In the seventh chapter of Catching Fire, Katniss panics at the site of the riot on Mayor Undersee’s television and meets Gale out at the lake to discuss how they are going to escape. Predictably (and unfortunately, because it’s so frustrating), things do not go as planned. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read Catching Fire.
I have a sinking feeling that this isn’t going to end well. Maybe I’ll be forever tained by the Star Wars saga, because the middle part of the trilogy is always the most bleak and depressing. And actually, when I think about it….it’s sort of that way for most trilogies and series. Things invariably are worse in the middle because the characters need to move towards redemption and understanding, to resolve the epic struggle they’re fighting.
The way this is moving, I’m dreading what’s in the coming pages. Because this is all happening so fast, I now feel completely unsure what this book is going to focus on. I expected the Victory Tour to comprise a large chunk of the book, with hints of a larger rebellion saved for the end of the novel. NOPE. WE’RE ON CHAPTER SEVEN.
So, let me first give Katniss some credit for putting the pieces together on Plutarch Heavensbee:
“It’s a funny choice, a mockingjay,” I said. “I mean, because of what happened in the rebellion. With the jabberjays backfiring on the Capitol and all.”
Precisely. I’m still unsure why it took her all this time to figure this out, considering how much time she spent in The Hunger Games talking about them and their meaning. Why didn’t she think of them when she saw the image on Plutarch’s pocket watch?
Whatever, she could have easily been distracted or overwhelmed with disgust, so I’m done focusing on it. This chapter focuses almost entirely on Katniss’s and Gale’s meeting near the lake her father would take her to when he was still alive. At first, I was glad everything didn’t seem to be working out perfectly, as Gale was visibly angry at Katniss for her engagement to Peeta. Gale, moody and irritable, is being unfair about all of this, especially not trusting Katniss. I don’t know, something bothers me about the fact that Katniss has gone through all this shit and yet he still wants to be super angry with her for trying to keep herself alive. NO JUDGING ALLOWED, DUDE, so LOSE THE ‘TUDE.
After some back-and-forth bickering between them, Gale finally gives Katniss the chance to explain herself. She tells him everything that’s happened since the beginning of the novel, and this is his first response:
“Well, you really made a mess of things,” he says.
OK, TEAM PEETA FOR SURE AT THIS POINT. I actually liked Gale a lot, but this is getting ridiculous. DUDE, THINK OF SOMEONE BESIDES YOURSELF FOR MAYBE HALF A SECOND.
I take a deep breath. “We run away.”
“What?” he asks. This has actually caught him off guard.
“We take to the woods and make a run for it,” I say. His face is impossible to read. Will he laugh at me, dismiss this as foolishness? I rise in agitation, preparing for an argument. “You said yourself you thought we could do it! That morning of the reaping. You said—“
He steps in and I feel myself lifted on the ground. The room spins, and I have to lock my arms around Gale’s neck to brace myself. He’s laughing, happy.
FINALLY. I wasn’t into this whole parade of moping on his part. So, just like that, he agrees to go. He agrees without a single word of hesitation to Katniss.
“I’m sure. I’m completely, entirely, one hundred percent sure.” He tilts his forehead down to rest against mine and pulls me closer. His skin, his whole being, radiates heat from being so near the fire, and I close my eyes, soaking in his warmth. I breathe in the smell of snow-dampened leather and smoke and apples, the smell of all those wintry days we shared before the Games. I don’t try to move away. Why should I, anyway? His voice drops to a whisper. “I love you.”
OH GOOD LORD NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO. No no no no no no. For the first time, I can totally believe that Katniss wouldn’t see this coming at all. Everything prior to this is her planning and plotting her escape. She’s not trying to tell Gale this because she’s announcing her unending love for him. And yet, that’s how he is going to interpret it.
I never see these things coming. They happen too fast. One second you’re proposing an escape plan and the next…you’re expected to deal with something like this. I come up with what must be the worst possible response. “I know.”
HAHAHA OH MY GOD. Katniss, bless your heart. That is seriously pretty bad.
It sounds terrible. Like I assume he couldn’t help loving me but that I don’t feel anything in return. Gale starts to draw away, but I grab hold of him. “I know! And you…you know what you are to me.” It’s not enough. He breaks my grip. “Gale, I can’t think about anyone that way now. All I can think about, every day, every waking minute since they drew Prim’s name at the reaping, is how afraid I am. And there doesn’t seem to be room for anything else. If we could get somewhere safe, maybe I could be different. I don’t know.”
