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Read a full summary of Catching Fire, book #2 of Suzanne Collins’ wildly popular The Hunger Games series, right here!  This page is full of spoilers, so beware.  If you are wondering what happened in Catching Fire, then you are in the right place!

Special thanks to Chewie the Mouse, a new BSR contributor who wrote this great recap! Visit her blog to read her book reviews, and check out her Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook pages (links at the end of the recap).

Suzanne Collins

4.7 stars on Amazon
4.29 stars on Goodreads
Add Catching Fire at Goodreads.

The Hunger Games Series
#1 The Hunger Games
#2 Catching Fire
#3 Mockingjay
Not Yet Published:
#0 The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes

***** Everything below is a SPOILER *****

What happened in Catching Fire?

Part I: The Spark

On the morning of the Victory Tour, scheduled roughly six months after the end of the 74th Hunger Games, Katniss Everdeen spent the morning in the woods, checking her snare line. She took the game to Gale’s mother Hazelle, then stopped by the Hob to patronize a few of the sellers and chat with some old friends and acquaintances, including Peacekeepers Cray and Darius.

Katniss then stopped by to wake Haymitch from his drunken stupor so he could get ready for the Tour. While she was there, Peeta stopped by with fresh bread. Haymitch reminded them they’d have to play the happy lovers again for the tour. When Katniss returned home, she was met by her mother at the door, chattering nervously about how Katniss had enjoyed her “walk”. This clued Katniss in to the fact that something unusual was happening. Sure enough, a man from the Capitol led her to the study, where President Snow was waiting for her.

President Snow, with his signature smell of blood and roses, informed Katniss there was some unrest in the districts due to her defiant act with the berries in the previous Games. He told her he knew Gale had kissed her (exactly once) and warned her that she needed to convince everyone on the Victory Tour of her true love for Peeta. He gave her some advice, which (though not helpful to her) makes a good motto: Aim higher, in case you fall short. He threatened to harm her family as well as Gale’s if she wasn’t convincing enough. Snow then made a dramatic exit.

Katniss allayed her mother’s worries about the President’s visit by telling her it happened every year before the tour but wasn’t shown on television. Her Prep Team arrived and got Katniss cleaned up and made up, then she met with Cinna. Each winner was supposed to develop a “talent” since they no longer had to work or attend school. Peeta actually had one; he was a painter. Katniss had shown no interest in (or aptitude for) any of the suggested appropriate talents.

Finally, Cinna suggested she pursue her (imaginary) passion for clothing design. She agreed because it meant she got to talk to Cinna a lot by phone and because he agreed to do all the work. He had brought her some garments she had supposedly designed, along with notecards to read aloud as the film crew worked. He had also brought her departure outfit, which she did NOT design. Cinna explained that her goal was to be like him and design outfits as amazing as the ones he made.

Effie arrived to get everyone to the train on time. Katniss walked outside, saw Peeta coming toward her, and ran to join him. She embraced him so fiercely that they both fell in the snow, where they kissed for a bit. On the train, the two enjoyed a fancy meal with Effie, Haymitch, Cinna, and Portia (Peeta’s stylist).

Later, Katniss found Haymitch and told him she wanted to talk. He suggested a walk outside the train (and away from the cameras). Katniss told him everything that had happened with Snow and asked for his help in getting through the Victory Tour. Haymitch explained that it wasn’t just the matter of the tour; the two of them would continue to be in the public eye as mentors going forward. They’d have to play out their fake romance indefinitely.

The next morning, Effie woke Katniss early for breakfast. Katniss was annoyed to realize that everyone else was sleeping in, but she needed to allow extra time for her Prep Team. She was subjected to more beautification, then rejoined the group for lunch. The train stopped, and they were told it would take an hour to get it repaired. Effie was upset, and Katniss told her nobody cared and left the train for a walk. Peeta caught up with her and apologized for avoiding her after learning she wasn’t really in love with him. He suggested they try to be friends again, and she agreed.

They returned to the train, where Peeta showed Katniss his paintings. She said she hated them (because they were of the Games) but they were wonderful (because Peeta had talent). The two went to the back of the train to see the scenery as they approached their first stop, District 11. They were amazed at how large the district was as well as by the high fences with armed guards.

Once they arrived, they were escorted to the Justice Building, where the mayor made a speech. Katniss and Peeta then added pre-scripted remarks. Then they were allowed to add something about any special allies they had from that district. Peeta said something nice and offered the families of both tributes one month of their Victor’s earnings every year. Katniss complimented Thresh for his strength and honor, then spoke about how special Rue had been to her.

