Last Updated on June 1, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 525
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 three meals a day and jobs to do. On the other hand, Coin did not act out of compassion, but rather as part of a series of calculations. Katniss has learned that District 13 lost a lot of its population to a pox epidemic, and they now need “new breeding stock.” There is a role for Katniss to play as well. She is to become the “Mockingjay,” the symbol of the revolution. She reflects that she must now “become the actual leader, the face, the voice, the embodiment of the revolution.”
The only thing that seems to have withstood the firebombing is the Victor’s Village, where Katniss lived for one year after surviving her first Hunger Games. Inside, she finds Buttercup, her sister Prim’s cat. Although Katniss and the cat do not get along, Buttercup comes to her when she tells him that she will take him to Prim. Katniss also finds a white rose, one that she knows has been sent from President Snow, Panem’s leader. That rose, Katniss reflects as she returns to the hovercraft in panic, sends a message. It is President Snow’s way of saying “I can find you. I can reach you. Perhaps I am watching you now.”
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