Mockingjay Discussion 4: The Pearl Plot?

I laid out an involved theory about how the Mockingjay Rebellion was set-up by Haymitch and companythat I called the Pearl Plot. Mockingjay didn’t tell us very much about the pin, whether Katniss Everdeen was chosen deliberately by the revolutionaries, or how the organization of the rebellion worked under District 13 direction. Ms. Collins left these details to our imagination while making it very clear that the technocrats living in their sterile underground bunkers in District 13 were definitely in charge.

Were you disappointed or relieved that there wasn’t more explanation or back-story for the mysteries set-up in the first two books of the trilogy?


  1. I commented under another thread that I was heartily sorry that the crux of your pearl plot didn’t come to fruition. In fact, I think that your theory fit much more within the tone and plot elements than all the unexpected turns of Mockingjay actually did. No one could have predicted most of the plot (even though you were correct about quite a bit), since so many of the characters and elements were new, and in my humble opinion, woefully underdeveloped and/or one-dimensional in many cases.

    Too bad that the rebellion hadn’t been more actively organized by our District 12 friends in addition to the Games Victors – I would have loved a big reveal early on in the book when Madge’s mother would begin to coolly order troops around. Blah…Instead we got the insect-like, mechanized bodies of District 13….

  2. I think it exposed a strong weakness in plotting. I don’t think she chose not to tell us. I think, to be honest, she didn’t have an answer.

  3. I agree that I was disappointed the Pearl Plot did not come to fruition, especially with the constant focus on the Pearl that Peeta gave Katniss.

    And I agree with Sunshine. Although this book had the same plot points of earlier books, it was much more heavy handed with its message. I wonder if that’s because Collins knew she could count on a wide audience by the time she wrote this.

    And Sunshine, I think Collins was purposefully vague on both the failed Revolution and District 13’s role in it. I expect a prequel perhaps dealing with the early days. There is a lot left unsaid about the inception of this story, and I fully expect Scholastic to take advantage of that.

  4. Ooops, I meant that I agreed with Collins leaving out details because she didn’t know them. I think she was more focused on making the violence have as great an impact as possible. There are definite parts of the book where we lose Katniss’ voice.

  5. I’m curious: When you say that Mockingjay “didn’t tell us very much about the pin, whether Katniss Everdeen was chosen deliberately by the revolutionaries”, does that mean your previous theories here still stand, or did you revise/drop them in the light of Mockingjay? For me, the fact that we weren’t told (or even, as far as I remember, hinted!) any of these things essentially implicitly suggested that there was nothing to tell: that the significance of the Mockingjay symbol was precisely the fact that it entered the arena almost randomly (we don’t know exactly why Katniss is given it in the first place, and she herself didn’t remember to bring it along, but one of her Prep team happens to find it and pick it up), yet somehow managed to become such a powerful emblem of resistance; and that the fact that nobody on the side of the Rebels ever comes out as having picked Katniss and Peeta for the Games (and let’s face it, there were moments where they could have voiced their regrets about their choice!) means that it was indeed a coincidence. But, strictly speaking, I suppose there is nothing there to explicitly contradict that there might be more of a backstory which we just weren’t told.

    I do agree with Sarah, in any case, that I would have liked Mockingjay more if your theories had indeed come to fruition; it would have made for a deeper, compelling and certainly more coherent (in relation to the previous two installments) narrative.

  6. I actually also felt disappointed and sometimes frustrated during the reading of the book because I did not have all the backstory about the Dark Days and the first rebellion…Also I felt that the info that WAS presented was a bit scattered so that it was hard for me to get all the events in chronological order in order for them to make sense.

  7. I was surprised Madge ended up playing no role whatsoever in MJ, spending the whole of the book as a smoking corpse.

  8. That was a bit off my expectation, too!

    A little hard to believe still that Cinna just happened upon the pin in Katniss’ discarded clothing and decided it would be the central image of his outfits — and that there would be mockingjay nests all over the first arena — if there were not a plan in place for Katniss to become this figure.

    But, if there was one, the secret died in the fire bombing of District 12 and at Cinna’s execution.

