Catching Fire Discussion, Part 2

REMINDER: POTENTIAL SPOILERS AHEAD

Time for our second round of questions!

Symbolism is prevalent throughout most good stories.
An obvious example in this story is the mockingjay, a symbol of hope and courage by the people in the districts. Did anything else strike you as symbolic in this novel?

Joni Sensel:
Loads, including:
Snares — the setting of them, the idea of not seeing a trap until you’re already caught, the idea that setting one may be harder than you thought and might bite the setter, not just the prey
Fire and its parallels with love, passion, compassion, and other strong emotions — as simultaneously a warming, nurturing, rousing and painful/destructive force
Drugs and narcotics, including sleep and the related associations to turning away, ignoring, numbing, forgetting, and going passive… as well as our human need for these things at times
The world’s division into the other twelve districts and a central capital — we have deep-seated cultural and religious associations with this number as a “natural” and “perfect” division (because of the number of hours in a day). This is connected with the importance of time in the story, the games, and our lives, and also with District 13 and all the associations we have with that number, including the fact that it does not appear on a clock and is therefore “beyond time”

Jo Whittemore:
I think the characters themselves were very symbolic, even the minor ones.
Darius, one of the Peacekeepers for District 12, who represented Kat’s old, comfortable way of life. When he was turned into an Avox for interfering with the government, it was a symbol of the drastic hobbling of the district itself. The same can be said for Gale, really.
Cinna, Kat’s personal tailor and close friend, who represented the unspoken discontent and dissent among the Capitol citizens and later turned Kat into the mockingjay that meant so much to the people.
Finnick, one of Kat’s unlikely allies in the Quell, who represented strength and fortitude when Kat couldn’t find it in herself or Peeta.
Johanna, a competitor in the Quell, who until the very end represented the uncertainty of the Games with her good/bad actions and callous nature.
And of course, the dark and evil that is President Snow who represented, well…all things dark and evil.

Second Question
What did you enjoy about the novel that hasn’t yet been mentioned?

K.A. Holt:
In the Hunger Games books, Suzanne Collins does a fantastic job of describing advancements in technology – and new technologies (or medical treatments) – without explaining them too much. Hovercrafts that no one can hear and that appear out of nowhere? That’s just how it is. There’s no awkward exposition on why this might be. Medical technology that can cure a deaf ear? We don’t need to know how it’s done, it’s just done. I have to commend her for being able to easily weave fancy technology into the story, without allowing it to bog down the story-telling. The world she has created is so well done that we accept its nuances without much question. I may want to know how an Arena is created and where the cameras are and how muttations are made so quickly, but it’s not pertinent to the story so it’s not explained. I accept this as a reader, and as a writer I applaud her.

Joni Sensel:
The ongoing tension between self-protection and survival and the need to consider, protect, or be loyal to others: family members, lovers, innocents, “alliance” partners, society as a whole. Katniss struggled with these issues without a lot of consistency, bouncing around between motivations and priorities, which I think is utterly realistic given the dilemmas she faced.

Third Question
One of the best tools an author has to keep a reader on his/her toes is the element of surprise. How do you feel the author handled that in this case?

P.J. Hoover:
On surprise, overall I thought it was fantastic. I was surprised at the ending. I was surprised at the choice to send Katniss and Peeta back to the arena. In these ways, I thought Ms. Collins did a great job. One surprise I did not find a surprise at all was the pocket watch. As soon as he pulled it out and showed it to Katniss (with the image of the mockingjay) the element of surprise was gone here. I knew she had a friend on the inside.

Jo Whittemore:
For me, it wasn’t that anything was particularly surprising. Most of what happened I could predict based on the previous book. But the way in which the “surprise” was delivered was what caught me. For example, I knew Cinna would be in trouble for the mockingjay costume, but I didn’t know they’d beat him before Kat’s eyes when she was trapped on the pod, waiting to enter the arena. I knew something had to be up with Finn constantly handling and counting the loaves of bread in the arena, but I didn’t know it was a communication method. and I knew the monkeys were creepy, rabid beasties, but I didn’t know the deranged woman would run into their path, saving Peeta.

Lastly, any predictions for the the third novel?

Linda Joy Singleton:
I am really hoping there isn’t another game unless it’s the organizers that have to survive in their own sick competition. I’m hoping to see more uniting of all the lesser districts as they gain intelligence and power. I’m guessing one of Kat’s love interests won’t make it, probably Gale. I hope no one else readers care about dies. I’d like to see Kat succeed with bold actions that lead to the fall of the games. Justice and romance would make a great finale.

