Mockingjay Ch15

Last time on Mockingjay, Gale proposes a perfectly reasonable plan of attack and everyone is horrified by the idea of killing people in a war.


“The majority of the workers are citizens from Two,” says Beetee neutrally.
“So what?” says Gale. “We’ll never be able to trust them again.”
“They should at least have a chance to surrender,” says Lyme.
“Well, that’s a luxury we weren’t given when they fire-bombed Twelve, but you’re all so much cozier with the Capitol here,” says Gale

This is a more reasonable set of objections.

That said, unless those workers are forced, they are fighting on the capital side here. You can’t claim innocence if all you did was build the missiles but didn’t actually shoot anyone.

Now, it is quite possible the workers are stuck down there for extended periods. In that case, their safety is more of an issue, because they may not be remaining there by choice even if they were originally willing labor. But that should be brought up. The mere fact they’re from 2 doesn’t matter.

The issue of surrendering is also a good one, but as I said last chapter, they should be able to surrender after the avalanche. This isn’t going to be like a mine collapse, where people are buried deeply in, they’d just need to clear off the first layer of stone on the outside to get airflow going again.

This whole conversation reads like it’s stuff people would debate at the beginning of the war, not the end. If surrender has been an option, Lyme should be saying that they’re given people a chance to do that before, not just that they should have a chance here. If it hasn’t, she shouldn’t be bringing it up at all, and if she does the other characters should point out no one else had that option.

Also, Gale’s final line is a non sequitor. This disappoints, because there were valid points that could be raised.

“The Nut’s an old mine. It’d be like causing a massive coal mining accident.” Surely the words are enough to make anyone from 12 think twice about the plan.
“But not so quick as the one that killed our fathers,” he retorts. “Is that everyone’s problem? That our enemies might have a few hours to reflect on the fact that they’re dying, instead of just being blown to bits?”

See, Gale is honestly pretty right in all this. It’s not like bombs or fires kill immediately either. Both often cause lingering deaths. The only thing issue is the bit about refusing to allow them to surrender. The rest is really not worse than anything else in the war.

Katniss’ argument, in contrast, is morally bankrupt – the method of death isn’t more wrong because it’s one her family faced. It may be inevitable to sympathize with those you see as similar to you, but it’s certainly not virtuous, because by drawing the lines like this, you’re saying it is okay to kill people, just as long as it’s not a couple particular ways you’re familiar with.

Beetee says they’ll do the avalanche but allow people out through the tunnel. Gale says that’s stupid, they’ll be heavily armed. Beetee says he’ll ask Coin, Gale says Coin will agree with him, Beetee says that the population figures are actually kind of dire and they need to minimize deaths. I don’t really buy that, especially when the issue here is that they may come out and shoot more people before being killed.

So Beetee goes off to chat and we’re not told what the decision was in another attempt at suspense.

They bomb the mountaintop and cause avalanches. There’s a lot of dramatic imagery as Katniss imagines what it’s like inside, none of which seems like it’s anything like you’d actually get inside a heavily fortified area. In fact, if they actually are having broken wires and fire everywhere, then the rebels could have bombed the main body of the hideout and destroyed it, rather than needing to seal it up with Gale’s plan.

People slamming, shoving, scrambling like ants as the hill presses in, threatening to crush their fragile shells

Uh, ants aren’t crushed when the hill collapses.

Then she talks about the day there was the mine accident that killed her father, because don’t you see this is exactly the same thing!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Katniss sits and waits, and we get another unneeded Peeta update – they showed him her singing that tree song, and he said he remembered the song and heard her dad sing it once, and talked about the memory without having a breakdown. I don’t care. It doesn’t even make sense, seeing Katniss in the video should have just set him off over the reminder she exists.

Anyway, they’re hanging out waiting for escapees, with plenty of guns in case the other guys come armed.

I wish Peeta was here–the old Peeta–because he would be able to articulate why it is so wrong to be exchanging fire when people, any people, are trying to claw their way out of the mountain. Or is my own history making me too sensitive? Aren’t we at war? Isn’t this just another way to kill our enemies?

Wow, missing the point by a mile. The idea is they’ll be given the chance to surrender. If they shoot at you instead, why is it wrong to shoot back?

But no one comes anyway.

Haymitch tells Katniss that she should make an announcement and say the place has fallen, because then maybe the remaining forces will stop fighting. I’m not sure why, if they’re on the capital’s side why would they believe her over other announcements?

So, naturally, right as she gets ready for this a train shoots into the station full of heavily armed injured people.