    Oh, well!

  9. To be honest, I hadn’t given much thought to the technicalities behind the rebellion coming to existence. Somehow the information seemed sufficient until I read this thread and now I agree that alot has been left out. However, I wish the Collin’s had scattered this information throughout her book because i’m not sure I want to read a prequel/sequel dedicated purely to the explanation of the Dark Days.

    By the way, the one thing thats always stumped me was why Cinna said he chose district 12. It may have been in the books but I never figured it out. Any help?

    And Sarah: I completely agree. I would have loved to see someone like Madge’s mother unexpectedly take lead!

  10. Cinna was definitely part of the rebellion inside the Capitol that Plutarch Heavensbee was in. I suspect the Capitol tortured him to get him to name names; miraculous that he didn’t out Heavensbee which would have ended the whole break-out plot in Fire.

    Totally speculative, of course!

  11. I’m not sure the Capitol tortured him for information prior to the breakout. It seems that if the Capitol had any knowledge of a plot, they would have done a better job of securing the arena. It’s entirely possible Snow tortured Cinna simply for his personal acts of rebellion of course, culminating with the mockingjay wedding dress. If Cinna was alive at the time Katniss broke out, then he would have been likely tortured for information.

  12. I was also saddened, on more than one level, that our potential plotters mostly just ended up numbers in the biggest body count since Gettysburg. I kept muttering under my breath, “oh well, there’s another theory out” every time another death was seen or implied.
    The pearl symbolism still “flies,” of course, beauty from pain, pain, and more pain in this story.
    I can’t say I’d like a prequel myself. Even knowing how things resolve, I don’t think it would have the effect of, say, having young Anakin Skywalker’s story even though we know he becomes Darth Vader, and getting through that stroy because we know the ending!

  13. I was disappointed that Collins didn’t say anything about the pre-rebellion times. However, I choose to believe that the Pearl Plot was true (except about Gale and Peeta knowing about it). I guess Katniss just never found out.

  14. A little hard to believe still that Cinna just happened upon the pin in Katniss’ discarded clothing and decided it would be the central image of his outfits — and that there would be mockingjay nests all over the first arena — if there were not a plan in place for Katniss to become this figure.

    But the pin wasn’t the central image of the outfits in HG74. Everything was based on the fire theme. By the time HG75 rolled around, the mockingjay had become the symbol of the rebellion because of Katniss.

    It’s hard to argue conclusively for either side because of Katniss’ limited POV, but I believe the ramifications of believing in the Pearl Plot vs not are huge. The central idea of the Pearl Plot is that Katniss was chosen for this role years in advance, due to her father’s connection with the rebellion. That means everything that happened was part of somebody’s plan.

    If like me you do not subscribe to the Pearl Plot, then story is about Katniss being the right person in the right place at the right time. An extraordinary coincidence brought Katniss and Peeta into the arena together, but after that they proceeded to write their own story through their choices to reach the Berry conclusion. The Rebellion, which was already getting hotter and hotter on its own, seized the moment to turn Katniss into the symbol of hope. It need not have been Katniss; there was at least one other act of “rebellion” that the districts could have rallied around, and that happened in the first couple of days. What if BD3 had won the games, using the Capitol’s own weapons to his advantage? You think Snow would have let him live happily ever after?

    If anything, Mockingjay showed that SC wanted to tell a story that was as realistic as possible. Characters who we thought were important died random deaths. Our most beloved heroes win the war but they don’t feel like victors. On and on. The real world is full of examples of ordinary people being put in extraordinary situations and rising up to meet the challenge, as opposed to the Harry Potter-type “destiny” that many fantasy stories use where the hero was preselected for his task. That’s why that I think that the non-Pearl Plot side is more in line with SC’s intentions.

