Gale has just proposed that the rebels bomb the Nut, thereby rendering it easy to enter, while also killing many from the Capitol. Some of the rebels appear interested in Gale’s plan, while others look disgusted by it. Beetee is the first to speak—he points out that many of the people in the Nut are citizens of district 2, who have no direct allegiance to the government at all. Gale shoots down this objection on the grounds that bombing the Nut would be fitting “payback” for the government’s bombing of District 12. Katniss objects strongly to Gale—innocent lives must not be harmed, she argues. Gale insists that if he were a rebel spy, he’d want the rebels to blow up the Nut. Katniss knows that Gale is telling the truth—he’d gladly lay down his life for the rebels—but she also thinks he’s harsh to demand the same sacrifice of others.
Here, it becomes clear that Gale’s split-second proposal to bomb the Nut was far more than a passing idea—it was a reflection of his newer, harsher outlook on life. Gale feels little to no compunction in killing innocent people, since he feels no hesitation in giving up his own life for the right cause. This illustrates how easily bravery and compassion for a cause can devolve into brutality and callousness toward human life—because one doesn’t value one’s own life (often a sign of bravery and self-sacrifice), one doesn’t value other lives, either.
The next person to respond to Gale’s suggestion is Boggs, who tries to reach a compromise. The rebels could cause an avalanche around the Nut, allowing some of the people inside to leave the area. Beetee seems to like this idea, and he proposes that the rebel leaders talk to President Coin. While they do so, Katniss and Gale are sent outside—during this time, they go hunting.
Boggs is more reasonable than Gale on this issue, reflecting the closeness that has arisen between Katniss and Boggs in recent chapters. There’s a slightly unpleasant reminder that Katniss and Gale are still, in the eyes of the rebels, children—they’re not allowed to be in the room while the “adults” discuss their next course of action.
“A decision is made” to cause an avalanche around the Nut, thereby allowing some of the people inside to run away before the rebels close in. The next day, a group of rebel hovercrafts shoots at the Nut, causing a huge portion of the building to collapse. An avalanche of debris slides down the mountain, and hundreds of citizens of District 2 try to run out of the mess, screaming. Katniss finds that she can’t stop thinking about her father’s death in a mining accident. She wonders, “What did we just do?”
Katniss possesses the kind of compassion that, it now seems, is utterly foreign to Gale. Her compassion here is based in a sense of empathy, having lost her own father in a similar “accident” early in life. In a way, this scene is emblematic of Katniss’s behavior throughout the novels—she often seems to agree to things, and then feel remorse for her actions only when it’s too late.
Katniss approaches Boggs and asks him what their next step will be. She asks if it would be possible to rescue some of the people running away from the debris. Boggs replies that there’s no time for this. As Katniss tries to reason with Boggs, she hears a voice in her earpiece—it is Haymitch. Haymitch tells Katniss that Peeta has made a great leap forward in his rehabilitation—he’s been exposed to footage of Katniss singing “The Hanging Tree” and shown no signs of anger or fear. This reminds Katniss of her father once again, as he was the one who taught her the song.
The two dominant storylines of the novel—Katniss’s relationship with Peeta, and the rebels’ war with the government—blend together in this brief section. Katniss’s relationship with her father has never been entirely explained to us, but it’s been suggested that Haymitch is a kind of replacement father-figure to her. Haymitch clearly has many flaws, but at least he’s always there for Katniss.
Haymitch next tells Katniss that she needs to make a speech, immediately. Katniss must go to the Justice Building and announce that the Capitol has been driven out of District Two. This might convince the Capitol forces to surrender on the spot. Even as Haymitch says all this, Katniss rushes to the Justice Building. She runs into a wounded man who seems to have come from the Nut. He pulls a gun on her, and demands to know why he shouldn’t shoot her immediately. Katniss replies that she and the man are even—District 2 helped blow up District 12, and now Katniss and the rebels have returned the favor.
Here our impressions of Katniss change subtly. In the past, Katniss has always been the last to support the “fight fire with fire” mindset embraced by Coin, and yet here she parrots this kind of reasoning in a time of crisis, even if only to save herself from death. It’s notable that the gun threatening her is wielded not by a Capitol soldier, but by a fellow member of the oppressed class—whom the rebels are supposed to be allied with.
Katniss goes on reasoning with the wounded man. She tells him that Districts 12 and 2 have no reason to fight, other than the reasons the government has given them. Katniss turns to see that a crowd has gathered around the two of them. She calls out for all people to join the rebels and oppose the government. Suddenly, Katniss sees herself “get shot on television.”
There’s an intriguing ambiguity in the final words of this section, as Katniss sees herself “get shot on television.” This is a kind of pun, since Katniss is always being “shot” by the cameras of the TV crew. Furthermore, it’s interesting that Katniss “sees” herself being shot—it’s as if she’s so used to being filmed now that she’s always seeing herself through the lens of a camera and the public’s eye, rather than actually experiencing things in real time.