In the thirteenth chapter of Mockingjay, it becomes apparent that the Capitol is more interested in psychological warfare than violence. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read Mockingjay.
What? What? Peeta, why are you so upset?
The cold collar chafes my neck and makes the shivering even harder to control. At least I am no longer in the claustrophobic tube, while the machines click and whir around me, listening to a disembodied voice telling me to hold still while I try to convince myself I can still breathe. Even now, when I’ve been assured there will be no permanent damage, I hunger for air.
WHAT HAVE YOU DONE PEETA.
It was Boggs who knocked out Peeta with one blow before any permanent damage could be done. I know Haymitch would have come to my defense if he hadn’t been utterly unprepared. To catch both Haymitch and myself off guard is a rare thing. But we have been so consumed with saving Peeta, so tortured by having him in the Capitol’s hands, that the elation at having him back blinded us. If I’d had a private reunion with Peeta, he would have killed me.
BUT WHY. WHY. WHAT THE FUCK IS GOING ON.
Hijacked. That’s what Katniss tells us. That’s what she was told. He’s been “hijacked.” By whom? By what? What does that mean?
Prim comforts Katniss while she is busy attempting to heal and it leads to one fantastic set of lines of hers when Plutarch tries to make her leave so he can talk to Katniss about what happened.
Plutarch ushers the doctors out and tries to order Prim to go as well, but she says, “No. If you force me to leave, I’ll go directly to surgery and tell my mother everything that’s happened. And I warn you, she doesn’t think much of a Gamemaker calling the shots on Katniss’s life. Especially when you’ve taken such poor care of her.”
I’ll allow you, my fellow commenters, to find the best slow clap GIF to fit here. FINALLY someone calls Plutarch and those running things in District 13 on their UNENDING SHITTERY towards Katniss.
Now, let’s get down to business.
“So, Katniss, Peeta’s condition has come as a shock to all of us,” says Plutarch. “We couldn’t help but notice his deterioration in the last two interviews. Obviously, he’d been abused, and we put his psychological state down to that. Now we believe something more was going on. That the Capitol has been subjecting him to a rather uncommon technique known as hijacking. Beetee?”
“I’m sorry,” Beetee says, “but I can’t tell you all the specifics of it, Katniss. The Capitol’s very secretive about this form of torture, and I believe the results are inconsistent. This we do know. It’s a type of fear conditioning. The term hijack comes from an old English word that means ‘to capture,’ or even better, ‘seize.’ We believe it was chosen because the technique involves the use of tracker jacker venom, and the jack suggested hijack. You were stung in your first Hunger Games, so unlike most of us, you have firsthand knowledge of the effects of the venom.”
Is it bad that I think killing Peeta would have been better? The Capitol has used tracker jacker venom to literally alter Peeta’s memories so that he believes Katniss is going to harm him. There’s a part of me that now wonders if Snow made it easy for the rescuers to get Peeta back, if everything he did was merely bait to get those in District 13 to bring Peeta to Katniss, so she would know that even if she had him in her physical presence, he wasn’t going to be hers.
The Capitol wants to break people’s spirits. While it’s not necessary to ignore the violence they perpetrate through their Peacekeepers or the Hunger Games, I think it’s important to acknowledge that what they do best is inflict emotional and psychological damage. There’s some more everlasting about that sort of pain, too, and that’s something I can speak to on some level. I will always remember the emotional abuse I suffered more than any of the physical abuse I experienced. At least for me, that’s how my mind works.
“But you can reverse it, right?” asks Prim.
“Um…very little data on that,” says Plutarch. “None, really. If hijacking rehabilitation has been attempting before, we have no access to those records.”
FUCK. What the fuck is this. Ok, I didn’t even expect to get Peeta back until much, much later in the book and now he’s here, but he truly believes that Katniss is actually life-threatening to him.
I can’t. I CANNOT EVEN HANDLE THIS.