  15. I had thought that the rebellion happened by chance. District 13 was waiting for the right time to put all their years of preparation into action. Why did Madge give Katniss something that was a symbol rather than something easily hidden or carried in her pocket? It seems to me, that Madge wouldn’t be the type to start a revolution, but it was just a little too coincidental. Honestly, how can anyone have known that Katniss would have made it as far as she did and pulled out berries that were nothing but an act of pure rebellion. Although, if everything happened the same, but Katniss never wore a token they would have used “girl on fire”, or something like that to rally the rebels. I think once Katniss got the ball rolling from there that it had a snowball effect and 13 finally had their chance to end the bloodthirsty Capital’s reign.

    I wish we could see how things got started for the rebels, but since the story is told in first person there is no way to really do that. I loved how JK Rowling has put out extras so we can see what she saw and how she answered questions about the characters futures that would have never been included in the books. She had a real connection to her wizarding world. I wonder if Suzanne Collins feels anything as srong and may want to put out for us what happened behind the scenes or at least answer the top voted most frequently asked quesions.

  16. I’m not very sure what I think at the moment, concerning the existence of the Pearl Plot. In my opinion, Katniss is a very limited perspective to tell this story from, which perhaps, is the point, since she can provide the readers with the most irony and foreshadowing, without really revealing too much, because she doesn’t even know the details herself.

    Whilst Katniss does provide us with a fantastic character to display all the internal turmoil, and to show us all the manipulative people in this story, I think Collins should use a different character if she ever does a prequel. Perhaps… Haymitch, maybe? Or someone that is more knowledgeable, more perceptive, someone from the previous generation of rebels.

  17. I happened to come across this line while skimming THG.

    “The Gamemakers appeared early one the first day…. they do seem to be keeping their eye on the District 12 tributes. Several times I’ve looked up to find one fixated on me.

    This raises a question, did she see a series of single Gamemakers fixate on her, or did she see one Gamemaker fixate on her several times?

    If the answer is the latter, one might infer that said Gamemaker is none other than Plutarch Heavensbee. If he already is focusing on Katniss so early in the story, this lends credence to the Pearl Plot.

  18. What would be interesting to know is when Cinna decided to style District 12. It seems to me that this timing would tip the scale one way or another towards the Pearl Plot or just taking advantage of a situation. For example, if Cinna planned all along to style District 12, even before Katniss’s first unknowing act of rebellion by taking her sister’s place in HG74, this would lead one to believe a bigger plan was set for her before HG74. However, if Cinna came into the picture after this reaping scenario, it would seem that this just plays into the fact that the rebels took advantage of the situation and used Katniss as a piece in their game to overthrow the Capitol. Thus, no Pearl Plot just poor Katniss being in the wrong place at the right time.

  19. First of all – I’m not an English native speaker, so I’m very sorry in advance if what I’ll write is garbled and incomprehensible.
    A foreword: Since a few weeks ago my mind is preoccupied with going through THG trilogy over and over again (read it twice already). I came to this very site while searching for clues about the pearl, and afterwards read through quite a lot of discussions and the ‘Unlocking’. The whole alchemy thing, the symbols, etc. are very fascinating and though I’ve heard of it for the first time, I’m a believer (if one can say so).
    The Pearl plot – well, I have my doubts about the whole setup, though I have to admit that it’s plausible. I wouldn’t agree with either Peetas or Gales involvement in it. I’d say that the whole rebellion movement before 74th HG has been only the governors family, Plutarch, Cinna, and some other characters we don’t see much of. Haymitch’s involvement – well, maybe… though his reluctance of joining the rebellion could be an explanation of Cinna choosing district 12, as a means to get to the tributes mentor. Haymitch may have also been ‘in’ all along, and Cinna simply needed means to contact him (I don’t suppose that the plotters could have simply discussed their plans over the phone, and district to district travel was almost impossible, so no standard communication means were there).

    Now on to the question that brought me here in the first place:
    What about the pearl?
    You know- the one from the 75th games. It’s been explained as a symbol in one of the Unlocking posts (if memory serves me well), but it nags me that it keeps showing up all the time… and then it’s gone. Is there anything/anywhere I could find out more about it? Or maybe any insight on your side?

    As a closing thought – I hope and suspect that the film(s) will give the thorough readers a lot of hints on the events happening in the background of the books, with Mrs. Collins working on the scripts alongside the director. Maybe we will find out how true (or not) the theories were.

