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 have serious doubts that Katniss would have been level-headed enough to plot Coin’s execution like that. Given her self-proclaimed mental state throughout Mockingjay and her decrease in “synchronization” with Haymitch in Catching Fire, it seems very unlikely that she would have such foresight and clarity following Prim’s death, especially because after Coin’s death she lapses into attempted suicide. I don’t doubt Haymitch would be capable of such a scheme, but Katniss could not have come up with it on her own. She rarely seems to think that far ahead. I would argue that her decision to kill Snow instead comes across as a last-second decision, as when in that flash of insight she shot the CF arena.

  2. I have long been a supporter of this position Louise, but you are much better at articulating it than I am. So it is no surprise that I agree.

    The only thing I throw up for debate is the way Gale would have voted. He dehumanized his enemy to the point where he is outraged when Katniss takes up for her prep team that he sees as being tainted and the enemy because they are from the capitol. Beetee seemed a little more calm and calculating than Gale so I am not sure they are just so alike. Gale seemed to me to be laced with more fiery anger than Beetee. I am not sure how it would have influenced his vote and wether it would have generated a Johanna like response. Having never gone through the games seems to keep him from fully understanding the ramifications of some of his weapons.

    One potential bit of hope is that he learned his lesson when his weapon was turned against the capitol children. We know he never intended it used as a weapon against Prim. What we don’t know is how he viewed it being used as a weapon against the capitol children hoping to lure in the capitol guards. For all we know he had approved it in that way never having expected that Coin would send in Prim and her medic group too. If we knew what he thought of that then we would know how he would vote in regard to the new proposed games.

  3. I can see both Billie’s point and Louise’s, and want to propose a middle position based on my view of Katniss’s character – her on-the-fly actions tend to be in pursuit of a planned out end-goal. While I agree with Billie that I don’t think she knew *how* she was going to stop a new Hunger Games while voting yes, I do think she felt a ‘yes’ vote was the only way to stay in the arena, as it were, where she would be able to make moves that would stop a new Hunger Games. I am reasonably sure – particularly given the Capitol’s manipulation of the Victors post-Games which we learned about in MJ – that she did not trust Coin to honor a ‘no’ vote outcome. Killing Coin, then, remains a bit of an of-the-moment brainstorm – but the goal behind both actions is to stop any renewal of the Games.

  4. 1.) I believe Coin called for the vote because she was seeking a scapegoat. Let the “beloved” Victors decide, thereby focusing dissention upon the yea-sayers, not herself, no matter how the vote carried.

    Remember, the surviving Victors are a threat to Coin’s position of power-to-come. They can testify firsthand to the horrors of the HG arena, and they are survivors first and foremost. Coin’s manipulative powerplays have occurred in the safety of her command rooms. I believe Coin is actually intimidated by their presence, no matter what she appears to be at face value to those around her. She is looking for a way to undermine their importance in the eyes of the people who will be looking for heroes to follow during the rebuilding years.

    One of the issues here is “accountability”, is it not? Coin has already dealt in deception when she did not step up and tell Katniss herself that she was the one to send Prim into the Capitol. Nor does Coin admit her part in the ploy to use the Capitol hovercraft to drop the parachute bombs KNOWING the rebel medics are with the children, specifically Prim. Now we see Coin’s inability to work with the government powers that be, choosing to not make a definitive decision herself and setting up the Victors to “take the blame”.

  5. 2.) I agree with you, Louise, on your assessment of the Victor’s votes. I was especially pleased…and maybe slightly puzzled…about Annie’s clearly spoken choice. I thought she would have been a basketcase…but we have forgotten how much time has actually passed since Finnick’s death and the security she has in knowing she is pregnant with his child.

  6. One of the things that jumped out at me was that Coin said that the Victors decision would be announced to the nation. This sounds like whatever prior discussion was done in secret. Coin was either going to announce to the nation: “The Victors have decided to have a Hunger Games consisting of the Capitol’s children” or “The Victors have decided to execute all citizens of the Capitol.” There was simply no way that they would have been presented in a favorable light.

    I also noticed specifically that Coin has no justifiable public motivation to hold the Games. District 13 never had to send tributes. They were never required to watch 23 children die on live TV year after year.

    Would Coin have stopped at one Hunger Games? Why not 75?

  7. Louise M. Freeman says

    Billie, I see your point and I agree that Katniss is not usually a think-ahead type of person, except when she’s hunting. Then she is perfectly capable of quickly concocting the best plan for killing her target, whether it’s to shoot immediately, lie in wait or lure into a trap. If she didn’t have those skills, she and Gale could not have taken out the enemy air fleet on their first day on the battlefield, with a minor adaptation of their goose-hunting technique.

