Mockingjay

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President Coriolanus Snow Character Analysis

The tyrannical leader of the government of Panem, President Coriolanus Snow appears in only a few chapters of Mockingjay. Nevertheless, his influence can be felt on every page of the novel: it is he who bombs rebel hospitals and orders military strikes on Katniss’s new home in District 13. In one of the key passages in the novel, Snow reveals to Katniss that it was President Alma Coin, the leader of the rebel alliance, who murdered Katniss’s sister Prim with a double bomb. Also in this passage, Snow reveals the truth about Katniss’s role as the Mockingjay: she’s been a decoy, designed to distract Snow from his own people and make him waste his resources trying to kill her. Ultimately, Snow isn’t a sympathetic character in the least—he’s a mass murderer—but he displays more intelligence and insight than any other character in the book. As he likes to say, he “tells the truth”—and this is what makes him so frightening.

President Coriolanus Snow Quotes in Mockingjay

The Mockingjay quotes below are all either spoken by President Coriolanus Snow or refer to President Coriolanus Snow . For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Revolution and Its Problems Theme Icon
). Note: all page and citation info for the quotes below refers to the Scholastic Press edition of Mockingjay published in 2014.
Chapter 1 Quotes

No one will fully understand—how it's not just a flower, not even just President Snow's flower, but a promise of revenge—because no one else sat in the study with him when he threatened me before the Victory Tour. Positioned on my dresser, that white-as-snow rose is a personal message to me. It speaks of unfinished business. It whispers, I can find you. I can reach you. Perhaps I am watching you now.

Related Characters: Katniss Everdeen (speaker), President Coriolanus Snow
Related Symbols: Roses
Page Number: 15
Explanation and Analysis:

Shortly before the beginning of the novel, Katniss's hometown, District 12, is bombed by the Panem government headed by President Snow in retaliation for Katniss's acts of rebellion. When Katniss walks through the ashes of her town, she's surprised to find a rose in the remains of her house. Although there's no message attached to the rose, Katniss has no doubt about who placed it there, or what it means: she's positive that President Snow sent the rose to remind Katniss that he's watching her at all times, and will try to hunt her down and kill her.

It is interesting that we're not told if Katniss is correct in her interpretation of the rose. Her thought process seems reasonable—President Snow is famous for waging psychological warfare on his enemies. And yet Katniss has been wrong before when she tries to interpret ambiguous symbols (in the prequel to Mockingjay, she completely misinterpreted Plutarch Heavensbee's watch, a "symbol" that helped to save her life). We're reminded that signs and symbols—of which the rose is certainly an example—can never be understood with complete certainty. In the end, the quotation says as much about Katniss's current state of mind as it does about President Snow. Whether Snow placed the rose in District 12 or not, Katniss has become paranoid, frightened, and constantly anxious, haunted by her traumatic past.

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Chapter 11 Quotes

Maybe this realization on my part is all Snow needs. Thinking that Peeta was in his possession and being tortured for rebel information was bad. But thinking that he's being tortured specifically to incapacitate me is unendurable. And it's under the weight of this revelation that I truly begin to break.

Related Characters: Katniss Everdeen (speaker), Peeta Mellark , President Coriolanus Snow
Page Number: 154
Explanation and Analysis:

Katniss knows that President Snow has kidnapped Peeta in order to control Katniss—Snow knows very well that Katniss has feelings for Peeta, and will do almost anything to keep Peeta safe. President Snow also knows that the best way to control Katniss is to keep Peeta alive; this way, he can threaten and pressure Katniss into obeying him. Even though Katniss knows exactly what President Snow is trying to do to her, her awareness of the matter changes nothing. Her emotional bond with Peeta is too strong, to the point where, even when she's fully conscious that she's being manipulated, she'll still obey Snow.

