Mockingjay by author Suzanne Collins is the third installment in The Hunger Games series. This young adult novel follows protagonist Katniss Everdeen as she fights in a futuristic rebellion against a sadistic dictatorship run by President Snow. Mockingjay largely explores the psychological and emotional costs of war.
Panem is a dictatorship that maintained its power after a failed rebellion. After the war ended, the country was divided into the Capitol and twelve outlying districts (the thirteenth district was supposedly destroyed in the failed rebellion), each of which is responsible for producing a specific good for the Capitol. The Capitol is relentless in its effort to suppress further rebellion in the outlying districts. To maintain power, it relies on military might, resource control, and especially televised propaganda. The crowning achievement of this propaganda program is the Hunger Games, an annual event in which each of the districts must send two “tributes” to fight in a hellish arena full of booby traps, extreme environments, and merciless opponents. The Hunger Games are meant to remind the outlying districts of the cost of rebelling against the Capitol. The “victors” of these games survive to endure both fame and psychological trauma.
When Mockingjay opens, nearly all of the outlying districts are at some stage of rebellion against the Capitol. Katniss Everdeen has already fought in the Hunger Games twice and has now become a symbol of the resistance against President Snow. Katniss’s partner in both previous games, Peeta, is held captive in the Capitol. The rebels, in turn, have kidnapped Katniss and seek to use her to launch their own propaganda campaign against President Snow. Meanwhile, Katniss’s home in District 12 has been firebombed. Led by President Coin, the rebels operate in an underground bunker in District 13, which was actually spared during the failed rebellion because of its nuclear arsenal. Life in District 13 is so utilitarian and heavily regimented that people are tortured simply for stealing bread.
Although the rebellion is well under way, Katniss is in shock. Having endured two bouts of Hunger Games, she is traumatized by her experiences and wears a bracelet proclaiming her mental instability. For Katniss, there are many unanswered questions that she must face now that she has the time to consider them. Although Katniss is highly responsible and loyal to her family, she is also a very capable killer. Confusing matters further, Katniss is stuck in a love triangle with two boys who are also both loyal and dangerous. By her side in District 13 is Soldier Gale, her childhood friend with whom she hunted as a girl. Held captive in the Capitol is Peeta, who fought by her side in two Hunger Games and who loves Katniss unconditionally. Finally, although she is not a natural actress, Katniss has also become a symbol known by many as "The Mockingjay." Should she use her celebrity status to wage a propaganda battle with the Capitol?
The propaganda battle begins before Katniss can decide. On television, a healthy-looking Peeta calls for a cease-fire, which enrages the rebels. Katniss reasons that a cease-fire would only lend more power to President Snow and the sadistic tastes of the Capitol, leaving the Districts to continued hunger, unending desperation, and the prospect of more children lost as tributes in the Hunger Games. At last, Katniss agrees to fight a publicity battle as The Mockingjay on several conditions, including that Peeta and other captured victors will be given immunity when the war ends.
Unfortunately, Katniss is a poor actress and is unable to inspirationally proclaim rebel slogans in staged environments. However, when she is taken to a hospital to visit real victims of the war, Katniss shines like a true star. Merciless, the Capitol sends a second round of bombers to kill not only the wounded but also the survivors who are caring for them in the hospital. Katniss, Gale, and their publicity crew defy orders and destroy several bombers,...
(The entire section is 1656 words.)
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Chapter 1 Summary
Mockingjay is the third book in Suzanne Collins’s The Hunger Games trilogy. The title of the series is taken from an annual event known as the “Hunger Games.” The purpose of these games is to cement the authority of the ruling Capitol over the twelve districts of Panem, particularly in response to the “Dark Days,” a rebellion against the Capitol that took place 75 years ago. In the games, two children from each district are sent to an arena and are required to fight to the death for the entertainment of the Capitol and the intimidation of the districts. The hero of the series, Katniss Everdeen, has been forced to fight in Hunger Games twice. After winning her first games by undermining the Capitol’s authority, Katniss inadvertently became a symbol of rebellion against the Capitol. When Katniss escaped from the arena at the end of the previous novel, Catching Fire, the Capitol retaliated by firebombing District 12. Now, Katniss has returned to her home, but she finds nothing but ashes.