  20. The only thing I can’t stop thinking about it why so much importance was placed on this pearl, to the point of Johanna even asking Katniss if it was really the pearl from the arena, why on earth did Katniss not show it to Peeta to keep him from growing nuts, it was the one item she kept in her pocket that made every reader know (even if katniss herself didnt) that she truly loved Peeta. Then all of a sudden it just disappears, Prims death and Coins true intentions totally overshadow the one item that could have save so many lives (Boggs, mitchell maybe finnick). Even at the end of MJ when Katniss finds the box with the family book, hunting jacket etc there is no mention of that pearl! It’s literally driving me insane why Collins would have this girl carry it around for so long only to lose it and not think twice about it! WHY! SOMEONE ANSWER ME LOL cuz it’s driving me crazy!

  21. also apoligies for the spelling and grammer, it’s been a late night reading.

  22. Oh my gosh the pearl drove me crazy as well! Why have her keep it so long AND draw the readers attention to it and then have it come to nothing? So infuriating.

    I have an unrelated question though… It dawned on me after re reading CF… Does anyone else wonder if the mocking jays in the quarter quell clock segment would have affected Peeta? Finnick heard Annie’s voice, Kanitss heard prim and Gales… Both people they loved termendously… Would this particular ” obstical” have had any affect on Peeta since he only seemed to love katniss and he could see she was right next to him?

  23. I have a different spin on the Pearl Plot. I believe the Games were set up to neutralize opposition to the Capitol at an early age by sending seditious youths to their deaths before they had the opportunity to mature or mobilize others. The choice of Tributes is not random except for the Careers (whom largely come from nonrebellious districts). I believe the Mayor and the merchant class are largely sympathetic to the Capitol to defend their own interests. The occasionally allow their daughters to marry sons from the Seam to neutralize opposition to the status quo.

    Katsniss verbalized her opposition to the Capitol at an early age, which she learned at her father’s knee. She is her father’s daughter. He and Gale’s dad were murdered in the mines for their rebellion.

    The reason why Katsniss’ father wasn’t sent into the games is because it was thought that he would be neutralized through his relationship with the beautiful merchant’s daughter. The reason why Gale isn’t selected is all those mouths to feed keep him distracted by the fight against hunger.

    Katniss is the chosen Tribute of the Capitol (Prim’s name drawn, but no doubt it was Katniss they wanted) to prevent the scenario down the road of Gale and Katniss getting together and leading a rebellion. Together they are fire and gasoline. Together they would be the mastermind and leader of a future rebellion (I’m assuming they would choose to delay children of their own and wait for their sibs to grow up). Gale wants her but is not weakened by his love for her. Yes, Katniss is also distracted by the need to feed her family, but Prim is quickly coming of age and would be expected to marry young due to her beauty and disposition.

    The idea was to send Katniss to her death in the arena and leave Gale open for a neutralizing marriage to the lovely Madge.

    Haymitch works both ends against the middle. He is in tight with both the Capitol and the rebels (but is loyal to the rebel cause). The alcoholism is just a ploy to keep them in the dark about his true loyalties. He stays “medicated” for all the Games after his own and waits to fully assist tributes until he has a potential winner to incite the revolution. He has a plan in mind of a pair of tributes sticking together to get one of them to the end of the Games. He realized too late that it would have worked for him and Maysilee if they had only stayed together.

    He might have hand selected Katniss, but my gut tells me he rather used his influence behind the scenes to the end of angling for Peeta to be the male tribute. He had preknowledge of Peeta’s love of Katniss, and his strategy to win the games was to send in a pair working together. He showed more than willingness to sacrifice Peeta to save Katniss during the Games.

    As the wealthiest member of District 12, he would have considerable influence and connection with the merchants. While most folks dissmissed him as a drunken fool, he would have well been aware of who was buying up all those squirrels and why (i.e., to keep Katniss in bread).