The quotation illustrates the emotional and psychological turmoil that Katniss goes through during the novel. As a major figure—indeed, a symbol—of the fight against the government, Katniss is a visible target for her opponents. A naturally compassionate, guilt-ridden person, Katniss blames herself for her friends' suffering, since the only reason her friends are being attacked and tortured is because of her fame. In short, the quotation shows Katniss cracking under the pressure of being a symbol of the rebellion.

Chapter 20 Quotes

"Don't trust them. Don't go back. Kill Peeta. Do what you came to do." What did he mean? Don't trust who? The rebels? Coin? The people looking at me right now? I won't go back, but he must know I can't just fire a bullet through Peeta's head. Can I? Should I? Did Boggs guess that what I really came to do is desert and kill Snow on my own? I can't work all of this out now, so I just decide to carry out the first two orders: to not trust anyone and to move deeper into the Capitol. But how can I justify this? Make them let me keep the Holo?

Related Characters: Katniss Everdeen (speaker), Peeta Mellark , President Alma Coin , President Coriolanus Snow , Boggs
Page Number: 282
Explanation and Analysis:

During the course of the rebel mission to infiltrate the Capitol, Boggs is killed by a bomb. His dying words, delivered to Katniss, are the ones related in this quotation. As might be expected, Katniss immediately decides not to follow Boggs's advice to kill Peeta—she still loves and values Peeta too much. Katniss is puzzled about what Boggs meant by "don't trust them," however—who is the "them" she isn't supposed to trust?

Katniss's confusion about the meaning of Boggs's dying words reminds us that Katniss doesn't really know who her own friends are. As the novel moves on, it becomes increasingly obvious that the people Katniss trusts, including Coin and Plutarch, have been manipulating her for their own ends. Even Gale, Katniss's lifelong friend, can't be totally trusted anymore, since he often callously ignores the value of human life. Katniss is a puppet, being cynically moved around Panem for the good of her supposed allies. It's a mark of how thoroughly Katniss has been manipulated that the "them" in Boggs's sentence could refer to dozens of people, both enemies and apparent allies.

Chapter 21 Quotes

I’d certainly simplify the problem of dealing with his homicidal episodes. I don't know if it's the pods, or the fear, or watching Boggs die, but I feel the arena all around me. It's as if I've never left, really. Once again I'm battling not only for my own survival but for Peeta's as well. How satisfying, how entertaining it would be for Snow to have me kill him. To have Peeta's death on my conscience for whatever is left of my life. "It's not about you," I say. "We're on a mission. And you're necessary to it." I look to the rest of the group. "Think we might find some food here?"

Related Characters: Katniss Everdeen (speaker), Peeta Mellark , President Coriolanus Snow , Boggs
Page Number: 291
Explanation and Analysis:

For not the first time in the novel, Katniss feels that she's being pulled back into the Hunger Games. This feeling demonstrates the extent of her trauma. Katniss has witnessed a lot of violence in this novel (not to mention its two prequels), and as Beetee says, frightening events are the hardest to forget. As a result, any new frights or surprises "trigger" flashbacks for Katniss—one death inevitably reminds her of all the deaths she's seen.

Part of Katniss's psychological torture stems from the fact that she knows very well that people are trying to torture her psychologically. Here, she's fully aware that Snow wants to weaken her by burdening her with the guilt of being responsible for Peeta's life. And yet Katniss's awareness of Snow's plan does nothing to make the plan less effective: she knows exactly how Snow is planning to torture her, and this makes her torture even worse. Despite this, she doesn't give in—she still clings to her compassion and humanity even in the face of such great horror, and she still refuses to kill Peeta.

Chapter 26 Quotes

"I brought you this." Gale holds up a sheath. When I take it, I notice it holds a single, ordinary arrow.
"It's supposed to be symbolic. You firing the last shot of the war."
"What if I miss?" I say. "Does Coin retrieve it and bring it back to me? Or just shoot Snow through the head herself?"
"You won't miss." Gale adjusts the sheath on my shoulder. We stand there, face-to-face, not meeting each other's eyes.
"You didn't come see me in the hospital."
He doesn't answer, so finally I just say it.
"Was it your bomb?"
"I don't know. Neither does Beetee," he says. "Does it matter? You'll always be thinking about it."

