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Themes and Colors
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
LitCharts assigns a color and icon to each theme in Mockingjay, which you can use to track the themes throughout the work.
Trauma and Love Theme Icon

As the Hunger Games trilogy moves to its conclusion, Katniss struggles with more and more traumatic experiences. In Mockingjay alone, she witnesses her own sister being killed by a bomb, and her close friends having their legs blown off and their faces melted. How does Katniss—and, for that matter, the other characters in Mockingjay who lose loved ones—cope with trauma?

In general, the characters who experience the greatest trauma—those who lose loved ones to war and violence—respond by turning to their other loved ones for support and understanding. Throughout the Hunger Games trilogy Katniss grapples with loss, and turns to her two closest friends, Gale and Peeta, for help. In Catching Fire, Peeta’s ability to empathize with the pain Katniss has experienced in the Hunger Games kindles their romance. Similarly, in Mockingjay, the death of Katniss’s sister Primrose—to which Gale reacts with callousness and Peeta reacts with grief and sympathy—pushes Katniss to “choose” Peeta over Gale.

It’s possible to see Katniss’s feelings for Peeta and Gale as shallow and selfish, as if these young men were only tools for mitigating her pain—and this is the interpretation of Katniss’s feelings Gale ultimately subscribes to. When discussing Katniss with Peeta, Gale says that she turns to whichever one of them “she thinks she can’t survive without.” Gale is suggesting that Katniss doesn’t respect either of them as people: her first response is always to think of herself and her own survival.

What Gale fails to understand (and what ultimately distances him from Katniss) is that self-interest and compassion don’t have to be mutually exclusive. Gale isn’t entirely wrong to say that Katniss turns to him to alleviate her pain, but this isn’t necessarily, or isn’t exclusively, a selfish behavior. To take the inverse example: Gale, it’s often pointed out in Mockingjay, doesn’t value his own life at all—he’s perfectly willing to sacrifice himself for the good of the rebel alliance. And yet Gale’s selflessness doesn’t translate into any compassion for other people—on the contrary, he thinks that he’s perfectly justified in taking other people’s lives because he feels no hesitation in laying down his own.

Just as selflessness doesn’t necessarily equate to compassion, Katniss’s self-interest doesn’t necessarily mean that she doesn’t care about other people. This becomes clear at the end of Mockingjay, as Katniss begins to fall in love with Peeta. She simultaneously loves herself and sincerely cares about Peeta. In no small part, she feels this way because Peeta understands what she’s been going through. He too has competed in the Hunger Games and experienced torture and manipulation from the government, so in Peeta, Katniss has a friend who helps her cope with her trauma, and whom she helps to cope with his own, similar trauma.

In the epilogue, Collins reveals that Katniss and Peeta marry, have children, and continue to love one another. She also makes it clear that neither Katniss nor Peeta can ever entirely forget their traumas—they’ll always suffer nightmares about “the old days.” It is precisely because trauma never fully goes away that love and friendship are such important antidotes to it. Katniss and Peeta will never overcome their own memories, and thus they must remain together, helping both themselves and each other to cope with tragedy.

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Trauma and Love Quotes in Mockingjay

Below you will find the important quotes in Mockingjay related to the theme of Trauma and Love.
Chapter 1 Quotes

I use a technique one of the doctors suggested. I start with the simplest things I know to be true and work toward the more complicated. The list begins to roll in my head...
My name is Katniss Everdeen. I am seventeen years old. My home is District 12. I was in the Hunger Games. I escaped. The Capitol hates me. Peeta was taken prisoner. He is thought to be dead. Most likely he is dead. It is probably best if he is dead...

Related Characters: Katniss Everdeen (speaker), Peeta Mellark
Page Number: 4
Explanation and Analysis:

The third book of the Hunger Games trilogy shows Katniss Everdeen coping with trauma, paranoia, anxiety, and many other psychological problems. She's experienced brutal violence, and even witnessed some of her friends being killed in front of her. So one of the major questions of the novel is: how does (or doesn't) Katniss cope with her trauma?

