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Literature / Mockingjay

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"Fire is catching! And if we burn, you burn with us!"
Katniss Everdeen

Mockingjay is the third and final book in the The Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins. It was adapted into a two-part film in 2014 and 2015.

Following the events of Catching Fire, Katniss is struggling to overcome her trauma of being in the Games, coupled with her separation from Peeta, as well as the destruction of District 12, forcing hundreds of people, herself included, to seek refuge in the fabled District 13. All the while, Katniss is reluctantly groomed to become the voice of the rebellion, as the Thirteen Districts rise up against the Capitol, throwing Panem into a civil war.

Character tropes for this book can be found here.

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:

  • Accidental Murder: Peeta accidentally launches a member of the rebel squad into a trap that kills him.
  • Arc Words: "Real or not real?"
  • The Anticipator: Inverted when Katniss goes to President Snow's rose garden and is the one to see him. She had been walking around the presidential mansion after District 13 has attacked the Capitol. He is shackled in his garden by orders from President Coin, but he was obscured from view by some flowers. He speaks up and she is startled by his voice.
  • Artistic License – Animal Care: Katniss stuffs Buttercup into a bag and carries him over her shoulder, even elbowing him to get him to be quiet. She also bounces him against the floor. In the book, this only causes yowling, but in real life this probably would've caused him a great deal of injury. She also picks Buttercup up by the scruff of his neck without supporting his rump. He's a grown tom cat. Any pet owner will tell you that is a humongous no-no. And after Buttercup is forced into a bag, he allows Prim to tie a ribbon around his neck and hold him in her arms. After being bagged? Both of these actions would probably cause a cat a great deal of distress (possibly causing the animal to retaliate in violence) in real life.
  • Artistic License – Biology: Katniss sees Peeta planting evening primrose and the only part she registers at first is rose. Fortunately the thorny roses Snow leaves and primrose are not even mildly similar to look at, so she realizes her mistake pretty quickly. Mistaking one for the other would be more or less impossible.
  • Babies Ever After: Katniss and Peeta have two kids at the time of the epilogue, twenty-some years after the end of the war.
  • Becoming the Mask: At the beginning, Katniss lets herself get staged as the archetypal revolutionary hero that District 13 wants her to be. About half way in the book, witnessing the heroic sacrifices of ordinary people in a hospital and being asked to fight with them convince her to become the Mockingjay hero for real.
  • Big Brother Is Watching: In District 13 your daily schedule is programmed into your arm and the government determines everything from your work shift to EXACTLY how much you eat every day.
  • The Big Damn Kiss: The third book has a variation in the later half when Katniss manages to avert one of Peeta's attacks by kissing him hard.
  • Black-and-Grey Morality: The Capitol, President Snow, and the entire Hunger Games system are objectively repressive and exploitative, and thus need to be stopped. And while District 13 as a whole is far more egalitarian and liberation focused than the Capitol, President Coin is not, as she is already planning on hosting her own Hunger Games to punish The Capitol despite promising to rid Panem of the games entirely. Katniss can see where this is all heading and not only kills Coin instead of Snow, she ultimately self-exiles herself to the remains of Distrcit 12 with Peeta and their two kids.
  • Bond Villain Stupidity: Katniss has started to figure out that Coin is a dictator as bad, if not worse, than Snow. Coin herself is established to fear Katniss, figuring her as a threat to Coin's own power, but Coin has Katniss trapped and is obviously planning to execute her due to Katniss's own popularity. When Katniss asks for permission to kill Snow, arming her with her beloved bow and arrow, Coin not only allows her to do it, but sits very close to Katniss to watch the ceremonies, allowing Katniss to shoot an arrow at her and kill her.
  • The Chains of Commanding: Katniss gets a bad case of this when she's placed in command of what's left of Squad 451. Cue numerous It's All My Fault moments.
  • Childless Dystopia: District 13 has very few children, because of a Sterility Plague – likely due to radiation, as they're the nuclear power district – some time back that rendered many unable to conceive. This is why they welcome refugees with open arms, as they want to increase their population's genetic diversity.
  • Children as Pawns: President Snow places children in front of his office as a shield from the rebels trying to assassinate him.
  • Child Soldiers: In District 13, those over fourteen are granted entry-level ranks in the military and are respectfully addressed as "soldier".
  • Convenient Miscarriage: Invoked: A fake miscarriage for Katniss and Peeta's fake baby.
  • Crisis Point Hospital: The hospital held by the rebels in District Eight is hopelessly overcrowded by patients. Katniss complains they shouldn't be cramped but is told they didn't have enough resources to isolate patients. This just before Snow's forces bomb it.
