Catching Fire

Catching Fire Chapter 5 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Katniss and Peeta there are rushed back to a small room in the Justice Building, from which they’ve just come. There, they find Haymitch, Effie, and Cinna. Effie frantically asks what’s going on—Peeta replies, a little too calmly, that “an old truck backfired.” Even as he says this, they hear two more gunshots. This terrifies everyone, Effie in particular.
In this section, Peeta displays his talent for lying and putting on an appearance of normality. His talent for both far outstrips Katniss’s. He’s a better politician, and is socially savvy even in times of crisis.
Themes
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Pain, Pleasure, and Self-Control Theme Icon
Haymitch shouts that everyone needs to follow him. Wordlessly, he walks up a staircase in the room where they’ve been moved. Upstairs, they find a luxurious banquet hall where, presumably, they were supposed to eat dinner. Haymitch notices that Katniss and Peeta have been fitted with microphones for the ceremony—he rips these off their chests and throws them to the floor. Katniss realizes that Haymitch knows his way around the Justice Building, because he visited there himself years ago, when he won the Hunger Games.
We get more signs that there’s more to Haymitch than meets the eye. He’s resourceful, and possessed of a good memory—thus, he remembers exactly where to go in the Justice Building, based on a handful of visits he made a long time ago. More impressively, Haymitch shows his awareness of the surveillance going on in Panem—something which the other characters seem to forget about.
Themes
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Hidden Resistance vs. Direct Rebellion Theme Icon
Surveillance and Manipulation Theme Icon
Haymitch leads Peeta and Katniss up a ladder, which leads to the dome at the top of the Justice Building. He leaves the rest of the entourage in the banquet hall. In the dome, he asks Peeta to explain to him what’s going on. Peeta explains the whistling incident that led to three deaths, and wonders aloud why the Peacekeepers would kill someone simply for whistling. In response, Katniss reluctantly explains what President Snow told her—she needs to preserve order or risk her friends’ lives. Katniss tells her friends the entire truth, including the kiss Gale gave her.
It isn’t long before Katniss tells someone else about Snow’s warning. She’s tried to keep the truth to herself, nobly defending her friends from danger, but she’s found that she’s incapable of keeping such an important secret—indeed, there seems to be no point in keeping the secret anymore. We see the lengths the characters have to go simply to speak to one another honestly. They not only have to pluck up the courage to do so, but they have to find a place and time where the government won’t be listening.
Themes
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Surveillance and Manipulation Theme Icon
Peeta is angry that Katniss didn’t tell her about her conversation with Snow. He explains that he had a right to know, since he has loved ones who are in just as much danger as Katniss’s. He worries that his generosity led three people to be executed, a suggestion that Katniss can’t disagree with. Peeta is also angry, he says, that Haymitch gave Katniss help during the Hunger Games, but never aided him until Katniss had allied with Peeta. Katniss realizes that Peeta has a point—Haymitch, who should have been equally helpful to both tributes from District 11, favored Katniss from the beginning. Haymitch promises that he’ll keep Peeta fully informed from now on. Peeta nods, but leaves the dome and climbs back down the ladder.
Peeta’s anger seems a little hypocritical, since we’ve just seen him do essentially the same thing to Katniss: tell a noble lie designed to keep others out of danger and above suspicion. This suggests that Peeta’s not really angry about Katniss’s secret meeting with Snow at all—he’s angry that Katniss kissed Gale. This verifies what was obvious all along, that he’s not really “just friends” with Katniss at all. We’re also reminded that Peeta is the stronger and more capable Hunger Games competitor, and Haymitch favored him for this reason.
Themes
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Surveillance and Manipulation Theme Icon
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Katniss, still standing in the dome with Haymitch, asks him about favoritism. Haymitch tells her that he always preferred Peeta to her, but when he noticed that Peeta was protecting Katniss, he realized that he could do more good by sending supplies to Katniss. Haymitch concludes by telling Katniss, very curtly, that they have a ceremonial dinner to attend.
Haymitch, may be something of a sexist in naturally choosing Peeta over Katniss, and assuming that he would be a better competitor in the Games. At the same time, Peeta is generally more affable and outgoing than Katniss, and better at winning people over.
Themes
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As Katniss, Peeta, and their entourage prepare to go to their dinner, Effie complains that she doesn’t like how they’ve been treated: they’ve been rushed into cars and pushed around by Peacekeepers. Peeta apologizes to Katniss for his outburst in the dome—he realizes that he shouldn’t be angry with Katniss for keeping secrets from him, since he’s concealed the truth from her before. This reminds Katniss that Peeta first told her he loved her on television, in front of all the people of Panem.
