Catching Fire

I was really excited six months ago. Time passed so slowly and suddenly here we are. This time my heart is going to explode!

The trailers blew me away. The actors, the dialogue, the costume, don’t even get me started on the soundtracks. I was not even remotely this excited when Harry Potter came out but The Hunger Games are different.

I didn’t freak out when the first one came out. I didn’t know there was even a book. It was months after the cinemas finished showing the blockbuster that I saw the memes on Pinterest. They seemed to be funny, especially the ‘I volunteer!’ part but I was out of the league. I didn’t know why was it so funny. I didn’t understand why ‘bread’ and ‘toast’ meant so much for The Hunger Games fandom. I thought the protagonists’ names were funny too.

I am glad that I have common sense. I wanted to know why.

At that particular time I was at home. Alone. My life was falling apart. I was doing absolutely nothing, just surfing all day. I quit my last job and did not bother finding a new one. I took up this habit listening to audio books and there was a good channel with all the complete trilogy.

I listened to it once. Twice. I listened to it to the point that I could’t sleep if I missed Chapter 19 on the first book. I had to ‘read’ it everyday. There wasn’t a supply of such book nearby. So I drove 3 hours away to get it. I read it everyday for about 3 months. There’s something refreshing in the characters. Something pure, magical and strong that attracts you more and more. The words are not big ones but the message was big and clear. It’s about a voice strong enough to drown the odds. I forgot about my problems. It pales in comparison of what Katniss had to go through. All my struggles were meaningless. The book was my cure for heartache and pain. I ‘feel’ Katniss. I ‘feel’ Peeta. I ‘feel’ Panem. The connection was out of this world. Vivid. This is the closest I felt to virtual people and non-existent place.

Real or not real? That’s my favorite question.

It’s amazing how I escaped to Panem with Katniss’ guide and became the master of my fears. I see another universe conceived in such a beautiful mind. I tackled hurdles after hurdles and strike back. I watch the twist and turns in a fallen world and decide accordingly using Katniss’ observation. Some I agree and some I don’t but she taught me things I would never learn in this life.

She taught me how to be human.

I am happy with the ending. If only I could choose my ending. I struggle to be happy but there are worse games to play.

The Pin – Part 2

There was quite a list of curious coincidences stemmed from the mockingjays. It surely meant a lot on so many different levels. The first significance we learned came in the form of Katniss’s father who was particularly fond of the birds. Katniss reconnected to her past after examining the pin and telling us how his father used to sing to the birds, how they recreated the songs and how beautiful his voice was. By that point, we agree that she associated some meaning to the pin. That’s the first step for us to buy this idea. There was no mention if her voice was just as beautiful but that was how the birds – and Peeta noticed her. Even Plutarch offered her to sign in a singing show. I guess the hints are there.


The next one is Rue. It triggered trust on her part. The back story was simple. Back in District 11 the mockingjays were her friends.

They carry messages for me.” [The Hunger Games, Chapter 16]

She’d sing a 4 note run and the birds would spread it around the orchard. That was how everyone knew when to take a break. In the Games, it was the same song that Katniss learned from Rue so that they can communicate with each other (she then taught a simple 2 note whistle to communicate with Peeta inspired by the tragedy.) Rue’s death had a strong impact on Katniss that she can no longer tolerate the Capitol.  When requested, she sang and all of Panem got the message. It was like the ultimate calling telling them that it is time. Actions must be taken for a better tomorrow.

This is not the first message. Katniss realized later that the image inspired the rebels in so many ways. Be it stamped on crackers from District 8 or the disappearing bird in the pocket watch of the Head of Gamemaker. The bird tells her who to trust.

The next incident was not deliberate too, when Katniss met Twill and Bonnie who escaped from their rebelling district. They had their hopes in District 13, a district known to be obliterated and damaged for the past 75 years. They told a story about the same mockingjay footage that has been reused every time on national television and Katniss knew in her heart that the Capitol has been lying about District 13. That was one of the ways the mockingjay proved to be the perfect symbol to defy the Capitol.