In the sky above Katniss floats an invisible hovercraft. It is the property of District 13. For decades, the people of Panem thought that the Capitol wiped out District 13. However, the people there survived and hid underground. They are led by President Alma Coin, a woman with eyes “the color of slush that you wish would melt away.” Katniss is in shock at her experiences and in emotional distress because Peeta, her partner in the games and possibly her lover, is held captive in the Capitol. It should not come as a surprise that Katniss hates everyone.
Katniss is uncertain about her feelings about District 13 and the rebellion that it is leading. Should she feel grateful to Coin and District 13? During the firebombing of District 12, Gale managed to save a group of survivors by escaping to the woods. They were rescued by hovercrafts from District 13 and have since been given...
(The entire section is 525 words.)
Chapter 2 Summary
District 13 managed to survive the Dark Days because it was a nuclear power. Consequently, they were able to negotiate a peace agreement with the Capitol, which had additional nuclear reserves in the west. Katniss wonders whether the Capitol gambled that District 13 would be unable to survive without the resources of the other districts. If so, the gamble would have paid off if not for District 13’s reliance on rationing. Resources are carefully monitored, as are the actions of District 13’s people.
Each morning in District 13, everyone’s arm is tattooed with a schedule of locations and jobs. At the end of the day, the ink washes away, and the next morning, a new schedule is given. Katniss, who now shares quarters with her mother, Prim, and Buttercup, agrees to receive a schedule, but she never follows it. Instead, she spends most of her time sleeping in hidden areas. On her arm, Katniss wears a medical bracelet that informs the reader that she is “mentally disoriented.” Gale also wears a bracelet, but his is a “communicuff.” For leading District 12’s survivors, Gale has been given a position of leadership within the rebellion. He informs Katniss that they have both been summoned to “Command.” There, they see a screen. On it, Caesar Flickerman is interviewing Peeta.
Peeta does not appear to have been tortured. The interview begins with an acknowledgment that no one would have expected Caesar to be interviewing Peeta again. The last time Peeta was on television, he was about to enter the Hunger Games with the intention of sacrificing himself so that Katniss could survive. Peeta carefully explains that he and Katniss had no idea that there were rebels that had their own plans for the games. As Peeta describes what life was like in the arena, Katniss reflects on how naturally Peeta speaks to an audience. Before the interview ends, Peeta explains that the rebellion must stop because Panem no longer has a population large enough to survive war.
Katniss knows that Peeta’s calls for a cease-fire will be interpreted as treachery by the rebels. Unable to bear hearing others speak out against Peeta, Katniss leaves the room. President Coin tells Katniss that she has not been dismissed, but Katniss leaves anyway. Katniss hides in a closet and is quickly joined by Gale. Gale explains that he fought one of Coin’s men so that Katniss could leave Command and has been demoted because of it. He also explains that Peeta is trying to protect Katniss by painting her as an innocent. That way, even if the rebels lose, Katniss could still be treated with leniency. Katniss is distraught, but she also realizes that she cannot support a ceasefire with the Capitol after they firebombed District 12. She decides that she will become the Mockingjay.
Chapter 3 Summary
Katniss has decided that she will become the Mockingjay. That night, she struggles to sleep and begins pacing. Prim wakes up. She is no longer an innocent little girl; she has now matured beyond her age and is able to comfort Katniss. Prim explains that as the Mockingjay, Katniss will be an important person within the rebellion. In other words, she can ask for whatever she wants. That means that she could ask for Peeta to be pardoned, though Prim points out that there is no guarantee that Coin will keep her word. The next morning, she talks with Gale over a carefully rationed breakfast, and they come up with a longer list of demands.
When Katniss arrives at Command, she begins negotiations with President Coin and her...
(The entire section is 424 words.)
