As we approach what used to be the grand entrance, Gale points out something and the whole party slows down. I don’t know what the problem is at first and then I see the ground strewn with fresh pink and red roses. “Don’t touch them!” I yell. “They’re for me!”
The sickeningly sweet smell hits my nose, and my heart begins to hammer against my chest. So I didn’t imagine it. The rose on my dresser. Before me lies Snow’s second delivery. Long-stemmed pink and red beauties, the very flowers that decorated the set where Peeta and I performed our post-victory interview. Flowers not meant for one, but for a pair of lovers.
I explain to the others as best I can. Upon inspection, they appear to be harmless, if genetically enhanced, flowers. Two dozen roses. Slightly wilted. Most likely dropped after the last bombing. A crew in special suits collects them and carts them away. I feel certain they will find nothing extraordinary in them, though. Snow knows exactly what he’s doing to me. It’s like having Cinna beaten to a pulp while I watch from my tribute tube. Designed to unhinge me.
No one will fully understand — how it’s not just a flower, not even just President Snow’s flower, buta promise of revenge — because no one else sat in the study with him when he threatened me before the Victory Tour. Positioned on my dresser, that white-as-snow rose is a personal message to me. It speaks of unfinished business. It whispers, “I can find you. I can read you. Perhaps I am watching you now.”
Does anyone else ever think about how it was Coin’s fucking superiority complex that ultimately killed her?
And by that I mean she had no protection whatsoever at Snow’s execution. Sure, there were officials, guards, military people, whatever who grabbed Katniss after the assassination and dragged her away, but come on. This is the future. And there exists a little something called forcefields, which we have already seen used for personal protection. The Gamemakers put a forcefield up for Training after Katniss shot the apple from their pig’s mouth. They learned their lesson. But Coin, President of District 13 and front runner/expected next president of Panem, who just lead a fucking rebellion that overthrew a tyrannical government doesn’t have a forcefield up at the public execution of the former president? Because I don’t know, but if you ask me, that’s kind of the sort of place one in her position might expect to get assassinated by some angry Capitolite or woke rebel (like Katniss) who knows she’ll be no better than the one chained to the post. When you are that type of public figure, security is just something you do, you know?
Now, the only reason I can think of for why the fuck Coin didn’t go to better lengths to protect herself is her raging superiority complex. She is too good. She’s above it all. Firstly, the forcefields are Capitol technology. D13 has hovercraft, nuclear weaponry, other fancy weaponry, and the technology of a thriving underground civilization like sunless greenhouses and nice-ass ventilation systems. Coin is too good to use the same technology that the Capitol owned and used to protect their Gamemakers and surround their arenas. Second, she has such an inflated sense of power that she thinks she’s too good to be at risk. She couldn’t even consider a situation where she might want some kind of protection at this event. She’s Coin, of course, the liberater of Panem. Who would want to hurt her, deign to hurt her, or be able to hurt her? She’s better than them.
So ultimately, yeah, on top of being a horrible person, it was her above-it-all attitude that got her killed. How awkward would it have been if Katniss shot at Coin, only to have the arrow bounce off air and clatter on the ground? Pretty awkward for her. Pretty sweet for Coin. But that didn’t happen, because Coin was too cool for a forcefield.
In the beginning of this adaptation you’ll see that we made a jump from the book. The book opens with Katniss walking through the ruins of District 12 and we kind of only hear in her thoughts the backstory of her time in District 13. Pretty quickly we knew that wasn’t going to work and we were going to have to see Katniss getting acclimated to District 13 and meeting President Coin for the first time as opposed to jumping in the middle of the action.
“In the beginning of this adaptation you’ll see that we made a jump from the book. The book opens with Katniss walking through the ruins of District 12 and we kind of only hear in her thoughts the backstory of her time in District 13. Pretty quickly we knew that wasn’t going to work and we were going to have to see Katniss getting acclimated to District 13 and meeting President Coin for the first time as opposed to jumping in the middle of the action.”
The Importance of The Goat Man in Catching Fire Chapters 11 and 12
Chapters 11 and 12, which so many fans refer to as the “cheese bun” chapters, paint a homey picture of Katniss’ daily existance in Victor’s Village. While her life as a victor is truly not her own, still she, Prim, and her mother, along with Peeta and Haymitch have formed an unconventional family.
Much attention has been paid to her obvious growing relationship with Peeta in these chapters. And what’s not to love? I’d much rather have Peeta carry me around than use crutches, too!
I, however, would like to focus on another layer that Suzanne Collins added to these chapters. To do it though, I’ll have to take you back to chapter 20 of The Hunger Games.
