Ten Out-On-A-Limb Mockingjay Predictions

The day before the day before Mockingjay! Time to put your cards on the table, serious readers!

Here are my top ten predictions. Each is based on a story formula, story elements, or character story arc that is evident in the first two books of the Hungers Games trilogy. Some are straight forward and near sure things, I think, most are risible guesses I only offer in the hope of illustrating a point or principle and to generate a response and better predictions from you.

No fair saying “I knew that was going to happen!” on Tuesday if you haven’t told us all what you know right here before reading it in the Panem Saga finale. This is your last big chance to win major credit as an insightful reader; go for it!

John Granger’s Ten Predictions for Mockingjay:

1. The Completion of the Set: In an interview posted Friday, Ms. Collins said  in answer to the question “How do you typically plot or plan your book?” that:

It helps me to work out key structural points before I begin a story: the inciting incident, act breaks, mid-story reversal, crisis, climax, those sorts of things. I know a lot of what fills in the spaces between them as well, but I leave some uncharted room for the characters to develop, and, if a door opens along the way and I’m intrigued by where it leads, I’ll definitely go through it.

What are we to make of that? Two things. We’ve got two books based on specific story telling structures; she mentions three-act drama formula discussed in my ‘Unlocking the Hunger Games‘ post. The third book is going to adhere to that formula and her other structures; i.e., we have Games and Fire built around the number three — three parts of three-squared chapters each for a total of three-cubed chapters — and the third book will be the third in this set. The three-act staging with inciting incident, mid-story reversal, etc., will be in the same place. The three stage alchemical drama’s symbolism will also be in play.

But she wants us to know, if this comment was about the series finale specifically as well as about her “typical process,” Mockingjay won’t be mechanical, check-list story telling. Be prepared for some departures and surprises…

2. The Rubedo Big Reveal: The Hunger Games books are built on an alchemical scaffolding of black-white-and-red stages ending in gold.  The first two books are each one of these three stages; Games is the coal country nigredo piece in which Katniss becomes the ‘Girl on Fire’ and Fire is, despite the title, the ablutionary, water segment of the alchemical work in which the color white and the purgatory effects of water are featured. Mockingjay, as discussed in the alchemy post earlier this week, will be the concluding ‘red stage’ of this work.

The rubedo is highlighted by the resolution of story contraries, the production of a story androgyn or hermaphrodite embodying this resolution in some kind of apotheosis, and the revelation of everything hidden. My first prediction fro this list is the “big reveal.” We’ve been given a lot of story set-ups that have been hidden consequent to the narrow perspective through which the story is told (we only see what Katniss sees). We need pay-offs for all these set-ups.

Look, consequently, for a remarkable information download in the first chapters as Katniss the Mockingjay finally gets to read the script of the story she has been living in. We will find out in rapid order about District 13, its role in supporting the revolutionary group in the Capitol of which Plutarch, Cinna, and Portia are members, and how the Pearl Plot worked, i.e., how the victors and others communicated between the supposedly isolated districts.

We’ll learn, too, the details behind Peeta’s and Katniss’ reaping in Games and just how far back the preparations for this star-crossed lover drama within the Hunger Games’ punishing metanarrative were being laid. What relationship if any Haymitch has with Maysilee Donner’s sister, Mrs. Undersee, the Mayor’s wife, and Madge, her daughter, what Gale has known about plans for Katniss in the Games, and why Mrs. Everdeen went into that walking coma after her husband’s death, i.e., that the mine explosion was no accident — these are “reveals” that we should get before the story gets too involved, because Katniss will need to know it all to make her heroic choice.

3. Truth to Power: The Panem Saga is postmodern drama with a lot of traditional story content told on a three act structure. The postmodern beliefs every story told in this historical period has to reflect to have any traction with readers are (1) that, consequent to the ubiquity of our cultural indoctrination (the metanarrative), we are incapable of right understading and prejudice-free thinking, (2) fighting the metanarrative and the power-holders who benefit from is the only means to truth, and (3) sacrificial choice is the means to self-actualization outside the metanarrative.

In stories this takes the shape of near-universal story-elements like an in-group with unfair advantages over an unjustly subject peripheral group, a myth or belief that the power-holders use to justify their higher status, the outsiders having a better grasp of reality because their understanding is not confined by this justification, the victory of the outsiders over the insiders and destruction of the cultural myth or big lie, and the key to this victory being the hero or heroine’s sacrificial choice “to speak truth to power.”

