Mockingjay Discussion 8: Blood and Roses

We learn from Finnick, I believe, the secrets of President Coriolanus Snow, to include why his breath smells like blood, namely, “mouth sores that will never heal” (chapter 12, p. 172). Supposedly, the roses he wears are to cover the smell of blood on his breath. As these sores are a consequence of poisons, the roses take on another meaning, I think, one we see again and again in Mockingjay.

Snow uses roses to unsettle Katniss; he thinks correctly that she will think of him when she sees or smells a rose and that this will drive home his determination to find and kill her. Hence the rose in the Victor House, the roses dropped with the bunker busters on District 13, and the rose breath of the lizard mutt-tations.

I think, though, beneath the narrative line ‘roses over blood’ is an image Ms. Collins wants us to take away as a symbol of how wars are packaged and presented as public goods rather than tragic necessities. Seeing how the tributes, citizens, and survivors of District 12 are transformed from victims to victors capable (if living) of voting for a Capitol-children Hunger Games production.

Your thoughts?


  1. I also especially liked the imagery of this detail. The unpleasant blood smell coming from Snow all the time is witness to his sins…and he attempts to cover by distorting the natural beauty of roses and their natural scent….pretty lies to cover ugly truth. This was very effective for me.

  2. Again, read tremendously false. Was unable to suspend disbelief. She did not supply the rationale for the story arc. The book felt like a video game, rather than a serious reflection.

  3. Sorry, Sunshine, but I loved the book and found it to be incredibly moving and realistic in a way few other can authors achieve.

  4. The duality of roses, the flowers we use for funerals and weddings, with their beauty and their thorns, makes them fascinating symbols throughout literature. When I teach Faulkner’s “A Rose for Emily,” my students always have a great time with the all the complexity of the rose symbolism, and we don’t even get into the medieval stuff (our apologies, Mr. Eco).
    I especially like the contrast between roses and primroses. Evening primrose, the rather scraggly plant that is Prim’s namesake, has little in common with the hothouse flowers in Snow’s mansion. Katniss’s ironic (and, of course, decepetive) “yes” vote for the new Games, intended to lull Coin into a false sense of security, is made as she looks at the false rose that goes in Snow’s lapel, and her declaration that she is doing this for Prim (rose), reveals to Haymitch the true nature of her plans.

  5. Elizabeth wrote:
    ” Katniss’s ironic (and, of course, decepetive) “yes” vote for the new Games, intended to lull Coin into a false sense of security, is made as she looks at the false rose that goes in Snow’s lapel, and her declaration that she is doing this for Prim (rose), reveals to Haymitch the true nature of her plans.”
    I guess I didn’t read as much premeditation into the assassination. It was clear early on Snow=Coin (4 letter names was a tip off) although I kept getting flashes from The Empire Strikes Back (complete with hologram maps).
    I can see that the yes vote was a message to Haymitch. I just read the yes vote as demonstrating how difficult it is to forgive and move on from horrors like the hunger games (capitol punishment, anyone?) and the desire for retribution which is all too human. That is why she says it is for Prim.

  6. He should have been called President Ice

    Because Katniss = fire
    And he = snow

    Trying to put out her fire.

    President Ice reminds me of Dentyne Ice though.
    (Worst comment on this website ever, sorry)

  7. Can someone help me understand why Katniss credits herself so much in the books for starting the rebellion and ending it, and essentially changing their world?

    Please correct me if I’m wrong, but the impression I have of her is more a symbol and pawn used by others for a rebellion that was already on progress.

    She had her moments of greatness but never came the groundbreaking moments I expected of her-she just kept waking up in hospitals while everyone died.

    I know she may have started murmurs of a rebellion during the Hunger Games but why did she REALLY do to incite an entire nation’s rebellion, and essentially be credited with power I feel she never had?

    Sorry if I’m overthinking this, I just feel that for the main character she didn’t do as much as she would dramatically credit herself for.


  8. I think that the rose symbolized that something beautiful can turn into something deadly. The beauty of the Capitol draws Katniss and other victors in only to have them realize that, yes they won the Hunger Games, the Capitol doesn’t allow hope to spread thus the Quarter Quell. I think that Katniss’s vote on the Hunger Games for Capitol children was stupid. The book says she did it for Prim’s memory but Prim is dead no amount of killing will bring her back. By voting yes Katniss is destroying every thing she fought so hard to save.

  9. The rose in this story is not just a rose, but a white rose. Traditionally, roses are often used as symbols for females (anatomy) while white represents purity or innocence. Snow’s possession of the rose illustrates his power over the innocence of lchildren (especially Katniss). He has the power to slaughter them before they ever come of legal age and experience. The girls and boys who participate in the Hunger Games will never be pure children again. Snow has taken that away. It is also significant that in the final book, Katniss ventures into Snow’s apartment to pick (or steal back) her own white rose, though it is too late for her to take back the innocence. She makes sure he is wearing the rose before his punishment. Also, because her innocence was stolen by Snow, it takes Katniss years to overcome the helpless feeling of his power. Much like a victim of rape or sexual crimes, she is unable to have, or even think about having, any type of physical relationship for a very long time.

  10. I always thougt the roses were to cover the bloody heart of the president. But I like the idea of the symbol for innocent children too. This is was I liked most about the book, every sentence/ object/ name usw. has a meaning, and often more than one.
    The other reason why I liked it so much is that Katniss often acted in exactly the way I was wishing deep inside. That she voted for the Capitol-children- hungergames really shocked me in the first moment. But she had to! Because Coin is a really dangerous person. She had killed all the other victors. And she would kill all the surviving victors too – if Katniss doesnt act like she promised in the “Mockingjay-Deal”. She’s not yet out of the game. This is why Haymitch says “I’m with the mockingjay” (and not “I’m with katniss”). He most likely knows who has killed Prim. But Coin souldn’t know that they know. Or else Katniss wouldn’t get the chance to kill her and prevent Panem of another Tyrann. Coin telling Snow about the planned hungergames will make clear Katniss intentions even to him..
    There are other things I don’t understood at the end of the book.. Why do they left Peeta behind, walking alone through the streets behind them and why is he still burned at the end?! Is there any sense in this? Why killing Prim?! The whole volunteering for the hungergames for her sister has no sense then.. But maybe it’s because the flowers (Roses and Primroses) are mortal, while Katniss ( a root) has the real power to start something new.

  11. I’ve been struggling with the symbolism of Prim’s name and Snow’s symbol of the rose. Why would something so pure as Prim be associated with Snow? Even when Peeta plants primrose bushes at the end Katniss is upset, thinking immediately of roses. But maybe, as he uses roses to upset Katniss, and as others have speculated, as he used the purity of children to upset and scare the people of the districts into submission in the hunger games, he was using Prim all along as a way of keeping Katniss where he wanted her. This suggests he could have been the one who sent the parachutes aswell, as a final act of revenge, using Katniss’s own Rose to hurt her. But I doubt this seeing as the other facts seem to put Coin under true suspicion. Maybe it could be that by killing Prim, Coin was just using a different kind of Rose to upset Katniss, and force her into submission. But instead of the Capitol’s fake, enhanced roses, it was the simple, straightforward, common Primrose. If this is true, it could show Coin as a mere copy of Snow, though with different methods and portrayed in an opposite view.

  12. Snow has fallen (and the Coin too) and in the spring the Primroses are blossoming…

  13. Primrose represent hope and purity, and Snow uses roses as a weapon against the pure and innocent. President Snow represents evil and oppression and Katniss’s mother and Primrose use snow for healing the victims of oppression.

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