Mockingjay Discussion 21: What the Votes Tell Us

From Hogwarts Professor Louise Freeman in Virginia:

The assembly of the Council of Victors to vote on whether or not to punish the Capitol with a final (yeah, right!) Hunger Games is a pivotal scene of Mockingjay.  The obvious question we are supposed to ask is “Why did Katniss vote yes?” Was she still so bitter over Prim’s death and convinced that the Capitol was responsible that she would go along with the act of vengeance?  Or did she instantly have an “Animal Farm” style realization that Coin was no different than Snow and give the Yes vote as her best chance to kill her?  I have my own idea, but I can see how there would be differing opinions.  It might be more beneficial to ask two other questions:  1) Why did Coin call for the vote?  2) Why did the other Victors vote the way they did?

Why the vote? Like burn unit-bound Katniss, we are missing a lot of details over how the transition to Coin’s administration occurred. But we can assume she reneged on the promised republic, with free elections. We are told later that a hasty election was held to elect Paylor as her replacement; since no election is mentioned for Coin, it probably didn’t happen and was not going to.

Coin takes full credit for the idea of the Capitol Children Hunger Games. But she has to admit that her newly formed government cannot reach consensus on whether to implement her plan, suggesting her Presidency is off to a shaky start.  Knowing Coin, there must have been quite a bit of opposition for her to risk handing off the decision to the Victors. Who was the opposition?  My guess is that much came from Plutarch; he was the one who told first explained the unfamiliar concept of “republic” to our heroes and, when asked what would happen if the revolution failed, quipped that next year’s Hunger Games would be “quite unforgettable.”  The implication is that there would be no Hunger Games under a rebel government. He seemed tickled pick that Coin was dead on the ride to District 12. Paylor, if consulted, would also presumably have opposed the plan since there is no indication the Hunger Games continues under her leadership.

So, why did the Victors cast their votes?  For the unequivocal No’s: Peeta, Beetee and Annie, we can take their reasoning at face value. They recognize the Games as an atrocity, unjustifiable under any circumstances and counterproductive to future stability. Peeta, who has always been the voice of virtue, reacts with pure moral outrage. Beetee,* master weapons designer, echoes that and provides a second, more practical reason; it’s more important to reconcile with the Capitol citizens than to continue to be enemies. This shows us that even those willing to create horrendous and “dirty-trick” weapons for the sake of winning a war will draw the line at intentionally targeting children as revenge.  I think we are meant to hear Gale’s voice in Beetee’s, given their partnership. Annie also speaks for someone else: her dead husband, Finnick.  I’ll admit this was one of the most touching lines in the book for me, to see the fragile Annie speak with such moral strength and clarity. We might have expected her to fall apart after Finnick’s death, or at the very least retreat into a Mrs. Everdeen-style depression. But instead, she speaks for the war widow, heartbroken but moving on to face the future with courage. Is there anyone who wasn’t delighted to learn that she and Finnick managed to conceive a child?

The unequivocal Yes voters, Johanna and Enobaria, seem to have different reasons for their votes, not surprising considering they are sworn enemies who have just promised to kill each other. Johanna, I’m afraid, has retreated to a state of near sociopathy, unable to empathize with anyone. Whether it was her loveless life before the Quell, her torture afterward or her drug addition, not even Katniss’s overtures of friendship and attempt to comfort with the scent of life-giving evergreens can restore a sense of compassion in her.  She is now the voice of pure vengeance. Significantly, she’s the one who delights in the prospect of tossing Snow’s granddaughter into the arena, an image that evokes little Rue and Prim. Short of her own hijacking, Katniss could never support that.

Enobaria we don’t know much about, given that this is her first appearance since the arena, but our fanged, Career tribute is the classic opportunist: a sell-out like the District she represented. She looks out for herself with no care for whose side she is on.  She had escaped torture after her capture, undoubtedly giving whatever information she had to be used against her fellow tributes. She lucked into immunity only as a result of Katniss’s deal even though she wasn’t the intended beneficiary. She changed sides and joined the revolution only when her own privileged District fell and it seemed the rebels could win. Now that Coin’s in charge, she’s on Coin’s side.