The Hunger Games, obviously follow this formula to the letter. The insiders are the Capitol and the marginalized powerless group are the districts. The big lie justifying this subjection is the supposedly criminal rebellion of the districts 75 years ago. The Hunger Games or ‘Theseus and the Minotaur as told by George Orwell’ are the metanarrative that delivers the crippling message of power to the subjected districts. All virtue, however, along with all suffering, is in the districts with the victims. A heroine arises from these circumstances — an unintended but inevitable consequence of the Capitol’s “system” just as the mockingjay was of their genetic engineering — who chooses against all odds and personal advantage to speak truth to power.

Katniss does this Games over Rue’s dead body (chapter 18), when she has her epiphany about what Peeta meant when he said he wished there was a way to show the Capitol he wasn’t just a pawn. She does it again in Fire after Gale’s whipping when she decides not to run but to stand and fight (chapter 8).

In Mockingjay, this choice will come even earlier because Katniss will be confronted immediately with the decision of whether to embrace or reject the role of Rebellion figure-head. Thus far, she has played the Mockingjay part for her personal reasons and unconscious of her serving as a symbol of love and truth standing against the power of the Capitol. After escaping the Quell and traveling to District 13, that isn’t an option for her any longer. She must choose either to play the part and write her own script or to refuse that role.

I’m predicting that she does both, oddly enough. She refuses to play the part as the rebellion leadership wishes her to play it but chooses to return to the Capitol to rescue Peeta and Cinna. This decision, of course, is her embracing the real Mockingjay title and her self-actualizing choice liberating her from the power-holders and script writers in both District 13 and in the Capitol.

4. Resolution of Contraries: The Rubedo features the reunion of the parties in conflict, the Montagues and Capulrets, Paris and London, Gryffindor and Slytherin, Cullen and Quileute, usually in the person of a near-divine hero or heroine who bridges the chasm. The citizens of the Capitol and the Districts are all prisoners of the Hunger Games metanarrative — and they all adore Peeta and Katniss. Look for the destruction of the Hunger Games metanarrative, then, and the liberation of the districts via the reunionof Peeta and Katniss in the Capitol, the heroic testimony of Peeta and his sacrificial death for Katniss, and her uniting the Capitol and districts in a golden peace in his memory. As both child of the Seam, the earth, and, simultaneously, queen of song and heavens as the mockingjay, Katniss Everdeen becomes the heroic hermaphrodite and joins center and periphery, Capitol and districts, into a harmonious unity as the surviving servant of Peeta, the story’s Christ character.

5. Christian Content: There is a lot of Christian imagery in Hunger Games, none of which seems to be throw-away symbolism. Take, for example, Katniss’ first encounter with Rue in the practice rooms (Games, chapter 7, p. 99):

Now that I know she’s there, it’s hard to ignore the child. She slips up and joins us at different stations. Like me, she’s clever with plants, climbs swiftly, and has good aim. She can hit the target every time with a slingshot. But what is a slingshot against a 220 pound male with a sword?

This David and Goliath reference (1 Samuel, chapter 17), seemingly a passing thought, oddly enough is a rough sketch of the meaning of Hunger Games. A hero acting with faith and love, empowered by the “tongues of fire” providence has given him, is able to fell any foe with the least of weapons. The Capitol and its system of oppression is being brought down by “a handful of berries,” the example of a heroic child willing to die rather than subject herself and love to injustice and murder.

Ms. Collins’ sacramental references, e.g., the wafer with mockingjay impression the refugees from District 8 show Katniss, her scriptural references, and her story transparencies from Christian history — most notably “the boy with the bread” and his serial sacrificial deaths and resurrections — all make me think we’ll be seeing more of the same in Mockingjay.

6. Alchemical Markers: Each of the two Hunger Games books that we have in hand, in addition to being an alchemical stage itself (see #2 above), has all three alchemical stages within it. We see, consequently, the nigredo in the fire passages (the forest fire, the destruction of the Hob), followed by an albedo cleansing wash (cave downpour, wash after killer mist), followed by sacrificial death and golden resurrection. Look for a fire, wash, big, bloody battle, and concluding sacrificial death and golden resurrection in Mockingjay as well.

