Katniss wakes with a brief feeling of happiness from last night's meeting with Peeta. Another 24 rolls arrive from District 3 . Katniss takes Peeta for a swim away from the others and suggests they break off from the group. Peeta is willing to separate, but only after Brutus and Enobaria are dead. Beetee is devising a trap for them and at this point, they face the best chance of staying alive if they work with the others.
Beetee explains that he thinks Brutus and Enobaria are hiding at the edge of the jungle - hidden from Katniss's group on the beach, but close enough to it so they can escape the jungle's dangers and gather seafood. Beetee suggests that between the lightning strike at noon and the one at midnight, they run his gold wire from the tree down through the jungle and into the saltwater. The next bolt will send an current through the wire and electrocute anyone in contact with the water or the beach, damp from the 10 o'clock wave. Even if they don't kill Brutus and Enobaria, the current will ruin all of the seafood, eliminating their food source. Everyone agrees to the plan.
The allies set out to examine the tree. Katniss identifies the force field beyond it and warns the others to stay back. Finnick guards Beetee while he studies the tree. In the meantime, Johanna taps for water, Peeta gathers nuts and Katniss hunts. Clicks arise in the sector next to them and they figure out that deadly insects swarm at 11 o'clock. Running out of time, they move to the next section over where Beetee asks Katniss to scale a tree and observe the lightning tree's noon activity. He is satisfied with what she reports.
They make their way back down to the beach and take most of the afternoon off while Beetee prepares the wire. Peeta finds a pearl in an oyster and gives it to Katniss. It's his last gift to her. From her look, Peeta can tell he didn't get through to her the night before. She's still planning on doing everything in her power to protect him - even if it costs her her life. Another two dozen District 3 rolls and some hot sauce arrive via parachute. The group feasts on seafood and bread.
Night falls and the anthem plays without a death toll. At 9 o'clock, they make their way up to the tree. Finnick helps Beetee weave the wire around the trunk. Beetee makes an elaborate maze pattern on his side. He instructs Johanna and Katniss to lay the wire down through the jungle from the tree to the beach. Suspicious, Peeta wants to go with them, but he's needed for protection at the tree. Katniss kisses him goodbye.
Johanna works the coil through the jungle as Katniss covers her. After a slight vibration, wire springs down on them, spooling at their feet. Someone has cut the wire above them. Before she can cock an arrow, the heavy cylinder is smashed into the side of Katniss's head. Johanna sits on her chest and digs the point of her knife into Katniss' arm. Woozy, she feels blood pools into her hand and wonders if her nerves have been severed. Johanna gets up and commands Katniss to stay down. Katniss then hears two sets of footsteps belonging to Enobaria and Brutus. Brutus says Katniss is as good as dead and they leave her behind, running off in search of Johanna.
Katniss figures that Johanna and Finnick had an agreement to separate her and Peeta in order to kill them, but Brutus and Enobria chased Johanna away before she could finish the job. This means the alliance is over, and Peeta, who is alone with Finnick and Brutus, must be in danger. Badly hurt, Katniss drags herself through the jungle. She conceals herself as Finnick arrives, calling after her and Johanna. The cannon sounds - someone is dead. A free-for-all will soon start. Katniss trips up in the wire and she follows it up to the tree. The insects are swarming now so the lightning will soon appear.
She gets to the tree and finds Beetee unconscious. Peeta is not there, but his knife is to Beetee's side, wrapped loosely with wire. This wire is connected to the tree with about 25 yards of slack. Katniss locates the telltale square in the forcefield and tries to figure out what Beetee had intended to do with the knife. The insects clicks die down. Peeta yells for Katniss and she responds, hoping to draw Brutus and Enobaria to the tree so she can electrocute them and save Peeta. Finnick and Enobaria arrive and Katniss aims an arrow into Enobaria's neck. Katniss does the math - she and Beetee will likely succumb from their injuries; she can easily take out Finnick and Enobaria; out of Brutus, Johanna and Chaff, two must be dead because she heard cannons. If Katniss succeeds, Peeta will only have to face one enemy, giving him the best chance to win.
Katniss thinks back to what Haymitch said about the enemy. At last she understands his meaning - it is the Capitol, and not the other tributes, that are truly the enemy. She drops her arrow and looks again to Beetee's knife. She unwraps the wire from it and ties it to one of her arrows. She shoots it directly into the weak square of the force field. The lightning strikes the tree and travels up the wire into the force field. The dome bursts and Katniss is propelled backwards. She looks up and sees a star in the true sky.
