What is the theme or lesson in Mockingjay?

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The two main themes of Mockingjay are people are not alwayswhat they seem, and sometimes we have to act out of duty rather than do what we want.

Katniss has found herself in the middle of a war.  She thought that District 13 was destroyed, but it has just been driven underground. The Capitol has been keeping its existence a secret to use it as an example to other districts.  Another example of perception versus reality is Peeta’s supposed betrayal.  He has been captured, and goes on television telling Katniss that the rebels are not who she thinks they are.

Still, I can never get around the fact that District 13 was instrumental in 12’ s destruction. This doesn’t absolve me of blame — there’s plenty of blame to go around. (ch 1, p. 6)

Throughout the series, Katniss has been torn between Peeta and Gale.  In this book, she has an even bigger problem.  Peeta’s capture by the Capitol puts her in a difficult position. She negotiates for immunity for him. 

Dead silence. I feel Gale’s body tense. I guess I should have told him before, but I wasn’t sure how he’d respond. Not when it involved Peeta. (ch 3, p. 40)

When he returns wanting nothing but to kill her, and not knowing whether his memories are really his, she feels sorry for him.  She is also being driven away from Gale by some of the choices he is making.  Gale asks her if she thinks he is heartless.  She is concerned that the weapons he is making are war crimes.

“But that kind of thinking . . . you could turn it into an argument for killing anyone at any time. You could justify sending kids into the Hunger Games to prevent the districts from getting out of line,” I say. (ch 16, p. 222)

This is the beginning of the rift between Katniss and Gale, as she realizes he has gone down a moral path she cannot follow. 

Sometimes our life is not our own, and we have a duty to others.  Katniss understands that Peeta is being used as a pawn to get at her.  She does not want to be the face of the rebellion, but she has taken that role since volunteering for the first hunger games and wearing the mockingjay pin.  She did not know what it meant, but she has become a symbol.

Snow cannot afford to waste Peeta’s life, especially now, while the Mockingjay causes so much havoc. He’s killed Cinna already. Destroyed my home. My family, Gale, and even Haymitch are out of his reach. Peeta’s all he has left. (ch 11, p. 151)

Katniss decides to be the face of the revolution, but not blindly follow the leader, Coin.  She is suspicious of her.  She does not like the restrictions placed on her in District 13.  She volunteers to join Coin’s army because she realizes that she has to play a role in the war, whether she likes it or not.  In the end, Katniss kills Coin and not Snow out of that same sense of duty.  She cannot allow another tyrant.

Collins, Suzanne (2010-08-24). Mockingjay (The Final Book of The Hunger Games). Scholastic Books. Kindle Edition.

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What is main theme in Mockingjay?

The main theme in Mockingjay is that things are not always what they seem.

Katniss has pretty much lived her life with the motto of “trust no one” before she even competed in her first Hunger Games.  After the rescue at the end of her second, she is even more confused.  She has been told that District 13 does not exist, but it is underground.  District 12 is the one that does not exist now—it has been destroyed.

When Katniss joins District 13 in their bunker, she is suspicious of the rebels and their leader, Coin.  Coin wants her to be the mockingjay, the symbol of the revolution and the rallying cry for the other districts.

And now Coin, with her fistful of precious nukes and her well-oiled machine of a district, finding it’s even harder to groom a Mockingjay than to catch one. (ch 5, p. 59)

Katniss is right to be suspicious.  Coin turns out to be ruthless and motivated, and Katniss is concerned with some of her methods.  She pulls away from Gale when he develops weapons that target civilians, and when her own sister is killed she has had enough.

Katniss made a deal with Coin that she would be the one to kill Snow, the Capital leader.  Her suspicions lead her to kill Coin instead, thus ending the revolution and preventing a new reign of tyranny and abuse that would have resulted with Coin in charge.

Katniss discovered that Coin was not what she seemed, and the rebellion was in trouble.  Too many people were caught up in the idea of ending the Capital rule to think about what the consequences will be. In the end, Coin learned that Katniss was not what she seemed either.

Collins, Suzanne (2010-08-24). Mockingjay (The Final Book of The Hunger Games). Scholastic Books. Kindle Edition.

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