7. Capitol Games:You don’t shoot the horse you rode in on, right? What formulas and story elements made the first Hunger Games books work are going to be included in the finale. The biggest piece of Games and Fire, both in terms of chapter numbers and pulse-pounding action are the pages devoted to survival in the arena. I will be gob-smacked surprised if we don’t see another arena and fight to the finish in Mockingjay.

How is possible for the Capitol to stage an ad hoc off-schedule Hunger Games when all of Panem is in revolt? I don’t know! I assume it will be relatively informal — no reaping, interviews, costumed chariot rides, or scores after private sessions with Gamesmakers — perhaps an adventure with parallel story elements outside the usual staged event. I’m imagining Katniss’ secret return to the Capitol to rescue Peeta and Cinna with a Bladerunner-esque series of battles in the city streets or on roof-tops.

But there will be a Games of some kind.

8. Teevee Theme: Ms. Collins admitted that her time in teevee land as a writer means that she knows from first hand experience what it means to be a Gamesmaker. As I argued yesterday, Cinna can be understood as Ms. Collins’ wish-fulfillment story surrogate embedded in the Hunger Games narrative line, i.e., the heroic television writer who subverts the evil medium and metanarrative of the regime by injecting counter-cultural memes and images of love and sacrificial choice into their stories.

True or not, the Hunger Games are a prolonged argument against television. Its depiction of the effect of Hunger Games broadcasts on Capitol and district viewers is an illustration of the corrosive effects its violence and, more importantly, the vicarious participation in this violence by watching it for entertainment has on both individual viewers and the culture as a whole.

This isn’t going to stop just because there is a revolution going on and Katniss destroyed the Quarter Quell arena. Somehow the Capitol or District 13 have to rig up a way of broadcasting the Games that will take place in Mockingjay and the reunion and struggles of Katniss and Peeta against all odds. Look for some kind of tracker with broadcast potential being inserted by the Capitol into Peeta and (for keeping tabs on her?) something like it in Katniss by the good guys in District 13.

9. War Stories: Ms. Collins has told us that she thinks these books are “absolutely, first and foremost, war stories.” That’s a pretty bizarre assessment, frankly, based on the first two books, which feature very little in the form of anything that could satisfy a technical or historical measure of what constitutes a “war.” Children killing children while millions watch and make bets is a horror of the first magnitude but it is not a battle of any kind between groups.

Having noted the obvious, I think we have to assume Ms. Collins had something in mind when she said this. The obvious guess is that Mockingjay is a war story, in which we get the revolution of the districts against the Capitol in some detail.

I confess that this is a prediction that leaves me scratching my head because it breaks with the formulas and trends of the other books, but I feel obliged to mention as a possibility.

10. Coal Mine Conclusion to Team Peeta/Team Gale: I’m not a Team Peeta/Team Gale partisan, as I suppose you’ve figured out, because I doubt she winds up romantically entwined with either boy-with-a-girl’s-name at the story finish. But this wouldn’t be a Hunger Games prediction list worth spit if it didn’t have at least one off-the-wall prediction that included a Peeta-Gale-and-Katniss big finish in which she had to make a choice between the good-guys-who love-me.

My romantic scenario comes from Zola’s Germinal, which classic of social criticism in story form Ms. Collins says she re-reads again and again. That book ends with two men and a women trapped in a coal mine that has collapsed only a because a bitter man has set off an explosion for revenge.Only one of the three escapes.

If you didn’t know why Katniss is from an oppressed mining district, Germinal is your answer. For those readers who think Hunger Games is really a girl-struggling-to choose-between-two-wonderful-guys romance that got lost in a dystopian satire about American television watching habits, I suggest you look for a remarkably claustrophobic finale in Mockingjay, a la Germinal, with Peter, Gale, and Katniss trapped underground by a vengeful President Snow or even by an angry Haymitch.

I did say it was off the wall, didn’t I?

Okay, there are my best shots. It’s your turn! Either explain why my guesses are silly or let us read your insights about what story events and meaning we will find in Mockingjay Tuesday morning. If you have heard the leaked first chapter or read any part of any discussion of same, you are on your honor not to participate in this speculative discussion or to spoil our fun by revealing what guesses are right or wrong.

