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Literature / Catching Fire

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"Katniss Everdeen, the girl who was on fire, you have provided a spark that, left unattended, may grow into an inferno that destroys Panem."
President Snow

Catching Fire is the second book in The Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins, and is followed by Mockingjay.

Catching Fire addresses the aftermath of the 74th Hunger Games, in which both Katniss and Peeta were crowned as victors. Their – and especially, Katniss's – ability to defy the Capitol leads others throughout the districts of Panem to rise up against the Capitol. President Snow, however, does not take this lightly and demands that Katniss convince the people of Panem that her actions were motivated by love not rebellion. When this strategy proves to less than successful, Snow hatches another scheme to end the threat of Katniss Everdeen and district rebellion once and for all.

The book was adapted to a film released on November 22, 2013.

Note: The title event of this book series is a fight to the death. As such, Death Tropes and death-related spoilers are plentiful. Proceed with caution.


Provides examples of:

  • Arc Words: "Remember who the real enemy is." and "Tick tock goes the clock."
  • Artistic License – Biology: Peeta walks into an electrified force-field which stops his heart. CPR makes him all better. In reality, CPR keeps blood circulating around the body, keeping the oxygen in the blood moving to the brain and hopefully preventing brain damage. It cannot restart the heart.
  • An Axe to Grind: Johanna Mason uses an axe as a weapon in the Quarter Quell; after all, she's from the lumber district.
  • Back-to-Back Badasses: In a triangle, actually: Katniss, Peeta, and Finnick fighting off the monkey mutts in the Quarter Quell, each wielding their signature weapon - bow and arrows, knife, trident.
  • Beach Kiss: Katniss and Peeta kiss passionately on the beach of the island of the arena. Actually, they're at it for quite a while.
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  • Big Damn Heroes: Plutarch and Haymitch evacuate Katniss from the arena before the Capitol gets its hands on her.
  • The Big Damn Kiss: When Katniss and Peeta passionately make out on the beach.
  • Bolivian Army Cliffhanger: Catching Fire ends with several characters' fates in question:
    • Peeta, Johanna, and Enobaria are revealed to have been captured by the Capitol after the force field fell, leaving their fates uncertain.
    • Additionally, it is revealed that District 12 has been destroyed. While Gale confirms that Katniss's mother and Prim are alive, any number of other District 12 residents could be dead.
  • Bond Villain Stupidity: Played with by Snow in Catching Fire. Snow had the option - confirmed in the film version as canon and heavily speculated upon in the book - to leave Katniss alone and carry on the Games as normal. He instead forces her back into the Games, which has the totally unexpected effect of making Katniss even more tragic and popular, and giving her a built-in group of highly trained helpers in the form of other Victors.
  • Boomerang Comeback: This is how Haymitch won his game. He made it to the edge of the arena, where he discovered there was a force field that reflected back everything that was thrown at it. The other remaining competitor caught up with him, threw an axe, Haymitch ducked, the axe bounced back, and killed the thrower.
  • Bureaucratically Arranged Marriage: Subverted. Peeta and Katniss, although not in love with each other, initially plan one to appease President Snow but it gets called off when the Quarter Quell is announced.
  • Captain Obvious: Peeta runs head-first into an invisible force field that stops his heart. CPR revives him, and the first thing he tells Katniss is, "Careful, there's a force field up ahead." He probably had even his enemies laughing with that one.
  • Chekhov's Gun:
    • Finnick is mentioned multiple times to count the bread they receive as gifts rather obsessively. It turns out that he was in on District 13's plan to break the tributes out, and bread was a signal. The district the bread came from indicated the day they'd be rescued, the number of rolls the hour. Bonus points for calling back to earlier in the book, where Katniss notes that real rebels don't put secret messages on something durable, but on something like a cracker, so that the evidence can be eaten.
    • Katniss notes that, underneath the stench of roses, she can smell blood on President Snow's breath. It's then revealed in Mockingjay that the blood smell is a result of the damage caused by the numerous poisons he's ingested over several years in his bid for power; the roses are a deliberate effort to mask the scent.
  • CPR: Clean, Pretty, Reliable: Finnick performs CPR on Peeta (whose heart has stopped) for several minutes before he coughs and sputters to life. After being thrown backward by a force field.
  • Comfort the Dying: In the 75th games, the tributes are stuck on an island full of timed traps. During an attack by crazed monkey-mutts, an older woman known only as "The female Morphling" sacrificed herself for Peeta. In return, Peeta brought her to the beach and held her until she died, making her Go Out with a Smile.
  • Contrived Coincidence:
    • Family members of past tributes are disproportionately likely to be selected as tributes themselves. This is an in-universe example, as Katniss figures the drawings must be rigged that way to create extra drama.
    • Also in-universe, the 3rd Quarter Quell twist. It's never confirmed, but it's pretty obvious Snow did it on purpose to try and quell the uprisings and kill Katniss.