Related Characters: Katniss Everdeen (speaker), Gale Hawthorne (speaker), President Alma Coin , President Coriolanus Snow , Beetee
Related Symbols: Arrow, The Double Bomb
Page Number: 366-367
Explanation and Analysis:

In this tense scene, Katniss reunites with her childhood friend Gale, who presents her with an arrow. Katniss is supposed to use the arrow to execute President Snow, the leader of the former government of Panem. By firing the shot, Katniss is supposed to officially end the rebels' war with Snow, ushering in a new government headed by President Alma Coin. Although Gale has known Katniss for almost her entire life, there's no trace of intimacy in his interaction with her now. On the contrary, he acts like a messenger, delivering information to Katniss on behalf of his real allies, the rebels. Gale's behavior reflects his shifting allegiances: although he's always been loyal to Katniss in the fact, he's moved away from his old friend in order to become more powerful in the growing rebel government.

The ultimate example of Gale's shifting allegiances, which Katniss alludes to in this quotation, is the bomb he may or may not have sent to the Capitol—the bomb that killed Katniss's little sister, Prim. Gale doesn't know whether or not he sent the bomb that killed Prim. But whether or not Gale personally sent the bomb, the message is clear: Gale has become hopelessly divided from Katniss. He has chosen the rebels over Katniss, and Prim's death will always be an unbridgeable chasm between the two former friends. This moment also marks the breaking of the "love triangle" between Katniss, Peeta and Gale. Where Gale turns his back on his old friend, Peeta intuitively understands Katniss's pain, and tries to help her.

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President Coriolanus Snow Character Timeline in Mockingjay