There weren’t be any more Hogwarts Professor posts until we have read Mockingjay. Please do not post any spoilers anywhere on this site if you get the book early or if you finish before we begin the discussion here. I hope to have a gaggle of discussion threads and a round-up post here late Tuesday as we did after Deathly Hallows. See you then — and thanks for a wonderful week of run-up to the release of the Hunger Games finale!


  1. Call me chicken if you want, but honestly I have way too many ideas on what could happen and no real clear-cut inkling on what will happen in the final installment. For fun, however, my husband and I compiled a list of our ramblings – some good, some ridiculous but all possible.

    Prediction Number 1: Hero’s Journey a la Star Wars:
    President Snow is actually Katniss’ father AKA “The Mockingjay,” the mastermind of the rebellion, who groomed his daughter to play her part well in the HG before faking his own death. His wife, either in on the plan or figuring it out too late, was unable to grieve and move on. Her emotional isolation of her own daughters is even more understandable if she knew of the plan to use/sacrifice them as pawns in the upcoming rebellion. In this hero’s journey scenario, Haymitch – the Obi-Wan mentor will die a hero’s death and maybe Cinna (aka Yoda) dies too. Katniss will rescue Peeta, and with his (and Gale’s) help blow up the Death Star! (oops, the Capitol).

    Prediction Number 2: Collins goes Orwell
    After footage of Katniss and her father hunting in the Seam is brought to the attention of President Snow he orders a hit on the father. When continued footage of Katniss’ subversive border violations crosses Snow’s path again, he orders Gale (promising amnesty from the HG) to befriend and watch her. Once she takes Primroses’ place in the Reaping, Cinna and Haymitch are brought in to handle her. She is teamed with Peeta, a familiar face from District 12, and through a series planned and chance events their rebellion takes shape. Finally, the Capitol captures Peeta, and when Katniss mounts a rescue attempt they capture her too. After many brain washings including continual forced viewing of all 75 HG repeats, Katniss and Peeta are broken and returned back to District 12 in disgrace.

    Prediction Number 3: War Stories
    Vietnam was coined the Living Room War for good reason. This was the first televised war and the parallels between it and the HG are compelling: 24/7 coverage by infield reporters, nightly death counts, interviews with soldiers and their families back home, state fed propaganda. Beyond the media parallels, there was also the issue of the Draft Lottery – forcing 18 year old boys to fight in a war they did not start/support/understand. (Heck, they even drew birthdays (names) from a big glass ball). So let’s get back to the big 3 in HG. We left Gale a gung-ho revolutionary, in war stories this marks him as a goner. Peeta is now a POW and Katniss will go rogue with a special-forces team to save him. They may live or die but one thing is for certain, the “suits” are safe.

    Prediction Number 4: Religious Martyrdom
    Christ (Peeta) has come to Katniss to teach her (and the world) the importance of love. Although she is skeptical, his unfaltering belief in her ultimately wins her faith and devotion. As we leave her near the end of CF, she is willing to die to save him and the love he stands for. Unfortunately, religious martyrs do not fare so well. Pontius Pilate has Peeta, and like Joan of Arc before her, Katniss will go up in the foreshadowed flames of Cinna’s costume design.

  2. Fantastic! I love the Rambo-remake the best; imagine the big gun District 13 will give her to blast her way up the Ho Chi Minh trail.

    Three quick morning extras:

    (1) President Snow dies but not until spilling the Capitol side of the rubedo ‘Big Reveal.’

    (2) District 13 is the Collins utopia or paradise that is our model of how good life would be outside the mind-lock of the Capitol/Hunger Games metanarrative.

    (3) No Spartacus ending here; Katniss survives but as a single woman.

    Less than 17 hours until Mockingjay!

  3. My predictions:

    1) Katniss and Peeta live (YA audience almost demands this result)
    2) Cinna and Haymitch die (the catalysts are used up in the reaction)
    3) Katniss is offered an important position in the new government but is so disgusted by how power has corrupted the current regime that she refuses. She retires to District 11 in honor of Rue.
    4) The rebels find a way to get Katniss and Peeta some TV time that turns the Capitol residents against the government (much in keeping with the Vietnam motif discussed by Jessica)
    5) It will turn out that Peeta was much more aware of the rebellion than he ever admitted to (based on his special skill of camouflage). Katniss will feel betrayed and not end up together with Peeta.
    6) Gale will be killed in the revolt.
    7) Effie will turn out to be much more intelligent than her ditzy routine suggests and is a player in the revolution (I refuse to believe that anyone could be as clueless as she appears to be).