    Her rapport with Haymitch had been largely restored; recall that it was his comfort she wanted in the aftermath of Snow’s rose-petal assault, after they emerged from the bomb shelter. And , in the board room, she did have a little time to think, as Peeta, Beetee, Annie, Johanna and Enobaria take a few minutes to register their opinions.

    It’s certainly open to interpretation, but I think, once Katniss saw Coin for who she was, Coin became like an animal she was hunting. Her Yes vote was a way of camouflaging herself until she had a clear shot.

  8. The key line in this passage, I think, is “I weigh my options carefully, thinking everything through” (p. 378). There’s not much wiggle room there for Katniss not being very deliberate as to what she is doing as she casts her “yes” vote “for Prim.”

    Haymitch, having just insulted her a few pages back, recognizes this answer is absolutely out of character and that she is onto something — and backs her vote to see where she’s headed.

    And that the first person narrator doesn’t tell us what she’s thinking, e.g., “and that’s when I knew my arrow would find its home piercing President Coin’s temples,” only reflects her own awareness of the need for stealth. As Louise says, this is Katniss playing Diana and Artemis…

  9. I totally agree with John. I was certain that Katniss knew what she was doing in that moment. She even says something about, “let’s see how well Haymitch knows me” (horrible paraphrase there) when she’s waiting for his vote. I felt like the old Katniss was really coming alive, and taking action, doing all she could to end the Hunger Games forever.

  10. Louise M. Freeman says

    LOL at the Diana comment. When I first read the District 8 scene, the image of a gorgeously styled celebrity walking the aisles, shaking hands with the wounded, reminded of the late Princess Diana’s hospital visits, particularly to soldiers maimed by land mine, The “Diana, goddess of the hunt” image of her shooting down planes with flaming arrows a few minutes later is a nice contrast.

  11. I very much agree with most of the analysis in this post.

    What still does puzzle me however is Plutarch. It does seem that he may have been somewhat in opposition to Coin and yet at the same time it seems that he was one of the few in on the plan to bomb the children (as Snow says – the hand of a gamemaker was clearly evident, and Katniss also concludes that he must have known).

  12. I’m split both ways. Can someone please post the section of the book where Katniss shoots Coin?

    Because I remember her shooting Coin because Snow was laughing, and realizing that Coin is the new Snow at THAT moment – and didn’t she say that she didnt know how to kill Snow and what she was going to do at that moment?

    I really really really HOPE that Louise is right. Cause otherwise I will know that the bitterness of Prim’s dying has made her into a new character, someone who can only partner with someone as deranged as Peeta, someone who isn’t the essentially G00D person that she was before. Only that person would vote yes without a plan to the contrary.

  13. Thanks, too for you analysis and largely agree. I was disappointed in Katniss when she voted yes and remembered thinking ‘for Prim?’…then was intrigued by Haymitch’s reaction…the wheels turning in his head were almost visiable and I thought…what am i missing? Then when she killed Coin instead I reread the vote section and realized she had given us the clues with “for Prim” comment. I also agree with Lynn, however, that I think Gale would have voted for a new Games. He often stated things like ‘if I had a button that would kill them all, I would push it’ etc and I think Katniss’ understanding of his true nature led her to understand that Peeta was what she needed to survive.

  14. Monica O'Brien says

    I don’t see how anyone can think that Katniss made some blind decision at the last minute to shoot Coin instead of Snow.

    “For Prim” is the key here. Because who killed Prim? Coin. Not Snow, who Katniss was going to execute anyway. If she wants revenge over Prim’s death, she already has it — she didn’t need another Hunger Games “for Prim.”

    Also, why did Katniss go to the Hunger Games in the first place? “For Prim.”

    Katniss is giving Haymitch a SIGNAL. He already knows that Katniss has discovered something terrible that needs to be sorted out, he just doesn’t know what. This response is so out of character that Haymitch picks up on it when Coin can’t, puts two and two together, and plays the game. It’s one kiss = a pot of broth all over again.

    More evidence: Katniss is staring at the white rose when she votes… and what does she say to Coin? Can YOU make sure he’s wearing this. Because that puts Coin right next to Snow, in range of Katniss’ one arrow.

    So why isn’t this all going through Katniss’ head during the vote? Because it’s supposed to be a surprise to the reader! It’s Collins way of creating suspense. It’s just what good writers do. What fun would it be if you already knew Katniss was going to kill Coin? That would make the actual event anti-climatic.