    Though his father might have sacrificed him to the Capitol, Peeta had no knowledge of the plot or counterplot. He is a character totally without guile and was reported to be genuinely sad and shocked after the reaping.

  24. Amanda,
    Yes, the missing pearl had me up for days trying to figure out what happened, and quite honestly, I can’t understand why something so significant was overlooked in the end. I was really hoping that Peeta was going to surprise her and give it back to her or something….but nothing! SC may have purposefully omitted its whereabouts to stump all of us and prompt these discussions. Who knows? Hopefully the screen writers will address this oversight in the movie.

    If you recall, the last time the pearl is mentioned, it is in Katniss’ pants pocket along with the key to Peeta’s handcuffs. My only conclusion (after reading the last section of MJ three times!) is the pearl went up in flames after she was burned in the Capitol bombing. Remember the only part of her body that was spared was her face/head. But when you think about it, the missing pearl is pretty symbolic.

    For me, the pearl represents the purity and innocence of her love for everything & everyone she holds dear. After she was burned, she thought all was lost and had no reason to live. The pearl perished along with all her hopes & dreams, or so she thought. But in reality, she ended up with the true pearl, Peeta, who eventually brought some peace, love & happiness back into her life. After the revolution, purity and innocence were lost, just like the pearl. Just a thought…

  25. Exactly.

    Peeta is the Pearl.

  26. Exactly, Claire….I couldn’t agree more!!

  27. Ilissa (Hutcherson) says

    That is exactly what I thought about the missing pearl! Peeta is her pearl and she finally realizes she doesn’t need a material object to see his love for her, that it’s been there all along.

  28. Cinna chose district 12 because they were less influenced by The Capitol and more pure in their ways, more honest and human. District 12 was left alone most of the time because it was perceived as the poor district. I am very dissapointed about the pearl. I was expecting that Katniss would use it to bring Peter back to her. I was also left with the desire to read more about that relationship and how she would start realizing she was in love with Peeta and Gale was to stay a good friend. I truly believe the author simply forgot about it, like it was a mistake on her part and the editors did not pick up on it. SHAME on them.

  29. Claire, I LOVE your reasoning about the pearl and how Peeta is the real pearl. Cool but the author missed it and I truly believe it was a mistake on her part trying to focus on making the battle real and just lost track of it.

  30. I honestly belief the pin was a gift from Madge’s mom because it belonged to her twinsister, killed at the games, pure and simple. The rebels might have picked up on using it as s simbol once they saw how popular Katniss and Peeta became after the berries suicide incident. Of course Cinna and Haymitch were rebels and realizing early on the potential of these two kids, decided to enhance their appeal in the hopes of igniting the rebellion. It feels like the third book was written in a hurry, with no attention to details. I wanted Finnick to be more developed as a character and not to die.

  31. I think Cinna is one of the capitol’s citizen that hate to see brutal and cruelty in Hunger Game. He might asks to be with 12 when he saw Katniss volunteer. He is impressed by her courage and willing to protect her beloved sis.
    Heymitch is a rebel himself as we can see from his old Hunger Game. He outsmart the Capitol thus he lost his family and love one.
    Every victor (not district 1) is a rebel deep inside.

  32. The Pearl Plot seemed extremely plausible…until I saw the movie. The movie that Suzanne Collins not only approved of but cowrote. The movie where we saw absolutely no mention of Madge or any of her relatives. What’s going on? Will they bring in this back story in later films or must we come to terms that Madge’s family has no real significance in the rebellion?

  33. Thats a good point Ashley^^
    Surely if the pearl plot was true they would have included the relevant characters in the film… hmm…

  34. No, Ashley and Lucy, not really.

    Your argument assumes that the author and film company believe the Ross production accurately reflect the content of the books, as the first one did not. It was a hijacking of the story line as explained here.

    Ross no longer has any input to the screenplays of Catching Fire or Mockingjay films. We’ll see if the franchise recaptures its heart in the follow-ups.

    Plus, ladies, you’re reading and commenting posts that were written pre-Mockingjay! For the current discussion of these subjects, please read the website regularly and review the Mockingjay posts here.

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