Best response or best response? How fantastic is this? It’s smart, mature, and believably genuine. Katniss you are becoming an adult.
Gale buys it (and why shouldn’t he?) and the begin to discuss the logistics of telling their families. Things seem to be going smoothly until Katniss mentions that she wants to take Haymitch and Peeta with her. Gale counters that Peeta’s family most likely won’t be trustworthy, and Katniss actually says she would leave Peeta behind if he chose to stay.
Well, sort of.
“To save Prim and my mother, yes,” I answer. “I mean, no! I’ll get him to come.”
Oops. This isn’t going to work. Gale picks up on it and asks if she would leave him behind if he decided to stay. Ugh, dude, grow up PLEASE. We are talking about your own government (possibly) murdering you and your families. Can you talk a moment to think about that way more important thing instead?
“Maybe the president’s just manipulating you. I mean, he’s throwing your wedding. You saw how the Capitol crowd reacted. I don’t think he can afford to kill you. Or Peeta. How’s he going to get out of that one?” says Gale.
“Well, with an uprising in District Eight, I doubt he’s spending much time choosing my wedding cake!” I shout.
Well, there goes that. Oh, now there’s no hope of this conversation ending well. Gale, predictably, latches on to this. Katniss was right about his characterization and was right to observe his behavior towards the Capitol. If there was anyone who shouldn’t know this, it’s him.
Suddenly, it’s now incredibly important for Gale to stay in District 12. Running away is no longer a good idea. Staying to fight a rebellion is.
“You were happy enough to go before. I don’t see how an uprising in District Eight does anything but make it more important that we leave. You’re just mad about—“ No, I can’t throw Peeta in his face. “What about your family?”
“What about the other families, Katniss? The ones who can’t run away? Don’t you see? It can’t be about just saving us anymore. Not if the rebellion’s begun!” Gale shakes his head, not hiding his disgust with me. “You could do so much.” He throws Cinna’s gloves at my feet. “I changed my mind. I don’t want anything they made in the Capitol.” And he’s gone.
The thing is, he’s right in a way, but he’s being a total asshole about it. I think part of his anger is at Katniss being with Peeta and he’s taking this argument to the extreme.
Anything they made in the Capitol? Was that directed at me? Does he think I am now just another product of the Capitol and therefore something untouchable The unfairness of it all fills me with rage. But it’s mixed up with fear over what kind of crazy thing he might do next.
Man, Gale sucks. Sorry to say it. I really wanted to like him, but the guy is kind of full of himself. OK, TEAM PEETA IT IS. Or wait, fuck it, TEAM CINNA. FUCK EVERYONE ELSE.
Dejected and still afraid of what’s going to happen, Katniss heads back into town, running into Peeta right before she gets home. I expected her to keep things to herself, but almost immediately she asks him if he would run away with her and briefly explains why.
He doesn’t really believe her at first and I think he was thinking that she was just testing him or running him along in her own way. Angrily, she jerks away from him and he sees that she’s serious; that’s when he makes a good point. They should probably talk to Haymitch first before they make things even worse. Given that they did that once already, I think this is a fine plan.
They head to the square in town and there’s some huge commotion. A large crowd has gathered and what they find is not pretty.
Gale’s wrists are bound to a wooden post. The wild turkey he shot earlier hangs above him, the nail driven through its neck. His jacket’s been cast aside on the ground, his shirt torn away. He slumps unconscious on his knees, held up only by the ropes at his wrists. What used to be his back is a raw, bloody slab of meat.
OH JESUS CHRIST. Why???? Were they spying on him and Katniss out by the lake? How could they have known? Oh no, oh no, NOOOOOOOOOOO.
Standing behind him is a man I’ve never seen, but I recognize his uniform. It’s the one designated for our Head Peacekeeper. This isn’t old Cray, though. This is a tall, muscular man with sharp creases in his pants.
The pieces of the picture do not quite come together until I see his arm raise the whip.
PUBLIC WHIPPINGS. What time period are we in that this sort of public punishment is necessary? It has to be related to what just happened.
Man, now I feel bad about complaining about Gale. This sucks.