“At least he’s alive,” says Plutarch, as if he’s losing patience with the lot of us. “Snow executed Peeta’s stylist and his prep team on live television tonight. We’ve no idea what happened to Effie Trinket. Peeta’s damaged, but he’s here. With us. And that’s a definite improvement over his situation twelve hours ago. Let’s keep that in mind, all right?”
PORTIA. PORTIA!!! Oh my fucking god, if Effie is dead, I may burst into tears. Fucking hell, Collins, you are so brutal.
It’s strange how exhausting this book is. I’m just coming up on being halfway through it and I’m tired. This is bleak and depressing and OF COURSE I LOVE ALL OF THAT, but I just want something to go right. For like…one chapter. Is that so much to ask?
People come in periodically to give me updates on Peeta’s condition. The high levels of tracker jacker venom are working their way out of his body. He’s being treated only by strangers, natives of 13—no one from home or the Capitol has been allowed to see him—to keep any dangerous memories from triggering. A team of specialists works long hours designing a strategy for his recovery.
I wonder how disorienting that has to be for Peeta, though. How are they going to tell him where he is without triggering him? How do you not mention District 12 or the Capitol or Katniss?
I read a few comments this past week regarding Prim’s characterization and how’s she…too perfect? I get that. I’m starting to see why some of you said that. Of course, we are seeing this all through Katniss’s eyes. She’s going to look upon her sister in a specific way, especially since there’s not much time we spend with her anyway. But Collins does appear to use her in instances where Katniss needs a pick-me-up of sorts. Here, she gives Katniss advice regarding how upset she is over Peeta.
“Katniss, I know this whole thing with Peeta is terrible for you. But remember, Snow worked on him for weeks, and we’ve only had him for a few days. There’s a chance that the old Peeta, the one who loves you, is still inside. Trying to get back to you. Don’t give up on him.”
It’s a great point and fantastic advice. But it is kind of strange that she only seems to pop up to offer bits of sage wisdom like this.
The story moves on to Gale and Beetee and one of the inevitable things these people were going to have to address begins to be dealt with. The rebels are at war with the Capitol and, aside from what happened in District 8, there’s been very little talk about fighting about, about the sort of violence that these people are eventually going to have to act out. Down in the research rooms, Katniss finds Gale and Beetee working on plans for weapons:
Taking the fundamental ideas behind Gale’s traps and adapting them into weapons against humans. Bombs mostly. It’s less about the mechanics of the traps than the psychology behind them. Booby-trapping an area that provides something essential to survival. A water or food supply. Frightening prey so that a large number flee into a greater destruction. Endangering off-spring in order to draw in the actual desired target, the parent. Luring the victim into what appears to be a safe haven—where death awaits it. At some point, Gale and Beetee left the wilderness behind and focused on more human impulses. Like compassion. A bomb explodes. Time is allowed for people to rush to the aid of the wounded. Then a second, more powerful bomb kills them as well.
While I will wait to find out what sort of context these could be used in against the Capitol, I have to say I’m impressed. It’s nice to see Gale work on something he’s good at and contribute what he can to the rebellion. BUT. Yes, there’s a but.
“That seems to be crossing some kind of line,” I say. “So anything goes?” They both stare at me—Beetee without a doubt, Gale with hostility. “I guess there isn’t a rule book for what might be unacceptable to do to another human being.”
“Sure there is. Beetee and I have been following the same rule book Presiden Snow used when he hijacked Peeta,” says Gale.
Well…ok. So I guess anything goes for them. I’m pretty sure I’d be truly terrible in this rebellion because I’m not a violent person and I’d try to find an excuse every five minutes not to hurt another person. Seriously, Dad, did you really want me to be in the army. I can barely do ten pushups. America would get wasted if I had to defend it.
We know that Peeta and Katniss can kill if they need to. But can they kill entire groups of people? Why are they focusing on killing (possibly) innocent citizens in their war against the Capitol? Shouldn’t they go after those in power?