    Lastly, I want to point out that the Coin/Snow choice also mirrors Katniss’ Gale/Peeta choice. What does Gale say to Katniss before he leaves her? “Don’t miss.” In other words, kill Snow. Take revenge. The fact that she kills Coin instead, with the one arrow she’s given, is the choice Peeta would make. She “misses.” I thought it was great writing, to show over and over again that she was choosing morality over revenge in the aftermath of the war.

  15. Actually, the last thing Gale said was “shoot straight.” (Earlier on he had said “you won’t miss.”) Those statements can be anything from a meaningless encouragement to a loaded “kill the real enemy “. I’m curious how everyone interpreted it.

  16. Monica O'Brien says

    Oh, thanks PK9. I was wondering if I remembered it wrong, but I have the Kindle edition and it’s annoying to try to look up exact references that way.

    I think your question is interesting. Just to clarify — I’m not saying that Gale intentionally told Katniss to shoot at Snow instead of Coin. He had no idea that the victors would have to decide on the future of the Hunger Games.

    What I’m saying though is that from the author’s – Collin’s – perspective, she might have included it in the book to show Katniss’ choices again. Like Gale = revenge (a very clear association throughout the book) and Peeta = healing/mercy. In the same way, Snow = revenge and Coin = mercy (to the Capitol). Katniss is only given one arrow, and only given one heart. She only gets to choose one in the end. She chooses consistently.

  17. The ‘shoot straight’ comment got my attention too. At first, I thought it was just a reference to a previous time Gale told her that (as I’ve lent out my books now I am also reference-challenged currently). But unknowingly to Gale and unintentionally, could he actually be encouraging Katniss to do some ‘straight shooting’ = ‘truth telling’…and shoot the actual threat?

  18. I don’t recall any previous time that Gale ever told Katniss to shoot straight. This is Katniss Everdeen we’re talking about. Her shooting an arrow straight can be taken for granted.

  19. Lor and PK9…perhaps Gale’s comment to “shoot straight” is another indication of the widening chasm that is developing between him and Katniss. Out of character for the old hunting partners yet very much in character for the man who recognizes he has lost Katniss’ heart forever.

    Remember, too, they are on camera. Any comment Gale would make could be picked up on mic. “Shoot Straight,” would be an expected piece of advice given the fact that our heroine has been in major physical and emotional recovery since the firebombing. Perhaps the remark is more for the viewing public, less for Katniss…and especially for Coin, who has no clue to Katniss’ intent. Wouldn’t surprise me to find out that Coin had a direct feed on Gale via the communicuff and the line was open without his knowledge…

  20. I agree that Katniss votes yes with the intent of killing Coin. However, I thought that not providing any explanation for the vote in a first person narrative was a weak point in the book. It always presents a big problem for an author when she wants to hide a key thought or point of knowlege of the viewpoint character from the reader. When I read this section, the lack of any explanation struck me as very problematic.

  21. This theory certainly reads well with the text. My only remaining question is, why does Haymitch’s vote matter? If Katniss just needs to convince Coin that she’s on Coin’s side, then it doesn’t matter if the victors vote for the games or not. Yet Katniss seems to put a good deal of weight on whether or not Haymitch will back her vote. Is there some strategic significance to this, or is it just a relational support sort of thing?

  22. Casey, excellent question! Why does Haymitch’s vote matter?

    First of all, Haymitch is the oldest living HG Victor sitting around the table…and we find out later, the oldest HG Victor living, period. Katniss once alluded to the lack of respect given longevity/age-related appearance in the Capitol and how being a senior citizen/ one of the aged was regarded as something of an accomplishment in D12. Haymitch’s vote counts out of respect for his age and years of experience (especially with the Games).

    Second, Katniss and Haymitch have history. Hunger Games history (Mentor and Tribute). Strategy history (Saving Peeta/Securing Sponsors). Unspoken communication history (Seeking water/Getting meds and food). Healing and understanding history (post QQ). Haymitch’s vote counts because Katniss has experienced the “right-ness” of her choices by the consequences of Haymitch’s responses in the past.

    I’m sure there is a “Third” in this, but it escapes my thought at this time. Anyone care to add to the list???

  23. Louise Freeman says

    Also simply the fact that Haymitch’s vote made it Yes 4-3. If he had voted No there would be no final (ha!) Hunger Games announcement and Coin would likely have had a conniption fit and imprisoned them all.

