Catching Fire Summary

One-Page Summary

Catching Fire, by Suzanne Collins, is the second book of the Hunger Games trilogy. The Hunger Games novels tell the story of Katniss Everdeen (Kat), a young woman from a poor, coal-mining district (District 12) in Panem. The trilogy is set in a dystopian future in which America has been split into districts that are ruled by the Capitol. Decades ago, the thirteen districts of Panem rebelled against the Capitol and lost. District 13 was destroyed. Since then, the Capitol has run an annual event, the Hunger Games, in which each district sends two “tributes”—children—to fight in an arena battle to the death. The Hunger Games are a powerful political force in Panem. They are televised throughout Panem and serve as a constant reminder of the power of the Capitol over its districts.

In the previous novel, Katniss takes her sister’s place to fight in the seventy-fourth annual Hunger Games. After enduring thirst and starvation, walls of fire, and hallucinogenic bee stings, Katniss faces a pack of genetically altered wolves. Kat and her fellow District 12 tribute, Peeta, survive and are informed that they will have to fight to the death, however much in love they claim to be. Instead, Kat and Peeta agree to commit suicide by eating poisonous berries at the same time. The Gamemakers relent, and for the first time ever two people win the games.

While in the games, Katniss and Peeta formed an ambiguous relationship, which complicates things for Kat back home, especially with her best friend, Gale. For the first time, Kat is wealthy, but Gale is not. Too proud to take charity, Gale is now working in the mines to feed his family; this is a dangerous job that killed both Kat’s father and Gale’s. Kat does her best to share her wealth. She continues hunting to help feed Gale’s family and she tries to buy products from all of her friends before she is forced to go on the Victory Tour. Kat is a talented hunter and feels more at home in the forest than on camera.

Before Katniss leaves on the Victory Tour, President Snow visits her and shares that some districts are close to rebelling against the Capitol. Some people have interpreted Katniss and Peeta’s shared victory as a subversive act—and they find it inspiring. The Gamemaker who allowed them to defy the Capitol, Seneca Crane, has been executed. The power of the Hunger Games, which has always been symbolic of the Capitol’s power, has been undermined by Katniss and Peeta’s victory. Now, President Snow informs her, Katniss will have to convince everyone that her stunt with the poisonous berries was the act of a young woman in love rather an incendiary message from a political dissident. The lives of her family and friends are riding on her performance. President Snow does not need to tell Peeta to act because he has been secretly in love with Katniss for years, and he has a natural way with the camera. Katniss, on the other hand, struggles to understand her feelings and to express them. Worse, she is confused about how she truly feels about both Peeta and Gale. When she informs her mentor, Haymitch, of her situation, Haymitch explains that the situation is not temporary: Katniss will be a victor for life, and the Capitol will demand that she eventually marry Peeta.

The Victory Tour has a rough start. Kat struggles with her makeup and clothing team, who are from the Capitol and view the Games as entertainment. When they arrive in District 11, in which Kat’s fallen ally, Rue, grew up before she was sent to the Games, Kat publicly thanks the people of District 11 for their support. In response, they salute Katniss and an old man whistles a tune in honor of Rue. Kat and Peeta are rushed from the stage as the old man and others are executed. Peeta demands to know what is going on and makes Haymitch and Kat promise not to keep any more secrets from him. Peeta is shocked at the politics that surround him, but the people in the Capitol are oblivious. The end the Victory Tour in the Capitol with a big party, at which all the guests induce vomiting so they can continue to gorge themselves after they have eaten their fill. People in the outlying districts are starving, and Katniss and Peeta are appalled at the greed of the Capitol.

One of the symbols of the rebellion is the mockingjay, and Kat wore a mockingjay pin during the seventy-fourth Hunger Games. The mockingjay is a hybrid of the mockingbird and the genetically designed jabberjay. The...

(The entire section is 1808 words.)

Catching Fire Chapter Summaries

Chapter 1 Summary

Catching Fire is the second novel in Suzanne Collins’s popular Hunger Games series. Katniss is back in District 12, a poor, coal mining district, after her victory in the 74th annual Hunger Games. Life in the district has not changed very much, but Katniss finds life very different now that she is a victor. Her family is no longer struggling to make ends meet, and Katniss no longer has to illegally hunt to feed her family. However, when Catching Fire begins, Katniss is once again steeling herself against the cold as she illegally checks trap lines in the woods.