Chapter 4 Summary
Katniss and Gale, accompanied by Plutarch and his assistant Flavius, have just discovered Katniss’s beaten prep team. The three stylists have been beaten mercilessly. They force the guard to release Katniss’s prep team from the Capitol. The crime? The guard explains that the stylists were caught stealing a slice of bread. After depositing the prep team with her mother, Katniss realizes that there is more to this beating than what appears at first. President Coin is sending Katniss a message, though Plutarch and his assistant think that she is overstating things.
Thankfully, Katniss and Gale are now allowed to hunt. Gale asks Katniss why she is so concerned for her Capitol prep team. After all, they only make Katniss...
(The entire section is 448 words.)
Chapter 5 Summary
After listening to President Coin’s announcement, Katniss immediately categorizes District 13’s leader alongside President Snow as “another power player who has decided to use me as a piece in her games.” In retrospect, this has never worked as well as the power player intended. Katniss undermined the Capitol’s authority by winning the 74th Hunger Games. When President Snow sent Katniss out to quell rebellion, she instead seemed to bolster it. Still, Coin seems to have realized that Katniss is a threat faster than her peers did. Gale disagrees with Katniss’s analysis, arguing that Coin, in her capacity as a leader, cannot allow the public to see her as being manipulated by Katniss.
Regardless, before Katniss...
(The entire section is 500 words.)
Chapter 6 Summary
After Katniss’s underwhelming performance, Haymitch calls a meeting. Even President Coin is invited. Haymitch shows Katniss’s performance and points out that it will not work. However, he goes on to ask everyone to share a moment when Katniss’s actions were moving. After a moment, the people in the room share their memories, such as when Katniss sang to Rue after she died. Haymitch points out that the common theme of these moments is that they were unscripted. Haymitch proposes that they begin sending Katniss into combat situations with camera crews, and President Coin reluctantly agrees. The public thinks that Katniss is pregnant, but they will say that she lost the child in her escape from the previous Hunger Games....
(The entire section is 531 words.)
Chapter 7 Summary
Katniss has arrived in District 8 with her escort. Boggs is in charge of her bodyguards. Cressida and Messala are in charge of filming Katniss’s actions. Their crew wear strange cameras that encase their bodies and make them look like insects. Haymitch is watching from above in the hovercraft. On the ground, District 8 looks like it has been devastated by the Capitol’s recent air attack. Buildings have been destroyed and the wounded are being brought into one central location, which Gale finds alarming.
Katniss meets Paylor, the Commander of District 8’s rebellion. Paylor does not seem very friendly, but Boggs begins spreading the word of Katniss’s “miscarriage.” He also explains that Katniss insisted on...
(The entire section is 439 words.)
Chapter 8 Summary
After her spontaneous message to President Snow, the cameras stop rolling and Katniss’s adrenaline levels drop. Now, she feels injuries. When Boggs grabs her arm, she makes out that Gale broke the security guard’s nose. She proceeds to vomit on his bulletproof vest while he escorts her to a hovercraft that will return Katniss and her escort to District 13.
When Katniss wakes up, she is in a hospital in District 13. Her mother, who is caring for her, informs Katniss that no one told her that Katniss was being sent into action. Katniss feels a moment of guilt and promises to ask permission next time. When her mother says that no one asks her for permission to do anything, Katniss argues that someone will notify her...
(The entire section is 425 words.)
Chapter 9 Summary
Katniss and Finnick are pretending that they did not see the Capitol propo of Peeta. However, she cannot help but consider Peeta’s suggestion that her allies in District 13 are untrustworthy. After all, no one has come to tell her about the Capitol propo. Even Gale has kept quiet. When Katniss sees that Gale’s communicuff has been returned to him, she challenges him over how accessible he has become to President Coin. When Gale admits that he only kept the propo a secret to protect Katniss’s health, Katniss refuses to accept his apology.
Still, the propos continue. Katniss returns to production. The next propo will return Gale and Katniss to District 13, and this time Katniss takes care to notify her mother that...
