Catching Fire

Catching Fire Chapter 23 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Katniss has just realized that the arena is built like a clock. A new “horror” begins for a different hour in each sector: the monkeys, the fog, the rain, the wave, etc. After each hour, the horror abruptly ends. This explains how they survived the fog and the monkeys. Quickly, Katniss explains her clock theory to Johanna, Beetee, Finnick, and Peeta. As she explains, she remembers the watch Plutarch was wearing during her Victory Tour: this watch, she sees, was a clue to the way the Games would work. She wonders if Plutarch was trying to help her, and why he would do such a thing.
We now see why it was important for Collins to reminds us of the physical structure of the arena: so that Katniss’s realization makes sense to us at once. This also gives us another clue to complicate the character of Plutarch—he may have been helping Katniss by showing his watch to her before the Games. Katniss can’t comprehend why he would do this, but it does point towards the book’s twist ending.
Themes
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Surveillance and Manipulation Theme Icon
The group begins to move ahead, knowing that they’ll have to face challenges every hour. Beetee asks for his “wire.” No one knows what he means. Johanna says that Beetee took a wire from the Cornucopia to use as a weapon. She says she can’t imagine Beetee using a wire at all. This is suspicious, Katniss thinks, since Beetee is known to have won his Games with a wire. Katniss accuses Johanna of playing dumb. Johanna shoots back that she’s been distracted saving Wiress, while Katniss let Mags die. Katniss realizes that one of them will kill the other soon enough.
Even as she revises her opinions of Finnick and Plutarch, Katniss finds new reasons to distrust the other competitors. Understanding information—and keeping track of what pieces of information the other victors do and don’t have—is a key part of winning the Hunger Games, it would seem. Again, Katniss flirts with the possibility of cold-blooded murder, but doesn’t act yet.
Themes
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Pain, Pleasure, and Self-Control Theme Icon
Katniss thinks ahead. She’ll have to kill Johanna—indeed, she’ll probably enjoy it, given everything Johanna has said to her. Beetee and Wiress will probably die on their own. Finnick is a problem, however, as Katniss knows that she can’t kill him herself, after everything he’s done for Peeta.
Katniss’s thinking in this section is surprisingly cold and unfeeling. It’s as if the government has finally succeeded in its task: turning Katniss into a cruel, sociopathic killer, the kind that audiences of the Hunger Games celebrate.
Themes
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Women, Femininity, and Sexism Theme Icon
The group approaches the Cornucopia, where there are still a few weapons. Katniss gets more arrows, and notices Johanna picking up a heavy axe. She realizes that Johanna is from District 7, the lumber district, and has probably been wielding axes since she was a child. Meanwhile, Peeta sketches a rough map of the island in the sand. Each twelfth of the arena contains a different danger: monkeys, blood rain, etc.
Collins takes another opportunity to reverse traditional gender roles: it’s Johanna, not Peeta, who wields an axe with great skill. Similarly, Peeta is the one to draw a map, reminding us that he’s a talented painter—another “delicate,” stereotypically feminine pursuit.
Themes
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Hidden Resistance vs. Direct Rebellion Theme Icon
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Suddenly there’s a noise: a group of Careers has approached the Cornucopia and slit Wiress’s throat. Quickly, Johanna throws an axe into the chest of one Career, Cashmere, and Katniss kills the Career who killed Wiress, Gloss. Enobaria throws a knife into Finnick’s thigh. Finnick, Peeta, Katniss, Johanna, and Beetee chase away the two remaining Careers, Brutus and Enobaria. Then, the Cornucopia begins to spin quickly, throwing Katniss onto the ground and throwing Beetee out to the water.
For all her cold thinking about murdering Johanna, Katniss avenges her allies, showing a dark kind of compassion for them. It’s encouraging to see the group members working together instead of fighting amongst themselves, even if it seems clear that their alliance can’t last much longer.
Themes
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Surveillance and Manipulation Theme Icon
Pain, Pleasure, and Self-Control Theme Icon
Finnick goes to retrieve Beetee from the water. As Beetee returns, Katniss notices that he’s carrying a spool of wire, which is gold and very fine. Beetee points out that the spinning Cornucopia has disoriented the group: they don’t know which sector of the Arena contains the monkeys, the fog, etc. Katniss realizes that the Gamemakers have intentionally spun the Cornucopia because she vocalized her knowledge of the clock—everything she says is being listened to, after all.
Katniss is, for the most part, resourceful and clever about what information she does and doesn’t share with the group. Yet even she can make mistakes like this, forgetting that the government is constantly watching her. This reminds us of the power of surveillance: even when people know they’re being watched, they often can’t help betraying important information.
Themes
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The group ventures back into the jungle, noting that it’s “monkey hour.” Johanna tells Katniss and Finnick to find water. Peeta will make another map of the arena. Katniss wonders if Johanna and Finnick are working together, trying to split up Katniss and Peeta. Then it occurs to her that the other competitors are clearly trying to keep Peeta alive. Finnick has repeatedly risked his life for him, and now Johanna has given him the easy, safe job of drawing a map. She wonders why other tributes would want Peeta alive.
Katniss can see that the other competitors are purposefully keeping Peeta alive, but she’s not insightful enough to see the bigger picture, and comprehend why they would do such a thing. There seems to be no reason to save Peeta, at least not within the limits of the rules of the Hunger Games. This suggests that Johanna and Finnick, like Katniss in a sense, are thinking “outside” the Games to bigger, and more mysterious, things.
Themes
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Hidden Resistance vs. Direct Rebellion Theme Icon
Surveillance and Manipulation Theme Icon
Suddenly, Katniss hears a scream. She runs through the jungle in the direction of the noise. She hears the voice of her little sister, Prim.
Katniss has already endangered her friends, and even caused them physical harm. It’s no wonder, then, that she runs for her family.
Themes
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Pain, Pleasure, and Self-Control Theme Icon