And the most obvious was the transformation of Katniss’s tragic wedding dress (intended to humiliate her) to the ever so legendary Mockingjay plumage dress on national television live through out Panem.

That must have been a kick right in Capitol’s nuts.

The Curious Little Pin – Part One

It was the most curious little thing.

The golden pin was introduced to the readers as Katniss and Gale were interacting with Madge, Mayor Undersee’s daughter. The tesserae system was mentioned not long after and we had a glimpse of the invisible division between the rich and poor; the merchant and the people from the Seam.

Nonetheless, Madge did not seem to care about it and apart of Katniss, I was quite surprised when she gave her the pin. Token from the district, she said. It sounded insignificant at first. Who would worry about a pretty brooch while being trapped in the arena with other 23 kids trying their best to murder you? Call me insensitive but I would have not even cared.

But the thing about Suzanne Collins was that she is a master of simplicity. It’s all in the little things. How love actually started an uprising. How a handful of berries fueled the revolution. How a whistle started a collective stand. How an innocent song translated as a tool for action. How a flower suggested hope. How a painting made powerful men cringe. How a book full of lost memories healed broken people.

O.K. Focus.

Back to the pin.

It was once belonged to Maysilee Donner, Madge’s late aunt who was Mayor Undersee’s wife’s twin sister. She was reaped 24 years ago in the 50th Hunger Games, otherwise known as the 2nd Quarter Quell. Unfortunately she didn’t make it back home and the victor for that particular year was none other than Haymitch Abernathy, Katniss’s and Peeta’s drunken mentor.

You could tell that Madge wanted to be just like her aunt, another brave soul. Unfortunately the odd was not in her favor. Theoretically, she could have waited for the coming year, when she would stand another chance in The Reaping but she decided to give the pin to Katniss. I do wonder that if for the briefest moment, she’d failed to do so…What would happen then? Would Katniss still be The Mockingjay? Will the bird stand a chance to be incorporated as the symbol of the revolution? Assuming everything else went according to the story; Katniss would still be recognized as The Girl on Fire. Wasn’t fire enough? Why did the writer have to invent a long story for an accidental hybrid bird mutt for the simple purpose of fueling the revolution?

Say we reverse the situation. Say Madge was picked by Effie instead of Prim. Would there still be a revolution? Was there really a plot designed by the rebels? (read a well elaborated plan called The Pearl Plot by Hogwarts Professor. Some people might agree but I did not buy it.) Would Madge even survive the 74th Hunger Games and gave the same impact to Panem as Katniss did? 

Very curious indeed.

Personally, I think fire is not a good choice because it could easily manipulated, tamed, crushed and put out. It doesn’t have the will and reason to survive, like the mockingjay.

As shared by Katniss, it was a slap in the face for the Capitol. The Jabberjays, a carefully engineered weapon backfired as the rebels figured out their sneaky purpose. The birds were left to die but they found new life instead by mating with the mockingbirds. The mockingjays, the instant result of two species had the best of both worlds. They can repeat a range of human vocal sounds and recreate songs.

This is foreshadowing another string of stories.

We perfectly knew that The Hunger Games was designed as the ultimate weapon by the Capitol. Imagine their surprise when a boy had such an impact in his interview only by using simple words and then a girl sang her heart out for her fallen ally. Like the mockingjays, they used love as their defense.Together they survived the looming death by protecting each other. Can’t you see? They are the mockingjay.

Of course we will go into this as one.” [Catching Fire, Chapter 15]

Fire Women: The Similarities Between Katniss Everdeen and Mrs. Mellark

Our Katniss’s turn.


By the end of chapter 2, we got a glimpse of the kind of family Peeta and Katniss grew up with.

We can assume that the Mellarks are blond, pale and with blue eyes. They are of the normal merchant class family but did not have an easy life since Mr. Mellark had to trade squirrels from Katniss (he could have had bought beef from the butcher if they were doing fine) and eat stale breads to survive.


Katniss mentioned the burnt scars she saw when Mr. Mellark came to say goodbye. I had a little theory that this is foreshadowing his private struggle with his wife. Mrs. Mellark seems to be the total opposite of Mr. Mellark. While her husband is generous and kind, she failed to offer any sympathy for Katniss or anyone from the Seam and had been abusing her son emotionally and physically since he was young.