    • Just the fact that the Quarter Quell happened to be the year after Katniss accidentally started the uprisings.
    • Earlier averted by Snow in-universe: He tells her that he won't just kill her and Make It Look Like an Accident because no one would believe that.
  • Crapsaccharine World: The arena of the second Quarter Quell (Haymitch's) is this. At first glance it's the "most breathtaking place imaginable." There's blue skies, puffy white clouds, songbirds flying by, crystalline streams, luscious fruit, gorgeous flowers, butterflies, etc. Then everyone realizes everything is deadly poisonous. And the various small animals will swarm and try to kill you.
  • The Cuckoolander Was Right: Wiress knows what she's talking about. The trick is figuring out just what that is.
  • Cutting the Knot: How do you survive the Hunger Games? Win the Game... or escape the arena, as happens HERE (and might have been Haymitch's intent in the Second Quarter Quell).
  • Deadly Force Field: The arena is surrounded by a barely-visible force-field that electrocutes tributes on contact. Peeta was almost killed walking into one and Blight, the male from District 7, died running straight into it.
  • Die for Our Ship: In-universe, President Snow tells Katniss he will have Gale killed if he gets the impression he's in the way of Katniss' romance with Peeta.
  • Doomed Hometown: District 12 is firebombed to the ground at the end of the book.
  • Double Meaning: "Quarter Quell" — To quell means to bring something to peace or subservience, which is the explicit purpose of the Games. However, an older definition of the word is simply "slaughter."
  • Enemy Mine: Temporary alliances are all part of the Hunger Games. The doomed tributes hold hands in a show of solidarity against the Capitol.
  • Eye Scream: Mentioned a couple times:
    • During Haymitch's games, it is mentioned that the last remaining tribute besides him has a gaping hole where one of her eyes used to be.
    • In Catching Fire, she mentions the possibility of shooting someone in the eye.
  • Everybody's Dead, Dave: The Wham Line at the end is that District 12 is bombed to oblivion. Gale survives and assures Katniss that her mother and sister are safe, but the others' fates are up in the air until Mockingjay, where we learn that 90% of the population perished, including the entire Undersee and Mellark families (excluding Peeta, who is in the Capitol).
  • Face–Heel Turn: Katniss thinks Johanna has done this when she "attacks" her. She assumes Finnick must be in on it too. Turns out they're both helping to rescue her for District 13.
  • Fake Pregnancy: A variant in which it's the guy who lies: when forced back into the Arena, Peeta decides to play up his and Katniss's Starcrossed Lovers shtick by announcing that she's pregnant, in order to increase sympathy from the Capitol residents.
  • Flowery Insults: Zig-zagged by Peeta when he paints the picture of dead Rue covered in flowers for his private session but he never says a word to the Gamemakers.
  • Fog of Doom: A nasty example is encountered by Katniss and her alliance in the Quarter Quell. It's poisonous to the touch, burning skin and clothes and causing seizures and temporary paralysis.
  • Fridge Horror: In-universe example. The realization dawns on Katniss that if her father had not taught her to hunt before he died, she could have found herself at the door of the lecherous local Peacekeeper, trading favors to feed her family, as she had seen many other teenage girls do in their desperation. This also puts his seemingly harmless flirtations toward her into a different, uglier context.
  • Gallows Humor: Katniss and some of the other Hunger Game tributes/victors learn to have a very droll outlook on their Crapsack World. Finnick takes it somewhat literally by tying a noose and pretending to hang himself as a joke.
  • Gilded Cage: We come to see as the series progresses that The Capitol is not the Utopia Katniss thought it was. Seneca Crane was executed for simply failing at his job. Here, Effie's frightened comment – "That sort of's forbidden, Peeta. Absolutely." – implies a 1984-esque society where their lives are physically comfortable, but people live in fear because thought, word, and deed are policed by the State, and free-thinkers are punished in terrible ways.
  • G-Rated Sex: Several times Katniss refers to sleeping with Peeta, but the context makes clear that this is meant to be taken literally, not sexually – as she simply wants to share a bed with someone for comfort. Peeta, surprisingly for a presumably normally hormonal male teenager, seems to be perfectly fine with this arrangement, likely due to the fact that he's just as traumatized as she is and needs someone who understands.
  • Imperiled in Pregnancy: Katniss isn't actually pregnant, but Peeta manages to enrage the capitol citizens by claiming that she was right before the 75th Games started, trying to invoke this trope.
  • I Need a Freaking Drink: Katniss and Haymitch almost immediately begin drinking white liquor upon finding out she'll be going back into the Hunger Games for the Quarter Quell.
  • Innocent Cohabitation: Peeta sleeps in Katniss' bed through most of the victory tour but they never so much as kiss while under the sheets. When they arrive in the Capitol for the Quarter Quell they also room together, Katniss even refusing to let him return to his actual room to shower because she worries he won't be allowed to come back to her.
  • Ironic Name: The Quarter Quell's name is this, as the quell means "to subdue something", which in the case of the 3rd Quarter Quell, means "subdue this rebellion that's going on right under our noses". The quell ends in La Résistance gaining more firepower and their main target a reason to gun for the President's head.