The timeline below shows where the character President Coriolanus Snow appears in Mockingjay. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 1
The Power and Danger of Symbols Theme Icon
Role-Playing, Authenticity, Television, and the Self Theme Icon
Trauma and Love Theme Icon
...She believes that she is responsible for these people’s deaths. She remembers the words Coriolanus Snow, the president of the government in the Capitol, told her: “you have provided a spark... (full context)
Revolution and Its Problems Theme Icon
The Power and Danger of Symbols Theme Icon
...that this rose—clearly placed here only a few days ago—must have been left by President Snow. Katniss leaves her house, and finds a hovercraft waiting for her. Gale appears at the... (full context)
Chapter 3
Revolution and Its Problems Theme Icon
The Power and Danger of Symbols Theme Icon
Compassion, Callousness, and Revenge Theme Icon
...the rebel leaders. Almost without realizing it, she writes another condition on her list—“I kill Snow.” (full context)
Revolution and Its Problems Theme Icon
The Power and Danger of Symbols Theme Icon
Compassion, Callousness, and Revenge Theme Icon
...his interview with Flickerman. Katniss’s final request is that she be allowed to kill President Snow. Coin smiles grimly at this, and tells Katniss that they’ll have to “flip for it.”... (full context)
Chapter 5
Revolution and Its Problems Theme Icon
The Power and Danger of Symbols Theme Icon
...that she has yet another strong opponent to contend with: first the Gamemakers, then President Snow, now President Coin. Coin has nuclear missiles and a vast army of soldiers—in many ways,... (full context)
Chapter 6
Revolution and Its Problems Theme Icon
The Power and Danger of Symbols Theme Icon
Role-Playing, Authenticity, Television, and the Self Theme Icon
...who participates in a centralized government. Katniss finds this kind of government superior to President Snow’s. (full context)
Chapter 7
The Power and Danger of Symbols Theme Icon
Role-Playing, Authenticity, Television, and the Self Theme Icon
...her own surprise, Katniss answers that she would. She proudly tells the patients that President Snow can torture and hurt the people of District 8, but he’ll never stop the people’s... (full context)
Chapter 9
Revolution and Its Problems Theme Icon
The Power and Danger of Symbols Theme Icon
Trauma and Love Theme Icon
...mention Peeta at all. Katniss worries that her actions as the Mockingjay have made President Snow even less likely to trust Peeta—he may even be torturing Peeta for information in between... (full context)
The Power and Danger of Symbols Theme Icon
Role-Playing, Authenticity, Television, and the Self Theme Icon
Compassion, Callousness, and Revenge Theme Icon
Trauma and Love Theme Icon
...Katniss finds the rebel leaders watching another interview with Peeta. Peeta is standing with President Snow, explaining to a huge crowd that a cease-fire between the two sides of the war... (full context)
Revolution and Its Problems Theme Icon
The Power and Danger of Symbols Theme Icon
Role-Playing, Authenticity, Television, and the Self Theme Icon
The television switches back to Peeta, who’s still standing with Snow. Peeta is asked if he has any words for Katniss. In response, Peeta tells Katniss... (full context)
Chapter 10
Revolution and Its Problems Theme Icon
The Power and Danger of Symbols Theme Icon
Role-Playing, Authenticity, Television, and the Self Theme Icon
...has tried to signal Katniss that everyone in District 13 will be attacked. In response, Snow must have ordered that Peeta be silenced. Katniss agrees with Haymitch, and urges Coin to... (full context)
The Power and Danger of Symbols Theme Icon
Trauma and Love Theme Icon
...to talk to, tells Prim about Peeta. When Katniss has finished, Prim replies that President Snow won’t kill Peeta—without Peeta, Snow will have no way to manipulate Katniss. Katniss realizes that... (full context)
Chapter 11
The Power and Danger of Symbols Theme Icon
Trauma and Love Theme Icon
...bunker, thereby avoiding any bombings from the Capitol. During this time, Katniss wonders how President Snow will try to manipulate her in the future. With Peeta alive, Katniss realizes, President Snow... (full context)
The Power and Danger of Symbols Theme Icon
Trauma and Love Theme Icon
...which belongs to Finnick Odair. She tells him her theory about Peeta. Finnick realizes that Snow is probably trying something similar with Annie, one of the only people he cares about.... (full context)
Revolution and Its Problems Theme Icon
The Power and Danger of Symbols Theme Icon
Trauma and Love Theme Icon
...pile of white and red roses, which she assumes is an ironic gift from President Snow, matching the rose in the remains of District 12. Katniss finds it suddenly difficult to... (full context)