In this quotation, Katniss shows us one way she's been coached to deal with her pain: listing the things she knows to be true. Such a technique helps Katniss in a number of different ways. First, it helps her distinguish between government propaganda and reality: while the difference might seem perfectly clear to readers, distinguishing between propaganda and truth is especially important for Katniss because she lives in a society where the government is constantly altering reality. Katniss's coping technique is also useful because it shows mental health and maturation as a progression from simple to complex: Katniss begins by listing simple truths, then uses this simple truths to reach a kind of "truce" with more traumatic realities. It's also worth noting that this quotation is a way for Collins to deliver some exposition: Katniss is coping with trauma, but she's also cluing in first-time readers to the events of the previous two books in the Hunger Games trilogy.


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Chapter 7 Quotes

"Katniss?" a voice croaks out from my left, breaking apart from the general din. "Katniss?" A hand reaches for me out of the haze. I cling to it for support.

Attached to the hand is a young woman with an injured leg. Blood has seeped through the heavy bandages, which are crawling with flies. Her face reflects her pain, but something else, too, something that seems completely incongruous with her situation. "Is it really you?"
"Yeah, it's me," I get out.
Joy. That's the expression on her face. At the sound of my voice, it brightens, erases the suffering momentarily.

Related Characters: Katniss Everdeen (speaker)
Page Number: 89
Explanation and Analysis:

In this quotation, Katniss arrives at a scene of mass carnage: the rebels in Panem are rising up against the powerful, militaristic Panem government, and they're being punished for their uprising. Rebels lie on the ground, bleeding and crying out in pain. When Katniss arrives on the scene—being filmed for propaganda purposes—she's amazed to find that her mere presence on the scene can inspire people and make them stronger in the most literal of ways. In this scene, where Katniss acts as a kind of Christ-figure, a few seconds of her time helps a wounded young woman re-energize in the midst of battle.

Katniss's behavior during the battle scene reinforces an important point: the power of symbols. At their best, as in this quotation, Katniss's status as a renowned celebrity is a powerful force for good. She's a symbol as well as a person: her status as a rebel and a Hunger Games victor inspires people throughout the nation to rebel against the government. Interestingly, Katniss does almost nothing in this quotation: it is the young woman's ideas of what Katniss stands for, not Katniss herself, that brings joy. All powerful symbols work this way: by themselves, a cross, a flag, or a star are nothing important, but because of the powerful associations they inspire in people, they can bring energy, joy, and hope.

Chapter 9 Quotes

I used to think the murderer was the creepiest guy imaginable. Now, with a couple of trips to the Hunger Games under my belt, I decide not to judge him without knowing more details. Maybe his lover was already sentenced to death and he was trying to make it easier. To let her know he'd be waiting. Or maybe he thought the place he was leaving her was really worse than death. Didn't I want to kill Peeta with that syringe to save him from the Capitol? Was that really my only option? Probably not, but I couldn't think of another at the time.

Related Characters: Katniss Everdeen (speaker), Peeta Mellark
Related Symbols: The Hanging Tree
Page Number: 126
Explanation and Analysis:

During the filming of one of her propaganda videos for the rebels, Katniss recalls a song she learned as a small child. In the song, a murderer calls out to his lover, asking her to join his side; ultimately, we realize that the man is dead, and wants his lover to join him in the afterlife. Although Katniss has known the song for many years, she begins to consider what it means and finds associations between the lyrics and her own life.

It's not clear whether Katniss associates herself with the murderer or the lover, but it's obvious that she sees a deep similarity between her relationship with Peeta—her lover, currently captured by the government—and the murderer's relationship with his lover. Like the murderer, Katniss (and for that matter, Peeta) is both romantic and deeply selfish. Much as the murderer wants his lover to join him in death, Katniss wants Peeta to "join her" in her state of misery and trauma, even if Peeta is better off in another state of mind. Coping with trauma, as Katniss has been attempting to do for some time now, can be challenging and often rather selfish: one wants a friend with whom to share the burden of pain. Katniss, who's witnessed murder and carnage, feels a deep bond of trust and intimacy with Peeta, because he's one of the few people who knows what she's going through.

