In the Hunger Games, was the three finger salute a hold over from the rebellion or something spontaneously born at the reaping?
The three finger salute was first seen at the reaping when the crowd was asked to congradulate Katniss and Peta and solemly and defiently saluted instead. Again it was seen when Katniss honored Rue, another moment of solem defience.
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The three fingered salute appears throughout all three of the Hunger Games series, but it is not born of spontaneity. First appearing at the reaping when Katniss elects to take Prim's place, the crowd gives Katniss the salute instead of applauding as suggested by Effie Trinket. Katniss is touched by the display of solidarity in support of her and recalls:
It is an old and rarely used gesture of our district, occasionally seen at funerals. It means thanks, it means admiration, it means good-bye to someone you love" (24).
The moment proves bittersweet for Katniss. She savors the support of her district in saving Prim, but has enough self-perception to realize that this salute is all about good-bye.
Later when Katniss makes the salute in view of the cameras after Rue's death, the same sentiments hold true. Katniss honors Rue in death with one of the most personal signs of affection she can think of. The District 12 salute means honor and love, two values that the Capitol cannot repress no matter how hard they may try. In this way, the salute also comes to symbolize one more value--tremendous courage against all odds.
It was aN old tradition
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