While Effie seems like an embodiment of the government’s discipline in the earlier chapters, it’s clear that even she has her limits. She’s very much on the side of the victors, although still unwilling to do anything against the Capitol. Like many of the characters in the novel, Peeta has a difficult time navigating between television and reality, especially in his position of fame and celebrity.
Themes
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Surveillance and Manipulation Theme Icon
The narrative “fast forwards” to describe Katniss and Peeta’s tour routine. They ride in the train, arrive at each new district, make polite speeches, smile winningly for the cameras, attend banquets, pretend to love each other, and move on to the next district. Katniss notes that her speech in District 11 was edited before being broadcast over television and radio. Subsequently, she’s careful to give calm, uncontroversial speeches. She also notices that in some districts, such as 8, 4, and 3, the citizens are visibly angry with her for winning the Games. They seem to resent a resident of District 12—the poorest and smallest district—for winning such a prestigious competition.
It’s unclear what, if anything, Katniss’s small acts of rebellion and compassion accomplish. Certainly, they never pass outside the district in which she makes them, as the government edits all communications. But perhaps it’s a sign of Katniss’s strength that she’s forcing the government to censor her communications in the first place. Collins reminds us of the class tensions implicit in Katniss’s world—she’s a poor person, and thus viewed with suspicion by the wealthy and powerful.
Themes
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As Katniss moves on with her Tour, she gets little sleep, and begins to lose weight. At night, she pictures the horror of the Games. Peeta sleeps in Katniss’s bed because it calms her and helps her sleep, and this fact becomes the subject of much gossip among the entourage.
It’s already been made clear that Katniss is attracted to Peeta because he knows what she’s been through at the Games. Here, this sense of understanding leads to, it would seem, genuine affection.
Themes
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The visits to the final two districts, 2 and 1, are the most challenging for Katniss, since the tributes from these districts might have survived the Games had it not been for Katniss. She personally killed a girl, Glimmer, from District 2, and a boy from District 1, whose name, she learns, was Marvel.
Katniss is forced to confront the darkest parts of her past—the fact that she murdered young people from other districts. Everyone in Panem knows about this too, which makes the pageantry of the Victory Tour more grotesque.
Themes
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Katniss and her entourage reach the Capitol, where the most powerful and privileged people of Panem live. Here, unlike in any of the districts, there is no danger of an uprising.
The richest and most powerful people in Panem have no incentive to rise up—they’re happy with their lives, and thus support the tyrannical government.
Themes
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Katniss and Peeta take up residence in the Training Center of the Capitol, where they’d previously spent time during the Hunger Games. There, Katniss proposes that she and Peeta marry during their time in the Capitol, thereby giving the reporters exactly what they want. Peeta agrees immediately, but then leaves the room. When Katniss tells Haymitch about her proposal, Haymitch tells her that Peeta had wanted to marry Katniss, but not for the sake of publicity.
It’s important that Katniss, not Peeta, “proposes” Peeta’s proposal. This makes it clear that she is only interested in marrying him to maintain the appearance of normality and protect her family, Yet Peeta is still attracted to Katniss, and obviously wants to marry her, regardless of keeping up appearances.
Themes
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Pain, Pleasure, and Self-Control Theme Icon
The night after Katniss discusses marriage with Peeta, they appear on the stage of the Training Center to talk with Caesar Flickerman, a charismatic reporter and broadcaster. There, Peeta proposes marriage to Katniss, and she accepts, following the script to which they’ve agreed. The audiences in the Capitol are almost hysterical with happiness. President Snow, who is presiding over the event that night, appears on the stage to congratulate Peeta and Katniss. As he congratulates Katniss, Katniss gives an almost imperceptible raise of her eyebrows, as if to ask if she’s done enough to obey Snow’s directions. In response, Snow silently shakes his head.
The character of Caesar Flickerman is an important one in the novel—much as Snow is the embodiment of the modern surveillance state, Flickerman represents the emphasis on superficial entertainment. People like Flickerman are important to Panem because they disguise the fundamental ugliness of the Hunger Games—the fact that it involves the murder of dozens of innocent people. Snow’s head-shake, so important to the rest of the novel, is a highly ambiguous gesture. He shifts between making his thoughts plain and not expressing himself with words at all.
Themes
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Hidden Resistance vs. Direct Rebellion Theme Icon
Surveillance and Manipulation Theme Icon