Katniss’s childhood friend, Gale, is now old enough to work in the mines. Working in the mines is dangerous; both Kat and Gale lost their fathers to mining accidents. It is frustrating for Katniss that Gale will not allow her to use her victor’s income to support both of their families. Gale is stubborn and independent. Fortunately, Gale’s mother, Hazelle, has no qualms about letting Katniss help out. Katniss takes her poached game to Hazelle before she goes to the Hob, a black market in an abandoned building, and buys things from as many vendors as she can to spread her wealth around the district. She also buys liquor for Haymitch, her former mentor and now fellow victor, before heading home.

When she returns to the Victor’s Village, Haymitch is passed out from drinking. Yelling and shaking do not wake him, so Katniss dumps a bucket of water on him. Haymitch wakes up swinging a knife before he gets his bearings. When he complains about having water dumped on him, Katniss replies that if Haymitch had wanted to be babied, he should have Peeta wake him up. As if summoned, Peeta arrives and begins slicing bread for the three victors. These are District 12’s three living victors.

Peeta won the 74th Hunger Games alongside Katniss, which should have been impossible. However, part of their strategy was pretending to be in love to attract sponsors during the Games. At the end of the Games, they threatened to kill themselves rather than each other, and this bluff allowed them both to win. Now that they have returned to District 12, the relationship between Peeta and Katniss has cooled. They are about to leave District 12 on a Victory Tour. The Victory Tour will require Katniss and Peeta to travel throughout all of the districts of Panem as symbols of the Capitol’s authority. They will be expected to continue their loving relationship.

The meeting between the three victors is interrupted by Katniss’s mother, who announces that Katniss has a visitor: President Snow.

Chapter 2 Summary

At the end of the 74th annual Hunger Games, Katniss and Peeta bluffed that they would each eat poisonous berries rather than kill each other. The bluff worked, but now that President Snow comes to visit her, Katniss learns that it did not work as well as she hoped. The previous Head Gamemaker, Seneca Crane, was executed, and now Katniss waits to learn what her punishment is.

Snow, who is likened to a viper, explains to Katniss that some districts have interpreted their bluff with the poisonous berries as an act of rebellion. President Snow outlines how Katniss’s victory could spark a rebellion and civil war that would lead to countless deaths. Although Snow’s words sound sincere, Katniss knows that he is ruthless; this impression is reinforced by a mysterious smell of blood that emanates from the president. Even the smell of the rose he wears in his lapel cannot overpower the scent of blood that seems to emanate from him.

Katniss agrees to put out any spark of rebellion during her victory tour by pretending to be in love with Peeta. She does not feel she has much choice. Snow knows a great deal about Katniss. Most of Panem believes that Katniss is in love with Peeta, but President Snow knows that this was just a strategy, at least on Katniss’s part. He also knows that Katniss cares deeply for Gale. While Katniss was in the Hunger Games, it was reported that Gale was Katniss’s cousin. However, they are not related and have been close friends for years. Snow also reveals that he knows that Katniss spends her Sundays with Gale hunting illegally.

If President Snow knows that, what else does he know? Katniss reflects on her time since the Hunger Games. At first it was good to see how her victory had brought moderate prosperity to District 12. However, before long, her relationship with Peeta cooled and Kat returned to her daily schedule of hunting and gathering. One day while hunting, Katniss was surprised when Gale took her face in his hands and kissed her, saying he wanted to do it just once; afterward he acted like it never happened. Although Katniss has not figured out how she feels about the kiss—or whether her kisses with Peeta count—she does know that Gale’s life could be in danger if Snow is aware of that kiss.

Katniss will do her best to convince Panem that she and Peeta are madly in love and that their bluff was not an act of rebellion. Snow demands that Katniss aim higher; he argues that she will have to convince him that her love is true. As he leaves, President Snow reveals that he knows about the kiss with Gale.