So, Katniss and Haymitch decide the vote. I’m of the school that another Hunger Games was as repugnant to Katniss as it was to Peeta. But Katniss had the stronger reaction. Peeta may have loudly voiced his opposition to the plan**, but Katniss knew immediately that she had to put a stop to it, even at the cost of her own life. Nothing had changed, Coin was the flip side of Snow, and she’s now certain that Coin, not Snow, deliberately killed Prim.  There had never been any doubt in Katniss’s mind that War Criminal Snow must be executed: apparently Nuremgard-style prisons are as foreign to Panem as democracy. So now Coin, like Snow, must die, and a Yes vote is the way to make that happen.  Does anyone think that Coin would have let Katniss into the square to fire the arrow had she voted against her?

Haymitch, as we might expect, understands what Katniss is planning. As others have noted, he answers, “I’m with the Mockingjay,” not  “I agree with Katniss.”  He recognizes that Katniss is again playing a role, presenting herself as something she isn’t and doesn’t want to be for the sake of her own revolution, but this time it’s her own, a revolt not just against Snow but against the tyranny he stood for, a tyranny now equally personified in Coin. Just as Snow tried to break Katniss via Peeta, Coin tried to break Katniss through Prim. Ironically, she came closer to succeeding than Snow but, even more ironically, with her Yes vote, Katniss fights back. And, with her trusty arrow and the skills taught to her by her long-departed father (skills she hardly needed for the 10 yard Snow target), she wins.

*Of all the Victors, Beetee had the best chance of being in Coin’s cabinet. I wouldn’t be surprised if the “leave it to the Victors” idea was his, assuming he, Annie, Katniss and Haymitch would be majority No votes.

**Notice that he launches his final verbal attack against Haymitch in an effort to seal the vote.  Though Katniss’s Yes probably outraged him more than anything else she’s ever done, he does not revert to his “Must kill Katniss” mode, or even respond to her. In case we had any doubt about it when he stopped her from swallowing the Nightlock, the man is cured.

Comments

  1. I am a recent reader of the HG trilogy and to date have read them each five times. I have also read much of the comments on this site and agree with many, but not all.

    This particular thread has many points I agree with, and only really one new thought to consider. I believe that Gale realizes what he has lost (Katniss) due to his anger and revenge. He told her once they knew how to disagree. He tells her she “won’t miss” and to “shoot straight” before the supposed assassination of Snow. I believe this indicates he realizes she needs to be true to her convictions even if he does not agree. He goes to district 2 to first to “mop up peacemakers,” then to take “a fancy job” and is seen on television now and again. At one point in this thread, it was mentioned that district 2 Enobaria was the consumate opportunistic personality from the Capital’s “favored district 2.” I believe Gale regrets losing Katniss, but can’t completely let go of his revenge and need to feel in control.

    There is one point that I wanted to suggest regarding why Peeta attacked Haymitch and not Katniss for their yes votes to continue the games with capital’s children. In Hunger Games in the first arena, Peeta tells Katniss:
    “You’re such a bad liar, Katniss. I don’t know how you’ve survived
    this long.” He begins to mimic me. “I knew that goat would be a
    little gold mine. You’re a little cooler though. Of course, I’m not
    going.” He shakeshis head. “Never gamble at cards. You’ll lose
    your last coin.” he says.
    I believe Peeta knew Katniss was lying about her yes vote and had a plan that involved endangering her life. He also knew that Katniss and Haymitch had a special way of communicating as he says in CF:
    “Even in the arena, you two had some sort of system worked out,
    didn’t you?” asks Peeta. His voice is quieter now. “Something I
    wasn’t part of.”
    I believe Peeta was trying to stop Haymitch from placing his stamp of approval on Katniss’ plan and thereby placing her in danger. He probably did not know exactly what she planned, but knew whatever it was, the outcome for her would most likely not be good. Peeta was there to stop her from taking the nightlock pill, almost as if he anticipated her sacrificing herself (as she did by volunteering to take Prim’s place, as she did to save Gale from the whipping, as she did to get Peeta’s medicine…)

  2. I’m not sure about this, because my friend has borrowed my boks, but I don’t think Coin announced it publicly that Katniss would kill Snow. I think that Coin could have got away with killing Snow herself, and saying it was symbolic that the new president should kill the previous one. Coin wants power. She doesnt want Katniss unless Katniss is firmly on her side.