  24. I completely missed that point! Thank you, Louise 🙂

  25. And may I add that there WOULD have been an announcement of the 76Games…blamed on the remaining victors and incurring the wrath of the Capitol citizenry!!! I doubt imprisonment would have sufficed. Our surviving Victors would have been used for more demoralizing purposes to re-establish Capitol loyalties.

  26. Interesting. So that assumes that it wasn’t really an honest vote at all, but merely Coin ferreting out who was loyal to her and who wasn’t. And that if Haymitch had voted down the games, she would have punished the victors as a group. I wonder if Coin would have had the popularity and power to do that at that point, though. Especially because Katniss was such a hero, and Coin already felt threatened by her.

    PJ, I liked your point about Haymitch’s responses to Katniss’s actions being a measuring stick for her of their rightness. Under that theory, his vote re-enforces what she already suspected about Coin and goads her on to make her final shot at Coin instead of Snow.

  27. This is one of those points in the storyline where the underlying themes become more evident. Katniss, while impulsive, was extremely calculating and manipulative–she says so herself.

    She understood the big picture, Snow and Coin were basically the same. There was to be no change. The misery would continue, regardless of the leader. The Games were used to remind the Capitol citizens of who was “the enemy”. Governments have used this strategy for centuries. Without an effective enemy, people do no live in the appropriate amount of fear, thus making them hard to control.

    Katniss understood that Coin was simply changing the name of the enemy. Perpetual demonization of the Capitol would allow for perpetual domination and subjugation of the population as a whole.

    This is comparable to Orwell’s example’s in 1984 where every nation was perpetually at war with another–for no apparent reason.

    In real life, it’s similar to the Cold War. The US had the USSR to demonize, and vice versa. This allowed freedoms to be restricted in the name of security. We see the same thing (to a larger degree) in post 9/11 USA. The name of the enemy has changed, but the tactic of dismantling freedoms as a means of “security” has remained the same.

    Katniss understood this, at least to a point. She gave Coin what she wanted because if she didn’t she knew the whole cycle would start over again and nothing would change.

  28. These are great points!

    I also want to mention that when the “Star Squad” was told that they were not going to be doing a lot of real fighting, they were complaining. Then someone (Coin? Unfortunately, I lent my book out and cannot reference it) mentions that Katniss understands and agrees with this.

    Katniss then thinks something along the lines of: “Actually, Katniss has no intention of staying with the Star Squad, but she shouldn’t look too eager”. It seems the same in the Victor’s conference except without the witty inner dialogue.

  29. A good analysis of the vote! In addition to the reasons already stated, Katniss’ yes vote may have also served the purpose of arousing Peeta’s anger toward Katniss. When she voted yes, I couldn’t believe she would do that to Peeta (in addition to all the obvious, more important reasons the Hunger Games should not continue), and I imagined the disbelief and anger he would have been feeling. But since Katniss expected to die after assassinating Coin, confirming her negative qualities for Peeta would allow him to move on easier after her death if he did still have feelings for her. I know Katniss cared more about the larger issues than about romantic notions. Still, a possible bonus reason for voting yes that I thought might be worth offering.

  30. On pj’s comment about Haymitch’s vote providing affirmation for Katniss- it says not long before the vote occurs that Haymitch is the only one Katniss can trust enough to talk to about her growing suspicions about Coin. They never got to talk about it because Haymitch offended her with his drunken comment. So the moment of the vote is her last chance to receive affirmation from Haymitch before she goes out and kills Coin, and herself. This idea gains even more strength as you pay attention to various times throughout the book when the special relationship between Katniss and Haymitch is mentioned. Perhaps Suzanne Collins made those mentions in order to clue us in to what was going on between them at the vote?

  31. Ok, thanks for the great insight. My question now is- was there a final Hunger Game? I dont remember anything mentioned. Did it die with Coin? How did Katniss ensure the end of the Hunger Games by killing Coin? There was nothing more about what happened after except that there was a new president elected.

  32. There are no more Hunger Games. Read the three big posts I wrote on the symbolism of the series for the reasons why.

    A hint is the meaning of the new President’s name: Paylor. It means both “pale ore” or “pale orb”, i.e., gold, silver, or pearl, all of which are “solid light” or glory. We have resolved all contraries and arrived at the transcendent, illumined point. A Hunger Games isn’t possible under this regime.

    ‘Coin’ is not the real thing — gold or light — but money used as tokens or signs of this real value. President Coin is to Paylor what paper money or even hard coinage is to gold and silver…

  33. Thank you, thank you, thank you for the analysis. Perhaps someone can help me with the following questions.

    I still have a question as to what does it mean that Peeta reacted to Haymitch’s “yes” rather than Katniss’s “yes” vote.