  • Death Course: The Capitol places a series of deactivated "pods" throughout the city, each containing a different hazard so that potential enemies would not be able to predict a safe route.
  • Deus Angst Machina: Invoked purposefully as part of the big theme. Loads of characters die, including Prim; Peeta, under the influence of Tracker Jacker venom, tries to strangle Katniss; President Coin decides that Katniss has outlived her usefulness … to name just a few. Needless to say, Katniss understandably develops a very, very negative view on humanity and human nature.
  • Didn't Think This Through: Katniss' improvised plan to go behind enemy lines to assassinate President Snow fails spectacularly and destroys her entire squad.
  • Die Laughing: President Snow at the very end of the rebellion in when Katniss kills Coin instead of him.
  • Distant Finale: The epilogue is set more than 20 years after the end of the revolution.
  • Dwindling Party: Star Squad 451 with the cameracrew when they enter the Capitol. From the original 14 members (Peeta as a replacement for Leeg 2), only Katniss, Peeta, Gale, Cressida and Pollux survive.
  • Elaborate Underground Base:
    • Nearly all activity in District 13 has been moved underground to the point of being an Underground City.
    • Also technically the Nut in District 2, which is built into a hollowed-out mountain.
  • Family-Unfriendly Death:
    • The pods crank this trope up to eleven. One of them is called "The Meat Grinder," which should tell you enough.
    • President Snow tries to inflict one of these on Katniss. By brainwashing the boy who loves her, and she's fallen love with in return, into wanting to kill her because he fears she will kill him. Imagine finally being reunited with someone you love and thinking your reunion is going to be super happy only to find that person's hands around your throat trying to strangle you.
  • Field Promotion: When Boggs is mortally wounded leading a mission, he transfers the authorization for his Holo device to Katniss before expiring from his wounds.
  • Final Battle: The Battle for the Capitol. Katniss arrives just in time to watch the rebels take the fight to the presidential palace. The street under her collapses like a trapdoor; Gale is taken by the Peacekeepers and she can't bring herself to kill him; the palace is surrounded by small children being used as human shields, which then get bombed by a Capitol hovercraft; then the people who try to help them get firebombed. Katniss herself catches fire, and when she wakes up in a hospital bed the war is over.
  • Forced to Watch: Peeta is forced to watch Darius and Lavinia being tortured to death.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • When Katniss is listing the conditions under which she'll consent to be the Mockingjay, one of her demands is that she and Gale be allowed to hunt in the woods. Plutarch starts to mention how dangerous it is, but Coin cuts him off and immediately agrees to it, despite arguing with almost every other point Katniss makes. Because she already sees Katniss as a threat to her power, and Katniss dying in the woods during a hunt would be a very convenient way for that threat to disappear.
    • There's a scene where Gale and Beetee show Katniss their compassion-based bombing tactic. Later, Katniss sees the same tactic in use, killing her sister.
  • Fridge Horror: In-Universe example. As Katniss sings a song by her father called "The Hanging Tree", she realizes, many years after first hearing it, that the point-of-view character is the guy who was hanged there.
  • Full-Circle Revolution: Heavily implied to be the likely future should Coin remain alive and in charge. Thus Katniss kills her. It's not made explicit if this was fully averted though since the epilogue shows Katniss living in District 12 with just Peeta and her kids and does not focus on the political aftermath.
  • Good Scars, Evil Scars: Invoked when Katniss has her uglier scars surgically cleaned up, but is left with some more attractive scars, because she's got to have some scars to show how bravely she's been fighting for the cameras. Averted in the end, however, when she gets only basic skin grafts and there's no attempt to blend them because Coin has no more need of her.
  • G-Rated Sex: At the end, there's a passage about Katniss and Peeta kissing and how it makes her feel, then there's an ambiguous phrasing about "after" that could mean after the kissing or after sex.
  • Hanging Around: Katniss recalls a somber folk song her father used to sing called "The Hanging Tree" in which a hanged murderer calls out to his loved one to either flee or join him, depending on your interpretation. note 
  • Happily Married: Finnick and Annie are thrilled to be married to each other, although they don't actually stay married for very long before Finnick's death.
  • Graying Morality: Given the gradualness of District 13's shift from being La Résistance to a new authoritarian government just with a different face, the entire book functions to make what once appeared to be a Black-and-White Morality story into a Black-and-Gray Morality story.
  • Hero Secret Service: Most of the book has Katniss surrounded by a cadre of soldiers while she fans the flames of the rebellion.