I can’t answer those questions yet and I don’t know if anyone else in the book can yet either. But that’s ok because OH MY GOD THEY’RE GOING TO TRY SOMETHING NEW ON PEETA.
Remember Delly Cartwright? No, of course you don’t. I didn’t! She was the girl from 12 who Peeta lied about when Katniss recognized the Avox in the Capitol, all the way back in the first book. Apparently, she’s got a PMA attitude because she might be the nicest person in this whole series.
“How are you doing?” I ask.
“Oh, it’s been a lot of changes all at once.” Her eyes fill with tears. “But everyone’s really nice here in Thirteen, don’t you think?”
Bless your heart, Delly. They’re like giant clouds of fluffy unicorn rainbows in District Thirteen! LET’S GIVE EACH OTHER HUGS ALL THE TIME.
OK, I shouldn’t be so hard on her. At least SOMEONE in this book isn’t full to the brim with sadness. It’s kind of perfect that they use her to talk to Peeta, both because her temperament is so positive and because it’s probably best to ease Peeta into his new environment.
Instructed to avoid mentions of Katniss or the Capitol, Delly tries her best to keep the conversation directed at District Twelve. That doesn’t work very well, since pretty much the first thing he says is, WHERE ARE WE?
“Well…we’re in District Thirteen. We live here now,” says Delly.
“That’s what those people have been saying. But it makes no sense. Why aren’t we home?” asks Peeta.
THIS IS NOT GOING TO GO WELL. How do you explain this without ending up on Katniss?
Delly bites her lip. “There was…an accident. I miss home badly, too. I was only just thinking about those chalk drawings we used to do on the paving stones. Yours were so wonderful. Remember when you made each one a different animal?”
“Yeah. Pigs and cats and things,” says Peeta. “You said…about an accident?”
I can see the sheen of sweat on Delly’s forehead as she tries to work around the question. “It was bad. No one…could stay,” she says haltingly.
THIS IS NOT GOOD.
“What hasn’t my family come to see me?” Peeta asks.
WELL, THIS IS GOING TO BE AN ABSOLUTE DISASTER.
“They can’t.” Delly’s tearing up again. “A lot of people didn’t get out of Twelve. So we’ll need to make a new life here. I’m sure they could use a good baker. Do you remember when your father used to let us make dough girls and boys?”
“There was a fire,” Peeta says suddenly.
“Yes,” she whispers.
“Twelve burned down, didn’t it? Because of her,” says Peeta angrily. “Because of Katniss!” He begins to pull on the restraints.
WELL. It was a nice try.
“Because she’s lying! She’s a liar! You can’t believe anything she says! She’s some kind of mutt the Capitol created to use against the rest of us!” Peeta shouts.
WHAT?!?!?!?!?! THAT’S THE LIE THEY TOLD HIM? Holy shit, this is so much worse than I thought.
“Don’t trust her, Delly,” says Peeta in a frantic voice. “I did, and she tried to kill me. She killed my friends. My family. Don’t even go near her! She’s a mutt!”
My god. I don’t even know what to say. This seems completely hopeless. How are they going to convince him that Katniss is not A MUTT DESIGNED IN THE CAPITOL? Fucking hell.
Prim was wrong. Peeta is irretrievable. “I can’t stay here anymore,” I say numbly. “If you want me to be the Mockingjay, you’ll have to send me away.”
Ugh, Katniss, I’m sorry. I wish she didn’t have to deal with this. It’s time for something, just ONE THING to go right for her. In the meantime, Katniss asks to get sent to the Capitol.
“Can’t do it,” Plutarch says. “Not until all the districts are secure. Good news is, the fighting’s almost over in all of them but Two. It’s a tough nut to crack, though.”
That’s right. First the districts. Next the Capitol. And then I hunt down Snow.
“Fine,” I say. “Send me Two.”
Good lord. This is going to get fucked up.