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 Peeta his nightlock pill, arguing that Katniss can shoot him if necessary.
However, there may not be much need for diversions since the war is about to reach the President’s mansion. Katniss and Gale, along with the Capitol refugees, are caught up in firefights between the Peacekeepers and the rebels. They are also forced to survive pods, including one in which the street they are standing on slowly opens downward, dropping the people into a pit where shadowy creatures end their screams. Katniss makes it to the edge of the street, but Gale chooses to run into the doorway of a nearby building. Katniss shoots the lock, but there are Peacekeepers inside. As they capture Gale, he mouths something to Katniss, but she cannot make out what it was so she continues on. Only after she has left does she realize that Gale was asking her to shoot him.
Now, Katniss’s best chance to help Gale is to reach the President’s mansion. When she gets there, Katniss sees that the President has chosen an unusual defense. He has filled the grounds around the mansion with children. A hovercraft appears overhead, one that has a Capitol seal on it, and it drops parachutes down on the children. The children, thinking that the parachutes contain food and medicine, rush to grab them. However, they contain explosives. Two new groups enter the square to help the children: the Capitol’s Peacekeepers and the rebels’ medics. Katniss sees that Prim is among the medics. Just as the two sisters make eye contact, the parachutes explode again. The use of a small explosion, followed by a second explosion after a delay, recalls Gale’s snare that preys on humanity’s compassion.