Catching Fire

Catching Fire Summary and Analysis of Part 2: "The Quell" - Chapters 10-12


Katniss learns that the people in the cabin dressed in Peacekeeper uniforms are Twill and Bonnie, two runaways from District 8. During the Victory Tour party in the Capitol, the citizens of 8 revolted, taking over the Communication Center, the granary and the power station. The plan was for Twill and her husband to escape in Peacekeeper uniforms and spread the word of uprising to other Districts. However, Capitol hovercrafts bombed the rebel strongholds and Peacekeepers arrived in droves. After 48 hours, the Capitol quelled the rebellion. After starving the week-long lockdown and near starvation, the citizens had no choice but to go back to the factories. Late for their shift, Twill and Bonnie were not at the factory when it exploded. Twill's husband was killed. In the aftermath, Twill and Bonnie used their supposed deaths as cover for their disappearance.

Heading for District 13, they stowed on a train into District 6 and made it to 12 two days ago. Katniss is confused - she thought that District 13 was blown up 75 years ago in the Dark Days of the war against the Capitol. Any footage from 13 is always of rubble. Twill tells her that each time a clip of the burned-out Justice Building is broadcast, a mockingjay flies through the shot in the upper right-hand corner. It has to be the same footage used over and over again. Twill thinks the survivors have survived underground in District 13 and that the Capitol leaves them alone because of their chief industry before the war - nuclear development. Katniss says they were graphite miners, but then realizes that that information also came from the Capitol. Even if the rebels of District 13 have survived, Katniss thinks, why haven't the come forward to help the other Districts? She doesn't believe Twill's story, but she keeps her mouth shut for Bonnie's sake. She recognizes that this girl needs some hope to cling to.

Since District 8 is an industrial district with little nature, Twill and Bonnie have few survival skills in the wild. Katniss shares her food and teaches Twill a few tricks for hunting using a solar Peacekeeper weapon. She fills them in on life in 12, then says a tearful goodbye. On her way back to the fence, a mockingjay trills a warning - the fence is switched on. Katniss will have to go over it somehow. She climbs a tree slick with ice and leaps on to a neighboring maple. She inches across a limb 25 feet in the air that stretches over the fence. She jumps onto a snowbank, bruising her spine and fracturing a bone in her left heel.

She concocts a lie for her mother and Prim, who don't know she was out in the woods. Painfully, she limps into her house where she sees two Peacekeepers waiting. They are surprised to see her. Katniss deduces they must know she was in the woods. The Peacekeepers say they have come with a message from Thread, but Katniss knows they were waiting to report her electrocution or, if she had been trapped in the woods, to take her family in for questioning. Katniss makes up a story on the fly and the Peacekeepers have no way of proving she's lying. They relay the message that from now on, the fence will be electrified 24-hours a day.

While Katniss heals from her injuries, she waits to be arrested. Eventually she relaxes. Peeta tells her that Thread's team is securing the base of the fence because Thread assumed she burrowed under it. Ordered to stay in bed, Katniss and Peeta work on her family book, filling in images and information on edible and medicinal herbs. In the evenings, Katniss watches TV. She sees an news story about the Dark Days that includes the shot of District 13's Justice Building. The mockingjay Twill told her about is indeed present in the right-hand corner of the screen. But it's an old story. Several days later, there is a report on graphite shortage in District 3. They cut to what is supposed to be a live feed from 13 and Katniss sees the mockingjay again. "The reporter has simply been incorporated into the old footage. She's not in District 13 at all. Which begs the question, What is?" (163)

Haymitch drops in while Katniss is recuperating and gives her bad news about the town - more punishment and starvation. Months go by and winter is starting to fade. One day, Octavia, Venia and Flavius arrive for Katniss's postponed bridal photo shoot. While prepping her, Octavia makes an off-hand comment about the Capitol's inability to procure seafood for weeks because of "bad weather" in District 4. They also complain about the unavailability of certain gadgets and materials. Katniss interprets this news as evidence of revolt in 4, 3 and 8 - Districts known for fishing, electronics and textiles, respectively. Downstairs, Cinna helps Katniss model the dozen wedding dresses the people of the Capitol will vote on.

