Mockingjay

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Mockingjay Symbol Analysis

Mockingjay Symbol Icon
As in Catching Fire, in Mockingjay the mockingjay bird is an important symbol of Katniss Everdeen’s conflicted nature, and her complicated roles in the wars between the rebels and the Capitol. Mockingjays are the descendants of genetically-engineered jabberjays (birds designed to be spies for the government) and true mockingbirds, and so they are resourceful, independent survivors who are, in a way, products of the government’s tyranny—like Katniss herself. As Katniss takes on a more important role as a Panem celebrity and symbol for rebellion (in the first two books of the trilogy), she is increasingly associated with mockingjays—from their whistle, which she uses during the Hunger Games, to the dresses designed for her by Cinna. In Mockingjay, Katniss agrees to become the symbolic figure of “the Mockingjay” for the rebel alliance headed by President Alma Coin. In this role, Katniss aims to be an inspiration for those who oppose the government headed by President Snow, inspiring them to rise up against tyranny. Katniss is highly successful in her capacity as Mockingjay: when she travels to the rebel districts, her presence immediately inspires rebel forces. Indeed, when she visits a hospital, her aura is so strong that it makes some of the patients feel better. Ultimately the Mockingjay is something like a symbol of a symbol—in other words, by studying what the Mockingjay “does” in the novel, we can understand how symbols themselves work—how they influence people, and what their limitations are.

Mockingjay Quotes in Mockingjay

The Mockingjay quotes below all refer to the symbol of Mockingjay. 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 18 Quotes

I don't think they quite know what to do with the three of us, particularly me. I have my Mockingjay outfit with me, but I've only been taped in my uniform. Sometimes I use a gun, sometimes they ask me to shoot with my bow and arrows. It's as if they don't want to entirely lose the Mockingjay, but they want to downgrade my role to foot soldier. Since I don't care, it's amusing rather than upsetting to imagine the arguments going on back in 13.

Related Characters: Katniss Everdeen (speaker)
Related Symbols: Mockingjay, Arrow
Page Number: 260
Explanation and Analysis:

Katniss has been recruited for a top-secret mission to the Capitol of Panem, where the rebels are planning to overthrow President Snow. At first, Katniss was forbidden to participate in the mission. Now, however, she's convinced her superiors that she'd be a valuable addition to the team. Nevertheless, it's clear that Katniss's commanders don't really know what to do with her. They don't know if she should be a propaganda star (stay out of danger and try to inspire rebels across Panem) or a legitimate soldier (face real danger and risk her life).

The rebels' confusion about how to use Katniss on the mission reminds us that, for the majority of her time with the rebels, Katniss wasn't a proper soldier at all. She walked through battle-torn districts, and even saw some active combat, but her purpose was never to fire a gun or kill her opponents. Katniss was always more valuable as a symbol of the rebel cause. A foot soldier can kill only a few enemies, but a symbol can inspire thousands of new allies at once.

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Chapter 19 Quotes

"Sometime in the near future, this war will be resolved. A new leader will be chosen," says Boggs. I roll my eyes. "Boggs, no one thinks I'm going to be the leader." "No. They don't," he agrees. "But you'll throw support to someone. Would it be President Coin? Or someone else?" "I don't know. I've never thought about it," I say. "If your immediate answer isn't Coin, then you're a threat. You're the face of the rebellion. You may have more influence than any other single person," says Boggs. "Outwardly, the most you've ever done is tolerated her.”

Related Characters: Katniss Everdeen (speaker), Boggs (speaker)
Related Symbols: Mockingjay
Page Number: 264
Explanation and Analysis:

Boggs, one of the rebel soldiers who's commanding Katniss on her mission to the Capitol, offers some advice about the future of the rebel alliance. As he explains to Katniss, President Coin will try to maintain her power after defeating President Snow; she'll try to become the leader of the new government. In order to gain power, Coin will have to eliminate her rivals and, even more importantly, people like Katniss who don't particularly like her.

The fact that Katniss hasn't thought about the future of the rebel alliance—who will be the leader of the new government, for example—reminds us that she's still incredibly modest and naive about her own power as a symbol of the rebel cause. Katniss has been a celebrity for over a year now, but she's still not entirely used to this role. As a result, she's genuinely puzzled when Boggs tells her that she has more influence than almost anyone else in Panem. In general, Katniss conforms to one of the classic heroic archetypes: the "reluctant leader"; i.e., a heroine who doesn't know her own strength. 