  • Hollywood Tactics: All over the place, and frequently invoked because the main characters are usually supposed to be making propaganda instead of actually fighting. Beetee was even told to design Katniss a weapon based entirely on looks, despite having access to perfectly practical weapons, because she wasn't supposed to be involved in real combat. The squad she is in is not a combat squad, but a propaganda unit making staged videos. At one point, Katniss is confused who gives the orders, the military man Boggs or the video director Cressida, only for it to become immediately clear that Cressida did call the shots.
    • Katniss takes point immediately after being promoted to leader of her squad. In real life, a squad leader never takes point, since the point man is the one most likely to die in an ambush, and the squad leader is someone you don't want to lose. This is partially justified, since she's supposed to be on a secret mission, and she realizes it would look suspicious if she doesn't know where to go.
    • Invoked when Finnick takes a trident to war. A trident that he can throw. Tridents are weapons made for spearing and catching things; they are not ideal for killing in a quick-fire situation (though it is certainly possible to kill with one) because things killed with tridents are meant primarily to stick on the prongs. As for throwing, tridents simply aren't balanced for that at all. This is purposeful: Finnick, like Katniss, was in the Star Squad and was not intended to be fighting on the front lines. As someone who is famous for fighting with a trident, they probably just wanted him to have it to be recognizable, the same way Katniss didn't have to get a military haircut and brought her bow. The only time we ever hear of him using it after that point is when he's fighting in close combat against mutant lizards. Otherwise, he's implied to use his gun.
  • Human Shield: Snow surrounding himself with children. Coin doesn't give a damn and actually bombs them and blames Snow so even the Capitol turns against him.
  • Important Haircut: Or rather, important lack of haircut. In Mockingjay, all the rebel soldiers have their hair cut short, except for Katniss because she needs to stay recognizable.
  • Interrupted Suicide: Katniss tries to kill herself at the end, but Peeta stops her.
  • La Résistance: District 13 does still exist and has developed itself enough to oppose the Capitol in guerilla warfare.
  • Late-Arrival Spoiler: Exaggerated the back/dust-jacket synopsis will immediately clue you in on the fact that District 13 actually still exists.
  • Lock Down: During the bombing of District 13, where the entire populace is evacuated to bunkers deep underground.
  • Meet the New Boss: Just barely averted only because Katniss has the good sense to kill Coin before she can really situate herself as the new leader of Panem.
  • Mirroring Factions: District 13 is at first depicted in the story as La Résistance, since it is the only large scale organization opposing President Snow and The Capitol. As Katniss begins to work with them, she encounters propaganda from Snow and Brainwashed and Crazy Peeta that paints District 13 as a terrorist organization, which forces District 13 to invoke Your Terrorists Are Our Freedom Fighters. However, the idealistic black-and-white image of the struggle is eroded over time as District 13 begins to care less about the safety of innocents around them and willing to sacrifice them for the sake of their victory, leading to a more Black-and-Grey Morality. By the book's end, when Katniss is given the task of publicly executing President Snow after District 13 takes control of The Capitol, she instead kills the leader of District 13 President Coin, as she had just announced using the children from the Capitol in a new Hunger Games as a form of punishment, indicating that District 13 had become The Capitol 2.0. In the epilogue, Katniss has decided to live in the empty remains of her home district with husband Peeta and their 2 kids, rather than be further involved with the new government.
  • Mundane Made Awesome: When the citizens of 13 are quarantined in the bunker during the bombing, they're so starved for entertainment that Buttercup the cat basically becomes a celebrity by chasing a flashlight beam for everyone's amusement. Katniss is even issued a special set of batteries for it, which is noteworthy considering how strictly frugal 13 is with its resources.
  • Nothing Is the Same Anymore: Taken Up to Eleven in the third book when Katniss' last routine from home, hunting with Gale, stops when their relationship deteriorates and they go their separate ways.
  • Not in This for Your Revolution: It takes Katniss a long time to decide to actively help the revolutionaries, and when she does, it's only because she thinks it's the best way to protect Peeta.
  • Not Me This Time: When confronted with the deaths of the children who made up his 'human shield', Snow reveals that he had absolutely nothing to do with it, and it was President Coin who did the deed. Likewise, Gale denies knowing if the plan was formed from one of his ideas, but by this point Katniss has lost what little ability she had left to take people at their word.
  • Nuclear Option: Discussed. Both District 13 and the Capitol have nukes trained on each other, but mutually assured destruction of all humanity keeps them both at bay, especially since the human race is now so small that wiping out the Capitol would endanger it and most members of District 13 are sterile.
  • Ominous Obsidian Ooze: One of the many traps deployed against the rebels in the Capitol is a wave of a black tar-like gunk that threatens to engulf anyone in its path.
  • Pay Evil unto Evil: Discussed all the way through the book, and reaches its culmination when President Coin suggests either executing all Capitol citizens or force their children into Hunger Games.