  3. So I know I’m really behind and this conversation has been over for three years, but as I reread the book today I came across an interesting passage on page 204 of Mockingjay. “president Snow hates me. He killed my sister. Now I will kill him. And the Hunger Games will be over….” So I really think Katniss realized that with Coin as President, the Hunger Games were still on.

  4. Ok, I know I’m also a long way behind here, but just posting anyway, as I”ve only just got around to reading these books 🙂

    I think Katniss was starting to realise that Coin was now the enemy and voted yes to stay on the right side of Coin and so retain her ability to act against her.

    Don’t forget that she’d not had the chance to check it all out with Haymitch before, so this was her only opportunity. Haymitch would have known that she would have been 100% against another HG, and so knew the “For Prim” comment was important. In effect, she was saying to Haymitch that a ‘yes’ vote from him was a green light to say she was right and the HG would have to be prevented by assasinating Coin; and a ‘no’ vote would mean she was wrong – with the same effect of no more HGs.) His comment about being with the Mockingjay is critical, as it is at this moment that she really becomes the Mockingjay: something that was not supposed to have existed according to its makers. Up until that point she’d been the reluctant tool of the rebellion, but in then moving against it she became something else. The unspoken exchange with Snow on the balcony confirms she’s doing the ‘right’ thing. Whether or not she knew in the meeting she’d be able to shoot Coin on the balcony a few minutes later or not can’t be clear, but I think it’s clear that she knew that’s what she’d need to do.

    Finally, on why she didn’t say explicitly in her book what she was planning. I think the clue to this is at the end of the book when she doesn’t name her children. This is a hint that we’re reading the account put together by her and Peeta and that she has to take account of the fact that it might fall into the wrong hands. At the time of writing she is living in D12 having been found not guilty of the assassination on the grounds of diminished responsibility. She can’t be too explicit here about her thinking in the book, or it undoes the grounds for her release and might be cause for the Capitol to reconsider her sentence. As I think another poster has noted, it’s pretty much the only place in the book where we don’t know what she’s thinking, and as well as being a helpful literary device, in terms of building suspense, there’s also a reasonable justification in terms of the plot.

    All round, a fittingly multi-layered end to a great trilogy! (And I’m sure I’ve missed plenty.)

  5. Saw this thread come up and I just wanted to add that I think Katniss’s yes vote for the Capitol HG was a bluff to make Coin think that Katniss supported her as leader, and therefore create the opportunity to remove Coin from power. Odds, gambling, and bluffing are recurring themes throughout the story. But this specific bluff was foreshadowed in The Hunger Games on p. 274 by Peeta. They were discussing whether not Katniss would go the the feast, and Peeta said, “You’re such a bad liar, Katniss. … Never gamble at cards. You’ll lose your last coin…” I think the word choice here is too specific to be random.

  6. Shannon says:

    I’m also jumping into the conversation late as I only just finished the series this morning.

    When the first lot of parachute bombs went off, Prim went rushing in with the other medics, risking her life to save the Capitol children, because Prim hated to see anyone suffer. So she definitely would not have liked more Capitol children to suffer in another sensless Hunger Games.

    So when Katniss votes yes to the Capitol Hunger Games to appear to be on Coin’s side so that Katniss was able to more easily assasinate Coin, Katniss justifying her vote with “for Prim”, could, as people have already mentioned, be interepreted as meaning revenge for Prim’s death.

    But I think the “for Prim” uttered could also be interpreted as meaning a tribute to Prim’s life; Katniss wanted to stop more Capitol children being harmed in the Games “for Prim”, because that’s what Prim would have wanted. Prim sacrificed her own life for those injured Capitol children in the war, so Katniss deciding to kill Coin to prevent Coin hosting future Hunger Games, could be thought of as being a legacy to Prim’s caring nature and making sure Prim’s death whilst trying to help the innocent wasn’t in vain, and therefore being “for Prim” in that regard. So I think they’re very powerful words that Katniss was using to express multiple meanings at once.

