Mockingjay Discussion 2: District 13

My daughter Sarah read the first three chapters aloud to me while we drove home from Children’s Book World in Haverford after midnight this morning. I had predicted that Ms. Collins would paint a picture of a social paradise in District 13 as the world not subject to the Capitol’s metanarrative, so I found myself thinking,” My goodness. I expected Samuel Butler or Thomas More and got Huxley’s Brave New World instead.”

I’d like to read what you think of District 13, its conduct of the war, and what kind of transparency it is as social criticism.


  1. I found the name choice “Coin” quite appropriate and had the same thoughts as you, John. But I also wonder if the newly elected Pres from District 8, (who as you may recall was the one to let Katniss in to see Snow for his big reveal), had her eye on Coin’s job all along.

  2. Coin was clearly a baddy from the beginning. Little finesse in her characterization. Katniss’s “innocence” about this was frustrating, and actually betrayed her survival instinct that Collins worked hard to develop in the first 2 books. Saw her assassination coming a mile a way.

  3. The portrayal of 13 had me floored in disbelief, but I did love it, realizing Collins was playing off our expectations of something more like perfection. I was thinking something like the edge of society in the Uglies trilogy (the name for the woods escapes me), something simple but with heart, and yes, she gave me a place I almost hated worse than the capital. Unlike Sunshine, I didn’t see the assassination coming, but I saw it so fitting.

    What I can’t quite grasp is why Katniss voted yes to the Hunger Games. The only thing I can think of is that she already knew her assassination plan, but wanted Snow to think that his granddaughter and other Capitol children were in danger.

  4. @Rochelle:
    Katniss’ affirmative vote had nothing to do with Snow, and everything to do with Coin, having followed on the heels of Snow’s revelations in chapter 25 re: the exploding parachute firebombs.

    Consider this: Did Coin ever smile in Katniss’ presence or appear pleased with anything Katniss was involved with? Our Mockingjay is very much aware of the President’s dislike. Knows Coin would take her out in a Capitol minute if the situation presented itself. That Katniss has worked through the irony of another HG to “punish” the decades of Capitol tyranny seems to be beyond Coin’s understanding, or the President would not have been so immediately pleased and more cautious. Coin signed her own death warrant when she pushed the symbolic HG agenda and consequently underestimated the humanity left in a few of the remaining victors.

    I thought Collins’ demise of Coin and her portrayal of the horrors of war survival were brilliantly executed…no pun intended.

    Perhaps MJ should come with a strong disclaimer for the faint of heart as the final chapters are quite difficult to read. I’m glad I took time to take in the discussions here at HogPro prior to reading the book today. But still….Finnick’s death really got to me, then to be thinking of the hundreds of current families dealing with returning soldiers as I finished the book.

  5. Coin’s name at first seemed a little jarring; then, as it jiggled around in my thoughts with all the Roman elements, I kept seeing all those Roman coins with imperial portraits on them, and I saw Coin as just another corrupt emperor ready to re-make the currency, and everything else, in her image, even creating her own Hunger Games.
    And, of course, coins have two faces.
    With you on Finnick, pj, though the Stand overtones had me braced for him to die and leave his child with Annie.

  6. When we first see District 13, it struck me as a very dreary place. Like Katniss, I was a little suspicious of a place that would exist for so long, letting the other districts live under the yoke of the Capitol. I hate the idea of having one’s day so managed, and having your schedule tattooed into your arm each morning, but I can see that the restrictions and rationing of all resources must have been necessary in order for them to survive at first. It also made sense to me that living underground would have a negative impact on a society.
    I also suspected that Coin would have to be taken out. She just screamed “untrustworthy!” from the beginning. What really made me distrust 13 was when I saw how the prep team was treated. Tortured and imprisoned for stealing bread? That’s when I saw that they’re no different from the Capitol. There are plenty of essentially good and innocent people that are a product of their environment (because you really can’t accuse Katniss’s prep team of much more than ignorance and self-absorption, which their relationship with Katniss begins to change), but both governments are about power over their citizens, rather than existing for them.
    Plutarch stated that their intentions were to replace Snow’s regime with a republic, and I think that’s what many rebels did intend, but I don’t think Coin would have allowed anyone else enough power to take away from hers.

  7. diva, regarding the point about the prep team. I would argue that it wasn’t so much the punishment for stealing bread (there are strict rules on rationing because there are limited resources). But rather, it was the way they were punished that raised a red flag: in secret. Secret punishments do not serve as a deterrent to crime. Secret punishments are not consistent with a society built on justice. You can be as harsh as you want, as long as the people understand the rules. Even if the law voted on by the people says “stealing bread is punishable by death,” if you give the accused a fair trial and publicly prove that they were guilty, then executing them would be a just thing to do. But torturing someone is secret is a mark of a government built on fear, rather than justice.

  8. I guess this is the best thread to bring up this point:

    Sometime before MJ was published there was a thread that compared the United States to the Capitol. I think there was a lot of merit in that comparison, especially in the way the rest of the world views us. But Mockingjay has brought up a new comparison. In many ways, the USA is also like District 13. We conduct wars around the world in the name of freedom, complete with propaganda through the media, but there are always questions of our true motivations. Did we free Kuwait because it was wrong for one country to conquer another? Or did we do it because of the oil fields and hope for economic gain?

    We can go all the way back and question the motives behind every war in US history. Yes, even the Revolutionary War. It’s something I’ve never really questioned before. We’re taught that the war was for freedom, that King George was a tyrant, etc etc. But what was the thing that sparked the war? Taxes. Money. Other than being required to give up a certain amount of our resources to the Homeland, were American Colonists really being mistreated? Without further research I don’t know the answer. If the war was really fought over taxes, then it was motivated by financial gain: revolutionaries believed America would be better off economically if they could keep their resources to themselves, or obtain fair exchange from other countries via trade.

  9. PK9 I actually find it interesting that there are some parallelisms between the Hunger Games world and the American Revolution. In essence the American revolution was fought because the Americans had grown used to doing things their own way and relied on salutory neglect. Sort of like District 12 when Gale and Katniss were used to the law enforcement allowing them to hunt in the woods and then when the government kicks itself in gear and enforces the law Katniss feels the urge to rebel. It is also interesting to point out that like the American Revolution, in which there were more Loyalists than Patriots, only few people in District 12 actually wanted to rebel against the established government. I think it is plausible that the fate of District 12 is what would have happened had America lost the American Revolution.

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