Summary and Analysis
Part 3: “The Assassin”: Chapter 23
The squad finds that they are in a busy section of the Capitol. Before leaving the apartment, they layer themselves in thick coats that hide their weapons, apply thick layers of makeup, pull on wigs and sunglasses, and wrap their faces in scarves.
Outside in their disguises, Cressida leads them to a fur shop, where she finds the shopkeeper, Tigris. Katniss recognizes the woman as a stylist from one of the earliest Hunger Games she remembers, but now Tigris has had so much surgical work done to look like a feline, with a flat nose and long whiskers, that the woman looks grotesque and has been banished from Capitol society.
Tigris leads the squad to the back of the shop, behind a rack of fur-lined leggings, where she slides a hidden panel from the wall that leads to a small cellar below. In the cellar, everyone falls asleep. Once awake, Katniss confesses to the group that she lied about the mission, and that it was all her idea.
They begin to plan their attack on Snow. Katniss offers herself up as bait, but the others reject that plan. Tigris calls them upstairs and feeds them. After viewing a Capitol news video of the rebels exchanging gunfire with Peacekeepers, the group descends back into the cellar for more rest. Katniss wakes in the night when she hears Gale and Peeta talking about her.
In order to protect themselves, the squad uses heavy disguises as they make their way through the Capitol, adding to the novel’s ongoing theme of masks and deceptive appearances. While staged appearances thus far have not served Katniss well as the Mockingjay, in this instance they do, helping Katniss and her squad get safely to Tigris’ shop.
Tigris’ modified appearance is extreme at the least. With surgically altered features that make her look like a tiger, Tigris fully inhabits her feline-like identity. Katniss wonders about Tigris’ appearance and her name, trying to decipher if the name came first and then Tigris began to fully explore her tiger identity, or if Tigris discovered her strong connection with tigers and then changed her name. Katniss is trying to discover how different people realize the full potential of their identities. She is trying to do the same, to live up to the Mockingjay name and kill Snow.
Tigris’ character adds to the prevalent feline theme in the novel as well. Tigris, with her slight growl, reminds Katniss of Buttercup, and Katniss has recognized already that she herself is like the cat in the Crazy Cat game she plays with Buttercup. Additionally, Gale used to call Katniss “Catnip.”
Peeta recalls another memory from the Games, and Katniss again feels as if she’s hurtled back in time to the arena and taking care of him. These moments illustrate how Peeta continues to sort through manufactured memories to get to the truth about how he feels and who he is, indicating that there is still hope for him.
When Katniss learns that her team has known all along that her primary intent of the mission is to kill Snow and that they follow her because they believe she can really kill him, Katniss wants to know what Peeta thinks. To her, his voice is what matters most. He tells her she still doesn’t fully understand the impact that she has on others, not only the effect she has on those fighting this war but also her effect on him, how she is able to help him find his way out of his tangled mind. The way in which Katniss values Peeta’s encouragement and words indicates that she is growing closer to him; he’s the one whom she truly trusts.