I would like to thank those racist idiots who loudly complained on Twitter about seeing black actors in The Hunger Games movie for inspiring me to read the trilogy at long last. I finished Mockingjay yesterday, and while the trilogy overall is fabulous and amazing, I would like to talk about something near the end that is Not Even Wrong. There are epic spoilers after the jump, so if you haven’t yet read the trilogy but are considering the possibility that you will read it later, I strongly advise you to back away from this post.
The part that I want to talk about is when Katniss votes in favor of another Hunger Games with Capitol children.
The fact that she voted yes, especially “for Prim,” strikes me as incongruous with what we already know about Katniss. She doesn’t hate people who are more privileged than she; in fact she’s very understanding with her prep team, for example, and she’s always gotten along nicely with Madge, the mayor’s daughter. She pals around with the Peacekeepers in District 12. She’s always trying to play nice with Effie. She thinks most Capitol citizens look ridiculous, but she doesn’t think they’re all horrible people who need to be punished for watching her fight in the arena. She adores Cinna. She makes a sympathetic character of Caesar Flickerman, which is more than I would ask of a girl who’s grown up in her conditions.
Now, compare her gentle attitude towards Capitol citizens and other privileged folk with the revulsion at the Games. First off, she went from “please don’t let it be me” to volunteering as a tribute just to keep Prim out of the Games. This is a girl who would rather die than see her little sister anywhere near the arena. Her having survived the arena doesn’t make her any less hostile to it; when she finds out her name is going to be drawn for the Quarter Quell, she nearly suffers a nervous breakdown. In plain language, Katniss really effing hates the Hunger Games. She can’t stand the idea of the arena, and likes the reality of it even less. She does not hate the children and grandchildren of prominent Capitol people. It doesn’t add up that she would approve of a plan to force another batch of kids into the arena.
If she’s only voting yes because the alternative is to kill all the Capitol citizens, then her choice makes sense, but her saying it’s because of her sister is still bizarre at best. But then that brings up an even more significant question: why is the idea of massacring all the Capitol citizens even on the table? The fact that Peeta votes “no” on another Hunger Games suggests that it is possible to oppose both of these options, because somehow I can’t see Peeta giving his approval to the annihilation of all Capitol citizens. I’m not saying that Alma Coin’s judgment on the matter is fucked up, because she seems to think that most district citizens are demanding that the Capitol’s former population be wiped out in retaliation for the districts’ suffering. If Coin thinks the districts will be ungovernable if her regime doesn’t apply some fresh atrocity to the Capitol’s population, then it makes sense that she’d get the living tributes together for this choice of Horrendous or Disgusting.
Perhaps most importantly, I wonder how realistic it is that any significant number of district citizens are demanding a Holocaust on the Capitol. I don’t question the idea that they’d want the Capitol population to be punished because the districts have been put through Hell; it’s an irrational impulse, but there’s a lot in human psychology that’s irrational. I just don’t think it’s psychologically realistic for a lot of district folk to be demanding Death to All Capitol Citizens. I think it would be equally irrational, and much more realistic, for a similar number of people to be calling for Capitol folk to be forced to live in misery as punishment for the shit that was heaped on the districts. Like, let them live in desperate poverty and paranoia, maybe turn them all into Avoxes and force them to serve the new regime. They could be fined as much money as they can expect to earn in a lifetime, and therefore spend their entire lives working off a debt generated by the regime change for the sake of punishing them for having grown up in luxury and abundance. If nothing else, I think even the most traumatized and deprived district citizens would recognize that a lot of Capitol citizens have useful skills and that the country is better off being able to utilize their abilities rather than having to reinvent a whole lot of wheels.
Even if Katniss gave the most reasonable answer to the question, I don’t quite see the logic in the situation that makes the question a necessary one to ask.
Given the background, it makes sense that she would decide to assassinate Coin. Unfortunately, there’s a piece of the background that doesn’t make sense.