Parker Peevyhouse:
There will have to be a third set of games, right? Because those games are really what this series is about, and they’re the most fascinating part of the trilogy. But whether Katniss will be a contender or will have another role remains to be seen, because I’m not sure how the budding revolution will allow for a realistic set-up of another round of games.

So, readers, what do YOU predict for Book 3?

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11 Comments

Filed under Joni Sensel, K. A. Holt, Linda Joy Singleton, P. J. Hoover, Parker Peevyhouse

11 responses to “Catching Fire Discussion, Part 2

  1. I’m not going to second-guess Collins, because I love to be surprised and carried away by story. I expect a third games, as Parker said, because that is what this series is about. And I had no problem with the games in book two. In fact, I was shocked that Katniss and Peeta had to return to the arena with all the other winners. I thought it was a good twist, not a convenient or unbelievable one. I read both of the first two books, breathlessly, so that tells me something about the skill of the storyteller. I did not read them with a critic’s hat on and would have to comb through them to answer some of the questions you guys have discussed, but it’s been interesting to consider your various comments.

    • I know everyone thinks arena again, but I just don’t see it happening with the government crumbling already. I think there’ll be a war, and the government will unleash their muttations to fight for them.

    • Parker Peevyhouse

      I’m with you P/T. I liked having another round of games, and I was totally okay with the Quarter Quell plot point.

  2. An obvious example in this story is the mockingjay, a symbol of hope and courage by the people in the districts. Did anything else strike you as symbolic in this novel?

    Fire–the idea of lighting a fire, of sparking a revolution. It very much reminded me of Jewish Resistance Fighter Hanah Senesh and her poem, “Blessed is the Match”

    Second Question
    What did you enjoy about the novel that hasn’t yet been mentioned?

    Oh, uh…wow. I’m kinda blown away by y’all’s answers, so I’m just going to stick with that.

    Also: Amazing pacing. But that’s kinda obvious.

    Third Question
    One of the best tools an author has to keep a reader on his/her toes is the element of surprise. How do you feel the author handled that in this case?

    PJ: While I knew he was a friend, I was surprised by the outcome of the clue. I didn’t think he was showing her his watch as a clue to the arena, just as an indication that he was on her side.

    Personally, I think the brutality of the book was shocking in a surprising sort of way. It was blunt and brutal and *there* in a way most writers don’t include.

    Lastly, any predictions for the the third novel?

    Perhaps another round of the games inasmuch as all the rebels will be forced onto a death arena?

    I think Katniss will *choose* more about what happens. Surprisingly, she’s been a bit passive. With Peeta kidnapped and her home destroyed, I foresee her bring down an avenging wrath.

    • I hope you’re right and Kat chooses to get more involved. We saw a hint of that in the second novel on two opposite ends of the spectrum (“I’ll run away and hide”, then later “I’ll stay and fight”), but in both cases, she never really followed through. Just kind of…went with the flow.

  3. Rats. I’m going to have to move this book up on my To Read list because I can’t stand not being part of all these discussions.
    But no. It will have to wait its turn. Farwalker’s Quest and The Emerald Tablet are way ahead of it.

  4. “Suzanne Collins does a fantastic job of describing advancements in technology – and new technologies (or medical treatments) – without explaining them too much. Hovercrafts that no one can hear and that appear out of nowhere? That’s just how it is. There’s no awkward exposition on why this might be. ”

    That’s a good example of differences among readers, I guess! I want enough explanation to be able to believe it — I guess I’m not going to just take an author’s word for it that something like this can exist in what is supposed to be our world without some conception of what the science, or at least the logic, behind it is. I wouldn’t want a long explanation, but I *would* have liked to believe it the arena’s science and not wonder things like how they could possibly have cameras EVERYWHERE — even in the rock hideout they built — but nobody watching noticed or clued in to the electrocution of the arena force field, which I saw coming as soon as they came up with the concept.

    • You know what I would like? An appendix explaining the technology. Pretty sure I’m in the minority with that one, though. :)

    • Parker Peevyhouse

      I also wondered about the cameras, too! And how is it that Katniss and co. never notice any cameras?

      At the same time, I’m happy without all the science being explained. That would be for a book where the scientific stuff is the main focus of the book. Here, I just want to hear about the games and how Katniss survives them.

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