In the eleventh chapter of Mockingjay, the pressure that surrounds Katniss finally overwhelms her and she breaks down while trying to film another propo. And then WHAT. Intrigued? Then itâ€™s time for Mark to read Mockingjay.
Iâ€™m curious to know how many of you have ever reached a breaking point in your life. Iâ€™ve had a few of them over the years. Unfortunately, two times it involved suicide attempts. The third time I felt â€œbrokenâ€ I ran away from home. And then it didnâ€™t happen again until last summer, and the result of that inspired me to quit my job at Buzznet and move to Oakland.
Itâ€™s weird, thinking about it now, how literally running away actually helped, especially since many of us have been told that running away from problems never solves them. YEP. TOTALLY DOES. (For me. Obvs my experience is not your experience.)
I want Katniss to get away from all this. Itâ€™s overwhelming me and Iâ€™m just reading the story. The fact is that both sides in this battle are using her, unaware and uncaring of her mental state or her emotional well-being. I think itâ€™s simply awful, straight up, and now theyâ€™re all seeing the effects of treating Katniss like a product, like a message to be consumed. And Iâ€™m really, really glad that Collins has the foresight and respect to frame all of this in such a negative way, as a form of commentary about District 13 and the Capitol. This could not have been an easy story for Collins to write, either, but she chose to take a route that criticizes tyranny and oppression in multiple forms and I love it.
Four missiles fall over the next four days, creating a situation of unending, uncomfortable dread, as no one knows when the next missile will fall and if any of it will ever end any time soon. Theyâ€™re all left in the dark, literally and metaphorically. Thereâ€™s no information shared by Coin with any of the citizens. So it becomes a waiting game.
I am not completely in love with this chapter, as Collins writes a section about a self-defined metaphor about a game Katniss plays called, â€œCrazy Cat,â€ which entails her shining a flashlight around and Buttercup plays with it. Itâ€™s seriously one of the strangest things Iâ€™ve ever read:
I am Buttercup. Peeta, the thing I want so badly to secure, is the light. As long as Buttercup feels he has the chance of catching the elusive light under his paws, heâ€™s bristling with aggression. (Thatâ€™s how Iâ€™ve been since I left the arena, with Peeta alive.) When the light goes out completely, Buttercupâ€™s temporarily distraught and confused, but recovers and moves on to other things. (Thatâ€™s what would happen if Peeta died.) But the one thing that sends Buttercup into a tailspin is when I leave the light on but put it hopelessly out of his reach, high on the wall, beyond even his jumping skills. He paces below the wall, wails, and canâ€™t be comforted or distracted. Heâ€™s useless until I shut the light off. (Thatâ€™s what Snow is trying to do to me now, only I donâ€™t know what form his game takes.)
THIS IS REALLY AWKWARD, RIGHT? I canâ€™t quite place my finger on the reason this rubs me the wrong way. Maybe itâ€™s because Collins creates this metaphor and then meticulously explains it to us. Maybe itâ€™s because the part about Peeta dying doesnâ€™t even make sense. If she cares about Peeta so much, why would she just â€œmove on to other thingsâ€?
I donâ€™t know, am I alone in this?
Thereâ€™s more Finnick in this chapter as well, as Katniss tiptoes to his space that night while everyone is asleep. She needs to talk to someone else besides Prim about whatâ€™s happening to her, and hopefully someone who understands.
As I whisper my discovery of Snowâ€™s plan to break me, it dawns on me. This strategy is very old news to Finnick. Itâ€™s what broke him.
â€œThis is what theyâ€™re doing to you with Annie, isnâ€™t it?â€ I ask.
â€œWell, they didnâ€™t arrest her because they thought sheâ€™d be a wealth of rebel information,â€ he says. â€œThey know Iâ€™d never have risked telling her anything like that. For her own protection.â€
So Snow continues to prove that his main weapon is actually psychological warfare. We saw what he did to Katniss during Catching Fire and it breaks my heart to learn the same thing is happening to Finnick.
â€œItâ€™s just that I didnâ€™t understand when I met you. After your first Games, I thought the whole romance was an act on your part. We all expected youâ€™d continue that strategy. But it wasnâ€™t until Peeta hit the force field and nearly died that Iâ€”â€œ Finnick hesitates.
I think back to the arena. How I sobbed when Finnick revived Peeta. The quizzical look on Finnickâ€™s face. The way he excused my behavior, blaming it on my pretend pregnancy. â€œThat you what?â€
â€œThat I knew Iâ€™d misjudged you. That you do love him. Iâ€™m not saying in what way. Maybe you donâ€™t know yourself. But anyone paying attention could see how much you care about him,â€ he says gently.
Turns out that Finnick and Katniss have much more in common than we could have ever imagined. I guess I never really thought about their relationship; it was so strange during Catching Fire, since I couldnâ€™t figure out what he was doing in that book. What little weâ€™ve seen of him in this book has been alternately depressing and hilarious, but itâ€™s clear that we are definitely seeing their friendship grow.
â€œIt takes ten times as long to put yourself back together as it does to fall apart.â€
Amen to that, Finnick.
Coin finally allows everyone to leave the bunker and head to their new compartments, as the old ones have been destroyed. But before Katniss can head upstairs, Boggs pulls her, Gale, and Finnick aside and takes them to the new Command center. Guess what? No time to wait for these folks; theyâ€™re going back out into the world.
