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Fangirl Friday: Easter Eggs Explained – Catching Fire Edition

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[This post is part of a series, explaining how Easter eggs from The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes (review here!) relate to the original Hunger Games trilogy–click for explanations of Easter eggs in The Hunger Games!]

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Ballad and Catching Fire

  • Snow doesn’t make much of an appearance in The Hunger Games, but he’s sitting right in Katniss’s house in the first few pages of Catching Fire, waxing poetic about how delicate a system Panem is, with undertones of I need to control it to prevent primal human chaos ending us all. By Ballad, we know he learned that at Dr. Gaul’s knee. Whatever jar her head is in in the Mutt lab of the Capitol, I’m sure she’s proud.
  • Katniss is so shocked by seeing Snow in her house, she compares it to ‘taking the lid off a pot and finding a fanged viper instead of stew’. And if that’s not a Lucy Gray move, I don’t know what is.
    • She also says Snow ‘attends celebrations in the Capitol. Period.’ Heaven knows he’s spent all the time he wanted to in 12; possibly the last time he was there was for Lucy Gray.
  • Katniss asks why, if she’s so much of a threat to the system, Snow doesn’t just have her killed; and Snow, admitting no one would believe it was an accident, knows Panem would riot at the murder of the Girl on Fire. And really, it’s his own fault: as early as the Games in Ballad, watching Gaul’s amusement at Sejanus’s attachment to the tributes, Snow learned to make people care for the tributes to make them watch the games. He made them care about Katniss, and now she’s a problem he can’t solve. He really did almost hand-craft Katniss to be his enemy, didn’t he?
  • In Ballad, Coriolanus gets fifteen minutes to question Lucy Gray, and report back to the Capitol. One of those questions is about who her family are; but there are only spaces for blood relatives, not the Covey, though they’re Lucy Gray’s chosen family. Coriolanus thinks there should be a space for people the tributes care about, and people who care about them–a train of thought he later twists into something poisonous. Like Johanna reveals in Catching Fire, Snow finds out who the Victors care about, and threatens them to make the Victor do his bidding.
    • Katniss realises this properly in Mockingjay, when Prim tells her Snow will do ‘whatever it takes’ to break Katniss, including torturing Peeta; convincing Snow that she loves Peeta, as she does in Catching Fire, gives him the weapon to break her with.
    • And of course, Johanna says this in the arena, when Katniss and Finnick are being tortured by Jabberyjays repeating the screams of their loved ones. That one had to have come from Snow: he’s got experience as a Gamemaker, and as Sejanus proves, it wouldn’t be the first time he’d used Jabberjays as weapons.
  • Katniss’s mother brings Snow tea and cookies, halfway through his visit; and there’s something in the way Snow treats her, ‘charmingly’, as she offers to cook him something more substantial, that echoes his treatment of Ma Plinth. I guess he’s good with mothers. Maybe because of how much he adored his own, back when he had a heart?
  • Snow pulls his trump card on Katniss: he knows she kissed Gale in the woods. Katniss debates whether or not Snow could have had her followed into the woods: ‘our place of safety, our place beyond the reach of the Capitol, where we’re free to say what we feel, who we are’. By Ballad, of course, we know that Snow knew of that place and used it for the same thing long before Katniss could ever even have dreamed of it.
  • On the Victory Tour, Katniss notices the abundance of Mockingjay accessories in the Capitol, remarking that it must make Snow ‘nuts’. Snow hated that bird on sight in Ballad; Katniss has no idea just how nuts it must be making him.
  • She also wonders what Snow could get out of her wedding: ‘What, in his twisted brain, will that achieve?’ But Snow watched as Gaul directed elaborate Capitol funerals, uniting the Capitol and distracting them from the horrors of the Games; of course Snow knows the power of a show.
    • He cashed in on it by forcing televisions onto the entirety of Panem, after noticing a distinct lack of them during his time as a Peacekeeper in 12. A double-edged sword: he’s made sure the districts suffered by watching, but he’s also made sure they all saw Katniss, and therefore had the face of the rebellion forced into their hearts.
  • There’s a lot of talk of rebellion in Catching Fire; Gale pondering it from the mines, Katniss asking Haymitch if he thinks it’s possible, Haymitch shutting it down by pointing out that District 12 is not a rebellious crowd, and they’re so small they’d need to be all or nothing. A nice parallel to Coriolanus hearing of rebellion in his time in 12, and wondering why they think ‘all they needed to start a rebellion was anger’, when they have ‘no army, weapons, or authority’.
  • The 75th Hunger Games marks the first Quarter Quell in Katniss’s memory, and the ‘glorified’ additions are fitting for the occasion: Tributes are chosen from the existing pool of Victors. By the first Quarter Quell, Snow would have had fifteen years of experience in the Games. What are the odds that he invented the idea of a Quarter Quell himself? And if the idea was already in place, for sure he manipulated the concept for his own good, like he did with the 75th. So what happened on the 25th that led to him making the districts hold an election for Tributes? And what happened in the 50th that made him double the quantity? Who was he after those times?
  • Katniss and Peeta watch the 50th Games, and realise that reason they don’t remember seeing it on television is because Haymitch used the arena against the Capitol and shamed them, and so they kept it as quiet as possible. Snow taking a line right out of Gaul’s playbook–burning the tapes and hushing it up, just like Gaul did with the 10th.
    • And Haymitch’s method of coping with his Games is to turn to ‘white liquor’–which, in Ballad, we discover is straight up moonshine.
  • When the third Quell rules are announced, and Katniss is back in the Capitol with the other Victors who’ve been Reaped, she says that the Capitol citizens are only upset about the Victors going back into the arena because, unlike the new Tributes each year, the Victors are too familiar for the Capitol citizens to ‘forget they’re human’. She’s remarkably on the ball: even in Coriolanus’s time, the Capitol adults were convincing their children that the Districts were inhuman, beastly.
  • And talking of Victors: Lamina, the Ballad District 7 girl tribute, makes herself forgettable by weeping her way through the interviews, then proves deadly in the arena by straight-up axing Marcus in the neck—the exact same strategy used decades later by our favourite female District 7 tribute, Johanna Mason. (Of course, it’s possible Lamina axed Marcus out of empathy, hanging and beaten and dying as he was, whereas Johanna is ruthless and used that strategy to win. Still—with how brutally Snow reacted to Johanna not playing his games, killing her whole family because she wouldn’t obey… You have to wonder if Snow was lashing out because Johanna’s winning strategy reminded him so much of his own first Games.)
  • Snow ends Catching Fire by blowing up District 12. Katniss isn’t surprised it went up fast, just as she wasn’t when he burned down the Hob; 12, and the Hob in particular, have coal dust in every crack. And thanks to Coriolanus’s time watching Lucy Gray sing, Snow would know that better than anyone could know.

