President Snow has just given Katniss indication that she’s failed to obey his directions. Yet Katniss is not afraid or angry—surprisingly, she’s relieved. After weeks of putting on shows for the people of the districts, Katniss is happy that she no longer has to pretend to be obedient—even if it means that she’s infuriated Snow. She imagines leaving District 12 and going into the wilderness with Peeta, her family, Haymitch, and Gale and his family.
Katniss is less willing than ever before to keep to the appearance of normality. It’s even possible that she’s intentionally failed to keep up this appearance so that she can rebel against the government’s authority. Yet she’s not willing to translate her rebellious feelings into a genuine uprising—she’s still concerned for a small group of people.
As Katniss stands on the stage, surrounded by cheering crowds, she continues to smile at President Snow. Snow proposes that she and Peeta get married in the Capitol, a suggestion that makes the crowd cheer. Onstage, Katniss banters playfully with Snow, hating him the entire time. The knowledge that she’s planning to escape from District 12 allows her to enjoy herself as she smiles vapidly at Snow.
Where earlier Katniss struggled to keep secrets of any kind from her loved ones, she seems to be genuinely enjoying the secret she now keeps from Snow. She appears to be having a great time at the ceremony, when in reality, she’s plotting (rather naively) to run from Snow.
Following her performance with Peeta, Katniss attends an enormous banquet. For the first time since her tour began, Katniss feels hungry. She samples many of the dishes, and notices, with a mixture of pride and surprise, that some of the people of the Capitol have imitated her mockingjay pin and wearing pins of their own. She notes with great pleasure that this must annoy Snow greatly. At the banquet, many government officials introduce themselves to Katniss. Though Katniss is polite and charming, she’s utterly indifferent to these people.
The mockingjay pin can be said to symbolize almost anything—it can be a symbol of rebellion, or one of naïve respect. The mockingjay pins at the Capitol are probably just meaningless fashion statements, but Snow is still angered by how much influence Katniss has. He also probably doesn’t like seeing a symbol of rebellion even among his most harmless and vapid subjects.
While the members of the entourage gorge themselves on food and drink copious amounts of alcohol, Katniss and Peeta find it impossible to enjoy themselves at the banquet. Together, they go to the dance floor. There, Peeta confesses that he can’t stop thinking about the death and pain he encountered at the Games. Katniss remembers the starving children of District 12, and thinks with disgust about the gluttony on display in the Capitol that night. Peeta looks around to make sure that no one is listening, and then whispers to Katniss that they may have been wrong to try to pacify the people of the districts. Katniss doesn’t disagree, but she tells him, “Save it for home.”
We get an apt metaphor for Katniss and Peeta’s common alienation here. While everyone else eats—in other words, indulges in superficial pleasures—Katniss and Peeta talk about their feelings, a more profound and mature kind of pleasure. Notably, it’s Peeta, not Katniss, who suggests that pacifying people might not be the best tactic to use. Katniss, by contrast, is still unsure what to do about rebellion and uprising. She’s more cautious than Peeta, though admittedly this is partly because she’s worried about endangering her family.
A man named Plutarch Heavensbee introduces himself to Katniss as the new Head Gamekeeper, and asks Peeta if he can steal Katniss for a dance. Peeta obliges, and Plutarch begins to dance with Katniss. She naturally despises Plutarch, since he’ll be responsible for devising the sadistic details of the Games. Katniss wonders if Plutarch thinks about his predecessor, Seneca Crane, who was executed. Plutarch jokes about his responsibilities as Gamekeeper, and Katniss laughs along, secretly disgusted. As their dance ends, Plutarch confides that he has to go to a “strategy meeting” for the upcoming Games. Usually, these meetings are secret, but he tells Katniss that he’s sure she can keep his secret—Katniss assures him that she can. As Plutarch says goodbye, Katniss points out that he’s wearing a beautiful wristwatch with a mockingjay on its face. Plutarch responds that his watch is “one of a kind,” and walks away. Katniss wonders what Plutarch means. Perhaps he’s trademarked his watch, irrationally afraid that others will steal his idea. This kind of fussiness, Katniss thinks, is typical of the Capitol.
It’s not clear what to make of Plutarch. He seems like another in a long line of sadistic Gamemakers, but at the same time, he’s oddly friendly and even flirty with Katniss, asking her to keep his secrets, and talking at length about his wristwatch. If the mockingjay is a symbol of rebellion, as Katniss has previously seen, then it’s unclear why the Gamemaker would wear such a thing. For the time being, Katniss (rather obtusely) interprets the watch as proof that Plutarch is superficial and jealous, just like the other residents of the Capitol. In general, this exchange suggests the basic problem with symbols themselves—because they’re not literal, it’s often difficult to decipher exactly what they mean. Thus, a mockingjay can mean two contradictory things to two different people. This is also Collins giving a hint about her twist ending, when Plutarch is revealed as a rebel.
As the party draws to a close, Effie tells Katniss that they’ll need to return to the train and ride back to District 12 that night. At exactly 1 AM, everyone is back on the train, leaving the Capitol. Katniss falls asleep, exhausted. The next day, she wakes up to find Peeta sleeping next to her. Peeta tells her that he sleeps better with Katniss, since his nightmares are usually about “losing her.” Katniss is uncomfortable, and doesn’t know how to respond.
It’s interesting that Katniss doesn’t ask Peeta to sleep next to her—he simply does so. Katniss seems content with this, suggesting that her bond with Peeta is stronger than it seemed to be at first. Peeta is a sympathetic, loving friend—exactly the kind of person Katniss needs at the moment.
By the end of the day, the train is nearing District 12, where there will be a huge Harvest Festival. Katniss and Peeta go to the house of the mayor, Undersee, to plan the details. After arriving at Undersee’s house, Katniss notices a news bulletin on television: there has been a riot in District 8. The television shows footage of burning buildings, Peacekeepers shooting into crowds, and screaming children. Katniss notices that there are still banners depicting her face, left over from the Victory Tour. This must be what Snow meant by “uprising,” she realizes.
Katniss doesn’t know her own strength—this is part of what makes her an interesting character, but it also makes her come across as simplistic at times. She’s motivated by a few basic things, like survival and love for her family. Thus, when a simple action—a speech, a pin—has mammoth repercussions, she’s genuinely surprised, and because we see everything through Katniss’s own inner dialogue, we are supposed to be surprised as well. Collins has already suggested that symbols and gestures have great power, but this is the first time we see an uprising of this scale.