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Catching Fire : Part 3 : Chapter 27

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Part III: “The Enemy”

Chapter 27


Objects in the arena explode, burst into flame, shatter—it’s as if the Gamemakers have set off fireworks around and above her. But why—as a distraction?As a backdrop “to illuminate our gory ends”? Maybe, Katniss thinks, these Games will have no victor, to prove, as the Quarter Quell requirements said, that not even the strongest can stand against the Capitol. She silently apologizes to Peeta for not saving him; perhaps her defiant acts have actually killed him. “Maybe,” she thinks, “if we had all played by the rules, they might have let him live.” Katniss sees the claw of a hovercraft descend and is helpless to escape as it lifts her. She wants only to die now, to escape what must be the Capitol’s plans to kill her slowly and publically. In the hovercraft she sees Plutarch Heavensbee, who must be furious with the “mess I have made of his beautiful Games with the clever ticking clock and the field of victors.” He’ll likely be executed for his failure, but she assumes that he’ll make her suffer first. He reaches out and closes her eyes. Katniss passes out from blood loss, thanking Johanna, as she loses consciousness, for the wound to her arm.

When she wakes, Katniss finds that she’s in a hospital bed with tubes in her arms and assumes that she’s being kept alive because “if I slide quietly, privately into death, it will be a victory.” She manages to pull out the tubes, triggering an alarm, before she passes out again. She wakes, restrained, in a room of beds and sees that Beetee is in one, being kept alive by “about ten different machines.” She can hear others breathing and guesses that they are fellow victors, being kept alive for the Capitol’s purposes, before going under again. Finally, Katniss wakes entirely up and finds that the restraints are gone. She manages to sit up and sees only Beetee in the room. Fearing what the Capitol will do to the surviving tributes, she decides that she must find and kill them. She picks up an empty syringe, intending to inject air into Beetee’s bloodstream, but realizes that the monitors will sound when his heart stops. She’ll have to come back for him. Pulling her IV stand along and armed with the syringe, Katniss slips into the hallway, telling herself, “I’m not escaping, just finishing a job.” She comes to a metal door that is ajar and hears Plutarch discussing conditions in the districts: Communications are down in 7, 10 and 12; 11 has transportation and is trying to get some food out. A hoarse voice asks a question, and Plutarch says that he’s sorry, but he can’t get the speaker into 4 but has “given special orders for her retrieval if possible.” Katniss realizes that the speaker was Finnick, who must think that he’s so important a Capitol celebrity as to earn special treatment. Then she hears Haymitch say, “As long as you’re alive, they’ll keep her alive as bait.”

Katniss steps into the room to see the three men seated at a table. Food has been served, but they’re not eating. She sees treetops through the window and realizes that they’re still in a hovercraft. Haymitch is annoyed to see her: “So it’s you and a syringe against the Capitol” See, this is why no one lets you make the plans.” He takes the syringe away and makes her sit down. Plutarch gets bread and soup for her as Haymitch explains the plan to get her and Peeta out of the arena alive. Tributes from Districts 3, 4, 6, 7, 8, and 11 knew something of the plan. Plutarch, a conspirator against the Capitol, made sure that Beetee’s wire was put in the Cornucopia because Beetee’s assignment was to blow a hole in the force field so that they could rescue the tributes. The rolls were a code for when the rescue would go forward, which is why Finnick arranged and rearranged them. The hovercraft, Plutarch explains, belongs to District 13, and they are headed there now. Most of the districts are in all-out rebellion.

Katniss is stunned as she tries to catch up to events—and then angry. Again, she’s been used as a piece in someone’s games, without her consent or knowledge. Plutarch rationalizes the deception by saying that the conspirators couldn’t risk letting her or Peeta know; he was worried that his “indiscretion with the watch” was a step too far. He didn’t know, at the time, that she’d be a tribute again and was merely trying to gain her trust and give her a bit of information to pass on to the girl she mentored. Plutarch knew that when Beetee brought down the force field, the Capitol would try first to capture Peeta and Katniss and would then torture them for information. That’s why Johanna cut Katniss’s tracker out of her arm. The tributes worked hard to keep Peeta alive because, if he had died, Katniss would have left the alliance immediately. It’s hard to rescue someone determined to hide.

Katniss finally asks where Peeta is, and when she learns that he, Johanna, and Enobaria were captured by the Capitol, she flies into a rage, clawing at Haymitch as they both scream “terrible, terrible things.” Finnick has to draft her away, and he and others force her back to her hospital bed and restrain her as she “wail[s] in a horrible, dying-animal way” till she’s hoarse and exhausted. Finnick says that he would’ve gone back for them but couldn’t move and assures Katniss that the Capitol will keep Peeta safe—as bait for her, just as Annie is bait for him. He weeps, but Katniss doesn’t care. “I wish she was dead,” Finnick says—that they all were dead.

Besieged by conflicting desires, Katniss decides to stop eating and drinking. In her distraught state of mind, she decides that if she dies, the Capitol will let Peeta live. Even if that’s not true, she decides that it’s “enough to die of spite. To punish Haymitch, who, of all the people is this rotting world, has turned Peeta and me into pieces in his Games.” Her sense of betrayal is profound.

People come to talk to Katniss, but she ignores them or moans as if she’s in pain so that she can have more sedatives. Finally, she wakes up to find Gale by her bed, the only person “who will not plead, or explain, or think he can alter my design with his entreaties.” He tells her that Prim and her mother are safe, that he got then out in time. She’s confused, and he explains that the Capitol firebombed the district. She can hardly bear to hear the truth, but Gale won’t lie or keep secrets, and his words end the novel: “Katniss, there is no District Twelve.”


The novel ends with some resolution: The surviving tributes are out of the arena, rebellion is widespread, the rumors about District 13 are true, and Katniss is alive (though not sure she wants to be). But more questions are raised than are answered: What is the nature of the community at District 13? How many Capitol citizens are conspirators? What is happening to Peeta, Johanna, and Enobaria? But most unresolved of all the issues is Katniss’s role in the rebellion. She has received special treatment because she is “the mockingjay, and it’s too hard keeping me alive as is.” She both embraces and objects to her role because, although she is on the side of the rebels, she is tired of being used, tired of secrets. Katniss had just become more adept at knowing ally from enemy and friend from foe, yet as the novel ends, her rapport with Haymitch is shattered as she realizes, “I trusted him. I put what was precious in Haymitch’s hands. And he has betrayed me.” Even Gale, the only person she now trusts, must deliver a blow that nearly undoes her. He tells her the truth about District 12 in the same voice he uses “to approach wounded animals before he delivers the death blow.” Katniss is, as the novel ends, a wounded animal, unable to trust, wanting to hide away to die, forced into restraints so that she doesn’t lash out and flee.


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