The Capitol sets off fireworks in the sky while they bomb the arena. A hovercraft appears over Katniss and she is carried off. When she wakes up in the craft, Plutarch Heavensbee appears before her. He shuts her eyes, leaving her powerless. The next time she wakes up, she realizes she is lying on a padded table with tubes in her arm. The Capitol must be keeping her alive to punish and kill her publicly for destroying their Games. She can hear other people breathing in bed around her, but she can't see who they are. After what must have been days, Katniss finally has enough strength to get up. She is alone in the room save for Beetee, who is also connected to machines keeping him alive. She stumbles out with a syringe in hand to find Peeta and kill him quickly before the Capitol can torture him.
Instead, she finds Plutarch with Haymitch and a banged-up Finnick. They are still flying in the hovercraft. Haymitch catches Katniss and forces her to drop the syringe and sit down. Haymitch explains what happened - as soon as the Quell was announced, a plan was forged to break the tributes out of the Games. The victor tributes from 3, 4, 6, 7, 8, and 11 were in on the plan. Plutarch himself is an undercover operative who has been working in the Capitol for years. He made sure that Beetee's wire was in the Cornucopia so he could blow out the force field. He even tried to tip off Katniss at the banquet when he showed her his watch - the mockingjay was a sign of his true intentions and the clock face was a clue to the design of the arena. The rolls from District three were also a signal - the breakout was to occur on day 3 at 24 hours.
Currently, they are on their way to District 13. Twill and Bonnie were right about it. Meanwhile, most of the Districts of Panem are engaged in a full-scale rebellion. It's a lot for Katniss to absorb. Neither she nor Peeta were told anything in case they were captured. The other tributes were ordered to try to save Katniss. Even Johanna's assault was a ruse; she was actually cutting out Katniss's tracker. Plutarch tells Katniss: "While you live, the revolution lives" (386).
Peeta was supposed to be saved in order to keep Katniss in the alliance. Haymitch tells her that instead, Peeta was picked up by the Capitol with Enobaria and Johanna. Furious at his deception, Katniss lunges after Haymitch. The others restrain her before she can do too much damage. She is in sedated and kept in a hospital bed. Finnick tries to apologize, saying it won't be that bad for Peeta because he doesn't know anything and they'll keep him alive to get to her. Katniss strikes back at Finnick, pointing out that they will probably use Annie as bait, too.
After that, Katniss refuses to speak or eat. She figures if maybe she dies, the Capitol will spare Peeta, and maybe turn him to an Avox for future District 12 tributes. Days go by and Katniss blocks out everyone who comes to see her. Finally, Gale appears. His face is burned and his arm is in a sling. Right away, he assures her that her mother and Prim are safe. The Capitol firebombed District 12 right after the Games - her home no longer exists.
Everything Katniss knows has been destroyed by the end of the book. District 12 has been firebombed, the arena has been cracked open, Haymitch’s true agenda has been revealed and Peeta is a prisoner of the Capitol. Katniss feels betrayed by those closest to her because they saw her value more clearly than she ever could. She is the mockingjay, the symbol of the revolution. If the rebellion is to thrive, she must be there to lead it. Katniss immediately rejects this proposition because it has already cost her more than she can bear to lose. Deep down she may understand Haymitch's motivations, but right now, the pain is too fresh and she can’t forgive him for it. This tension will be more fully explored in the final book of the trilogy, Mockingjay, as Katniss must weigh the costs of war on a personal and ethical scale.
This final section also further complicates Katniss' confusion about her feelings for the two men in her life: Peeta and Gale. Sedated and in pain, Katniss agonizes over Peeta's fate. She wonders if he is dead, and that he succeeded in his plan to keep her safe. This makes her hate him. Peeta's motivations are simple throughout the trilogy: he wants to save Katniss. She, however, has to contend with a much larger level of responsibility, since it was Katniss' stunt with the poisoned berries that stroked the fire of rebellion, making her a powerful symbol of hope.
As the middle book in the trilogy, Catching Fire bridges the first and third books in both plot and character development. By the end of Catching Fire, Katniss has gone through some substantial changes while maintaining her core code of ethics. Though she philosophically agrees with the rebels, she cannot yet get on board with them because of their tactic of deception. This deception cost her Peeta and used Katniss as a pawn. She was broken out of the arena and but now she's a player in another game, one with even deadlier consequences.
Though ravaged by the Games and the break out, Katniss maintains her killer instinct. She lunges for Haymitch and also cruelly digs into Finnick when he tries to assure her that the Capitol won’t be able to get any information out of Peeta. Katniss’s conviction also shines as she refuses food and drink in retaliation for the rebels' deception. Even at her weakest, she somehow finds the strength to do what she believes is right. Though in Panem, what is right is never easy or clear.
Katniss’s journey is not yet over. After surviving two Hunger Games and a revolutionary plot, there appears to be no happy ending in sight. The home she longs for is burnt to a crisp and nothing is what it seems. Whatever innocence she once had is now just as lost as her house on the Seam. Though readers can find comfort in the fact that Katniss is still Katniss, which so far, has been enough to get her through.