Katniss walks away from the Collective, thinking that she has yet another strong opponent to contend with: first the Gamemakers, then President Snow, now President Coin. Coin has nuclear missiles and a vast army of soldiers—in many ways, she’s the same as Snow.
Here Collins almost makes her “Coin” pun explicit. Coin and Snow are alike—they’re both bloodthirsty, remorseless, manipulative leaders. They are, in short, two sides of the same “Coin.”
The next morning, Katniss wakes up and finds that her prep team, along with Fulvia, has arrived to dress her and prepare her for her duties as mockingjay. Katniss takes a bath, and Fulvia orders the prep team to smooth her skin and wax her body. Katniss notices that Octavia has changed utterly—she’s now quiet, thin, and forlorn-looking.
There’s something poignant about the way Octavia and the other members of the prep team go about their duties—making Katniss look as pretty and healthy as possible—when they’ve clearly suffered major threats to their own well-being. Their superficial Capitol work now seems more weighty.
Katniss eats breakfast with her prep team, along with Gale. The food is disgusting, like most of the food in District 13, but it’s also nutritious and nourishing. Yesterday, Gale and Katniss had argued about Katniss’s decision to grant Peeta immunity. Gale argued that Katniss didn’t know if Peeta—or, for that matter, Johanna or Enobaria—were really loyal to the Capitol or not. As they eat breakfast now, Gale tries to make conversation, but Katniss can tell that he’s still irritated with her—and she’s irritated with him.
Gale shows his pragmatic, cold side once again. He can’t understand how Katniss can trust that Peeta is really loyal to the rebels, given what he’s said on television. In a sense, Gale fits in perfectly with the leadership of District 13—he’s harsh and a little insensitive, but also logical and efficient. Despite their arguing, Katniss seems not to take Gale’s statements too seriously—she may be letting her memories of the “old Gale” affect her interactions with the “new Gale” in the present.
At lunch, Gale and Katniss are scheduled to go see Beetee. They’re directed to the “special defense” room, where Beetee greets them by showing them a swarm of hummingbirds he’s captured from the surface. He asks Katniss about Finnick. Katniss, remembering the look of sadness on Finnick’s face yesterday, tells Beetee that Finnick is “going through a lot.” Beetee nods, and mentions that he’s built a new trident for Finnick to use as a weapon.
As in the previous volume of The Hunger Games, it’s unclear how we’re to interpret Beetee as a character. Here Beetee seems somewhat sympathetic to Finnick’s mental struggles, but he also thinks that combat and new weaponry will make Finnick feel better, even though it’s clear that violence was what disturbed Finnick so greatly in the first place. It may just be that Beetee understands science very well, and human emotion not at all.
Beetee leads Gale and Katniss to the weapons he’s been designing. He presents Katniss with a lethal-looking bow and arrow, fitted with scopes and gadgetry—the bow, he explains, is voice-activated. He also shows Gale guns, which he’ll need as a member of Katniss’s “entourage.”
Beetee is the “Armorer” of District 13. It’s left for us to decide whether he has any guilt or compunction about designing these weapons, which will undoubtedly be used to hurt people, including those with no particularly allegiance to President Snow.
Katniss and Gale proceed from Beetee’s workstation to a room on a higher floor, where the prep team goes to work dressing Katniss. Afterwards, she’s led to an enormous soundstage, where Plutarch is waiting, along with Fulvia and Finnick Odair. Katniss notices a television screen, showing a strong, beautiful-looking woman who she doesn’t recognize. Fulvia instructs Katniss to say the line, “People of Panem, we fight, we dare, we end our hunger for justice!” Katniss obliges, and delivers the line into a microphone. There is a painful silence—then, out of nowhere, the laughter of Katniss’s old mentor, Haymitch, fills the studio.
On Katniss’s first attempt at being a figurehead—a living symbol—she fails completely. The task of looking calm and collected is too much for her, even if she’s good at feeling calm and collected in tense situations. This reinforces a point that’s been made several times before: Katniss is a good Hunger Games competitor and a brave young woman, but she’s not a particularly good speaker or a charismatic leader.