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Ballad vs The Hunger Games: Parallels Between Katniss and Coriolanus

You wouldn’t think it, but the two protagonists have a fair amount in common…

  • They’re both paranoid about people’s motivations: Katniss is paranoid Peeta is playing her to kill her in the first Games; Snow is paranoid that Sejanus is trying to steal his thunder by turning up to feed the Tributes in the zoo. And in both cases, their so-called rival has only the most innocent and pure of motives.
  • In both cases, the early loss of their father pulls their safety net from under them; they’re both forced to grow up quickly, their grief filling them with fear and vulnerability.
    • But while Snow sees his father as a force he’s never been able to live up to—strict, but stronger than his ‘weak’, gentle, loving mother—Katniss’s father is a force of love, coming to her when she most needs him. Like in Mockingjay, when Katniss is in District 2, and her father is ‘Singing his way into Peeta’s muddled consciousness’ during his recovery, and ‘Flickering in the look Boggs gives me as he protectively wraps the blanket around my shoulders’.
  • Katniss is devastated to think that Peeta sees her for ‘who she really is’, though she’s of course more than that: ‘Violent. Distrustful. Manipulative. Deadly.’ All the things Coriolanus is—though he convinces himself they’re his strengths.
  • Both Katniss and Coriolanus have visceral reactions to the woods beyond District 12. Katniss sees them as her safe place; but the first time Coriolanus sees them, having been called up to witness a hanging, he finds the woods so intimidating he’d rather watch the hanging.
  • They’re also alike in the way they view debt. Snow feels in debt to Lucy Gray for saving his life after the arena bombing: she’d given him ‘a gift beyond compare […] He would always be in her debt.’ Very similar to Katniss’s feelings when Peeta inadvertently saves her from starvation by throwing her the bread.
    • But Lucy Gray could never have been repaid the way Peeta was. And honestly, who’d want it?
  • Here’s an uncomfortable one: Coriolanus dreams about his reunion with Lucy Gray, wondering if they’ll talk, if she’ll be happy to see him, feeling ‘by turns thrilled, terrified, cocksure, and madly insecure’, and ultimately comforting himself thinking of ‘another of those long, slow kisses’. Katniss has almost these exact thoughts in Mockingjay, waiting for Peeta to arrive in District 13–and violence ruins both reunions, with the bar fight in Ballad, and hijacked Peeta attacking Katniss in Mockingjay. How much of that reunion did Snow orchestrate, using his own feelings for Lucy Gray to remind him of how lovers reunite?

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Did I miss any Easter eggs? Let me know–and tune in next week for Easter Eggs Explained: Mockingjay Edition!

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