The witch, as Katniss refers to her.

Katniss does not like Mrs. Mellark but I think Peeta care a lot about his family, even after all he’d been through. He visits them and regularly has lunch with them. I think there is no way that he would register hatred for his mother.

And mothers usually have big influence in their sons’ life, positive and negative ones included. Little boys often grow up subconsciously looking for the same quality in their wives.

Do you think it’s logic, that maybe Mrs. Mellark and Katniss Everdeen had more things in common than meets the eyes?

Let’s think about it.

1)   Both are fire women. Well, Mrs. Mellark’s fire ‘consumed’ Mr. Mellark. She’s the kind of fire that destroys things in her way. Strong, but destructive. Katniss’s fire is the opposite. Her fire is more like a catalyst, an element for chemical reaction that catapulted change.

2)   Both are committed to the survival of their family. O.K. You have a lot of room to argue in this one. Here’s what I think. Mrs. Mellark was furious when Peeta burnt the bread because it was expensive; she doesn’t want anything to go to waste since their life is already miserable, they don’t make much and even surviving with meager meals so it was quite a commotion on her part. She was willing to hurt people (even her own son), use angry word to chase away hungry strangers and chose not to feel sympathy at all. Being kind has a cost and her defense helped her to cope.

Katniss, on the other hand broke a handful of laws to put food on the table but was lucky since a lot of people needed her service and was not punished for that. It was important for her to brush away feelings and she sees it as a form of weakness. You might not realize this but she does push people away in her own little way. Also, you have to admit that Katniss we first knew was not a kind person.

The women both did what it takes to make sure their families are fully provided. Both women chase people away. Both treated their relationship with others no less than transactions. You give therefore I take or vice versa.

3)  Both are fierce women. It must have taken Mrs. Mellark a burst of powerful emotion to react in such a way. Normal, considerate people would just let it go but she decided to act upon it – strike her own son. She undoubtedly has strong feelings but channeled it in a negative way. Her anger translated as punishment to her children and intimidated other people. She also didn’t care about other people’s feelings. That woman is quite fierce, if you ask me. In the book she doesn’t really sound like she was a good mother, just a horrible person because we saw her from Katniss’s point of view, the victim. But to be honest, insecurity does many things to people so it’s not fair to judge her that way. We knew that she guarded her house/family from the people from the Seam and stayed with the same man until her death. Whatever her reason doing so, we will never know.

Remember how Katniss deal with Rue’s murder? She killed and determined to kill more. Her instinct was to protect. We can see that in how she acted at the reaping, how she reacted to Gale’s whipping and Peeta’s abduction. She has strong emotions too but her anger usually translated as impulsive actions that mostly got her into trouble. When she decided to love someone, then it’s until death threw them apart. I would say that’s a fierce lady, right there.

Maybe these were the reasons why Peeta had paid more attention to her though you can argue that with the singing. I’d say it’s something inside of her that reminds him of his mother, the kind of love that he wished he had. As Peeta had been installed with hope, he had no qualms that one day this strong, fierce and fiery woman, or so-called The Girl on Fire would be a great mother to his children.

So as written by fate, he decided that the poor little soul deserves his death, that’s the least he could do. If his own mother did not love him, then why should Katniss?

I am glad that he was wrong.

The Hunter and the Baker: The Similarities Between Mr. Everdeen and Peeta Mellark

A little bit about Peeta, quoting Katniss below.

h i j (2) k l

It’s quite a stretch saying that Mr. Everdeen and our hero has a lot of things in common but daughters normally chose qualities close to their father so I put down some that I think should not escape us.

The Everdeens live in a section called the Seam. They are the poorest of the poorest people in the poorest district of Panem. The characteristics called for olive skin, dark, straight hair and grey eyes. The Everdeens are fairly an exception since Mr. Everdeen, a hunter/coal miner got married to someone outside of his circle, something unthinkable for the society. He chose the daughter of a merchant. Mrs. Everdeen left everything just to be with him.

