes and calculated cruelty, and they hunger for Katniss’ blood in much the same way that Snow does. It’s clear that if Snow can’t personally kill Katniss, he wants to make sure that she is thinking of him when she dies.
Katniss is able to help Peeta regain control when he begins to fall apart. Her boldly kissing him is the key that brings him back to her and allows his memories to surface about his real love for Katniss. When Katniss tells Peeta to stay with her, something in his mind, some tangled piece of reality, makes him say, “Always,” just like he did the night that Katniss hurt her heel in District 12 and asked him not to leave her until she fell asleep.