Summary and Analysis Part 3: “The Assassin”: Chapter 26

Summary

Katniss tries to sort through what Snow has told her and if she truly believes him or not. Desperate to talk to someone whom she trusts, she realizes that everyone is either busy with their own responsibilities or dead.

Venia, Octavia, and Flavius help Katniss get ready to attend Snow’s execution. Gale, back from District 2, visits Katniss in her room and gives her a single arrow: a symbol, he explains, of having Katniss fire the last shot of the war. Katniss realizes that she will never again completely trust Gale because of her lingering suspicion about the parachute bombing.

Katniss attends a meeting of former Hunger Games victors to debate whether or not every Capitol citizen should be put to death as many rebels want them to be. Coin’s idea is that instead of killing all of the Capitol survivors, they instead send the children of those with the greatest Capitol power into a final, symbolic Hunger Games. By a slim majority, the victors vote yes.

At the execution of Snow, Katniss prepares to shoot him with the arrow that Gale gave to her. Remembering Snow’s words to her about their agreeing never to lie to each other, Katniss releases her arrow at President Coin, who collapses over the side of the balcony, dead.

Analysis

The way in which Katniss’ prep team prepare her for Snow’s execution causes Katniss to marvel at how normal they are able to make her appear. Inwardly she is despairing over Prim’s death; outwardly she appears to be fine. This dichotomy adds to the ongoing theme of disguise and masking, and the many ways in which people can cover up their true feelings and motivations to present to the public exactly what the public expects of them.

As Katniss thinks through what might have been with Gale, she imagines another Katniss in another time and place. If she would have married Gale, she wonders if a rift still would have developed between the two of them even if the Capitol hadn’t played such a major part in their lives. In many ways, this is a moment in which Katniss begins to acknowledge that Gale is not the man for her. They have grown apart and changed; maybe that would have happened even without their roles in the rebellion. Although she will never know for sure, Katniss does recognize that she cannot be with Gale. She will never be able to forgive him for his idea — the parachute bombs — that killed Prim.

When Katniss sees Peeta in the meeting between Coin and the victors, she discovers that they are both fire mutts now, scarred and changed by the events they’ve endured. However, although so much else has changed, Katniss can still see Peeta in his blue eyes, an image that represents his steady, unchanging love for her.

The final shot of the war — shooting Snow — is granted to Katniss, a gesture that indicates she will continue to serve as the face of the rebellion. Executing Snow will complete her mission, but as Katniss casts her vote for the last Hunger Games, she understands that people will not change. Even though they have removed Snow from power, the Capitol — with Coin as Panem’s president — will remain as it always has been: corrupt, unjust, and an instigator of manipulative games.

As Snow stands before her, ready for his execution, Katniss wears the Mockingjay pin over her heart, just as Snow has the white rose pinned over his. Katniss searches his eyes for signs of emotion but only finds amusement in them. She remembers that they did indeed promise not to lie to each other anymore, and she realizes that Snow wasn’t lying to her about Coin’s role in the parachute bombing. He has no reason to lie to Katniss. His death is certain, but the future of the Capitol is not.

All of the doubts Katniss has had about Coin — how Coin runs District 13 in a fashion akin to the Capitol, how Coin used Katniss in her own games by sending Peeta to destroy her, and how Coin even might have sent Prim to the front lines to die in order to make Katniss break down — come to Katniss’ mind as she makes her choice. At that moment, Katniss fires the last shot of the rebellion, making a decision as the Mockingjay and choosing to end Coin’s life in order to preserve the future of Panem. With this final act, Katniss fulfills her role as assassin. 

Pop Quiz!

How does the Capitol hijack Peeta’s mind?

Q&A

What does squally mean? (From Dickens' Great Expectations)

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