Katniss has just seen Peeta being savagely beaten on live television. The rebel leaders sitting around her are more concerned about what Peeta has said: “dead by morning.” Haymitch yells out his theory of what’s happened: Peeta has tried to signal Katniss that everyone in District 13 will be attacked. In response, Snow must have ordered that Peeta be silenced. Katniss agrees with Haymitch, and urges Coin to prepare the people of District 13 for the impending attack.
For all his flaws, Haymitch is cleverer and more insightful than any of the other rebels when it comes to interpreting Peeta’s behavior. In part this is because Haymitch knows Peeta better than Coin and Plutarch do, but Haymitch is also genuinely better at reading people than they are—alcoholism aside, he’s a valuable addition to the rebel alliance.
In response to Haymitch and Katniss’s urgings, Coin agrees to put District 13 in a “Level Five” lockdown. Katniss, along with the other rebel leaders and the entire District 13 population, head deeper into the ground, away from any bombs. Plutarch instructs Katniss to stay as calm as possible—if she panics, everyone around her will panic, too. Katniss finds a huge bunker area, with housing reserved for her and her friends and family. Katniss is told to wait in her bunker for further instructions, and she assumes that her mother and Prim are on their way. Shortly thereafter they both arrive, along with Buttercup.
Here, we see the “bright side” of the efficiency and occasional tyranny of President Coin’s regime in District 13: when there’ s a crisis, she knows how to mobilize her entire constituency immediately. When there’s news of a bombing, everyone is safely in underground bunkers within hours.
A short while after Katniss’s family arrives in the bunker, Katniss hears a sudden “thud”—a bomb has been dropped. The bomb could be nuclear or non-nuclear—in either event, Katniss worries, it may be a while before she’s allowed to leave her bunker. At the same time, Katniss is grateful to have this time to spend with her sister. Since her first Hunger Games, Katniss hasn’t been spending much time with Prim.
Prim’s role in the Hunger Games is easy to forget, but as Katniss reminds us in this scene, there would be no Hunger Games novels without her—if Katniss hadn’t volunteered to take her place in the first novel, Katniss wouldn’t be the mockingjay now.
Katniss talks with Prim. Prim asks Katniss how she’s “managing,” and Katniss, eager to have someone to talk to, tells Prim about Peeta. When Katniss has finished, Prim replies that President Snow won’t kill Peeta—without Peeta, Snow will have no way to manipulate Katniss. Katniss realizes that Prim is exactly right: Katniss’s connections to Gale, Peeta, and her family put her at a considerable disadvantage. Katniss asks Prim what Snow will do to Peeta, and Prim replies, “Whatever it takes to break you.”
Insight comes from unlikely people in this chapter. First Haymitch points out the truth about Peeta, and then Prim, who rarely says anything, points out the harsh truth about Snow. This reinforces Katniss’s sense of guilt, as well as her bond with Peeta, because everything she does affects Peeta’s life. There is something both romantic and deeply horrific about this fact.