Summary and Analysis
Part 3: “The Assassin”:
Flames engulf Katniss. She enters a dreamlike state in which she can’t decipher what’s real and what’s not. Slowly she emerges from this dreamlike state and finds herself in what appears to be a burn ward.
Visitors bring her news of the war, including that the Capitol fell the day the parachutes went off, Coin now leads Panem, and Snow is being held prisoner while he awaits trial. Pollux, Cressida, Gale, and Peeta all survived.
Once she is released from the hospital, Katniss shares a room with her mother in the former presidential mansion. She learns that President Snow was tried, found guilty, and sentenced to execution. One afternoon, she wanders into a different part of the mansion. She likes it until she smells the scent of roses. Entering a guarded room, she finds a greenhouse full of roses and Snow shackled and wearing tracking devices. Coin, Snow says, crafted a masterful plan, making it look as if the Capitol killed all of those children to turn the tide of the war.
Katniss tells Snow she doesn’t believe him. Snow, however, says she is lying to him and to herself.
Katniss finally fulfills her nickname, becoming “the girl on fire” and the Mockingjay all at once as flames from the explosions engulf her and she beats her flaming wings. Her wings fail her and she plummets into seawater, entering a dreamlike state in which she begs to die but her body won’t let her as she remains afloat in this in-between world that’s not yet death but not quite living. In the watery abyss below her are scaly beings, which represent the snakelike Snow. This dreamlike existence is a blurring of both real and unreal worlds as visitors, alive and dead, come to her. In this section, we see a complete melding of reality and Katniss’ dreams, again emphasizing the recurring theme of trying to differentiate between what’s really happening and what’s only something manufactured by the mind.
Katniss’ Mockingjay transformation continues in this chapter as doctors treat her burns. It’s as if she is molting like a bird, getting a new layer of skin, shedding the damaged pieces of herself. Once again a part of the conscious world, Katniss is labeled “mentally disoriented” just as she was in District 13 when she was recovering from the Quarter Quell. Again, she must tell herself who she is, stating the facts of her situation and the recent events that transpired. She believes she is simply a girl whose sister is dead and that her role as the Mockingjay, that fabricated identity, is over. All she looks forward to is killing Snow.
While wandering through the president’s mansion, the smell of roses again haunts Katniss, but this time it leads her directly to Snow himself. When he tells Katniss what truly happened, that the rebels were the ones behind the parachute explosions that killed Prim, Katniss faces a new kind of uncertainty. She had already thought that the strategy behind the bombs resembled Gale’s earlier plan to bomb the Nut, which makes her question how the Capitol could have thought to do the same type of thing. Snow explains that while he and Katniss were busy watching one another, playing each other’s game, Coin was playing them for fools. Coin, it appears, had a game of her own that would end with her having power of Panem. The layers of games grow, and while Katniss doesn’t want to believe what Snow is telling her, Snow can tell that she already does.