One thousand points for Peeta for having one thing in common with Mrs. Everdeen – ditching family and friends for love.

O.K now let’s see if Peeta has a lot of things in common with Mr. Everdeen.

1) Both are really charming. We never found out if Mr. Everdeen was as good with words but his actions are often mirrored in Peeta’s. Like when he caught Katniss’s hand and kiss it. Katniss remembered that her father did the same thing to her mother. There is a paragraph in which Katniss tried to imagine being in love. Her only reference was her parents.

Never been in love, this is going to be a real trick. I think of my parents. The way my father never failed to bring gifts from the woods. The way my mother’s face would light up at the sound of his boots at the door. The way she almost stopped living when she died.” [The Hunger Games, Chapter 19]

Let’s analyze a bit.

a) Never failed to bring gifts? Come on! I’d checked this one with the cheese buns.

b) Face lighting up? Remember how giddy she was before Peeta choked her? Even Haymitch was getting that vibe.

c) Stopped living when she thought that he died? No explanation needed here. She literally gave everything up.

It’s all of the above!

It’s amazing how only Peeta could make Katniss realize why indeed she used to like singing. He connected the dots to her father. Remember, she wasn’t really keen on singing when she met Rue though she did sing when Rue died. For the first time, she laid down her guards and showed her feelings. Note that she was determined to wipe all sort of expression when she was reaped. You can see her journey as a person trying to suppress feelings to someone baring her soul on live national television.

It strikes me that my own reluctance to sing, my own dismissal of music might not really be that I think that it’s a waste of time. It might be because it reminds me too much of my father.” [The Hunger Games, Chapter 22]

If Peeta’s best way to channel his feelings was painting then Katniss’s was singing. She did, eventually in Mockingjay while waiting for her trial. She is finally free.

2) Both men love beauty and art. Though a hunter and a baker didn’t seem like professions that have things in common, (except that they’ll use a knife at some point) Mr. Everdeen and Peeta had serious admiration for eccentric beauty and art.

I think the fact that Mr. Everdeen was married to Mrs. Everdeen showed that he valued certain traits and character that he did not find in the Seam (she’s a healer), and for him that’s beauty.  So does Peeta. He admired Katniss as she continues to impress him from being the little girl singing openly in public to the young girl with unreadable face that shoots squirrels right in the eye. For him, that’s beautiful.

Mr. Everdeen as we know had a talent in singing and must have had some skills in drawing too. If not, how would he fill that edible plant section in the medicinal herb book? Some basic drawings would have been required. That was how Katniss and Prim learned to recognize the stuff that they can eat.

Peeta, in turn has a talent in drawing and had no problems continuing with the legacy.

3) Both recall security. O.K, here’s the deal. When you sleep, normally you would take the most comfortable position or when you are threatened with danger, you put on a defensive mode. So when someone sleeps and put their arms around you to protect you, which indirectly means that you can do whatever you want and I have complete faith in you, but if anything bad happens, let it be me who gets it first.

That is one heck of a security.

Katniss immediately points this form of safe feeling to her father.

Since my father died and I stopped trusting my mother, no one else’s arms have made me feel this safe.” [The Hunger Games, Chapter 22]

That was a huge compliment. She was the one doing all the protecting until she met Peeta (and she lets him. She pushed away her own mother from any emotional attachment) and he was not even up to that challenge, being sick and injured but he did it anyway. That’s his instinct  – to protect Katniss though he knew very well that Katniss could have done a better job herself.

Curiously, though Gale and Mr. Everdeen shared the same profession, being a hunter and coal miner, Katniss rarely talk about the similarity of both men. All that I can remember was that she mentioned that she trusted Gale’s hands (as opposed to Peeta’s arms) but no direct mention of Mr. Everdeen. I think Gale does have protective instincts but he didn’t offer much of it since he saw that Katniss was pretty good in her own way. Say he did offer it, she might have rejected it.

Ask yourself why. Why would she accept the protection of a stranger, an injured boy rather than the arms of her long time hunter friend that was fully capable of doing so without much effort? There must have been serious dangers in the woods. They have been hunting for years but sadly nothing triggered memories of her father or even mellow feelings.

