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Monday, November 30, 2015

Mockingjay: Why Katniss did NOT Mean What She Voted

(SPOILERS) (Side Note: Don't forget to enter my Comic Con giveaway, where you can choose from several prizes, including a Hunger Games t-shirt.)

Last week I talked about why Prim actually needed to die to in Mockingjay to cement the themes of the entire Hunger Games series. A lot of people were upset and downright angry about her death, thinking it was pointless to the story. But it isn't. You don't have to like the ending of Mockingjay--I mean it's not as if we were meant to feel good about everything that happened in these books--but you can still appreciate and respect it.

A second problem some people had with how the series ended was that Katniss voted in favor of another Hunger Games. A lot of audience members felt betrayed, and they should--if Katniss had actually meant it.

Here's the thing. I've talked to a lot of people about that part in the books. Some think Katniss meant her vote. That she actually wanted another Hunger Games. But some don't. It's somewhat ambiguous in the story, I'll give you that, but my answer is a resounding NO. Some of you reading this will be nodding and thinking that this is obvious, but to some it's not. Katniss didn't mean it, and I can back it up. There's more evidence to suggest that Katniss didn't mean what she voted than there is to suggest that she did.

Several pages after Katniss's vote, we get this paragraph (bold mine):

They can design dream weapons that come to life in my hands, but they will never brainwash me into the necessity of using them. I no longer feel any allegiance to these monsters called human beings, despise being one myself. I think Peeta was onto something about us destroying one another and letting some decent species take over. Because something is significantly wrong with a creature that sacrifices its children's lives to settle its differences. You can spin it any way you like. Snow thought the Hunger Games were an efficient means of control. Coin thought the parachutes would expedite the war. But in the end, who does benefit? No one. The truth is, it benefits no one to live in a world where these thing happen. 

Um... did you read that? Especially the bold part? About it being wrong to sacrifice children and how it benefits no one? That's definitely not what someone would say if they actually voted in favor of another Hunger Games. (Also, side note the resounding sense of "wordly truth" in those statements.) Katniss still hates the Hunger Games! She thinks it's wrong under any condition, under any "spin,"  to do anything like that to anyone. She says this all after the vote.

Some people tell me Katniss just voted "yes," because she was so p.o.'d that Prim was dead. She was so mad, that out of anger she voted yes, maybe even impulsively. This partly come's from the dialogue Katniss says:

"I vote yes . . . for Prim."

But actually, this argument doesn't make sense. Katniss knows at this point that Coin, the rebel leader was the one responsible for Prim's death, not the Capitol. The Capitol didn't kill Prim, so why would Katniss give that as the reason for wanting to make the Capitol play in the Hunger Games?

Because she wanted Coin to think that Coin's plan--the plan to lead everyone, but especially Katniss, to believe the Capitol had bombed the barricade of children--worked. Coin wanted Katniss to support her. Katniss was just feeding into that plan to get closer to Coin.

Yeah, Katniss did vote "yes . . . for Prim," but if she's trying to avenge Prim in any way, it's by making sure there isn't another leader like President Snow. If anything has to do with that, it's killing Coin.

And also, from another angle, "yes . . . for Prim" could be read to not mean avenging, but as in a memorial, something to be done in Prim's behalf, as in it being something Prim would have agreed with.  Which again means "I vote yes . . . for Prim" doesn't make sense. Prim would never ever ever support the Hunger Games. Remember how I talked about how she represents everything good in humankind in my last post? She would not be okay with that, and to think she was would be an insult to her memory.

That part in the book is ambiguous, but sometimes a part of me likes to imagine Katniss subtly throwing the whole concept of another Hunger Games in Coin's face right then, in that line. By acting stupid and secretly being p.o.'d and maybe even a bit smug about it. "yes . . . for Prim." Bam! I'm not saying that's exactly how it was for Katniss, but it's fun to imagine.

I also like the dialogue after this:

As [Coin] passes me, I hold up the glass with the rose. "Can you see that Snow's wearing this? Just over the heart?"

Coin smiles. "Of course. And I'll make sure he knows about the Games."

"Thank you," I say.

To me, this is Katniss indirectly communicating to Snow that he was right, and having Coin tell Snow about the Games seals the deal. Snow was right. Coin isn't much better than he is.

Some may say that Katniss didn't need to vote yes to get close to Coin. Katniss could have killed her anyway. That may be true . . . but it might not be. Coin has watched Katniss, has failed to win over Katniss, and if she heard Katniss outright shoot down the idea of another Hunger Games and saw Katniss upset about it, would Coin have dared stand in the vicinity if Katniss had a bow? Probably not. Coin may be evil, but she's not stupid. Would she have still let Katniss execute President Snow at all? What would be the ramifications of Coin realizing Katniss was not only still out of her control, but against her? What would have Coin done to Katniss as a result?

It's speculation, sure. But if anything, by voting yes, Katniss got Coin to trust her, it's completely cemented into place . . . and maybe she got to throw some things in Coin's face . . . just before she got to kill her and stop another wicked ruler from taking President Snow's place.


  1. ya know i read the books and this post is about exactly what i got from the books, it was worth the read

    1. Glad it came across this way to you. Just on Monday, someone told me they thought Katniss meant it.

      Thank you!

  2. I didn't even read the books and I figured that she didn't mean it. Speaking of which, here's another possibility to add to the list of "why": If she voted "no", then the public would never have seen the true side of Coin and Coin might have found another way to reinstate the Hunger Games after getting Katniss out of the way. By voting "yes", she not only lulled Coin into a sense of security and within striking range, but Katniss could leverage the symbolic power of striking *as the Mockingjay*. Katniss became much more savvy to public perception in the last film, so it seems plausible to me that she could have considered the need to thoroughly and publicly squash attempts to reinstate the games.

    1. I know it sounds strange, but I think it was a bit more ambiguous in the books than the movie (how often does that happen, right?)
      I like your point that it really showed Coin's true side. Great thoughts and insights. Thanks for commenting :)

  3. I read the book a while ago so in the movie I was a bit confused trying to remember if she actually meant her vote. Thanks, it was a really helpful clarifier.

  4. For one more time, I fully agree with your thoughts!!! ;-) I don't have something to add!


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