While in the cave in THG, Peeta asks Katniss to tell him a story.
Tell me about the happiest day you can remember.
What day is that? Katniss picks the day she negotiated a deal with the Goat Man for a goat that was near death in order to give the creature to Prim for her birthday. Why would the author devote several pages to a side story that takes away from the main action of THG?
Speaking as a writer, I believe S. C. used this story as a way for Katniss to define herself. Yes, she’s a lawbreaker, but she’s also a loving sister, someone who is resourceful, and compassionate toward the weak. She’s also a team player. She’s only able to purchase the goat with the help of Gale and Rooba (the butcher). Katniss even goes so far as to credit Greasy Sae for introducing her to Rooba.
But keep in mind that the Goat Man is the villain in Katniss’ story. He is against her purchase of the goat initially, and then drives a hard bargain in the end.
Now jump ahead to Chapter 11 of Catching Fire. Katniss has outwitted the Peacekeepers by climbing a tree and jumping over the electrified fence. She needs to come up with a quick excuse to explain where she’s been all day.
She walks to her house thinking to tell her mother that she slid off the roof trying to mend a leak and injured her foot. Once inside, she is greeted by Peacekeepers. Before she can say anything, she notices Haymitch and Peeta, are there as well.
Were they here by chance or “invited” by the Peacekeepers? Either way I’m glad to see them.
Is their presence the reason she changes her excuse from “falling off the roof” to “searching for the Goat Man?” And of all the excuses she could use, why would she think to make up a story about the Goat Man?
For two reasons.
First, despite her difficulty in getting home from the woods, she’s had a remarkable day, a happy one even, much like that happy day she told Peeta about in the cave.
She left Victor’s Village in the morning overwhelmed and in search of a purpose for her life. Just pages earlier
Haymitch laughed off her idea to start an uprising. A crate of wedding
dresses has arrived.
I can’t make sense of it. I
toss and turn in bed until I can’t stand it anymore. I have to get out
of here. At least for a few hours.
She sets off impetuously for the lake.
to say good-by to the place, to my father and the happy times we spent
there, because I know I’ll probably never return. Maybe just so I can
draw a complete breath again. Part of me doesn’t really care if they
catch me, if I can see it one more time.
But instead of
finding some internal sense of peace through solitude in a natural setting, she comes across Twill and Bonnie, who are
in straits as dire as Lady the goat was. Katniss gives them the food she has
and instructs them in survival skills, demonstrating her resourcefulness and compassion to them and to herself.
In turn, Twill and Bonnie provide Katniss with proof – through the image on the cracker – that her life has meaning. Only pages earlier she wanted to start an uprising, now she learns that she is the symbol of the budding
resistance. Suddenly her life has purpose again.
Second, for Katniss the Goat Man is symbolic of a villain. The immediate villain she faces is President Snow. But she’s also just learned about District 13 from Twill and hates them, as well, calling them no better than the Capitol.
“Why haven’t they helped us. If it’s true why do they leave us to live like this? With the hunger and the killings and the Games.”
Katniss’ story about the Goat Man is a kind of double-speak to Haymitch, and even Peeta about what she’s learned while she was out in the woods that day.
“So where have you been?” says Haymitch in a bored voice.
“Well I haven’t been talking to the Goat Man about getting Prim’s goat pregnant, because someone gave me completely inaccurate information…”
To translate: Katniss has been given false information by President Snow tying her relationship with Peeta to the uprisings in the districts. Snow told her to prove her love for him (marry him or to use an animal term, “mated”). It was on the walk back from meeting Twill and Bonnie that Katniss realized that Snow had played her for a fool.
In what appears to be cute banter, Katniss goes on to question the location where the Goat Man lives. Apparently it’s next to a mine entrance. Katniss says “west” entrance, Prim responds with “east”. Katniss further adds insult by saying it’s near a slag heap.
Is Katniss hinting at the existence of District 13 – the latest villain she’s encountered? S.C. isn’t big on geographic directions, but on page 17 of Mockingjay we learn that the Capitol had its own nuclear arsenal out west, which implies that District 13 lies in any other direction other than west of the Capitol. And the residents of 13 do live underground (in a kind of mine).
It isn’t until weeks later when Katniss is healed and able to get out of the house that she tells Haymitch about Twill and Bonnie. He discounts her thoughts about District 13 completely. I imagine it’s because he’s knee-deep in planning for the resistance. Katniss already knows enough to get them all in trouble if she’s not careful.
Thanks @tersyne for talking me through this analysis and giving me some good ideas to think about, and many thanks to @everlarkedalways for organizing this re-read.