An older man in the crowd responded with Rue’s four-note mockingjay song, and then everyone saluted her with a District 12 sign Katniss had used with Rue in the games. As they were escorted back to the building, Katniss realized she’d forgotten her flowers. When she went to retrieve them, she saw the old man who had sung being executed by the Peacekeepers.

Peacekeepers forced Katniss and Peeta back into the building, where Peeta told Effie that the sound had just been a truck backfiring. Haymitch ushered the two up to the dome of the building, where they could talk freely without risk of being overheard. They told Haymitch what had happened, and Katniss filled Peeta in on previous events. Peeta was furious he had been kept out of the loop, and they all promised to be straight with each other going forward.

They attended the District 11 dinner that evening, followed by a series of speeches and dinners in the other districts. One and Two were particularly unpleasant as Katniss and/or Peeta had had a hand in the deaths of tributes from those places. They reached the Capitol and attended more events and dinners. At the end of an interview with Caesar Flickerman, Peeta proposed to Katniss, and she said yes. (Katniss had suggested this course of action earlier to increase public belief in their romance.)

The final capitol event was a huge banquet and party at President Snow’s house. Katniss was amazed at the amount and variety of food and tried to follow a plan of having only one bite of each item so she could taste as much as possible. She and Peeta met up with her Prep Team, who showed them a table of small glasses filled with liquid. They explained that a person could take a glass into the bathroom, drink it, and then throw up so they could return and eat even more. Katniss and Peeta were disgusted by this wastefulness when so many people in the districts were starving and went off alone to dance.

After a bit, Portia brought over Plutarch Heavensbee, the new Head Gamemaker, and introduced him to Katniss. He asked her to dance, and she had to accept. After a bit of dancing and chatting, Heavensbee showed Katniss his watch, which featured a briefly-visible mockingjay when he swiped his finger over it. Then he was off to a midnight meeting, and Katniss and Peeta were escorted back to the train by Effie.

The first event back in District 12 was a dinner at the mayor’s house. After Katniss was dressed and prepared for the event, she had some free time, so she went to look for her friend Madge, the Mayor’s daughter. On her way, she passed the Mayor’s study and saw his television was on, showing footage of her and Peeta at the banquet. Then it was interrupted by a special bulletin that was obviously only for the mayor’s eyes. She entered his study and watched it, learning an uprising was taking place in District 8.

After the celebrations, Katniss met Gale in the woods at a small one-room house near the lake where she used to go with her father. She told him about everything that had happened and suggested that they run away together. Gale agreed to go and told Katniss he loved her. Once Katniss explained that she wanted to take Peeta, Peeta’s family, and Haymitch along with them, Gale became upset. When she let the news about the uprising in District 8 slip, he changed his mind. Gale no longer wanted to flee; if an uprising was actually happening, he wanted to stay and be part of it. He left angrily.

Katniss made her way back separately. She ran into Peeta walking toward town and was about to share her plan with him when they heard an odd sound coming from the square. Peeta climbed up on something to see what was happening, then told her to go home right away. Katniss ignored him and forced her way to the front of the crowd. She saw the new Head Peacekeeper in the process of beating Gale with a whip. Gale was unconscious and tied to a post by his wrists, with the wild turkey he’d killed in the wood nailed to the post above him.

Katniss rushed between Gale and the Head Peacekeeper and took the next lash across her face. She braced herself for the next blow, but Haymitch arrived and made sure the Peacekeeper knew who she was and that she had a wedding dress photo session the next week. Purnia, one of the regular Peacekeepers, stepped up to point out that the normal penalty for a first offense had already been meted out, so the new Head Peacekeeper backed off.

Peeta, Haymitch, and some of Gale’s crew from the mines used a board to carry him to Katniss’ house. Katniss sent a girl from the Seam to ask Gale’s mother to meet them at the house, and the girl offered to stay with the younger Hawthorne children. Katniss pressed snow to her injury at Haymitch’s direction and followed the others.

En route, Gale’s mining crew mates filled the others in on what had happened. Gale had taken his wild turkey to the Head Peacekeeper’s house (formerly Croy, a regular customer) only to be met by his replacement, Romulus Thread, who was more interested in punishing poachers than in buying fresh game. Midway through Gale’s sentence, another Peacekeeper had tried to intervene and been knocked unconscious.

Back at the house, Mrs. Everdeen and Prim took over, cleaning and binding Gale’s wounds and giving him herbal pain and anti-infection remedies. Madge arrived with a box of real painkillers, which promptly knocked Gale out. Katniss sat with him overnight, and when he woke up, she told him she had abandoned her plan to run away with her family and was going to stay and help cause trouble.