Chapter 3 Summary

After President Snow leaves, Katniss considers her options. Gale’s life and the lives of her mother and sister are at stake if Katniss cannot convince Panem and its president that her love for Peeta is true. Although Katniss finds herself in a difficult position, she has few people upon whom she can rely. She will not ask Peeta to pretend to love her so she can save Gale. She will not tell Gale or her mother, nor can she tell her friend Cinna, who already does so much on her behalf. So she decides to tell Haymitch.

Although Haymitch is drunk more often than he is sober, he is crafty. He understands the publicity of the Hunger Games and the politics of Panem. Haymitch may not look very impressive now, but like Katniss,...

(The entire section is 457 words.)

Chapter 4 Summary

Haymitch has informed Katniss that she will be expected to marry Peeta. Their lives as victors will always be politically symbolic. Katniss is crushed in spite of Haymitch’s consolation that she could do a lot worse than Peeta. When Katniss stepped in for her sister Prim at the Reaping, she gave up her life. Even though she survived the Hunger Games, she is still forced to repress her emotions and desires so that she can be a symbol of the Capitol’s authority over the outlying districts. Now that the Victory Tour has begun, she will have to give up her body to her stylists, who will remove all her body hair and who fantasize about the “alterations” that they would like to see done to Katniss’s body.

One...

(The entire section is 495 words.)

Chapter 5 Summary

People in District 11 are being executed for their gestures of defiance against the Capitol’s authority. As Katniss and Peeta are rushed away from the scene, gunshots continue. Haymitch intercepts the young victors and rushes them away to a private place. Peeta demands to know what is going on and finally learns that Katniss’s life is once again on the line, as are the lives of her loved ones. He also learns that he and Katniss are expected to put on a show of love. Finally, Peeta learns that Katniss and Haymitch were able to communicate during the Hunger Games through the gifts that Haymitch would send or withhold. Peeta is furious and demands that Haymitch and Katniss share their plans with him from now on. It is not enough...

(The entire section is 462 words.)

Chapter 6 Summary

Katniss now knows that she has failed to convince the outlying districts that her romance with Peeta is real. Katniss knows this means that she will be punished, but she does not know how. Rather than feel terrified, though, she feels relieved. There is no need for pretending once she gets back to District 12. Furthermore, she is now free to fight back and to plan. She begins making a mental list of people she cares for who will have to come with her as she makes her escape from the Capitol’s spies and killers. However, Katniss is still in the Capitol and still very much under President Snow’s control and supervision. Still on camera, Snow jokes about how the Capitol should throw a wedding for Katniss once her mother has...

(The entire section is 459 words.)

Chapter 7 Summary

There is an uprising in District 8. The people are rebelling against the Peacemakers, who are shooting into a wild crowd. Katniss takes in enough to know that she failed to convince both President Snow and the outlying districts during her Victory Tour. Before the mayor can catch her, Katniss leaves the room to find his daughter, Madge.

Katniss questions Madge about the pin, explaining that the mockingjay can be interpreted as a symbol of rebellion against the Capitol’s authority. Madge argues that the mockingjay is just a songbird, and Katniss gives up questioning her friend. Privately, she reflects that the mockingjay does suggest rebellion against the Capitol. The mockingjay is a hybrid species of the mockingbird...

(The entire section is 372 words.)

Chapter 8 Summary

At the end of the seventh chapter, Katniss sees that Gale is being whipped for poaching. Poaching requires a weapon, which is forbidden. Fortunately, Gale was only caught with a turkey. If he were found with a weapon, he would be punished by death. Usually the Peacekeepers look the other way, but the Capitol has sent District 12 a new Head Peacekeeper. Katniss does not take any of this in as she rushes to save Gale from being whipped. She defends him by throwing herself in front of him and ends up taking a lash in her face.

Katniss would be punished further if not for Haymitch, who interrupts the whipping. Haymitch points out that Katniss is a victor, and he scolds the new Peacekeeper for ruining Katniss’s face just...

(The entire section is 440 words.)

Chapter 9 Summary

Katniss tells Gale that she has traded in her plan to run away so that she can start an uprising in District 12. There is a blizzard in District 12, and no one is able to go out. During the time she is stuck inside, Katniss reflects that her biggest problem will be that she is so easy to reach. The Capitol has only to harm Prim to reach her. On the other hand, the Capitol has already harmed Prim by forcing her to watch Katniss in the Games, by calling her name in the Reaping, and by allowing her father to die in a mining accident. Katniss hardens her resolve to fight back as Gale slowly heals from his injuries. She also apologizes to her mother for her outbursts the night before.