Katniss tells Haymitch of the news from the Capitol and he reports rumors of uprisings in Districts 7 and 11. Though roughly half of the Districts have attempted to rebel, he's not yet convinced a revolt would work in 12. He also is skeptical of Twill's District 13 theory and says the Capitol would have no problem blowing up another District as an example of its power.

Prim comes home bubbling with excitement over a mandatory program airing that evening. She assumes it will be a report on Katniss's wedding dresses. Caeser Flickerman begins the report, chatting with Cinna and the audience about the upcoming nuptials. However, the anthem plays and President Snow takes the stage for the "reading of the card." He launches into a speech about the significance of the Quarter Quell, "a glorified version of the Games to make fresh the memory of those killed by the districts' rebellion" (171). On the 25th anniversary, each district had to elect their tributes and on the 50th, Haymitch's year, the number of tributes per District was doubled. Katniss's mother had a friend who was a tribute that year, Maysilee Donner.

Snow opens an envelope that had been sealed at the invention of the Games. Inside are the predetermined rules for the 75th anniversary. Snow announces that "as a reminder to the rebels that even the strongest among them cannot overcome the power of the Capitol, the male and female tributes will be reaped from their existing pool of victors" (172). As the only female victor from District 12, Katniss will be returning to the arena.


In Chapter 10, Katniss learns of the rumor that District 13, believed to have been destroyed in the “Dark Days” of war, is the seat of the rebellion. Katniss is incredulous. She not readily trust strangers, and she has seen the footage of 13. The graphite-mining District was decimated 75 years ago and is still a smoking crater. Twill corrects Katniss, telling her that 13’s real industry was nuclear development. According to Twill, the Capitol has let 13 quietly rebuild so as to not draw their ire or let it be known that the secret District has more power than them.

This is another example of the Capitol's manipulation of the media. Katniss is able to verify the truth about 13 in the broadcasts about the District. As Twill had mentioned, there is a mockingjay in the corner of each broadcast, meaning the same stock shot has been used for a backdrop for decades. This is a clear critique of both reality television and the news, as a produced image is easily fed to the public as “real.” When Katniss sees the telltale mockingjay fly on television, she realizes any information the Capitol releases is tailored to maintain the power dynamic, and cannot be taken as truth.

Katniss does not immediately rejoice in the information about District 13. She wonders why, if they have all of this power, did they not come to the aid of their fellow citizens. For three-quarters of a century, they have been rebuilding while 23 children a year are sacrificed from Districts overwhelmed by poverty. Where have they been? This sets up a major conflict for Mockingjay, the final book in the trilogy, but it also illustrates Katniss’s mistrust in authority and power. For Katniss, power is something that should be used to help people in need. She has long used her skills for the good of others – hunting for Gale’s family, volunteering for Prim, and helping Rue. Katniss is already beginning to sniff out the corruption that comes with power, even in those rebelling against an even more corrupt authority.

The Capitol is lying to all of Panem. When Katniss's stylist team comes to prepare her for her wedding dress shoot, she learns through the gossip of Octavia, Venia and Flavius that “bad weather” in the Districts has made certain items unavailable. Katniss interprets this information mean that revolts have sprung up in at least three Districts. The Capitol, meanwhile, has kept news of the uprising from its own citizens, who become upset that their pampered way of life is being disrupted. The spectacle of the televised wedding dress vote is used to distract them from what is really going on. This raises an interesting point about the people of the Capitol. Though they are largely portrayed as decadent and self-indulgent, the people of the Capitol have been bred to behave in this manner. Though they are clearly naïve and ridiculous, they are not evil. The Hunger Games is, as Collins suggests, a story about war. Though characters do despicable things, each has a motivation behind his or her actions. Nothing is black and white, no one is simply good or evil. The world of Panem is a complex one.

There is an element of adventure story in these chapters as well, as Katniss must use her cunning to circumvent the newly electrified fence. This display of her ingenuity and survival instinct – as well as her performance for the Peacekeepers in her home – sets the stage for her return to the arena. Katniss is a compelling character whose fierceness cannot be ignored. Though the announcement of the Quarter Quell and the inevitability of her reaping devastate her, readers know that she will be a force to be reckoned with.