Catching Fire

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Catching Fire Chapter 18 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Katniss has just displayed her dress, which Cinna has designed to resemble a mockingjay. Katniss explains to Flickerman, her interviewer, that the mockingjay is the bird on her pin. Flickerman compliments the dress and invites Cinna to take a bow—when he does so, Katniss fears that he’ll be punished for this small act of defiance.
Although Cinna has “surprised” Flickerman and the government with his dress, he may pay for his act of rebellion. At the same time, it’s not immediately clear what the rebellion is, as the mockingjay is also a symbol of entertainment for the fans of the Hunger Games.
Themes
Symbols and Interpretations Theme Icon
Hidden Resistance vs. Direct Rebellion Theme Icon
Katniss’s interview ends, and Peeta walks onto the stage to follow her. He and Flickerman banter and crack jokes, but then Flickerman becomes serious. Flickerman points out that Peeta and Katniss will never be married, because at least one of them will die. Peeta responds that he and Katniss are already married—they’ve performed a casual toasting ritual. Flickerman plays his part perfectly, weeping slightly and putting his arm on Peeta’s shoulder.
It’s amusing, though also horrific, to see Peeta and Flickerman playing along with one another. Flickerman is a master showman, as Peeta is learning to be—they both pretend to be emotional because it’s their job to do so. Like Finnick, Peeta builds up sympathy for himself and Katniss so that people won’t support the Games.
Themes
Symbols and Interpretations Theme Icon
Hidden Resistance vs. Direct Rebellion Theme Icon
Surveillance and Manipulation Theme Icon
Pain, Pleasure, and Self-Control  Theme Icon
Just as Peeta’s interview is about to come to an end, he tells Flickerman that he and Katniss are expecting a child. At this news, the crowd explodes with shouting, applause, and boos. Flickerman tries to end the interview, but the audience is too loud. Peeta simply walks off the stage.
Here Peeta makes a masterful political move that interferes with the government’s plans—he is subtly rebelling from within the government’s own system by turning the populace against the deadly nature of the Hunger Games. It’s this fine line between rebellion and entertainment that makes the Games so fascinating for us, and so confusing for Katniss to navigate.
Themes
Symbols and Interpretations Theme Icon
Hidden Resistance vs. Direct Rebellion Theme Icon
Pain, Pleasure, and Self-Control  Theme Icon
Peeta walks to Katniss, tears in his eyes, and Katniss wonders if the tears are real or fake. Peeta asks Katniss, point blank, if he needs to apologize for anything. Katniss insists that he needn’t apologize at all. If she had known that Peeta was going to tell such a lie, she would have second-guessed him. As it is, Katniss feels empowered by Peeta’s lie.
Here we see the dilemma of the Hunger Games, and of the surveillance state: with the government always watching, it’s almost impossible to tell when people are being honest and when they’re acting.
Themes
Hidden Resistance vs. Direct Rebellion Theme Icon
Surveillance and Manipulation Theme Icon
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Peeta and Katniss return to their room, where Haymitch is waiting for them. He explains that the Games are in a state of chaos: people are calling for Snow to call off the Games immediately. Haymitch maintains that Snow will do nothing of the kind. Haymitch prepares to leave the Capitol. He wishes both Katniss and Peeta good luck, and warns Katniss to remember “who the real enemy is.” With these words, he departs.
The superficial, lazy people who ordinarily watch the Hunger Games may have a grain of compassion and decency left in them: they support sadistic entertainment, but they don’t want a pregnant woman (or a pregnant celebrity at least) to die. Haymitch’s ambiguous words are another important symbol that Katniss must interpret.
Themes
Symbols and Interpretations Theme Icon
Hidden Resistance vs. Direct Rebellion Theme Icon
Surveillance and Manipulation Theme Icon
Peeta and Katniss go to bed together, not wanting to be apart. The next day, they separate, as tributes must enter the Games one at a time. Katniss is then marched into an office, where she’s injected with a tracker that allows the Gamemakers to follow her at all times. Katniss and Cinna walk to the main arena, where Katniss is to be taken into the Hunger Games. She thanks Cinna for his help, and says goodbye to him.
Katniss has been dealing with government surveillance throughout her life. Being injected with the tracker is standard procedure for the Hunger Games—so that the cameras can follow the tributes—but also a sign of how important and how dangerous Katniss is to the Capitol.
Themes
Symbols and Interpretations Theme Icon
Hidden Resistance vs. Direct Rebellion Theme Icon
Surveillance and Manipulation Theme Icon
Just as Katniss is about to be sent into the arena and begin her Games, Peacemakers burst into her waiting room and attack Cinna. He is brutally beaten, and he bleeds on the floor. At exactly this moment, Katniss is pushed into the arena.
Another person pays for Katniss’s acts of rebellion. We can tell that Cinna’s beating was timed to coincide exactly with Katniss’s entrance into the Games. Snow uses timing in this way to communicate a clear message of intimidation, and to shake Katniss to her core just as her trials begin.
Themes
Symbols and Interpretations Theme Icon
Hidden Resistance vs. Direct Rebellion Theme Icon
Surveillance and Manipulation Theme Icon