Most of them flatten on the floor, and a spray of bullets inside the station takes out the lights. They’ve come armed, as Gale predicted, but hey’ve come wounded as well. The moans can be heard in the otherwise silent night air.
Someone kills the lights on the stairs, leaving me in the protection of shadow. A flame blooms inside the station–one of the trains must actually be on fire–and a thick, black smoke billows against the windows. Left with no choice, the people begin to push out into the square, choking but defiantly waving their guns. My eyes dart around the rooftops that ring the square. Every one of them has been fortified with rebel-manned machine gun nests. Moonlight glints off oiled barrels.

At no point does anyone say “Surrender and we’ll treat your wounded.” like the plan was because that would make sense.

Also making no sense is why everything’s on fire. The whole point of the avalanche thing was that the inside of the mountain was too well fortified to harm. If they could completely destroy it with indirect bombing, they could easily have bombed it originally.

Katniss sees one of the inexplicably burned and rushes over while shouting not to shoot because suddenly, he’s just another burn victim from a mine accident and we all know Katniss was a healer who totally rushes toward the injured instead of hiding because she can’t handle seeing hurt people.

The guy, being smarter than that, promptly aims his gun at her head. I’d like to repeat at this point that still, no one has offered them the chance to surrender, because everyone on the rebel side is a fucking moron.

The Mockingjay at the mercy of a man with nothing to lose.

BECAUSE YOU WON’T OFFER THEM THE CHANCE TO SURRENDER YOU FUCKING IDIOTS THAT WAS THE WHOLE PLAN WHY WOULD YOU EVEN BOTHER LEAVING THE TRAINS RUNNING IF YOU WERE JUST GOING TO SHOOT WHOEVER SHOWED UP

He asks for one reason he shouldn’t shoot her. Because then he’ll be shot.

Such rational discourse would get in the way of Katniss being dramatic and special, though, so instead she says she can’t.

Katniss, who didn’t order the bombing and tried to talk them out of it, is totally accepting of all blame for the results, because how can she be a special, special martyr otherwise?

“I can’t. That’s the problem, isn’t it?” I lower my bow. “We blew up your mine.

Also, for god’s sake, Katniss, stop calling the heavily fortified military complex full of bombs a mine.

You burned my district to the ground.

And technically, no, he didn’t.

We’ve got every reason to kill each other.

Which in turn means that no, not so much.

So do it. Make the Capitol happy. I’m done killing their slaves for them.” I drop my bow on the ground and give it a nudge with my boot. It slides across the stone and comes to rest at his knees.

Katniss surrenders for your sins, people.

The guy rightfully points out that hey, he’s not a slave. And he’s not, he chose to become a peacekeeper and the book can fuck right off with the fact it’s still playing blame hot potato by this point.

“I am,” I say. “That’s why I killed Cato…and he killed Thresh…and he killed Clove…and she tried to kill me.

Let’s not forget Glimmer and that unnamed District 4 girl! You know, like you always do. You may remember them as the people you deliberately tried to kill in an unusually horrific manner.

who wins? Not us. Not the districts. Always the Capitol.

Well, actually District 2 is apparently doing pretty well. So there’s that. Assuming that there really are resource issues behind the abuses toward the majority of the districts, 2 could well be “winning”.

Peeta. On the rooftop the night before our first Hunger Games. He understood it all before we’d even set foot in the arena.

No, he joined up with the trained kids and murdered innocent people so he’d have a chance at making out with you before he died.

“When I saw that mountain fall tonight, I thought…they’ve done it again. Got me to kill you–the people in the districts. But why did I do it? District Twelve and District Two have no fight except the one the Capitol gave us.”

First, no, Katniss, you are not that fucking special, you didn’t manage to do anything here. Next, the reason to fight is that they’re trying to kill people to keep the capital in charge.

So she asks him why he’s fighting his own people here, then turns around to talk to the rebels.

“And you up there? I come from a mining town. Since when do miners condemn other miners to that kind of death, and then stand by to kill whoever manages to crawl from the rubble?”

I would say since about exactly when the people crawling are doing so with guns they fire at you.

So then Katniss holds out her hands and asks them to join with the rebels.

I look to the screen

Yes, Katniss can’t even focus on actually talking to people, she has to look to see how awesome she looks doing so, because television fake reality is more important than real reality.

Instead I watch myself get shot on television.

I’d be happy, but we know she’ll be fine. You can’t dramatic ending line the death of our narrator halfway through the story, book. We’re not quite that dumb.