Fortunately, itâ€™s not too far; Coin just wants them to spend a couple hours aboveground to get shots of the bombings for the next set of propos. Thereâ€™s a cute scene where Finnick offers Katniss a sugar cube for her coffee, which spawns this:
As I turn to go suit up as the Mockingjay, I catch Gale watching me and Finnick unhappily. What now? Does he actually think somethingâ€™s going on between us? Maybe he saw me go to Finnickâ€™s last night. I wouldâ€™ve passed the Hawthorneâ€™s space to get there. I guess that probably rubbed him the wrong way. Me seeking out Finnickâ€™s company instead of his. Well, fine. Iâ€™ve got rope burn on my fingers, I can barely hold my eyes open, and a camera crewâ€™s waiting for me to do something brilliant. And Snowâ€™s got Peeta. Gale can think whatever he wants.
Good for you, Katniss. Also, the second thought that popped in my head: WILL THIS TURN INTO A LOVE SQUARE. Other shapes are so underused for relationships. WHEREâ€™S THE POLY LOVE?
We emerge into the woods, and my hands run through the leaves overhead. Some are just starting to turn. â€œWhat day is it?â€ I ask no on in particular. Boggs tells me September begins next week.
HOLY SHIT SERIOUSLY. Itâ€™s already September??? Man, I seriously thought it was still summertime at this point. Oh god, I feel like I can barely remember the beginning of The Hunger Games.
The group begins to survey the damage. There are four craters aboveground, debris littering everything, and the remains of the top levels sticking out of the ground. Katniss asks if the ten minutes Peeta gave them helped at all, and Boggs is quick to confirm that Peetaâ€™s actions literally saved lives.
Prim, I think. And Gale. They were in the bunker only a couple of minutes before the missile hit. Peeta might have saved them. Add their names to the list of things I can never stop owing him for.
Oh, Peeta. I have a bad feeling about him, but I hope he makes it out alive.
Katnissâ€™s problems with todayâ€™s mission start happening almost immediately and no thanks to President Snow for that. As they come upon (what used to be) the entrance to District 13, they find that the ground is covered in fresh pink and red roses. A gift (and a very creepy one) from President Snow. Iâ€™m of course reminded of Snowâ€™s gift back at the beginning of the book. (Which now Iâ€™m wonderingâ€¦will it ever be explained why he smells like blood? Just thinking out loud.)
Unfortunately, itâ€™s just the start. The coffee Katniss consumed earlier is giving her the jitters. As Cressida tries to get Katniss in the moment, she is visibly upset by all of this. Even though she just needs to give a few short lines (â€œThirteenâ€™s alive and well and so am Iâ€ being one of them), she still struggles with that.
I swing my arms to loosen myself up. Place my fists on my hips. Then drop them to my sides. Salivaâ€™s filling my mouth at a ridiculous rate and I feel vomit at the back of my throat. I swallow hard and open my lips so I can get the stupid line out and go hide in the woods andâ€”thatâ€™s when I start crying.
Itâ€™s impossible to be the Mockingjay. Impossible to complete even this one sentence. Because now I know that everything I say will be directly taken out on Peeta. Result in his torture. But not his death, no, nothing so merciful as that. Snow will ensure that his life is much worse than his death.
I canâ€™t. I canâ€™t. I feel so awful for Katniss, I really do. She has been so utterly selfless for so long and she really needs a chance to be selfish and take care of whatâ€™s going on with her life, but the people surrounding her wonâ€™t let her.
At first, I was surprised that Haymitch comforted Katniss, but it really does make sense. If thereâ€™s anyone in this group uniquely attuned to who she is and what she feels for Peeta, itâ€™s him. He still has some apologizing to do, but Iâ€™m glad that he reached out to Katniss and helped her.
What I donâ€™t like is how quick she is drugged and lead away, only to wake up A FULL DAY LATER. Ok, yes, she needs rest and she needs time to take care of herself. LET HER CHOOSE THAT INSTEAD OF DRUGGING HER INTO UNCONSCIOUSNESS. Fucking hell, District 13, THERE ARE VERY FEW THINGS I LIKE ABOUT YOU.
When Katniss awakes, Haymitch is by her side. Itâ€™s a direct parallel from the last time this happened, because heâ€™s here to support her, not threaten her. And thatâ€™s when he tells her that THEY ARE GOING TO RESCUE PEETA FROM THE CAPITOL.
What? WHAT? Plutarch is sending a rescue team to get Peeta out alive. WHAT.
â€œWhy didnâ€™t we before?â€ I say.
â€œBecause itâ€™s costly. But everyone agrees this is the thing to do. Itâ€™s the same choice we made in the arena. To do whatever it takes to keep you going. We canâ€™t lose the Mockingjay now. And you canâ€™t perform unless you know Snow canâ€™t take it out on Peeta.â€
WELL FINALLY. I just wish it didnâ€™t take a NERVOUS BREAKDOWN for these people to realize this.
â€œWhat do you mean, costly?â€
He shrugs. â€œCovers will be blown. People may die. But keep in mind that theyâ€™re dying every day. And itâ€™s not just Peeta; weâ€™re getting Annie out for Finnick, too.â€
!!!!!!!! oh my god FINALLY DISTRICT 13 IS DOING SOMETHING GOOD. We learn that Boggs will lead the mission made up of volunteers.
Somethingâ€™s wrong. Haymitchâ€™s trying a little too hard to cheer me up. Itâ€™s not really his style. â€œSo who else volunteered?â€
â€œI think there were seven altogether,â€ he says evasively.
OH NO. OH NO. I KNOW WHERE THIS IS GOING.
Haymitch finally drops the good-natured act. â€œYou know who else, Katniss. You know who stepped up first.â€
Of course I do.
GREAT. So let me guess: Katniss is going to beg him not to go, heâ€™ll refuse, and then sheâ€™ll tell Coin she should come along with the mission. RIGHT? RIGHT?
Oh god, shit is about to get realer right right right right