(The entire section is 509 words.)
Chapter 10 Summary
After Peeta’s sudden warning, District 13’s commanders break into argument. Katniss and Haymitch seem to be the only ones that are worried about Peeta. Haymitch finally cuts through the argument and explains that Peeta would not have made up an attack. Coin remains unconvinced and points out that an attack on District 13 would invite retaliation, risk nuclear war, and damage their military compound in such a way that the Capitol would never be able to use it. However, she decides to issue an alert anyway because if nothing else, it will be good to have a drill. The alert begins and the population of District 13 calmly enters elevators that take them deep below ground.
When Katniss reaches the shelter, she is still...
(The entire section is 438 words.)
Chapter 11 Summary
Katniss has begun to think about what it will mean to be broken. What is Snow trying to do? The answer comes to Katniss when least expected. She is playing a game with Buttercup and a flashlight. Buttercup tries to catch the light as it moves on the floor, which is serving as a distraction for the others who are locked away in the dull bomb shelter. However, when Katniss moves the light to the wall, she realizes that Buttercup becomes paralyzed: he still wants to catch the light, but cannot. So he does nothing. Katniss realizes that she is like Buttercup and that President Snow is using Peeta like an unobtainable flashlight.
Katniss finds Finnick and explains that she has come to realize how President Snow is using...
(The entire section is 429 words.)
Chapter 12 Summary
When Katniss learns that Gale is taking part in a mission to rescue Peeta, her first thought is that she could lose them both. Her next thought is that she must join the mission. However, Haymitch explains that the team has already left and that Katniss is both too vulnerable and too valuable to risk. They will not even let her go to another district to fight, though it might create a distraction. However, if Katniss could bring herself to create one more propo, they might be able to hack into the Capitol’s broadcast system, distracting Snow and his security from the rescue mission.
Katniss sits before the camera and explains about the time that she first met Peeta. She had been starving and was unable to feed her...
(The entire section is 542 words.)
Chapter 13 Summary
Katniss is back in the hospital. Now, her neck is being treated. Fortunately, her spine and voice box have not been ruined by Peeta’s attempts to strangle her. She reflects that if she had been alone in the room with Peeta, she would have died. Even Haymitch is shocked by what has happened to Peeta.
Plutarch and Beetee explain that they think that Peeta’s mind has been “hijacked” with tracker jacker venom. Katniss herself was stung by tracker jackers during her first Hunger Games, and even now she can remember the hallucinations and disorientation that she felt. Beetee explains that the Capitol has used these hallucinations to manipulate Peeta’s emotions and psychology. They will try their best to repair his...
(The entire section is 478 words.)
Chapter 14 Summary
Katniss has been in District 2 for two weeks. Worried over Peeta, Katniss has been filming propos as much as she can. She has been moved from one site to another throughout her stay in District 2, but she much prefers being aboveground to life in the subterranean military complex in District 13. Although Katniss has not been invited to fight, she has been invited to strategy meetings. Unfortunately, Plutarch’s words are proving true: District 2 is proving to be a “tough nut to crack.”
The Capitol forces are secure inside their mountain fortress, which the rebels now refer to as the Nut. The Capitol stronghold used to be a mine. However, when District 13 seized control of the Capitol’s subterranean military...
(The entire section is 413 words.)
Chapter 15 Summary
Gale has proposed a strategy that would kill everyone inside the Nut—all workers, rebel spies, and Capitol soldiers. Katniss and others are surprised by Gale’s ruthless strategy, but Gale stands by it, arguing that no one in District 12 was given the option to escape from the firebombing. However, the council suggests that they try to leave the train track that leads into the mountain open so that the Capitol forces can surrender. Beetee points out that Panem’s population has begun to drop so much that it could pose a threat to their survival. At the least, he suggests, it is worth a conversation. However, Katniss and Gale are not invited to attend it.
Gale’s plan works better than expected. Up to now, District...
(The entire section is 512 words.)