15 Comments

  1. Tally says:
    I think we get to Johanna next chapter!
    1. Anon says:
      We certainly do!! :D
  2. Igloo says:
    I also noticed that every chapter ends on a dramatic line. I got tired of it after a while.
    1. Farla says:
      I started to get annoyed midway through the first book. It gets irritating a lot faster when you’re going one chapter at a time. It’s like, it’s a great idea in theory, but instead of the chapter ending on a dramatic line, it’s more like the chapter ends, so a dramatic line is added.
  3. purplekitte says:
    I have read one book in my life with a single POV for a book and a half, who dies halfway through the sequel, really and truly, and the POV switches to some secondary character for the rest. I had to reread that section half a dozen times to get that she’s really dead, the new characters are making funeral arrangements, and she’s really dead. That book was nothing like this book.
    1. Igloo says:
      Mind if I ask what book?
    2. Farla says:
      That sounds awesome. I think it’s a shame that people don’t do more things with POV. First person especially tends to be very rigidly enforced.
    3. purplekitte says:
      What Fire Cannot Burn, sequel to Those Who Walk in Darkness, which is like a darker and edgier X-Men mutant racism book with cool guns.
  4. Hlín Önnudóttir says:
    Maybe I’m being too charitable, but my impression of what the dramatic ending line is supposed to be about is just “he didn’t convert and join the rebels like she told him to, but shot her instead and now everybody’s just watched the Mockingjay shot by some random District 2 dude”, not a nonsensical attempt to make us think Katniss just got killed off. Unless there’s something in the context here that you didn’t mention in the review.
    1. Farla says:
      It’s not that I think the book expects us to believe she’ll die, just that there isn’t much drama otherwise. That’s the real problem, there’s nothing really dramatic about her getting shot because nothing’s at stake. The only things that stick in this book are deaths. She’s not going to get taken hostage and have her mistake lead to a lot of capital forces escaping. She won’t be injured in a meaningful way because we’re on the third book and she’s never been injured in a meaningful way. Suspense works a bit during the action scenes, where you’re too busy reading to see what happens next to think about this kind of thing, but if you actually make it the focal point, then it doesn’t work.

      And it’s not like there’s anything else at stake. At most, the district 2 capital guys get shot to death now, which was what we were expecting originally. The place is armed to the teeth, so there’s no chance of any other character we know getting killed in a firefight either.

  5. Act says:
    I’m really confused as to what Katniss/Collins was getting at here. Maybe I haven’t been following correctly, but… so, 2 (and the other career districts, except Retcon Four) decided to support the Capital in the war. The people in the districts are loyalists. The Capital has been giving aid to these districts. Katniss decides that, instead of fighting the people who want her dead, she’ll wax poetic about how the Capital– her enemie’s major ally– suck, in hopes that her enemies will develop some spontaneous hatred of their government and… do something unspecified.

    How does that make any sense?

    1. Farla says:
      A bit more extreme than that, apparently 2 is the most careery of the career districts and gets all sorts of extra special treatment and also they make up most of the army that’s been fighting them the whole time.

      And then yes, Katniss decides to tell them that they’re just slaves being tricked into this and they should ally with the people who’ve been murdering them all instead as if that’s a sane argument.

  6. nicole says:
    Hi, I’m new here but I’m liking the reviews a lot. (: (Someone on LJ linked to here, so I thought I’d start poking around.) I really like what you’ve said here, about this chapter and Gale’s plan because it’s always bothered me too. And especially how this has to be touted as ~GALE’S DEATH TRAP~ when he’s just an eighteen-year-old with minimal combat experience, in a room with top brass and expert coordinators who somehow haven’t even CONSIDERED the same options even though they knew about the rebellion for.. how long? Months? Years, even? This is where I really started to roll my eyes at these books, because it seems to be an inexplicable example of Teenagers Are Smarter Than Adults, a trope I really dislike. Like, there’s just no way in reality that Gale would be the first one to propose this, but Collins is just really heavy-handed with making Gale into some sort of dark character that I just don’t think he is. /rant over
    1. Farla says:
      I think that was unintentional, just poor writing. She wanted a reason to have Gale around and important, but couldn’t think of anything legitimately clever, and certainly not a way to have him around for another reason. So she goes with the cleverest idea she has, then dumbs everyone else down enough for it to be impressive.
  7. Skip says:
    When I was reading it, I was leaning toward blowing up the tunnel.  Why risk the lives of my soldiers and my ammo for a maybe?  What if they came out launching missiles?  Katniss’s speech still didn’t offer them a chance to surrender so the Capital soldiers got decimated anyway but that’s ok, ugh, guess no POWs here.  The district 2 workers came out armed with guns, so yup, they were on the side of the Capital.

    Where is Collins morality compass?  Whether or not to give the Nut people a chance to surrender falls under moral ambiguity of war, those calculating horrible decisions that are necessary.  It is nothing like killing children for entertainment to control the general population.  AGHH, no other book has irritated me so much.  Also, why pull away from every action scene at its climax?

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