  • It Has Been an Honor: One of Katniss' prep team tells her it has been a privilege working with her, shortly before Katniss goes into the Hunger Games again, an ordeal they all know she has slim odds of surviving.
  • Kiss of Life: When Finnick revives Peeta, Katniss describes it initially as "kissing" since she's rarely seen CPR performed.
  • Losing the Team Spirit: Katniss at the end of the second book.
  • Maniac Monkeys: A group of deadly monkey muttations show up in the arena.
  • More Hero Than Thou: Katniss and Peeta are each determined the other will be the survivor.
  • My Own Private "I Do": In Catching Fire, Peeta claims he and Katniss did this, so that he can then claim Katniss is pregnant to garner extra sympathy.
  • Nothing Is the Same Anymore: Slowly occurs over the course of the second book, finally setting in for good at the very last line.
  • Red Herring: Both of the District 11 tributes from the previous book, Rue and Thresh, were two of the most important characters in the Games, with Rue becoming Katniss's close ally and Thresh saving and then sparing her life. Seeder and Chaff, the tributes from 11 in the Quarter Quell, likewise seem set up to become important, with Seeder assuring Katniss that Thresh's and Rue's families are safe after an uprising in District 11, Chaff being introduced as an old friend of Haymitch's, and Haymitch encouraging Katniss and Peeta to ally with them, which Peeta seems inclined to do. Despite being in on the rebels' plans to break the tributes out of the arena, they play almost no role in it; Seeder is killed during the initial bloodbath of the Cornucopia, and Chaff, despite surviving almost until the end, remains offscreen for the entire Games before being Killed Offscreen by Brutus, like Thresh before him. Katniss and Peeta instead ally with the tributes from Districts 3 (Beetee and Wiress), 4 (Finnick and Mags), and 7 (Johanna).
  • Rousing Speech: In Catching Fire Katniss makes a beautiful speech in District 11, about her ally Rue.
  • Ship Tease: The main Love Triangle aside, Haymitch speaks for many readers when Madge runs through a snowstorm to bring Gale medicine.
    Katniss: We used to sell her strawberries.
  • "Shut Up" Kiss: She did it to him again on the beach when he's trying to tell her why she should live instead of him. That one shuts them both up for a while.
  • So Happy Together: Peeta deliberately invokes this in his pre-Quell interview in order to gain sympathy for Katniss, talking about (and playing up) how happy they were together before the announcement of the Quell.
  • Spot the Thread: The official, "live-action" shots of District 13 are revealed to be Stock Footage by a mockingjay which flies past the screen at the exact same spot despite claims that it is filmed repeatedly every year.
  • Take a Third Option: The Quarter Quell involves bringing back victors from previous Hunger Games to compete in a sort of "all-stars" version of the Games. Naturally, Katniss assumes that means that the victors - some of whom are friends, even close - will either have to turn on each other or die. Instead, a group of tributes - who are also underground rebels - end up shattering the forcefield around the arena and getting saved by District 13's forces.
  • A Taste of the Lash: Gale is a victim of it in Catching Fire.
  • Themed Party: Octavia, one of Katniss's make-up artist, complained to her about how badly went her feather-themed birthday party.
  • There Are No Coincidences: That the Third Quarter Quell happens to reap victors, one of whom openly defied the Capitol a year prior and is slowly becoming a symbol of the revolution. Despite the Capitol's insistence that the Quarter Quells' twists have a long history, pretty much nobody buys it.
  • Trespassing to Talk:
    • Katniss finds that President Snow is waiting for her at her own house to confront her. He sits in a chair and doesn't even address her immediately and continues reading a book to show Katniss who's the boss.
    • Katniss is later surprised to find Peacekeepers waiting in her living room, forcing her to feign normalcy. Subverted in that they had set a trap for her elsewhere and did not expect her to waltz in alive.
  • The Uriah Gambit: Katniss being sent back into the arena in qualifies, since she believes it was rigged by President Snow. Supposedly the rules for the third Quarter Quell specify choosing Tributes from each District's pool of victors and Katniss is the only female victor, it's impossible that he didn't manipulate it.
  • Villain Over for Dinner: At the beginning, the president drops by for a terrifying "chat" with Katniss, during which he threatens to kill her whole family if she doesn't conduct herself properly on the Victory Tour. (Katniss' mother isn't present for this part of the conversation, but she does drop in to serve them tea. Katniss then has to conceal the conversation from her mother, telling her the president was just wishing her luck.)
  • Watching the Sunset: Peeta wakes Katniss up from dozing off to see the sunset from the roof of the Training Center the day before their pre-Quarter Quell interviews. (Sunset orange is also Peeta's favorite color.)
  • Water Wake-up: Katniss splashes Haymitch with water to wake him up in time to get ready for the victory tour when she is unable to wake him up any other way.
  • Writers Cannot Do Math: Katniss describes the Cornucopia as being 40 yards away from the launch platform, which is located in a circular lagoon. There are twelve spokes of land separating the 24 tributes, and Katniss is equidistant from the land strip and the adjacent tribute platform. If you do all the calculations, it turns out that Katniss is about seven yards from the nearest land strip. Katniss has to swim this distance, and describes it as "a longer distance than [she's] used to swimming" back in the lake outside District 12.