Chapter 16 Summary
When Katniss wakes up, she is in the hospital again. Johanna Mason is nearby, and she comes to sit aggressively on Katniss’s bed so that her injuries will hurt. Johanna takes Katniss’s morphling for herself, admitting that it would not be so bad if she could escape into a life of morphling addiction. Katniss is in pain, but she will not complain since Johanna saved her life during the Quarter Quell, only to be captured by the Capitol and tortured. Johanna also explains that Katniss was shot, but Cinna’s outfit managed to stop the bullet. Katniss only has bruised ribs.
Most people are afraid of Johanna, but not Gale. When he comes to visit Katniss, Johanna leaves. Katniss and Gale agree to disagree on Gale’s...
(The entire section is 475 words.)
Chapter 17 Summary
This chapter opens with Katniss “blindsided” as she learns that the rebels are about to launch an attack on the Capitol. Katniss, who has been fantasizing about exacting her revenge on President Snow for so long, has not been selected to participate in the invasion. Katniss rushes to confront Coin, who explains that the role of the Mockingjay was to unite the districts against the Capitol. If things go well in the Capitol, Katniss might be shipped in. Katniss continues, undaunted, arguing that Gale is allowed to go, but Coin points out that Katniss never trains as a soldier, whereas Gale never misses a training session if he can help it. However, Katniss manages to make a deal that her case will be reviewed if she attends basic...
(The entire section is 491 words.)
Chapter 18 Summary
Katniss and Johanna progress through the training. Before long, they are scheduled for exams. Katniss makes it through the first three sections without issue. The last exam is apparently designed to test a soldier’s individual weakness. Katniss has no idea what hers may be. However, when she enters the simulation, she finds that her training takes over. Just as she is about to reach the end, a team of Peacekeepers enter the street. Katniss sees a can of gasoline. If she could explode it, she could kill the Peacekeepers. However, her commanding officer orders her to hit the ground. Katniss realizes that her independence, or her defiance of orders, must be what the others consider to be her weakness. Katinss throws herself on the...
(The entire section is 433 words.)
Chapter 19 Summary
Peeta has just joined Squad 451, and Katniss thinks that Coin wants her dead. Boggs complains, but President Snow overrides his concerns. He tells Katniss that Coin probably does want Katniss dead, but that he will do his best to keep her alive anyway. Coin has never liked Katniss, and Katniss’s demands for immunity have not helped her case. Now, with the districts unified, Katniss is primed to become a threat. After the rebels seize power, would Katniss support Coin’s ascendancy to power? Katniss explains that she would have to consider. Boggs points out that the fact that Katniss has to think makes her a threat. For Coin, Katniss would be most useful as a martyr.
Peeta is having trouble adjusting to life in the...
(The entire section is 409 words.)
Chapter 20 Summary
Boggs is dying, and the streets around Katniss are exploding into violence as more pods go off. Boggs asks Katniss to bring him his Holo, a sophisticated device that contains maps and other strategic information. Boggs commands the device to give Katniss prime security clearance, in other words, making her the leader of the Squad. Before he dies, Boggs tells Katniss “not to trust them. Don’t go back. Kill Peeta. Do what you came to do.” A wave of black goo is pouring through the street and the rebels quickly flee. Peeta, maddened by the chaos and his hijacked memories, tries to kill Katniss, but she evades him. Another rebel tries to contain Peeta, but Peeta kicks him into another pod, killing him. The rebels flee into a...
(The entire section is 422 words.)
Chapter 21 Summary
Peeta has suggested that he should be killed before the squad goes on with their mission to assassinate President Snow. He has just killed another squad member, but the others disagree. They cannot leave him behind, Peeta argues, because he might risk being captured by the Capitol, which is unthinkable. At the very least, he asks, they should give him a suicide pill. However, Katniss points out that this situation is not about Peeta; it is about the mission. They need him.
They see another emergency Capitol broadcast. President Snow is attempting to explain what Katniss’s death means for the rebellion. As Katniss is the face of the rebellion, her death means that the tides are about to turn in this war. However,...
(The entire section is 440 words.)