Once the blizzard passes, Katniss joins...

(The entire section is 388 words.)

Chapter 10 Summary

Katniss is in the midst of a face-off with what appears to be a uniformed Peacekeeper. The Peacekeeper holds a gun, and Katniss is armed with her bow and arrow. She is in the wilderness, armed, and poaching, all of which are serious offenses in District 12. However, before she can fire, the Peacekeeper reveals a cracker with a mockingjay on it. Looking closer, Katniss realizes that the woman in the uniform is no Peacekeeper.

However, Katniss does not lower her weapon. Slowly it becomes clear that Katniss is in charge, until a second person comes out of a cottage at Katniss’s back. Katniss quickly regains control of the situation and has the two strangers stand in front of her. The woman and girl introduce themselves...

(The entire section is 420 words.)

Chapter 11 Summary

Katniss is in the woods, and she has just discovered that the fence that surrounds her home is electrified. She is stuck outdoors and night is falling. Although there have been times in the past when Katniss has found herself stuck outside her home, she always had Gale for company while she waited for the electricity to fail. Now she begins to wonder whether the Peacekeepers are more aware of her movements than she realizes. Do they know she is in the woods illegally? In the past, Prim could just go to the woods to see if Katniss was stuck outside an electrified fence, but this time Katniss has snuck out and her mother will be worried if she does not return home soon.

Katniss decides to climb a nearby tree with a branch...

(The entire section is 409 words.)

Chapter 12 Summary

Katniss’s foot will take time to heal. Although her wedding shoot was supposed to happen soon, Haymitch pushed back the date so Katniss’s face could heal after she received a lash protecting Gale from the Peacekeepers. It is rare that Katniss has time to recover, but she finally gets it. Unfortunately, with District 8 having recently rebelled and recent news that District 13 could be a stronghold that defies the Capitol, Katniss is frustrated that she cannot start an uprising in District 12. For now, she has to make do eating Peeta’s baking and healing under her mother’s watchful eye.

One morning, Katniss wakes up to find that her stylists have arrived. It is time for her to start trying on her wedding gowns. As...

(The entire section is 438 words.)

Chapter 13 Summary

Katniss has just realized that she will be returning to the arena. She breaks down and immediately attempts to flee District 12, only to find that the fence is still electrified. Unable to escape to the woods, she turns around and tries to hide in an abandoned building. Katniss finds some plastic sheeting and wraps herself up in it. Slowly, she begins to think again. Although the ceremony implied that the Quarter Quell has been planned for more than seventy years, Katniss suspects President Snow of having planned this over the past year. It is too convenient that Katniss, whose mockingjay has become symbolic of the rebellion against the Capitol, is being sent back into the arena.

Katniss returns to the Victor’s...

(The entire section is 482 words.)

Chapter 14 Summary

Katniss has been taken away from her family without being given the chance to say good-bye. Peeta tries to comfort her, suggesting that it will be better if she writes a note because then everyone will have something to hold on to if the worst should happen. Katniss has never been good with words, especially writing. It feels like this is just one more thing the Capitol has taken from her.

On the train, Katniss, Peeta, a sober Haymitch, and Effie watch footage of the Reaping. Peeta takes notes. Some of the returning victors stand out to Katniss. Brutus from District 2 seems like a typically violent Career. Finnick, from District 4, is handsome with bronze hair. A hysterical woman from District 4 is called, but an...

(The entire section is 634 words.)

Chapter 15 Summary

When Katniss arrives at the Capitol, her stylists seem even more insensitive than before. They weep as they tend to Katniss’s beauty, and it falls on Katniss to cheer them up. It seems that the people of the Capitol are not very enthusiastic about the idea of victors returning to the arena. Although they gladly watch children killed every year, the victors are like close friends to them. Katniss is sure, however, that everyone in the Capitol will be just fine once the Games begin.