  4. Sbark,
    I’m with you on 7, for sure. Effie’s gold wig, the number three golden hairdo, after Cinna’s band on Katniss and Madge’s hair bow at the Harvest Festival, mark her as involved to some degree. I don’t think she’s nearly as flaky as she’s let on; the “yes-we-really-are-this-shallow” spot is still held by the prep team!
    I’m still holding out hope for Cinna, but see the literary unity of his sacrifice.

  5. Great thinking, Sbark! All of these thoughts seem possible, even likely, to me.

    Especially the retiring to District 11.

    In Games, Katniss sings to Rue at her death of an archetypal paradise that Miss Everdeen recalls after her love-on-the-beach moment with Peeta in Fire (during which tryst she commits herself privately and totally to his service/preservation).

    If Collins kills the Christ-figure of the story as the symbolism demands but the genre forbids, I expect to see Katniss retreat to a place like this meadow-glen Eden that is the origin and story center of the books, the Kingdom of Heaven in her heart.

  6. Well, if Effie is a player in the Pearl Plot, hats must be doffed to Arabella who argued here at some length in February that the handler of Team Mockingjay was much, much more than she seemed.

    Having just re-read the scenes at the District 11 Justice Building, forgive me for remaining skeptical…

  7. Arabella Figg says

    Not only the gold wig, but the pink wig in HG. My third read didn’t dissuade me.

  8. I’m cheering for Effie, believe me, Arabella! If any one character could illustrate “don’t believe what you think” about them as a postmodern author’s topos, it would be Effie turning out to be a bigger part of the Pearl Plot than, say, Arabella Figg was in the Order of the Phoenix.

    I don’t see it happening but, as you say, that could be the point.

    I leave in half-hour for Haverford on Philadelphia’s Main Line to pick up my copy of Mockingjay. See you tomorrow morning, folks, if you’ve read the books or whenever you do for the best discussion threads anywhere on the Hunger Games series finale.

  9. Under resolution of contraries, I would predict a bigger role for Madge and her partnering with Gale. Not necessarily a romantic pairing, but perhaps for a mission of some sorts that will allow them to trust each other and resolve some of the possible animosity we saw between them in Hunger Games.
    I don’t think there will be another Hunger Games with an official arena. I like the idea (I’m sorry I don’t know if it was the HogPro’s or another commentor’s) of the battle with the Capitol being the equivalent of the 76th Hunger Games.
    I think we’ll meet Bonnie and Twill in District 13. Way unlikely, but I think Bonnie and Finnick could be a good pair of leaders and possibly a romantic pairing. Bonnie losing her husband and Finnick losing Annie (if it happens) could make them sympathetic to each other.
    To echo everyone, I really can’t wait to read the book! My husband ordered it for me on Amazon as a surprise, because he knew I was #285 on the library’s hold list and wouldn’t be able to wait! What a good guy…

  10. Love reading all the comments. I just want to chime in on one point which Jessica alluded to. I don’t think it is all that ‘bizarre’ for Ms. Collins to refer to her stories as war stories. As one who grew up during the time of the Vietnam War, as did she, this is our model of war from a child’s point of view. The televised updates each day and helicopters as your only way out seem very reminiscent of that war. I also just watched the documentary ‘Little Dieter wants to fly’ about a vietnam era navy pilot who was a POW, escaped, and played a deadly game of hide and seek before being rescued (by helicopter) seemed to echo all the guerilla fighting these kids were forced to engage in and emotions that the tributes were feeling.

    I’ve always felt that Peeta would have to die (as ‘hell bent’ as he has been on self sacrifice) but I would be very happy if he manages to make it out with only yet another near miss.

  11. Hi John, you’re awesome and these theories have a lot of merit (plus I’m really rooting for the Pearl Plot). But do you, you personally, think Peeta is going to die? I’m terrified that he will and your predictions are usually right.

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