Before she first fought in the Hunger Games, Katniss was a loyal, loving daughter who broke the law poaching game to feed her family. However, when she and Peeta win their first Hunger Games and survive the second, she begins to realize that she is a cold, calculating killer. Mockingjay opens with Katniss recovering from a concussion, foreshadowing that much of the novel will focus on Katniss’s psychological trauma. Mockingjay is a dark coming of age story in which Katniss does not grow into a healthy adult after her experiences. Rather, because Katniss is traumatized repeatedly throughout the rebellion, her experiences shatter both her innocence and her identity.
Katniss’s initial role in the rebellion calls on her to live a public life in the propaganda campaigns. Expected to be a revolutionary leader, Katniss’s fire and passion take her deeper into the civil war, exposing her to more atrocities. By the time Katniss reaches the president’s mansion to assassinate President Snow, she has sacrificed friends, fought battles, and has killed innocent bystanders. In the Hunger Games, she was forced to do these things to survive, but her vendetta against Snow is largely unnecessary since three different columns of rebels are rapidly converging on the president’s mansion. Katniss’s ruthlessness reflects how much she has changed over the series.
By the end of the novel, Katniss is psychologically devastated. When she votes to let the Hunger Games continue, her innocence is shredded. Although Katniss goes through the motions of living, she continues to have nightmares and lives with the constant fear that everything she has can be taken away from her. Katniss’s psychological recovery from the war is at best ambiguous.
A childhood friend of Katniss, Gale has survived the firebombing of District 12. As his name suggests, he is wild and powerful. He used to hunt and trap game with Katniss when they were children, but after leading survivors of District 12 to escape the fires, he is now a respected leader in the rebellion. Although he hunts less than he used to, he helps the rebels design new snares, ones that kill Capitol soldiers using bombs. Gale has grown into a vengeful soldier of the rebellion, and like Katniss, he underscores the inhumanity of war.
(The entire section is 961 words.)