Revolution and Its Problems Theme Icon
The Power and Danger of Symbols Theme Icon
Role-Playing, Authenticity, Television, and the Self Theme Icon
Compassion, Callousness, and Revenge Theme Icon
Trauma and Love Theme Icon
...in contrast to her earlier “performances” as the Mockingjay. Finnick explains that Katniss knows that Snow is using Peeta to blackmail her. Katniss begins to sob—suddenly, someone (it’s not revealed who)... (full context)
Chapter 12
The Power and Danger of Symbols Theme Icon
Role-Playing, Authenticity, Television, and the Self Theme Icon
...they shoot propaganda in which she appears defiant and brave—exactly the opposite of the way Snow wants her to feel. Cressida agrees, and the two of them begin shooting short interviews... (full context)
Revolution and Its Problems Theme Icon
The Power and Danger of Symbols Theme Icon
Role-Playing, Authenticity, Television, and the Self Theme Icon
Trauma and Love Theme Icon
Finnick accompanies Katniss in creating propaganda videos. In one of these, he accuses President Snow of rising to power by poisoning his rivals. Afterwards, Katniss asks Haymitch about his own... (full context)
Chapter 13
The Power and Danger of Symbols Theme Icon
Compassion, Callousness, and Revenge Theme Icon
Trauma and Love Theme Icon
...turns to Haymitch and begs him to send her to the Capitol to confront President Snow. When Haymitch refuses on the grounds that the Capitol is far too dangerous, Katniss asks... (full context)
Chapter 17
Revolution and Its Problems Theme Icon
Role-Playing, Authenticity, Television, and the Self Theme Icon
Compassion, Callousness, and Revenge Theme Icon
Trauma and Love Theme Icon
...Nevertheless, Katniss insists, she has to fight the Capitol—she has a personal vendetta with President Snow. Reluctantly, Coin says that the mission leaves in three weeks, and if Katniss recovers sufficiently... (full context)
Chapter 18
Revolution and Its Problems Theme Icon
Compassion, Callousness, and Revenge Theme Icon
...Games: an elaborate series of challenges. She’s eager to participate this time, however, because President Snow will, in essence, be a competitor along with her. (full context)
Role-Playing, Authenticity, Television, and the Self Theme Icon
Compassion, Callousness, and Revenge Theme Icon
...Boggs, break off from his group, and go into the city in search of President Snow. (full context)
Chapter 20
The Power and Danger of Symbols Theme Icon
Role-Playing, Authenticity, Television, and the Self Theme Icon
...give her the Holo. Katniss refuses—she needs the Holo to leave the group and find Snow. She lies to Jackson and says that President Coin has sent her on a mission... (full context)
The Power and Danger of Symbols Theme Icon
Role-Playing, Authenticity, Television, and the Self Theme Icon
Trauma and Love Theme Icon
Jackson reluctantly agrees to follow Katniss’s lead and head toward President Snow. Finnick, Gale, and the rest of the team (including Cressida’s TV crew) resolve to follow.... (full context)
Chapter 21
Role-Playing, Authenticity, Television, and the Self Theme Icon
Compassion, Callousness, and Revenge Theme Icon
...group moves through the tunnels quickly, heading for the center of the Capitol where President Snow lives. (full context)
Chapter 22
Compassion, Callousness, and Revenge Theme Icon
Trauma and Love Theme Icon
...hears her name echoing through the tunnels underneath the Capitol. She realizes what has happened: Snow has realized that Katniss is, in fact, alive, and probably underneath his city. Katniss is... (full context)
Compassion, Callousness, and Revenge Theme Icon
Trauma and Love Theme Icon
...To her relief, Peeta kisses her back, and whispers that he’s not going to let Snow kill her. (full context)
Chapter 23
Revolution and Its Problems Theme Icon
The Power and Danger of Symbols Theme Icon
Role-Playing, Authenticity, Television, and the Self Theme Icon
Compassion, Callousness, and Revenge Theme Icon
...Tigris used to be a successful stylist for tributes of the Hunger Games, and later Snow fired her for having too many surgeries. Katniss tells Tigris that she plans to kill... (full context)
The Power and Danger of Symbols Theme Icon
Compassion, Callousness, and Revenge Theme Icon
...died on a mission that she invented on the spot. Her plans to kill President Snow seem foolish now, as there’s no way of telling where Snow is. (full context)
The Power and Danger of Symbols Theme Icon
Compassion, Callousness, and Revenge Theme Icon
Trauma and Love Theme Icon
...tells her team that she’s been lying: she was given no instructions to kill President Snow. To Katniss’s surprise, Gale isn’t surprised by this news at all. He insists that everyone... (full context)