Cinna is the only stylist Katniss can stand. Last year, Katniss was “the girl on fire.” This year, Cinna has designed impressive suits that glow like embers for Katniss and Peeta to wear. They are to stand straight and proud during their...

(The entire section is 429 words.)

Chapter 16 Summary

Seeing Darius draws Katniss away from Peeta. When she sees Darius, who sacrificed himself to save Gale, she sees herself as part of the community that relied on the Hob. Peeta, the son of a well-off baker, is not “Hob.” However, she has little time to worry over this latest manipulation. After a night of nightmares, Haymitch retrieves Katniss, and she notices that he is wearing a bangle with a pattern of flames. There is no time to inquire as he drags her to a morning meeting in which he instructs Katniss and Peeta to continue pretending to be lovers. Their next order of business is to try to find allies.

Katniss struggles with the idea of trying to find allies among people like flirtatious Finnick, brutal Brutus,...

(The entire section is 591 words.)

Chapter 17 Summary

Katniss has just hanged a dummy with “Seneca Crane” written on it. The Gamemakers are shocked by the message she has delivered, and it is only with effort that Plutarch Havensbee is able to dismiss Katniss. As she leaves, she reflects that she may well be punished for this action—as might Peeta. But she does not regret her harsh actions. When Katniss meets up with Peeta and the others, Peeta shares with the group his demonstration. He chose to use his skill with camouflage dyes and painting to depict Rue as she looked when she died. When asked why he would do such a thing, Peeta explains that he wanted to hold the Gamemakers accountable, even if only for a moment. Effie, Haymitch, and Cinna are all shocked by the actions of...

(The entire section is 473 words.)

Chapter 18 Summary

With Katniss’s dress transformed into a mockingjay, it seems as though she is being broadcast as the personification of rebellion across Panem. Even Caesar Flickerman can tell what is happening. However, after a night of speculation about whether the Capitol has made a mistake and even after Katniss’s transformed dress, Peeta’s interview will be remembered as the greatest shock of the night.

Peeta is the last victor to be interviewed. He bitterly explains to Caesar that he and Katniss were already married in a private ceremony. Who would ever have thought that the Quarter Quell would reap each district’s victor? Caesar agrees, but he suggests that at least they enjoyed a few months of happiness together. Peeta...

(The entire section is 397 words.)

Chapter 19 Summary

Katniss is in anguish over Cinna’s punishment, but she does not have time to dwell on it; she is already in the arena with very little time to decide what to do. She forces herself to take stock of her surroundings. She is above a body of water; as some splashes onto her pedestal, she learns that it is salty. There is a sort of wheel with the Cornucopia in the middle and spokes that extend out between the victors. Claudius Templesmith’s voice can be heard announcing the start of the Games. After a minute has passed, a gong sounds. The Hunger Games have begun again.

In the first Games, Katniss ran from the Cornucopia. This time, she dives into the water, cuts through the waves, and makes it to the Cornucopia, where...

(The entire section is 454 words.)

Chapter 20 Summary

Peeta is lying on the ground without a heart beat. Katniss does not know what to do, but Finnick does. He closes Peeta’s nostrils, which Katniss interprets as a sign of aggression. Before she can attack Finnick, he punches Katniss away. He bends over and begins blowing air into Peeta’s mouth. Katniss recognizes this as something her mother would occasionally do to revive someone whose heart has stopped. Peeta wakes up, and the party reluctantly starts moving again.

Finnick points out that Katniss saw the force field before the rest of them and wants to know how she recognized it. Katniss lies, claiming that she heard it with the left ear that the Capitol’s doctors repaired after the last Hunger Games. She takes...

(The entire section is 478 words.)

Chapter 21 Summary

A deadly fog is advancing on Katniss and her allies. She has only to scream out a warning and Finnick awakens, takes stock of the situation, and runs off with Mags. Peeta is still recovering from being shocked by the force field and is slower to wake. Katniss does her best to stay with him rather than abandon him, particularly because she views abandoning Peeta as doing what the Capitol would prefer. They struggle to evade the fog and discover that it is paralyzing. Finally Finnick returns and lifts Peeta and has Katniss carry Mags. However, soon Katniss can carry Mags no longer. The fog is slowly paralyzing their limbs. Finnick has already dropped two tridents, and Peeta is holding on to the third one. Finnick apologizes and says...

