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...
(The entire section is 1,808 words.)