  7. Austin Romine of Eugene OR, says:

    I am only just behind and only just finished reading the series for the 9th time but I just wanted to say when Peta says “Your such a bad liar Katniss. …Never gamble at cards. You’ll lose your last _____’COIN’_____” in the first Hunger Games on P. 274 and whe Katniss says “For Prim” in MockingJay during the vote for the Capitol Hunger Games that she was giving Haymitch a signal and that’s why he said “I’m with the MockingJay” instead of saying “I’m with Katniss” anyways thats just my opinion.

  8. Pierre Poirier says:

    I think that Katniss vote was tied to what was said earlier in the book. Coin sent Peeta to kill Katniss because she wasn’t going to support her after the war. It is a proof that if Katniss didn’t support Coin’s plan, she would have any chance to do anything againts her.

  9. Love the explanation here… But I have a question.. What did Katniss achieve by taking a team of assassination to the Capitol.

    I mean I dont see any positive outcome becoz of that trip except for losing Finnick and some more people of group451.

    Only thing I can think of is she was infront of the President mansion, and see Prim killed by the parachute bombs (made by Gale and Beetee), which was used later by Snow to explain Coin’s treacherous plans.

    I am not sure I am missing something here.

  10. larla V says:

    Go back to the HG when Katniss asked Peeta to trust her about the berries after Snow reneged the rules about allowing two victors from the same district. It’s parallel to when Katniss realized that Coin will be no different than Snow. Her vote of yes…for Prim was a message to Haymitch to trust her.

  11. Right, I’m of the “bluff” and “keep on Coin’s side” interpretation too, but I will just say that I agree with Dinesh’s comment that Katniss’ expedition into the Capitol achieved absolutely nothing (except the plot detail of getting her in place to see Prim’s death along with the children and the aid workers). A whole lot of exploration into Katniss as the “anti-hero” lies down this road.

  12. The comment on Katniss taking th assassination team to Capitol wasn’t her plan.I thought that team was there to overthrow the Capitol and take control,but she had her own plan in mind to kill President Snow,once she reach the Capitol and she made a reference about how she didn’t want the rest to follow and they said was’nt it a part of your requirmment of being the Mockigjay to kill President Snow.It also showed that te rebel over took the Capitol and I would have to say that President Coin was hoping Katniss would die in battle. I would also like to point out that it w showed how Peter recovery was coming in the in which Peter was foing the rest of te crew including Katniss to move out of danger.

  13. EpicCenter says:

    Most of the answers to the question of “why did Katniss vote yes” are answered by saying it was to gain Coins’ trust to assassinate her. I have a hard time with this because how could she know that it would lead to an opportunity to kill Coin? And why would a no vote cause so much distrust of Katniss from Coin?

    Also Petertr makes the best point
    : “The thing is, when you read it, it doesn’t seem like Katniss makes the decision to kill Coin until AFTER she sees Snow “against the wall” and reconsiders the “we won’t lie to each other” agreement.”

    – He’s right. Why does she have a hard time reconciling if Snow is lying or not, AFTER the yes vote, just before she kills Coin? This line makes it seem like it was a spontaneous act.

    I wish it would wrap up as tidy as all the other comments would like it; but not knowing when an assassination opportunity would present itself, and the mulling over whether or not Snow is lying, make it hard to accept that her yes vote is an attempt to assassinate Coin. But then that would mean that she voted yes out of spite and revenge. Not only does that seem out of character for Katniss, but also, her internal monologue just before she votes yes, indicates that she is disgusted with the idea of another Hunger Games.

    I suppose that she only wanted Coins trust at first, but to what end? Was the inclusion of Katniss recounting the “let’s not lie to each other” conversation a mistake on the authors part? I really need to know so I can stop thinking about this horribly depressing book.

  14. I think it was necessary for the overall vote to be ‘yes’. There are some good points in the article, but they don’t address why the overall vote had to be yes. It was clear to me reading, Katniss was disgusted at the idea. But a ‘no’ vote would probably meant immediate execution/imprinsoment of the victors. And no chance for Katniss to kill Snow. And avenge her sister. So she voted yes for Prim. And hoped Haymitch knew why he had to bring the overall vote to ‘yes’.
    I think she also realised Coin must die the moment she proposed the Hunger Games, but a plan didn’t emerge at that point, only that she needs to stay alive and gain Coin’s trust. Coin’s assassination was most likely opportunistic, realizing Snow will die anyway from natural causes or the long list of people that wanted him dead.
    I like the explanation that the rose was to torment Snow, haven’t thought of that.
    I also find it curious and it supports the theory that Coin took power by force, that Playton (also a victor) was not at the vote.