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Mockingjay Symbol Timeline in Mockingjay

The timeline below shows where the symbol Mockingjay appears in Mockingjay. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 1
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
...by Coin, Plutarch, and the other rebel leaders. The pin she used to wear, the mockingjay, has become a symbol of the revolution. Katniss is reminded, unpleasantly, of the Hunger Games... (full context)
Chapter 2
Revolution and Its Problems Theme Icon
The Power and Danger of Symbols Theme Icon
...As she thinks about all of this, she tells Gale, “I’m going to be the Mockingjay.” (full context)
Chapter 3
The Power and Danger of Symbols Theme Icon
Role-Playing, Authenticity, Television, and the Self Theme Icon
...asleep. Katniss gets out of bed and surveys her possessions: plain, grey clothes, and the mockingjay pin her mother gave her, which she wore during the Hunger Games. As Katniss stares,... (full context)
Revolution and Its Problems Theme Icon
The Power and Danger of Symbols Theme Icon
Compassion, Callousness, and Revenge Theme Icon
Katniss’s mother asks Katniss why she’s agreed to be the Mockingjay. Katniss explains that the rebels have mostly been good to her—they’ve saved her life and... (full context)
Revolution and Its Problems Theme Icon
The Power and Danger of Symbols Theme Icon
...encounters Gale at breakfast. Katniss tells Gale that she’s planning on assuming the role of Mockingjay, with a few conditions, which she’s written on a piece of paper. Gale suggests that... (full context)
Revolution and Its Problems Theme Icon
The Power and Danger of Symbols Theme Icon
Katniss meets with Plutarch and Coin, and tells them that she’s prepared to be the Mockingjay, with a few conditions. Her first condition is that Buttercup be allowed to stay—this the... (full context)
Revolution and Its Problems Theme Icon
The Power and Danger of Symbols Theme Icon
Plutarch proceeds with briefing Katniss on her duties as Mockingjay. He shows Katniss a small sketchbook, full of designs for elaborate dresses. Katniss recognizes the... (full context)
Chapter 4
Revolution and Its Problems Theme Icon
The Power and Danger of Symbols Theme Icon
Trauma and Love Theme Icon
Coin tells Katniss that she’s about to announce that Katniss will be the mockingjay. Katniss, getting the message, runs away from the Collective. As she leaves, she hears Coin... (full context)
Chapter 5
The Power and Danger of Symbols Theme Icon
Role-Playing, Authenticity, Television, and the Self Theme Icon
...along with Fulvia, has arrived to dress her and prepare her for her duties as mockingjay. Katniss takes a bath, and Fulvia orders the prep team to smooth her skin and... (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
...Haymitch an entire morning to convince the rebel leaders that Katniss isn’t fit to be Mockingjay. Katniss privately agrees with Haymitch—she was only capable of making grand speeches and “working” crowds... (full context)
Chapter 9
Revolution and Its Problems Theme Icon
The Power and Danger of Symbols Theme Icon
Trauma and Love Theme Icon
...with Gale. He doesn’t 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... (full context)
Role-Playing, Authenticity, Television, and the Self Theme Icon
Trauma and Love Theme Icon
...sees: dead bodies, decaying buildings, and more. At lunch, the group notices a group of mockingjays—singing birds. Obeying the TV crew’s promptings, Katniss begins to sing with the birds. First, she... (full context)
Role-Playing, Authenticity, Television, and the Self Theme Icon
Trauma and Love Theme Icon
...that he’s referring to the safety of death. As Katniss sings this song for the mockingjays, she thinks about learning it as a child, when her father was still alive. As... (full context)
Chapter 11
The Power and Danger of Symbols Theme Icon
Trauma and Love Theme Icon
...being tortured because of her makes Katniss weak and incapable of following her duties as Mockingjay. (full context)
Revolution and Its Problems Theme Icon
The Power and Danger of Symbols Theme Icon
Trauma and Love Theme Icon
...the bunker’s Command room. The rebel leaders inform Katniss that she is to wear her Mockingjay suit, go to the remains of District 13, and gather propaganda footage. Katniss “suits up,”... (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
...notices that Katniss seems stiff and uncomfortable, in contrast to her earlier “performances” as the Mockingjay. Finnick explains that Katniss knows that Snow is using Peeta to blackmail her. Katniss begins... (full context)
Chapter 25
Revolution and Its Problems Theme Icon
The Power and Danger of Symbols Theme Icon
Trauma and Love Theme Icon
...Coin tricked Snow into devoting far too much time and attention to fighting Katniss, the Mockingjay. Katniss remembers the weapon she discussed with Gale and Beetee: it consisted of two bombs,... (full context)