The Power and Danger of Symbols Theme Icon
Role-Playing, Authenticity, Television, and the Self Theme Icon
Trauma and Love Theme Icon
...spends the rest of the day trying, unsuccessfully, to think of a plan to infiltrate Snow’s mansion. At the end of the day, she overhears a conversation between Peeta and Gale.... (full context)
Chapter 24
Revolution and Its Problems Theme Icon
The Power and Danger of Symbols Theme Icon
Role-Playing, Authenticity, Television, and the Self Theme Icon
Compassion, Callousness, and Revenge Theme Icon
...food and shelter. As she stares, Tigris volunteers to scope out the area around President Snow’s mansion. She leaves the shop for a long time, and the group is worried that... (full context)
Revolution and Its Problems Theme Icon
Compassion, Callousness, and Revenge Theme Icon
Trauma and Love Theme Icon
Gale and Katniss run toward President Snow’s mansion. There is another gunshot, and Katniss and Gale see that they’ve unwittingly run toward... (full context)
Chapter 25
The Power and Danger of Symbols Theme Icon
Compassion, Callousness, and Revenge Theme Icon
Trauma and Love Theme Icon
...is singing “The Hanging Tree.” President Coin visits Katniss and assures her “I’ve captured President Snow for you.” This satisfies Katniss, as she feels she needs to avenge her sister’s death... (full context)
Revolution and Its Problems Theme Icon
The Power and Danger of Symbols Theme Icon
Trauma and Love Theme Icon
...though she’s still only dimly aware of her surroundings. A messenger informs her that President Snow has been arrested by the victorious rebels, tried and convicted of treason, and sentenced to... (full context)
Revolution and Its Problems Theme Icon
The Power and Danger of Symbols Theme Icon
Trauma and Love Theme Icon
Katniss slowly recovers from the injuries she sustained during the explosion. She prepares to confront Snow. She travels to a nearby jail, guarded by soldiers from District 8. Paylor, who now... (full context)
Revolution and Its Problems Theme Icon
The Power and Danger of Symbols Theme Icon
Compassion, Callousness, and Revenge Theme Icon
Inside the prison, Katniss finds Snow sitting in a cell, looking surprisingly calm. He tells Katniss that he’s been hoping he’d... (full context)
Revolution and Its Problems Theme Icon
The Power and Danger of Symbols Theme Icon
Compassion, Callousness, and Revenge Theme Icon
Trauma and Love Theme Icon
Snow tells Katniss that he’s very sorry about her sister. Katniss is hurt and a little... (full context)
Revolution and Its Problems Theme Icon
The Power and Danger of Symbols Theme Icon
Trauma and Love Theme Icon
Snow concludes his explanation, urging Katniss to see Coin’s “genius.” From the beginning, it was District... (full context)
Chapter 26
Revolution and Its Problems Theme Icon
The Power and Danger of Symbols Theme Icon
Katniss leaves Snow’s cell and walks out of the jail, thinking about everything she’s just learned. It’s possible... (full context)
Revolution and Its Problems Theme Icon
The Power and Danger of Symbols Theme Icon
Compassion, Callousness, and Revenge Theme Icon
Trauma and Love Theme Icon
A few days pass, and it’s announced that Snow is to be publicly executed. Katniss’s old prep team, including Octavia, Flavius, and Venia, arrive... (full context)
Revolution and Its Problems Theme Icon
The Power and Danger of Symbols Theme Icon
Role-Playing, Authenticity, Television, and the Self Theme Icon
Compassion, Callousness, and Revenge Theme Icon
Trauma and Love Theme Icon
...sleepwalking. At the end of the ceremony, she is meant to fire an arrow at Snow. Just before she’s about to shoot him, she realizes that he was telling the truth.... (full context)
Chapter 27
Revolution and Its Problems Theme Icon
The Power and Danger of Symbols Theme Icon
Compassion, Callousness, and Revenge Theme Icon
Trauma and Love Theme Icon
Katniss has just shot President Coin. Snow, who was supposed to be her victim, can only laugh. He coughs up blood and... (full context)
Revolution and Its Problems Theme Icon
The Power and Danger of Symbols Theme Icon
Role-Playing, Authenticity, Television, and the Self Theme Icon
Compassion, Callousness, and Revenge Theme Icon
Trauma and Love Theme Icon
...On the hovercraft, Haymitch explains that Katniss’s assassination of Coin caused chaos. Coin died, and Snow did, too, though it’s unclear if he choked on his own blood or if he... (full context)
Epilogue
Revolution and Its Problems Theme Icon
The Power and Danger of Symbols Theme Icon
Trauma and Love Theme Icon
...little sadly, that they have no idea they’re playing in the same area where President Snow once ordered mass killings. Katniss still has nightmares about the events of the Hunger Games,... (full context)