Catching Fire

Catching Fire Essay Questions

  1. 1

    Why is the mockingjay chosen for the symbol of the rebellion?

    The mockingjay is the offspring of a mockingbird and a jabberjay, a bird that was genetically engineered by the Capitol during the war with the Districts. The jabberjay was deemed a failure when the Districts learned to use them against the Capitol to spread lies, inverting their intended use as surveillance. Katniss notes that the mockingjay was not supposed to exist. The jabberjays were cast out and were expected to die off, but they proved resilient. As a symbol, the mockingjay represents a weakness of the Capitol and the drive for survival for the rest of Panem. It was chosen as a symbol because Katniss wears a mockingjay pin during her first Games; like the bird, Katniss was not supposed to survive. The mockingjay also appears in taped footage of District 13 and its existence on the tape helps to dispel the lies that the area had been destroyed in the war. District 13 is the seat of the rebellion, and both the mockingjay and its wearer become the face of the uprising.

  2. 2

    How does Katniss change through the novel? Contrast Katniss in Catching Fire to her character in The Hunger Games.

    Forced to grow up fast on the Seam, Katniss has always had a stoic nature, but she matures greatly during the second book. She is a year older and has been wizened by her experiences and circumstances. Most importantly, Katniss begins to take responsibility for her actions and chooses a side. In The Hunger Games, her primary goal is to keep herself and her family alive. After winning the Games, she seeks to avoid scrutiny by the Capitol. However, uprisings - of which Katniss is the face - throw a wrench into her plans. Katniss tends to act impulsively and without intention. The President and the people of Panem interpreted her ire against the Capitol in her actions at the end of the Games, but Katniss herself is unaware of her feelings. In Catching Fire, Katniss is forced to make a choice - to run away from the President's threats or to stand with the rebellion. When she is reaped again for The Quarter Quell, Katniss resolves to injure the Capitol in any way she can. This time, her rebellion is intentional. Katniss is also able to empathize with others in this book. She puts herself in Gale's shoes when he is whipped and she comes to fully understand that her actions can have an emotional impact on others.

  3. 3

    What tactics does the Capitol use to suppress the Districts of Panem? Use specific examples from the text.

    The Capitol uses both psychological torture and physical modes of oppression to keep the citizens of Panem in line. The Hunger Games is designed to remind Panem of the Capitol's control by forcing the Districts to send their children to die each year. Each District serves a purpose, providing goods or services for usage in the Capitol. For example, 4 is known for its fishing and 11 its agriculture. Citizens have little chance to escape a life dictated by whatever primary function their respective districts provide; e.g. men born in 12 will most certainly face a dangerous life in the mines. If they step out of line, they are threatened with violence or repercussions. Poverty in particular is used to quash hope. Lastly, the Capitol's control over and manipulation of the media helps to keep them in power. For example, the footage used for current news pieces about District 13 was shot after the war 75 years prior. The destruction serves as proof of the Capitol's militaristic might. However the District is not, as the footage suggests, still a smoking crater. In fact, the rebellion is rumored to be based in 13, a secret that the Capitol wants to keep under wraps - like the broadcasts about uprisings that are relayed only to District mayors and not their people.

  4. 4

    Several characters use duplicity to achieve goals in Catching Fire. What are some examples and, in your opinion, were the characters justified?

    Katniss and Peeta often lie for the Capitol's cameras. In The Hunger Games, their romance was manufactured in order to increase sponsorship and, thus, their chances of survival. In Catching Fire, they are forced to take this duplicity to the next level under threat from the president; if they do not convince Panem that they are motivated by love, their friends and family will be in danger. Here, the lie is necessary. When Katniss and Peeta must go back into the arena, their romance is again a topic but the objective has changed. Through the sympathy they provoke, they seek to expose the barbarism of the Games. Plutarch Heavensbee is also duplicitous. He is both Head Gamemaker and an architect of the rebellion. He give Katniss a hint to the design of the arena and also flashes his secret mockingjay watch. Plutarch is crucial to the rebels' plans and could only be effective if he acted as a double agent. Haymitch also secretly works for the rebels. His lack of disclosure is construed as betrayal by Katniss as Haymitch was one of the few people she trusted. Katniss is not able to forgive Haymitch less so because he didn't tell her about the plan, but more that Peeta was the collateral damage of the plan's success. Duplicity is necessary for all of these characters to achieve their goals and preserve their ways of life, but personal betrayal is harder to swallow.

  5. 5

    Rebellion takes many forms in Catching Fire. Discuss how both extreme and simple acts contribute to the Districts' cause.

    Catching Fire has moments of both overt and subtle rebellion. The destruction of the arena and the District uprisings are clear threats to the Capitol. But symbols are just as important to the cause as direct action. The Capitol understands this, as the Games is their way of symbolically reinforcing their stranglehold on Panem. Peeta's lie about Katniss's pregnancy and their secret marriage is not only good TV, but manipulation of one of the Capitol's most important tools of oppression - the media. Katniss and the other victors hold hands during their broadcast, providing an image of unity that cannot be undone by the Games. This is a message directed at the viewers of the Districts, inspiring them to work together. Unity is power. Even a character like Mags, an elderly woman, has a rebellious streak. She volunteers as tribute to protect a girl driven mad by the Games; she won't let the Capitol hurt Annie again. In the arena, she drags herself in the poisonous fog in order to give Finnick, Peeta and Katniss the chance to escape. Her self-sacrifice serves the purpose of keeping Katniss - and the rebellion - alive.