Chapter 22 Summary
Katniss can hear the mutts hissing her name long before she can see them. She is surprised to find that Peeta has begun to hiss her name as well. It seems as though the Capitol programming is taking over his mind again. However, just as Katniss has trained an arrow on his heart, Peeta comes back to his senses. Now, he is urging Katniss to flee. These mutts are programmed to kill everything in their path until they kill her. Katniss offers to leave the others, but her squad is determined to stand by her. Katniss gives up her plan to abandon the others and ensures that everyone is armed, even the cameramen.
Now, they begin to flee as quickly as they can. They continue to face pods, and the hissing mutts seem to be coming...
(The entire section is 416 words.)
Chapter 23 Summary
Katniss has just killed an unarmed woman in the Capitol, and it turns out that there was no one nearby that she could have been calling on for help. However, Katniss has little time to worry over her actions. The Peacekeepers could find them at any minute. Outside the dead woman’s home is a crowd of people and a screen that is calling upon the people of the Capitol to search for Katniss and her squad. They search the woman’s closets and find disguises before leaving. Cressida is still with Katniss, and looking out the window she is able to figure out where they are in the Capitol. It turns out that they are not far from Snow’s mansion.
Cressida leads Katniss and the others into the city. At first, she is not sure...
(The entire section is 428 words.)
Chapter 24 Summary
Katniss is irritated that Gale has said that she will end up with a man without whom she cannot survive. It makes her sound cold and calculating, and right now she thinks that she could survive perfectly well without Gale or Peeta. She is about to find out if that is true, since the battle for the Capitol is escalating very quickly. Now, many refugees are making their way into the center of the Capitol and the Peacekeepers are sheltering them in local houses, apartments, and shops. Gale, Katniss, and Peeta decide that it is time to leave Tigris’s shop, though not before she does her best to disguise them. Gale and Katniss advance together and Peeta trails behind them in the hopes of creating a diversion if necessary. Gale gives...
(The entire section is 421 words.)
Chapter 25 Summary
Katniss rushes into the bombed Capitol square to save Prim, but she catches fire. Now, Katniss describes herself as a fire-mutt and although she tries to reach Prim, she is horribly burned instead. When she wakes up, she is again in a hospital. Her doctors are concerned that she has lost her voice, but there is no indication that she is physically unable to speak. Instead, it seems that she has become a “mental Avox.” In time, she will speak again.
The parachute bombs ended the war. Coin is now president of all of Panem. Peeta is recovering from burn wounds. Gale, who was shot twice during his escape, is already back in the field defeating what remains of the Capitol forces. Snow has been tried and is sentenced for...
(The entire section is 436 words.)
Chapter 26 Summary
President Snow has told Katniss that he did not order the attack that killed Prim. However, now Katniss cannot decide what really happened. The Capitol forces did not fire on the hovercraft. On the other hand, surely Snow would have used a remaining hovercraft to escape Panem. The Capitol might have had double exploding bombs, but Katniss knows that the rebels certainly did. Why would Prim, a thirteen year old, be sent to the Capitol, unless she was specially authorized to go? Katniss tries to ask Haymitch what happened, but her former mentor is too drunk to help. When she asks Gale, he admits that neither he nor Beetee knows whether their bombs were used on the children. Regardless, Gale knows that they will never be able to fall...
(The entire section is 448 words.)
Chapter 27 Summary
Katniss tries to eat the nightlock pill on her shoulder after she assassinates President Coin. However, she only bites down on flesh, looking up to see that Peeta has his hand firmly on her shoulder. Snow is laughing, blood draining from his mouth, and guards are rushing in. Katniss fights but they capture and subdue her. The next thing she knows, she is in a cell. Katniss hopes that they will allow her to die, but as the days go on she worries about what might happen.
Instead, Katniss learns from Plutarch that they held a trial. Katniss has been found not guilty because of her mental state. Now, Paylor is President of Panem and Plutarch is the head of communications. In fact, his first televised event was Katniss’s...
(The entire section is 443 words.)