  • Propaganda Piece: In-Universe. The "Propos" made by the rebels are basically these, used to turn the people against the Capitol.
  • Protected by a Child: Near the end of the book, this is supposedly what Snow does to protect himself, though it ends up being a ruse of Coin's.
  • Pyrrhic Victory: The ending. The rebels are victorious and The Capitol has been overthrown, but with the loss of 90% of District 12, a lot of soldiers, and President Coin. Oh, and the symbol of the revolution snapped and killed its leader.
  • Rousing Speech: In Mockingjay, she has a couple; Her "If we burn, you burn with us" speech implied to be received well, but when she tries to give one in the middle of a firefight in District 2, she gets shot.
  • Scapegoat: Coin suggests letting Capitol children pay for the crimes against humanity committed by the Capitol, ostensibly because there was need for the educated adults they would have executed in their place.
  • Ship Sinking: Katniss and Gale's relationship is increasingly strained, especially after the battle in District 2. They might have been able to work past that, but it's when they realize that Gale made the bombs that killed Prim, either unknowingly or purposefully (not to mention injuring Peeta and Katniss) that puts the final nail in the coffin of their relationship.
  • Shoot the Hostage: President Coin orders a bombing attack on children being used as human shields by President Snow — and makes it appear that the attack was initiated by Snow, in order to destroy any remaining public support for Snow's regime. Sadly, especially for Katniss, Prim is among these.
  • Shoot the Shaggy Dog: Katniss' mission to assassinate President Snow. Her squad follows her out of a sincere belief that she can actually do it, even though they know she's acting without orders, but all she ends up achieving is getting most of them (including Finnick) killed and managing to reach Snow's mansion in time to witness Prim's horrible death.
  • Short-Lived Leadership: Though already president of District 13, Coin was in command of the rebellion and intended to take over Snow's position as President of Panem once the rebellion was over. For a brief time, she'd gotten her wish. Then, during Snow's execution, Katniss decided to assassinate Coin instead, realizing that she was just as dangerous as Snow.
  • Show, Don't Tell: The book has has two egregious examples. One is when the book outright tells the reader the meaning of "The Hanging Tree" and the another is when Katniss explains how the game "Crazy Cat" applies to her situation with Peeta and President Snow.
  • Simulated Urban Combat Area: Katniss undergoes simulated combat in a mock Capitol block to test her readiness to participate in the invasion of the real city.
  • So Happy Together: Finnick and Annie in "Mockingjay." They marry and are beside themselves with joy, only for Finnick to die soon afterward.
  • Super-Persistent Predator: The lizard-mutts, which were engineered to hunt and kill Katniss specifically, but will viciously munch on anything or anyone in their way.
  • Survival Mantra: Although nonverbal, Finnick's compulsive knotting. Katniss starts to share Finnick's knotting habit for a bit in the third book, but has one of her own:
    Start simple- start with what you know is true. My name is Katniss Everdeen. My home is District 12. I was in the Hunger Games. I escaped. Peeta... Peeta was left behind.
  • Title Drop: At the end of chapter two: "I'm going to be the Mockingjay."
  • To Absent Friends: The book that Katniss, Peeta and Haymitch create at the end of Mockingjay includes mementos and stories dedicated to the memories of people they have lost. Also the "We Remember" propo series memorializes victims of the Hunger Games who had been killed.
  • Too Happy to Live: Finnick and Annie. As soon as they got married, you knew at least one of them was doomed.
  • Tyrannicide:
    • Katniss kills President Coin after realising she was no better than Snow.
    • Snow is later lynched by the mob.
  • Underground City: = District 13 isn't as destroyed as one might think.
  • The Uriah Gambit: Attempted by President Coin when she sends Peeta to Katniss' team in the Capitol, with a gun, while he's still Brainwashed and Crazy and Katniss is his Berserk Button. It fails.
  • Useless Spleen: Katniss gets shot. Not surprisingly it happens to be her spleen that is destroyed. Good thing she doesn't need it.
  • War Is Hell: There were some fans who found Finnick's death to be unnecessary and lacking in heroism. But that makes sense in a war.
  • Wartime Wedding: Finnick and Annie get married during the war to overthrow the Capitol.
  • Why Did It Have to Be Snakes?: Tough-as-nails Johanna Mason is undone by water... because when she was a prisoner of the Capitol, they soaked her and then electrocuted her as part of her torture.
  • Your Terrorists Are Our Freedom Fighters: The Capitol and District 13 engage in propaganda campaigns against one another with District 13 deliberately invoking this trope to make the argument that they remain justified in their more extreme actions.