    One previous poster mentioned that Peeta’s lack of mutt anger towards Katniss meant he’s cured, but I would think if Peeta was cured he would respond to Katniss even though he probably knows her stubborness. I can’t believe Peeta would just let Katniss’s vote go without comment to her. What am I missing?

    My second point of confusion has to do with Gale and Peeta’s conversation while inclosed in Tigress’s cellar. Peeta wonders aloud about who Katniss will choose between himself and Gale. I find this passage somewhat out-of-character, and I’m wondering what I’m missing.

    I find it rather amazing that Peeta considers himself in the running. Are we supposed to believe that Peeta’s cured because Peeta sees himself as a possible mate for Katniss? Ironic, perhaps? since Peeta is chained to the stair supports so we have to assume he’s not cured but he thinks his in the running. There’s no indication that Gale finds Peeta’s comment odd.

    Perhaps the author needed to move Katniss forward and this scene sets that up, but it seems somewhat disingenius on the author’s part. So what am I missing?

    Thanks,
    Sam

  34. All I can give you is a surface analysis. John will have to provide a deeper one. I think that Peeta is not cured here but that he is fighting his way back. So we are seeing a process that is in the partway point. We are seeing him come back to himself. He is kind of waking up from a nightmare to who he is when he has his flashbacks. He is trying to remember things and his memories are there (of things like kissing Katniss and them both trying to keep each other alive in the quarter quell) but also what is planted from the capitol.

    The reason I think he is confused is that Katniss had just kissed him rather than leave him to die like he requested. The kiss goes with the genuine memories vs the ones from the capitol. He is confused here in his conversation with Gale and kind of searching for meaning. We only hear the end of conversation.

    As for his not being mad a Katniss, he might have been inside. But he also knows that her sister just died and she is reactionary. The mutt side would have expected her to vote like that anyway. But it seems that Haymitch’s takes him more by surprise because of his expectations of him. Plus, Haymitch’s vote is the last one and turned the tide in Peeta’s mind. It was the one that would result in a continuation of the games if Katniss hadn’t killed Coin.

    But these are just my opinions.

  35. I think those are good questions that I don’t know the answers to, but this was my thought on Peeta not being mad at Katniss about the vote. I think hew was mad, but that Haymitch ended up getting a lot of the anger he felt toward Katniss. Haymitch gets to be the middle man when either Katniss or Peeta does something that seems inexplicable and bad to the other at the time. (Like Peeta saying he liked Katniss during his first interview, or Katniss keeping Peeta in the dark on President Snow’s visit in CF). Haymitch always seems to know what is really going on but never tells, and ends up taking some guff for it.

    And, ever since that post about rings and ending at the beginning of the story, I’ve looked at that scene as an almost repeat of the post-bread burning Katniss and Peeta at school scene in Hunger Games (where they can’t even look at each other), or Peeta and Katniss showing up at Haymitch’s house at the opening of Catching Fire (where they can’t even look at each other). Despite all their history, it seemed like they were embarrassed or shy around each other. It’s like they’re starting at the beginning of their relationship all over again.

  36. Wow! Just Wow! I can believe all the things wrong with this post and the comments that follow. Too many for me to go through them all.

    The biggest problem is the assumptions that are being made with out facts being able to back them up. The biggest one being Coin ordered the bombing. We don’t know. Katniss doesn’t even know that (and instead of trying to find out who killed her sister she runs away). If you read between the lines, you can make a circumstantial case but there is no absolute proof.

    “But we can assume she reneged on the promised republic, with free elections.”
    – Why can we assum this? The United States formed in 1781. Washington was elected President in 1787. Until then, the President was appointed by Congress.
    We don’t know how much time has past. It’s perfectly reasonable to think that Coin could have been named interim president or even elected president.

    “Does anyone think that Coin would have let Katniss into the square to fire the arrow had she voted against her?”
    – Why not. Again, no evidence that there were conditions to her getting to kill Coin. Seemed pretty much set in stone. Coin might have save Snow for her but there’s nothing that leads us to beleive that she would not get to kill Coin even if she voted ‘no’. Katniss was the Mockingjay. It was expected she would kill Snow. I don’t see how Coin could have backed out of it.

    My point is if you want to call this a discussion, you need to look at everything. You cannot just ‘assume’ things.

  37. RickJM:

    First, let us tackle the two assumptions you criticize as problematic.

    Coin did in fact renege on elections. She might have just postponed it, promised elections at a later date, and been appointed in the interim, or just claimed power for herself, but the fact we do know for sure is that she was the new President of Panem, and there is nothing to suggest that a vote was ever held giving her that position, or that she had scheduled elections in the near future.