(The entire section is 427 words.)

Chapter 22 Summary

The muttation buries its teeth into the chest of the female morphling addict who threw herself between the monkey and Peeta. Katniss and Peeta prepare to fight it off, but then the muttations retreat as if they are being called away. Katniss reflects that the Gamemakers are in complete control of everything in the arena. Peeta and Katniss do their best to save their fellow victor, but Katniss can tell that one of the woman’s vital organs has been punctured. In a moment that recalls Katniss’s song for Rue, Peeta explains to the dying woman how he once strived to find the color of light on white fur in his painting.

Katniss, Peeta, and Finnick recover, but they stay on the beach. Katniss knows that sooner or later...

(The entire section is 564 words.)

Chapter 23 Summary

Katniss realizes that the arena is designed to resemble and work like a clock. During every hour, there will be a different horror in one section of the jungle. Katniss knows that she has just enough time to explain what is happening before the next horror will start. Now that Wiress’s message has been received, they focus on helping Beetee recover, and they retrieve his wire. Johanna says it is useless, but Katniss finds this suspicious because Beetee used wire to set a trap and win his Hunger Games. Johanna knows this because she nicknamed Beetee “Volts.” Before she can figure out what is happening, they decided to return to the Cornucopia.

The allies stock up on weapons. Johanna picks up two throwing axes and...

(The entire section is 423 words.)

Chapter 24 Summary

Katniss runs as fast as she can into the jungle in search of Prim, whom she hears screaming. However, when she tracks down the voice, she finds a jabberjay. Katniss shoots the jay and throws its body away. Finnick has caught up to her, but then he hears a voice and rushes off. He says it is Annie’s voice. Katniss catches up to him, calms him, and then hears Gale’s voice. She rushes off, but this time Finnick is able to drag her away until she regains control over her senses. They attempt to return to the others, but when they get to the beach, they find a transparent barrier that blocks them from the others. They are trapped. The jays return and each is forced to endure the sound of their loved ones screaming in pain.

...

(The entire section is 442 words.)

Chapter 25 Summary

The next morning, Katniss realizes that this alliance will have to end soon. She takes Peeta away from the group, claiming that she will teach him to swim. Peeta agrees that the alliance will have to break up soon, but he suggests that they wait until Enobaria and Brutus have been eliminated. This makes sense because leaving now would mean having two groups of enemies plus Chaff, wherever he is. They return to the shore.

Beetee calls the group together to tell them about his plan. Although Beetee is by far the least impressive fighter, Katniss notes that he seems like a schoolteacher to the rest of the victors. They listen carefully as he explains that Enobaria and Brutus are unlikely to risk another direct attack when...

(The entire section is 430 words.)

Chapter 26 Summary

The trap is nearly set. Beetee has wound his wire around the lightning tree in an intricate pattern. Now he asks Johanna and Katniss to run the wire down to the shore. If they hurry, they will make it safely. Katniss is reluctant to leave Peeta, but he is too slow to come along. Johanna and Katniss start moving, but suddenly the wire is cut and the release of tension causes it to come flying at them. Johanna knocks Katniss down, pins down her arms, and stabs her in the arm. It seems that their alliance is over. Katniss is dazed and can do nothing about it.

However, Johanna does not kill Katniss. Instead, she tells Katniss to be quiet. Enobaria and Brutus are nearby; they think the two young women are probably dead...

(The entire section is 396 words.)

Chapter 27 Summary

The explosion destroys the force field and knocks Katniss unconscious. All she can think about is whether she has saved Peeta or forced the Capitol to kill everyone to show that it is stronger than even the strongest members of the outlying districts. A metal claw descends from the sky, grabs Katniss, and pulls her up into a hovercraft. When Katniss wakes up, she sees Plutarch Havensbee, the Head Gamemaker. Katniss assumes that she is being held by the Capitol, but there is little she can do before she is incapacitated again. The next time she wakes up, she is on a table and is receiving treatments, and she assumes the Capitol is trying to keep her alive so they can punish her publicly. When Katniss next wakes up, she arms herself...

(The entire section is 477 words.)