  6. 6

    As their troubled mentor and fellow victor, Haymitch is somewhat of a joke in the first book. How does his role expand in Catching Fire?

    Haymitch Abernathy is a known drunk. Katniss is often frustrated with her mentor and the squalor he chooses to live in. However, in Catching Fire, Katniss learns the reasons behind his behavior. She and Peeta view a tape of the second Quarter Quell, the Games Haymitch won. Unlike them, Haymitch had to watch the other tributes from District 12 die, including his ally Maysilee Donner. When Katniss meets the morphling addicts from District 6 in training, she starts to piece together the root of Haymitch's drinking. It is a coping mechanism that has turned into an addiction. Her sympathy for him is short-lived, however, as his role in the destruction of the arena comes to light at the end of the book. Katniss feels betrayed by Haymitch for not keeping his promise to keep Peeta alive. But Haymitch's act is in the best interest of the rebellion. In his own way, Haymitch is a hero of Catching Fire.

  7. 7

    Why do Haymitch and the other tributes want to keep Peeta alive during the Quarter Quell? How does this differ from Katniss's motivation?

    Katniss feels a tremendous sense of duty and debt to those who have helped her - Peeta, Gale, Rue, Cinna, the people of District 11. She credits Peeta with helping her survive in the arena and on the Victory Tour. He is moral, loyal and kind. Though she does not return his affections, he has nevertheless been a rock for her. To pay back this debt, she decides Peeta will survive the Games at all costs - including her own life. Although Haymitch agrees to this plan, he knows he may have to break his promise if necessary. Though the best possible outcome would be if both Peeta and Katniss were rescued, Haymitch and the other tributes realize that, as the symbol of the rebellion, Katniss must be everyone's primary concern. Finnick revives Peeta and the morphling saves him from the monkey in order to ensure that Katniss remains in the alliance and unknowingly plays her part in the plan. Haymitch has a much more calculating view of the Games and its role in the rebellion. He acts logically whereas Katniss serves her emotions.

  8. 8

    How would the story be different if narrated from an omniscient point of view rather than Katniss's first-person account?

    Katniss is a complicated character. She can be angry, vindictive, impulsive, loving, self-deprecating and astute, but she struggles to show only a one face to those around her - stoic. Through her narration, readers are privy to her thoughts and emotions and can get a grasp on who Katniss is and how she views people or situations, even if Katniss herself is unsure of what she feels or thinks. The coming-of-age component of the novel relies on the first-person perspective because Katniss's voice could have easily been lost among the more vocal and confident people around her. In the narration, Collins beautifully renders the uncertainty of being a teenager. However, the narration does limit the scope of the book, as the reader only see events through Katniss's eyes. There is little sense of what life is like for anyone outside of District 12 and the history of the war and the rise of the Capitol are gleaned only through brief references since the reader can't know what Katniss doesn't know.

  9. 9

    Why is Katniss drawn to Wiress, Beetee and Mags instead of the stronger victors like the Careers?

    Katniss is a protector. Though underestimated at first, she proves to be strong and capable. Because of her high score in her first Games, she entered the arena as a target for the careers. She knows that they have been trained to kill and will wield their brutality on anyone they consider weaker than them. They are also untrustworthy. In the Quarter Quell, Haymitch urges Katniss to make alliances and is disappointed - though not surprised - that she chooses the Beetee, Wiress and Mags. Beetee is not a physical threat; Wiress is mad; Mags is an elderly woman. But Katniss sees what the others can't: Beetee is a genius, Wiress is cunning, and Mags can make fish hooks out of anything. Her gamble pays off as each of her allies contributes to her survival in the arena: Beetee's gold wire destroys the arena, Wiress cracks the code of the arena and Mags sacrifices herself for Katniss and Peeta. An underdog herself, Katniss has a soft spot for outcasts and knows there is more to a person than what meets the eye.

  10. 10

    Discuss the people of the Capitol. Are they all good, all bad or are they more complex?

    The people who live in the Capitol live very different lives from those in the Districts. They have long reaped the rewards of victory in war and no one goes hungry. Quite the opposite, in fact, since the Capitol is known for its excesses. Katniss is disgusted with what she sees in the Capitol. Garish makeup, clothes, and surgical enhancements mask true beauty. Partygoers drink a concoction that makes them throw up so they can gorge themselves on feasts that could feed a Seam family for a year. However, the Capitol citizens are oblivious to what life is like on beyond the city. President Snow and the leaders before him have kept people in the Capitol and Districts separate by manipulation of the media and oppression. People like Octavia, Flavius and Venia may be naive but they are not cruel. They do not know how else to behave. The true enemies are the people in power who continue to drive a wedge between citizens of Panem.