    The second point you criticized was the matter of whether Coin would have let Katniss into the square, had she voted no. In this case, you are right. Why not? Coin probably would have let Katniss do it anyway. But then this was no longer about Snow. “For Prim,” she said. This was about Katniss realizing that nothing would really change if Snow was simply replaced by Coin, realizing with despair that all the people she loved, dead, would have died for nothing if she allowed this. So she “weighs [her] options carefully,” staring at the white rose, before voting yes.

    This was Katniss, the hunter, coming up with a plan of attack and executing it. She was up against a wily, calculating enemy, a master tactician who had sent a deranged Peeta into a war zone to endanger her, and now planned one last Hunger Games to “appease the need for vengeance with the least loss of life.” If Katniss had voted no, there was a chance, no matter how miniscule, that Coin would retaliate by not letting her kill Snow. And Katniss couldn’t risk that, because now she knew it would be her best chance to kill Coin.

    In short, these were not assumptions but rather deductions. Ones which can be questioned, certainly, but I would argue that they are more probably right than wrong.

    Second, you make an assumption yourself: you argue that we do not and cannot know if Coin ordered the bombing. I think the answer to this was established when Gale and Katniss spoke after her hospitalization. She asked if it was his bomb, and he said that he didn’t know, and it didn’t matter, because she would always be thinking it.

    The key here is that Gale didn’t deny it. He wasn’t even surprised by Katniss’ allegation that the rebels might have been responsible for the bomb that killed Prim. We must remember that Gale, through Beetee, is wired into the inner workings of Coin’s cabinet. That means two things: one, that Gale himself suspected the same thing as Katniss; and two, that he knew for a fact that his double-bomb idea had indeed been developed by the rebels for use in the field. No longer just an idea but an actual weapon. Yet there is no evidence anytime, anywhere, that the Capitol ever had such a double-bomb, or even the idea for one. If they had, wouldn’t they have used it before against the rebelling districts, or in their viciously designed attack pods?

    Snow’s argument is bulletproof: if he had had a working hovercraft at his disposal, he would have been escaping, not using it for an uncertain attack just as likely to do him harm as good. This is a man who poisons his enemies in secret, even drinks from the poisoned cup instead, just to preserve his image in the Capitol. Such a man would be hardly likely to kill his own citizens, and children, at that, just to kill the few rebels who would rush to the children’s aid.

    Thus, I think we can be as certain as we can be, without an assertion from the author (Collins) herself, that it was indeed Coin’s side that dropped the double-bomb.

    Finally, a last point. I think the book itself answered the question of whether or not Katniss was sincere in voting “yes.” And even as to whether or not Katniss believed that Coin was responsible for the double-bomb. This is what she was thinking while imprisoned for assassinating Coin, lifted directly from the book:

    “They can design dream weapons that come to life in my hands, but they will never again brainwash me into the necessity of using them. I no longer feel any allegiance to these monsters called human beings, despise being one myself. I think that Peeta was onto something about us destroying one another and letting some decent species take over. Because something is significantly wrong with a creature that sacrifices its children’s lives to settle its differences. Snow thought the Hunger Games were an efficient means of control. Coin thought the parachutes would expedite the war. But in the end, who does it benefit? No one. The truth is, it benefits no one to live in a world where these things happen.”

  38. Upon my first read of the vote, I was so caught up with and in denial about Prim’s death that I simply took Katniss’ “for Prim” statement at face value because I too felt those same feelings. But after having some time to go back and reread the passage more objectively when those emotions were not clouding my understanding of the passage, I believe that the analysis here of Katniss’ actions and decisions surrounding the vote are spot on.

    I could be completely wrong here, but I will throw it out there anyway and see what you have to say about it, but do you think that Collins was foreshadowing Coin’s assassination when Katniss first suggested giving herself up to draw Snow out so that Gale took kill him?

    It is probably a stretch and just a coincidence, but when she first offered it as a suggestion it seemed a little out of place to me; however, it is exactly how her assassination of Coin transpired.

    I really enjoyed this post and follow up comments, and they really helped me be able to better understand one of the original problems at had with the book after my first read.

  39. You wrote:

    I could be completely wrong here, but I will throw it out there anyway and see what you have to say about it, but do you think that Collins was foreshadowing Coin’s assassination when Katniss first suggested giving herself up to draw Snow out so that Gale took kill him?

    You lost me! How does Katniss’ sacrificial plan foreshadow the Coin assassination?

