Katniss and her team have just arrived in District 2, a mountainous area dotted with small villages. In District 2, Peacekeepers are hired and trained, then sent throughout Panem. The people of District 2 train to be Peacekeepers because they see the job as a step up in their careers—a chance to travel and explore. District 2 also produces a large amount of Panem’s stone—indeed, stonecutters were the initiators of the recent riots in District 2. For the next two weeks, Katniss visits hospitals, spends time with rebel leaders, and generally acts as a symbol of the resistance to the Capitol.
District 2 encompasses the paradox of Panem itself: parts of it are loyal to the current government, and parts are highly rebellious. Katniss now seems so proficient at being a symbol of the rebel cause that she doesn’t linger anymore on explanations of her visits to hospitals—it’s understood that this is what the Mockingjay does, and thus Collins doesn’t dwell on them.
As Katniss proceeds with her mission, she’s informed of Peeta’s rehabilitation. Very slowly, he’s being trained to fight his conditioning. Plutarch tells Katniss that Prim came up with the idea of conditioning Peeta in the opposite direction: giving him calming drugs like morphling whenever Katniss is brought up. This measure has mixed success—it makes Peeta extremely confused, but also mitigates his fear. Katniss realizes how innately good the “real” Peeta must be, because only a very good person could be so thoroughly addled by conditioning.
We see slow, steady progress in Peeta, paralleling the slow, steady progress with which the novel seems to be building up to a confrontation between Katniss and Snow. Previously Collins had warned against the addictive, escapist influence of morphling, which seems basically the same as morphine. Now, however, morphling seems like the only option left to Peeta, reiterating the “lose-lose” dilemma of the rebel cause.
Katniss walks through District 2 with Gale. Gale tells Katniss that he is no longer jealous of Peeta—-on the contrary, he feels sorry for Peeta for everything he’s gone through. As he explains this, Gale kisses Katniss, and Katniss, in spite of her feelings for Peeta, kisses him back. Together, they reminisce about their shared memories, going back to their childhoods.
Katniss’s kiss with Gale reflects the distance between Katniss and Peeta that has arisen in only a few pages. Whereas before she loved Peeta, sympathized with him, and wanted to see him again, she now fears him and knows that it will be some time (if ever) before she speaks to him as a friend again.
The next morning, Katniss attends a rebel meeting in which the rebels discuss their plans to overtake a vast Capitol stronghold in District 2, the “Nut”—a large, steep mountain. A former tribute (competitor in the Hunger Games) named Lyme outlines the plan, which involves seizing the Nut’s entrance in a sudden surprise attack. As the rebels argue, Gale impatiently weighs in: the easiest thing to do would be to blow up the entrance, even if it means murdering dozens of people. Katniss is surprised with this sudden display of aggression from her friend.
Gale’s personality comes out strongly in this closing section: he’s unafraid of making difficult moral choices, to an extent that Katniss finds inconceivable. It would seem more likely that Katniss, with her experiences in the Hunger Games, would be the one to propose morally dubious, ”tough” courses of action, but in fact she retains more compassion than Gale, despite her greater trauma.