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 13 Quotes

"Of course, we'll try, Prim," says Beetee. "It's just, we don't know to what degree we'll succeed. If any. My guess is that fearful events are the hardest to root out. They're the ones we naturally remember the best, after all."

Related Characters: Katniss Everdeen (speaker), Beetee (speaker), Primrose (Prim) Everdeen
Page Number: 182
Explanation and Analysis:

The rebels succeed in rescuing Peeta from his prison in the Panem government. But even after Peeta is returned to his friends and family, he's traumatized by his time in prison, and the government has even conditioned him to attack Katniss. Although Beetee, a trained scientist, believes that it's possible to "de-condition" Peeta to regard Katniss as a friend once again, he admits that de-conditioning is extremely difficult, since Peeta has been brainwashed to respond to any frightening or anxiety-inducing events.

Beetee's words are important because they confirm the psychological harm Katniss has experienced in the past year and a half. After witnessing death and destruction in and outside the Hunger Games, Katniss knows very well that it's difficult, if not impossible, to forget fear. As strange as it sounds, human beings are hard-wired to remember trauma—seemingly the events they'd want to forget immediately—very clearly.

Chapter 14 Quotes

It's only now that he's been corrupted that I can fully appreciate the real Peeta. Even more than I would've if he'd died. The kindness, the steadiness, the warmth that had an unexpected heat behind it. Outside of Prim, my mother, and Gale, how many people in the world love me unconditionally?

Related Characters: Katniss Everdeen (speaker), Peeta Mellark , Gale Hawthorne , Primrose (Prim) Everdeen , Katniss’s mother
Page Number: 195
Explanation and Analysis:

Peeta—previously one of Katniss's closest confidants and friends—has now been conditioned to kill Katniss, thanks to the government of Panem. Ironically, Peeta's murderousness new "self" helps Katniss appreciate his old personality even more: she's been so used to having Peeta to talk to about her trauma that his sudden change of character immediately registers.

As Katniss experiences more and more traumatic events—the deaths of children, the bombings of entire districts, etc.—it becomes increasingly important for her to talk to people who have experienced the same events. Peeta was one of Katniss's most important friends, in large part because he knew what Katniss was going through. Now that he's been programmed to hate Katniss, Katniss has no choice but to cope with tragedy on her own. As Snow surely intended, conditioning Peeta has wounded Katniss more deeply than a bomb or bullet ever could.

Chapter 16 Quotes


In the twilight of morphling, Peeta whispers the word and I go searching for him. It's a gauzy, violet-tinted world, with no hard edges, and many places to hide. I push through cloudbanks, follow faint tracks, catch the scent of cinnamon, of dill. Once I feel his hand on my cheek and try to trap it, but it dissolves like mist through my fingers.

Related Characters: Katniss Everdeen (speaker), Peeta Mellark
Page Number: 218
Explanation and Analysis:

After being shot by an angry dissident, Katniss is rushed to the hospital in the rebel base and treated with strong painkillers. As she hallucinates and dreams, Katniss imagines herself talking to Peeta. In her dream, Peeta says the word "Always."

Katniss's hallucination tells us a lot about her state of mind. Clearly, she's still attracted to Peeta, in spite of the fact that he's been programmed to kill her; the sentimental tone and romantic imagery of the quotation (the violet-tinged world, for instance) clearly suggest romantic attraction and emotional closeness. At the same time, Katniss has a hard time imagining herself in a happy relationship with Peeta—even in her own imagination, she can't conceive of a world where their love doesn't "dissolve."