    Do you mean that she was offering herself as bait for Snow and then, in her Victor’s confession deception, drew Coin in her snare, i.e., taking a place at the execution not knowing she would be the target?

    There is something to that, I think. Good catch!

  40. Yeah, foreshadowing was the wrong word choice, but it makes it easier for me to understand how a mentally unstable Katniss would be better able to come up with the plan to assassinate Coin. It being a plan she had already laid out once before, just with different bait and a different target.

  41. Why was Katniss treated like a criminal after she shot Coin (locked away for some time with no visitors etc… ) Didn’t anyone else see what was going on with Coin? She needed what seemed to be a huge, drawn-out trial??

  42. Enjoyed reading the comments to help me sort out the ending.
    I was wondering why she was not allowed to attend her own trial? After everything that occurred, Gale could have said “goodbye” before leaving.
    Also, the author could have explained a lot of this by having Katniss reflect upon her decisions to vote yes and to kill Coin as she returned to 12.

  43. I just finished reading Mockingjay–and I was so troubled with Katniss saying yes to the another Hunger Games when asked by Coin. I had to read all of these intelligently written thoughts to finally understand! Thank you! After reading everyone’s thoughts. I realize that Katniss is impulsive, but also extremely capable of making quick and calculated decisions–i.e. she knew she had to kill Coin before it was too late, mainly because of her sister, and for Panem to become a country with some kind of democracy. Haymitch’s line “I’m with the Mockingjay” was an unsettling response because he really never says he is for or against another Hunger Games, but we are reminded that he knew that Katniss knew something and that he always believed in her. I also agree with the interpretation of the line “for Prim.” She knew it was Coin that killed her sister. Coin reminds me of Chairman Mao’s wife. District 13 reminds me of the Cultural and Industrial Revolutions of China. Pretty chilling indeed–but an excellent read nonetheless. Mockingjay was the best of all three books.

  44. RoverDaddy says

    After just finishing the book, I found this to be a very interesting discussion. I think Louise’s analysis from 2010 is spot on, and most of the points raised here defend it well.

    I do feel though, that Collins should have found a point in the narrative after the assassination to spell out why Katniss and Haymitch voted yes. I think it’s a weak point in the novel that she does not.

    As to Anna’s recent question about Katniss’s treatment after killing Coin, I had the opposite reaction: how is it that Katniss managed to avoid being killed on the spot, after Peeta prevented her from killing herself?

    I’m sure Coin had plenty of loyal lieutenants, and in the ‘real world’ I think one of them would have taken Katniss down immediately. I don’t think an understanding of Coin’s treachery would have been wide spread in District 13. If it were, she would have never been able to propose yet another Hunger Games.

    I think this is another ‘slightly’ weak aspect of the HG trilogy, and one that does give it a bit of the ‘young adult’ feel: how Katniss is so out of control (from her various handler’s point of view) and disruptive over and over (as in District 8) and manages to almost magically get out of it unscathed every time. The periods of ‘mental instability’ she goes through now and again are a bit too convenient for allowing the author to keep to the first person narrative and have lots of pesky complicated things get sorted out ‘behind the scenes’.

  45. To RoverDaddy–

    With regards to Coin’s loyalists, I’m sure there were many loyalists who supported Coin–but there were some close ‘lieutenants,’ like Boggs, that suspected that Coin was just as bad as Snow. Katniss did have the “people” on her side–which is why she was the Mockingjay. Coin could never be the Mockingjay. Also, if you remember, Boggs warns Katniss “to trust no one” right before he dies. I believe he was referring to Coin. However, I do agree with you that a trial with Katniss defending herself would have been most appropriate–make her look a little stronger in the eyes of the reader and show that she knew what she was doing when she killed Coin.

    As for the “vote,” I agree with the comments that Coin didn’t have the entire administration or newly formed government on her side, which is why she asked the former tributes for their opinions–and I agree that if the majority of the tributes went against Coin, she would have assassinated them like the other tributes. It was mentioned right before this meeting to have another HG about the other tributes once the war was over. The response was that they were executed once Coin became the president of all the districts–which also explains why Katniss made sure that she had a list of people that would be granted immunity.

  46. AGitter, you make a good point about Coin’s intentions to execute Peeta, Johanna, Enobaria, and all the other captured victors if Katniss didn’t go along with the Mockingjay plan. At any time, Coin could’ve backed out of the deal, saying that she stopped cooperating, and kill all the remaining victors. This could be another reason Katniss felt she had to vote yes.