Peeta, it seemed was not the only one with the crush.

Chapter 2 – Part 2

–          Peeta is always potrayed as the rock, warmth, the sun, golden hues, yellow, orange, gentleness and steadiness. I noticed the first fire when she told us in the flashback with Peeta. That particular time, the Everdeen ladies were in a tight spot. They ran out of coal and all she had was a smoky fire from damp branches. She was losing hope. She went to the public market to try to barter the baby clothes but ended up at the bakery’s backyard. There was a glow, fire, the smell of breads. A baker is someone that controls and manipulates it to make bread, food for sustenance. Curiously she mentioned in the Games that Peeta is a whiz with fire, coaxing fire out of damp branches. He was hope. He coaxed hope out of her damp soul. When she said she didn’t want to lose the boy with the bread she meant that she doesn’t want to lose hope.

She also mentioned that the baker, Peeta’s father had burnt scars all over. She did not mention anything of the sort about Peeta, just ‘arms that made her feel safe‘. She mentioned that she trusts Gale’s hands. I love hands (I normally judge people by looking at their hands. Guilty pleasure!) so I think Collins is up to something but I think I have a theory coming.

Well, it’s a shallow one. You normally shake hands with a friend but arms are more private. Not everyone can wrap their arms around you. It’s saved for someone intimate or special. In the baker’s case, his wife ‘burned’ him. That’s all.

I noticed that when the Prep Team came to style her for the wedding dress she casually mentioned that she felt like a dough (Chapter 12, Catching Fire) being kneaded and reshaped again and again.

Well played, Collins.


–          Peeta always talk fondly about his father and they seemed quite close. I wonder how Mrs. Mellark felt when Peeta announced that Mr. Mellark had a thing for Mrs. Everdeen on national television. Must be really awkward for the 3 of them back home. Mrs. Mellark probably got that figured out long before. Maybe that is one of the reason why she was so bitter. I picture this man was just as kind as his son and would not treat him like his mother. I think he always brings a pack of biscuits for the child who has been reaped. It’s the last thing he could do – to cheer them up. He gave them to Katniss anyway as if saying that it’s okay. It’s not her fault. Whatever happens, he would not hold grudges, he would not think of Katniss as the murderer of his son.

–          Peeta, being abused since young probably grew up idealizing a loving mother and wanting a loving spouse/mother for his children. He did not have a good role model but why was he so convinced that Katniss would make a great mother? We did not have his point of view but this much we know is true. Katniss took care of Prim and she’s determined to do anything for her. She’s loyal and fiercely protective. Like the Mockingjay, (as forshadowed by Rue) is very protective of her nest.

We didn’t know if Peeta was close to his brothers but their love didn’t surpass Katniss’s for Prim. She was willing to die for her. Besides unconditional love for Prim, what else that might trigger love for Peeta? Apart of the singing that he declared ‘he was a goner’?He declared that he was infatuated by the little girl who sang the valley song, the one his father pointed out. Will he still like her if Mr. Mellark failed to do so? We will never know. I can safely say that he admired her, how she singlehandedly turned to be the head of the family (breadwinner, pun intended) and she continued to impress him.


It was lovely when he told her about his father and him taking their time admiring her squirrels (Mellark men and Everdeen ladies. It’s genetic!) I remember his expression when Mr. Mellark told him that Mrs. Everdeen ran off with a coal miner. It’s as if that’s the most ridiculous thing in the world. He probably wondered why and ended up watching the Everdeen family and saw love. Maybe that was how he learned about love.

It’s amazing when you realized that both Katniss and Peeta never put themselves first. It’s always the others.

I try to imagine being in Katniss shoe. It’s family first. I would be very touched to know that a stranger had made me a priority. A debt must be paid. I try to be Peeta. A tragic case of unrequited love. I would never believed it that the girl of my dreams decided to sacrifice her life for me. That’s my job!

Conflicting values, complex characters and odds that favors no one.

Well, actually it favors love 🙂