Chapter 17 Quotes

We spend a couple of hours quizzing each other on military terms. I visit my mother and Prim for a while. When I'm back in my compartment, showered, staring into the darkness, I finally ask, "Johanna, could you really hear him screaming?" "That was part of it," she says. "Like the jabberjays in the arena. Only it was real. And it didn't stop after an hour. Tick, tock." "Tick, tock," I whisper back. Roses. Wolf mutts. Tributes. Frosted dolphins. Friends. Mockingjays. Stylists. Me. Everything screams in my dreams tonight.

Related Characters: Katniss Everdeen (speaker), Johanna Mason (speaker), Peeta Mellark , Primrose (Prim) Everdeen , Katniss’s mother
Page Number: 245
Explanation and Analysis:

Johanna and Katniss prepare for their mission into the Capitol. To prepare for the mission, they're exposed to psychological stimuli designed to make them frightened and anxious (in another rather heartless move by the rebels). In the quotation, Johanna and Katniss discuss their hallucinations, referencing their common experiences in the Hunger Games. Katniss's depiction of her nightmares illustrates the irrational nature of trauma. There's no rhyme or reason in her recollections of violence: her flashbacks can't be rationalized or understood, just experienced again and again and again.

The passage shows Katniss bonding with a friend over trauma, pain, and fear. In part, Katniss is bonding with Johanna, a woman whom she never liked much, because Peeta isn't available for her. Katniss needs someone to talk to—preferably someone who understands the traumatic flashbacks she's been experiencing. Johanna, who's witnessed just as much violence as Katniss, is a natural choice.

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 22 Quotes

"Can't help him!" Peeta starts shoving people forward. "Can't!" Amazingly, he's the only one still functional enough to get us moving. I don't know why he's in control, when he should be flipping out and bashing my brains in, but that could happen any second. At the pressure of his hand against my shoulder, I turn away from the grisly thing that was Messalla; I make my feet go forward, fast, so fast that I can barely skid to a stop before the next intersection.

Related Characters: Katniss Everdeen (speaker), Peeta Mellark (speaker), Messalla
Page Number: 308
Explanation and Analysis:

As they draw closer to the Capitol, Katniss and the rest of her team are ambushed by an army of mutts (genetically-bred government warriors). To Katniss's great surprise, however, Peeta  (who's previously been conditioned to attack Katniss at the smallest psychological provocation) isn't "set off" by the ambush. On the contrary, Peeta and Peeta alone remains calm in the midst of the crisis. The quotation is important because it suggests that trauma need not be psychologically crippling. Sometimes, the people who've endured the most trauma, such as Peeta and Katniss, are the calmest and most "put together" in times of danger. For an emotionally scarred warrior like Peeta, a surprise attack by mutts is the norm; barely even a surprise at all. Peeta's reaction to the attack also reminds Katniss of why she loves Peeta (when he's acting like his true self): they've been through the same traumas in the Hunger Games. Katniss, herself a role model for thousands, looks to Peeta as a role model for how to deal with pain and move forward.

Chapter 24 Quotes

First I get a glimpse of the blond braid down her back. Then, as she yanks off her coat to cover a wailing child, I notice the duck tail formed by her untucked shirt. I have the same reaction I did the day Effie Trinket called her name at the reaping. At least, I must go limp, because I find myself at the base of the flagpole, unable to account for the last few seconds. Then I am pushing through the crowd, just as I did before. Trying to shout her name above the roar. I'm almost there, almost to the barricade, when I think she hears me. Because for just a moment, she catches sight of me, her lips form my name. And that's when the rest of the parachutes go off.