    As for whether Coin’s execution was planned or not, I think it most definitely was, and there’s little argument to the contrary. The “for Prim” line is the complete giveaway, because another Hunger Games wouldn’t help her get vengeance for Prim at all, but rather just punish more innocent children like Rue or the 12-year-old Prim Katniss replaced in the first place. Also, Prim would never approve of another Hunger Games, let alone to be done for her. No, Katniss’ “for Prim” comment was in reference to the final part of her plan: killing the person responsible for killing Prim.

    Katniss knew the moment Coin said it was her idea for another Hunger Games that Snow was right, and that she was the one responsible for killing Prim. By proposing another Hunger Games, she showed that she’s no different than Snow, and is not above killing children for personal gain. As Katniss weighed her options “carefully, thinking everything through”, she was staring at nothing but the rose on the table, obviously thinking of her previous conversation with Snow. Of all the horrible things Snow ever did to her, he was always true to his agreement about never lying to her. So why would he suddenly lie about Coin? He wouldn’t, which makes Katniss’ decision very easy.

    The one part of this meeting that still causes me some confusion is the importance of Haymitch’s vote, though it provides more evidence that Coin’s murder was planned rather than spontaneous. Like John said nearly two years ago, Haymitch knew right when Katniss gave a yes vote that there was more stirring in her brain than whether there should be a Hunger Games or not. No one ever doubted that Haymitch and Katniss had a special talent for being able to communicate complicated things non-verbally, and though we’ll never know if Haymitch knew the full extent of her plan, what he did know is that they were still in the games, still playing a role, so he gave his yes answer without second thought.

    Where the confusion starts is why Haymitch’s vote mattered. To Katniss, it mattered greatly. She’s quoted as thinking, “This is the moment, then. When we find out exactly just how alike we are, and how much he truly understands me”. I can explain why Katniss thinks Haymitch’s vote was so important in a few different ways. Firstly, his vote meant that the victors voted in favor of the Hunger Games, meaning that they sided with Coin, and that her guard would in-turn be let down during Snow’s execution. But even if Haymitch had voted no, Coin still would’ve had to be present for Snow’s execution, and we’ve seen how great a shot Katniss is, it doesn’t matter if Coin’s guard is up or down. So that explanation doesn’t work. The more likely scenario is that Katniss wanted Haymitch’s opinion on the validity of her plan. We’ve learned throughout Catching Fire and Mockingjay that Haymitch is one of the first people she goes to for advice, really becoming somewhat of a father figure to her (even though they both claim they hate each other). When she planned on fleeing 12 and starting a revolt in Fire, Haymitch was one of the first people she told, and when he turned it down, she didn’t take the plan any further. When she figured out how Snow was using Peeta in Mockingjay, it was Haymitch’s comfort she wanted, no one else’s. And so by Haymitch voting yes, Katniss got the justification she needed to continue with her plan, even if no words were exchanged. If Haymitch was on her side, then it must be the right thing to do.

    Sorry for the long post, I couldn’t stop writing when I started. Feel free to comment on anything!

  47. everdeen says

    I agree that Katniss had already known that she wanted to kill Coin and Haymitch was completely aware and approved. I think Katniss really never wanted another HG and Haymitch had to have known because before he voted Katniss talked about how he really understands her. If there was nothing else to her vote it wouldn’t take a whole lot of understanding. If it was really for Prim she would have already put everything on the table and the prelude to Haymitch’s vote would then be unnecessary. There had to be something deeper.
    And by the way, pj, Haymitch was not the oldest victor at the table…Beetee was, being in his 50’s or 60’s and Haymitch would only have been 41.

  48. Andy McGill says

    I think most of the above analysis is correct, because otherwise Katniss is just so very bitter that she wants other kids to go through what she abhorred for so long.

    I just find the whole behavior of Coin to be utterly unbelievable. It is a stretch that she is trying to kill Katniss, but but if you believe that, then it makes no sense at all that while on the verge of overthrowing the Capital that she spends time and effort to kill Capital children, much less kill Prim just to bother Katniss. Coin is on the verge of a lifelong dream and she is this counter devious?

    But what makes no sense is why Coin would let Katniss go on national TV to execute Snow.

    I felt cheated by the author as this First Person narrative suddenly went secret about what Katniss was thinking in the last few chapters of the book. Katniss was hard to understand or believe as teenage girl through much of the books, but the end was hard to square with someone who cared so much about her mother, Gale, Peeta, and all the others. She couldn’t have been absolutely sure who was responsible for Prim’s death, but she nonetheless put everybody else at 100% risk if the rebel leaders were as evil as she thought.

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