After discovering that the media is lying about District 13, Katniss spends her days trying to decide what she should do next. She cannot leave the district due to the Peacekeepers and electrified fence, and her twisted heel makes it difficult for her to move at all.
In spite of her desire to help the rebel cause, Katniss is restricted by her own body, as well as by the increased presence of Peacekeepers in District 12.
Many weeks have gone by, and winter is almost over, when Flavius, Venia, and Octavia arrive at Katniss’s house. They explain that they’re here for her bridal photo-shoot. Katniss doesn’t tell them anything about Twill, Bonnie, or District 8, but Octavia accidentally gives Katniss important information about District 4. She mentions off-handedly that “the weather” has been bad in District 4, making it difficult to find seafood for Katniss’s wedding. Katniss realizes that District 4 must have revolted as well.
A great deal of time passes in this chapter. As usual, Katniss’s attendants are so oblivious to what’s really going on in Panem that we can’t help but laugh, albeit a little uneasily. Octavia seems to not even understand what she’s just told Katniss. She’s so used to dealing with appearances that she can’t see through the government propaganda and understand what’s happening in District 4.
The bridal photo-shoot commences, with Effie keeping a tight schedule. Katniss wears many different dresses and poses for hundreds of photographs. By the end of the day her heel hurts from wearing various pairs of high-heeled shoes. That night, Katniss has a nightmare in which she’s wearing a heavy wedding dress and running, with great difficulty, from her opponents in the Hunger Games.
Katniss’s dream is heavily symbolic. She has often been interpreted as a feminist heroine, and so her heavy wedding dress, which restricts her movement, could be taken as a mark of the restrictions her culture places on all women. In another sense, it shows the many ways the government oppresses her: both through the violence of the games, and the psychological manipulations of her celebrity status in the media.
The next day, Katniss tells Haymitch about the possibility of an uprising in Districts 8 and 4, and suggests that there’s a community in District 13. Haymitch, unimpressed with her theories about District 13, tells her about rumors of rebellion in Districts 7 and 11. They speak in “shorthand,” thinking that the government might have bugged their houses. Haymitch points out that Districts 7 and 11 are far larger than 12, meaning that Peacekeepers will have a harder time defeating the rebels.
Katniss and Haymitch seem more skilled at avoiding the government’s wiretapping and bugging than the other characters. This points to their experience with such matters—Haymitch in particular has been dealing with wiretaps throughout his life, as a former victor. Haymitch seems insightful and well-informed, not at all like a man who spends all day drinking and sleeping.
Prim comes home from school and informs Katniss that her teachers mentioned that there would be a special television program that evening—Prim guesses that it will be Katniss’s photo-shoot. Katniss worries that Prim is right, since a broadcast on her marriage will anger Gale, who is still recovering from his whipping. Katniss has been visiting Gale regularly, but he is too weak to say much to her.
Even if Katniss is “officially” engaged to Peeta, she finds smalls ways to pacify Gale, or at least tries to do so. Here, we’re reminded that Peeta is by no means alone in his affection for Katniss, even if everyone thinks that Gale is Katniss’s cousin.
In the evening, Katniss is dismayed to see that Prim was right: her photo-shoot is on television, hosted by Caesar Flickerman. Katniss watches as audiences cheer for each of the different dresses she modeled the previous day. She realizes that there is a huge industry based around her wedding. People in the Capitol take bets on which dress she’ll wear, and spend huge amounts of time arguing about her fashion sense.
Katniss’s popularity with the rebels is paralleled by her popularity among the Capitol elite. This points to the basic problem with being a “figurehead”—it’s easy to manipulate what one stands for, so that one can actually stand for two contradictory things at the same time. We’ve seen this in the mockingjay already, and now we see it in Katniss herself.
As the photo-shoot draws to a close, Flickerman announces that there is another big event that evening. He says that the 75th anniversary of the Hunger Games will take place this year, meaning that there will be a “Quarter Quell.” President Snow appears onstage to give a speech. Snow notes that in previous Quarter Quells, districts have been required to send additional tributes for the Hunger Games. For the third Quarter Quell, he announces, the male and female tributes will be selected from surviving victors of the Hunger Games. Katniss realizes the truth: as the only female victor from District 12, she will undoubtedly be forced to compete in the Hunger Games once again.
Here we get a major plot development, one which we might have seen coming already: Katniss will have to compete in the Hunger Games for a second time. We can guess why Snow is doing this—he wants to put Katniss’s life in danger without the “blowback” of murdering her and making her a martyr. By placing her in the dangerous game (and effectively guaranteeing her death), Snow can get rid of a dangerous liability while also distancing himself from any blame.