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 ground, another soldier kills the Peacekeepers, and Katniss is congratulated for passing the exam.
Katniss is sent to join Squad 451. It is Boggs’s team, and Finnick and Gale are also on it. Boggs explains that it is supposed to be a team of sharpshooters. However, when Plutarch enters to tell the team about their mission, he explains that they are to be a Star Squad—a publicity team. Every member of the team is disappointed. However, Katniss says nothing because she is already thinking of ways to elude her teammates so that she can hunt down President Snow in the Capitol.
Finnick and Katniss have made the team, but Johanna did not. Katniss learns that Johanna was tortured with water during her captivity in the Capitol. Katniss recalls the way that Johanna struggled to run during their training and her reluctance to shower. Finnick and Katniss are Johanna’s only friends, so Finnick goes to see her. Katniss goes outside with some bandages and collects pine needles. When she presents them to Johanna, the District 7 victor smells them and is reminded of her home, a lumber providing district. Johanna is thankful, but it does not stop her from seizing Katniss’s wrist and making her promise to kill Snow. Katniss promises.
However, the star team is not sent into significant combat operations. Instead, they are sent to take out pods. The Capitol is littered with pods, each of which is a deadly trap. Katniss and Finnick view the Capitol as a new arena. Although they feel like they are perfectly suited for special operations in the Capitol, they are limited to taking out pods. Before long, Peeta is sent to join the team. Peeta explains that Coin is disappointed in the propos because they lack “heat,” but Katniss thinks that Coin has sent Peeta to kill her.