Related Characters: Katniss Everdeen (speaker), Effie Trinket , Primrose (Prim) Everdeen
Related Symbols: The Double Bomb
Page Number: 347
Explanation and Analysis:

Katniss manages to sneak into the center of the Capitol. Just as she's about to arrive at President Snow's mansion, airplanes drop bombs on the rioting people of the Capitol. To Katniss's amazement, one of the people marching through the streets of the Capitol is Katniss's own younger sister, Primrose. Katniss watches in horror as Prim walks to the site of a bombing, hoping to help some of the survivors. Katniss recognizes, too late, that the bomb is actually a double-bomb, designed to kill the first responders to the catastrophe. The double-bomb was designed by Katniss's supposed allies in the rebel alliance—but now it's being used to kill Katniss's family members. In the most striking way, then, the quotation reminds us (and Katniss) that Katniss's supposed friends among the rebels weren't really her friends at all.

The quotation describes arguably the most traumatizing event in the novel: the death of Katniss's own sister, before Katniss's very eyes. The entire passage has a tone of utter futility. Katniss knows that Prim is about to be killed, tries to save her, and fails. In this sense, the quotation is a forecast of the trauma Katniss will be dealing with for the rest of her life: she'll always blame herself for failing to protect her family, and her mind will replay over and over the image of her sister being killed.

Chapter 25 Quotes

Deep in the water, I'm deserted by all. There's only the sound of my breathing, the enormous effort it takes to draw the water in, push it out of my lungs. I want to stop, I try to hold my breath, but the sea forces its way in and out against my will. "Let me die. Let me follow the others," I beg whatever holds me here. There's no response.

Related Characters: Katniss Everdeen (speaker)
Page Number: 349
Explanation and Analysis:

Moments after witnessing the death of her own sister, Primrose, Katniss goes through all the symptoms of trauma. She's experienced so much pain that her only response is to crave her own death: she'd rather feel nothing at all than feel the mixture of guilt, pain, and loss that's currently crippling her. By the same token, Katniss feels a deep sense of loneliness: even though she's actually surrounded by friends and allies (doctors who are operating on her in the hospital, well-wishers, etc.), she feels that she's alone, that all the people she loved have died or deserted her. There are few people in the world who would understand what Katniss is going through; for this reason, she believes that she's all alone in the world, metaphorically "drowning" in suffering.

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.

Chapter 27 Quotes

Peeta and I grow back together. There are still moments when he clutches the back of a chair and hangs on until the flashbacks are over. I wake screaming from nightmares of mutts and lost children. But his arms are there to comfort me. And eventually his lips. On the night I feel that thing again, the hunger that overtook me on the beach, I know this would have happened anyway. That what I need to survive is not Gale's fire, kindled with rage and hatred. I have plenty of fire myself. What I need is the dandelion in the spring. The bright yellow that means rebirth instead of destruction. The promise that life can go on, no matter how bad our losses. That it can be good again. And only Peeta can give me that. So after, when he whispers, "You love me. Real or not real?" I tell him, "Real."

Related Characters: Katniss Everdeen (speaker), Peeta Mellark (speaker), Gale Hawthorne
Page Number: 388
Explanation and Analysis:

In the last passages of the Hunger Games Trilogy, Katniss informs us that she truly falls in love with and spends the rest of her life with Peeta. (In this passage, she vaguely describes the first time they have sex.) Katniss chooses to marry Peeta because they have so much in common: even if Katniss hasn't known Peeta for as long as she's known Gale (the other vertex of the "love triangle"), Peeta intuitively understands the person Katniss has become—a traumatized, emotionally scarred woman—and he has the compassion, empathy, and common experience to help her.

Katniss's parting thoughts about Peeta suggest that she's turned her back on the principle of "an eye for an eye." For months, she believed that her trauma would go away if she could avenge her loved ones' deaths. But as the novel comes to an end, Katniss comes to realize that revenge solves nothing—she'll always feel the pain of her sister's death, no matter who she kills.

For his part, Peeta also finds a true partner in Katniss, and they "grow together." The final lines of this passage recall the game Peeta used to play after he was brainwashed by the Capitol: a game to clarify what is and isn't "real." Now that game becomes a romantic line for Peeta, but it also suggests that Katniss is the central aspect of his new life and reality: he needs her as much as she needs him.