  15. So this is incredibly late haha I just love reading about people’s thoughts on this ending because it is so intriguing.
    EpicCenter, after Katniss has her conversation with Snow in the rose garden, she is unsure whether it was Snow or Coin who ordered the parachutes and are responsible for her sister’s death. She seems to settle on Snow, because the idea of Coin and the rebels killing capital children and their own medics to gain power is unthinkable. However, once Coin suggests hosting another Hunger Games, she realizes that Coin is just as evil as Snow, and that if Coin takes over, the cycle of tyranny and death will just repeat itself. I think she realizes that in a way it doesn’t even matter who ordered it, because both of them were power-hungry enough to do it; it was more of a matter of if Coin was clever enough to come up with a plan that would leave Katniss so completely in the palm of her hand.
    Therefore, Katniss has already decided to assassinate Coin and her musings are more out of curiosity than an attempt to make a decision. The fact that she decides Snow was telling the truth only makes the assassination that much more dramatic.

  16. Jordan Wilson says:

    *****SPOILERS OF MOCKINGJAY PART 2*****

    Okay so I read this post and thread and after watching Mockingjay Part 2, I realized that the capitol children were penned in front of the gates of the mansion, making it seem as if Snow was using a human barricade to prevent the rebels from infiltrating the palace. Then let’s not forget that the hovercraft that dropped the bombs was from the CAPITOL, which means that either Snow dropped them or the rebels had access to Capitol hovercrafts. But that also begs the question as to WHY Snow would bomb children in front of his own home.

    This helps me to understand why Katniss has a hard time of believing Snow when he says the it was a masterful plan on Coin’s part to turn the peacekeepers and the capitol officials against him. But this is getting off topic. I personally believe that Coin is a lot more cunning and devious than we first thought. She planned out the entire attack from the beginning, whether her intention was to murder Prim or not, she was still planning on it happening one way or another. During the Council of the Victor’s, Katniss is conflicted by who she should believe, Snow or Coin.

    The reason that she voted yes – For Prim – was because she knew for a fact that Coin would just bring about more suffering from her tyrannous rule if she were to be kept in office. In the movie, it is HEAVILY implied that Katniss knew what she was doing from the moment she said yes- with her putting the nightlock pill in her costume, knowing the repercussions that would occur from her actions. Whatever the real answer is, I know that speculating on these topics is fun and I love reading people’s comments.

  17. Jordan Wilson says:

    Whether the act was spontaneous or pre-meditated, it did turn out to be an excellent ending to an amazing series.

  18. I am half a decade late to this party, a t ice only read the books this month and I am SO. GLAD to see someone finally mention Haymitch’s comment. It seems so glossed over in the events of the chapter but on first reading, it hit me so hard I put the book down! “I’m with the mockingjay” is such a statement of understanding, of intent, of awareness! Haymitch knows Coin sent Peeta in in the hopes of killing Katniss, he must have his suspicions about her involvement in Prim’s death, he was never a huge fan of Coin anyway and he knows that when she says ‘for Prim’ she isn’t talking about personal vengeance. I think it’s one of the most powerful lines in the trilogy and so lovely to hear someone else say it!

  19. Fascinating discussion. A good moment that sums up the Katniss-Coin tension is when Coin reads Katniss’ demands to the rebels early in the book, then adds Coin’s own conditions. Katniss realizes then that she’s not necessarily safer in District 13 than anywhere else. And that she is still a pawn, at least as long as Coin is leader. This doesn’t fully explain Katniss’ vote, but it’s a clue that whatever she does – or thinks, or says, or reveals to readers – could have huge consequences.

    ‘Only now the words coming out of [Coin’s] mouth are news to me. “But in return for this unprecedented request, Soldier Everdeen has promised to devote herself to our cause. It follows that any deviance from her mission, in either motive or deed, will be viewed as a break in this agreement. The immunity would be terminated and the fate of the four victors determined by the law of District Thirteen. As would her own. Thank you.”
    In other words, I step out of line and we’re all dead.’

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