In the morning, Peeta arrived to sit with Gale and told Katniss to get some sleep, which she did. The earlier snow turned into a blizzard, keeping everyone indoors for a couple of days, where Mrs. Everdeen and Prim continued to care for Gale. Once the walkways were clear, Katniss, Peeta, and Haymitch went for a walk toward town so they could talk privately. Katniss shared her new plan of staying and fighting.

They arrived at the town square and saw that the new Peacekeepers, under Thread’s leadership, had erected several implements of torture/punishment. Also, the Hob had been burned down. Katniss went to visit Hazelle, only to learn than her daughter Posey was sick and that people were no longer paying her to do laundry. Katniss had her mother send some medicine for Posey, and arranged for Haymitch to hire Hazelle as a housekeeper so she’d still have some income.

The Peacekeeper crackdown continued, with more public punishments. The mines were kept closed for two weeks, resulting in increased hunger. When they reopened, hours were longer and conditions were more dangerous.

Katniss received a shipment of wedding dresses to look at, all approved by President Snow. This upset her so much that she returned to the cabin in the woods for a break. Too late, she realized she had missed signs that someone else was already there. She was confronted by a woman in a Peacekeeper uniform and was about to shoot her, but the woman dropped her weapon and held out a small wafer with a mockingjay imprint.

Part II: The Quell

The woman’s name was Twill, and she was traveling with an injured girl named Bonnie. They had fled District 8 after the uprising and were able to provide details about that incident to Katniss. It had happened on the night of the required viewing of her interview with Caesar Flickerman, during which Peeta proposed to her. The rebels in District 8 were able to take over several key infrastructure areas, but within 48 hours a massive influx of Peacekeepers arrived and quickly shut down the rebellion.

The assumed ringleaders were executed, and a garment factory thought (correctly) to be the origin of the uprising was bombed. Twill and Bonnie worked there but were late that day because of all the rubble in the streets on their route. Twill had previously stolen two Peacekeeper uniforms for herself and her husband; the plan had been for them to sneak way and share the news of the uprising. Presumed dead in the bombing, Bonnie and Twill donned the uniforms and fled.

They also shared information about the existence of District 13, long thought to have been bombed out of existence by the Capitol. Twill’s theory was that the people there had moved underground and the Capitol left them alone because their primary industry had been nuclear development. She said the footage of the ruins seen on television was the same stock footage, shown over and over, because they didn’t want to show what was really there now.

Katniss didn’t believe District 13 still existed but gave Twill and Bonnie all the food she had in her sack, showed Twill how to hunt, and wished them well.

When Katniss tried to sneak back under the fence to return home, she realized that the electricity was on. She had to climb a tree, move out onto a limb that hung over the fence, and drop twenty-five feet into a snowbank. She injured her left heel and tailbone in the fall.

She arrived home to find two Peacekeepers waiting for her, allegedly to “give her a message from Thread,” but obviously really to be there when she didn’t show up so they could catch her outside the fence. Haymitch and Peeta were there along with Mrs. Everdeen and Prim, and the five of them wove a funny story about how Katniss had been gone all day trying to find the Goat Man to arrange to get Prim’s goat pregnant.

The Peacekeepers left, and Mrs. Everdeen treated the injured heel and sent Katniss to bed with some sleep syrup. Katniss was to have a week of staying off her foot, and Peeta came to help her work on the family book. This was a handmade book showing pictures and descriptions of medicinal and edible plants. Peeta did the illustrations, and Katniss wrote the text for the plants she’d learned about since the previous entries.

Katniss also watched some television during this time, looking for video of District 13. She saw a supposedly live report with a reporter explaining that conditions in the area were still too hazardous to resume graphite mining. The tell-tale mockingjay flying across the corner of the screen that Twill had told her meant it was actually old stock footage.

On the day Katniss was finally feeling well enough to walk into town, she was awakened by her Prep Team, who had arrived earlier than expected for her wedding dress photo shoot. While they were getting her ready, they chattered as usual, but Katniss caught a mention of one of them not being able to get shrimp for a party. She questioned them about other “hardships” in their lives and learned that a variety of consumer goods were no longer being readily supplied to the Capitol, implying uprisings in other districts.

The next day, the wedding dress program was televised and was required viewing for everyone. The whole dress selection process had been an ongoing event in the Capitol, with people voting for their favorite dresses and accessories. The six Katniss was photographed in were the finalists out of twenty-four original designs.

After the dress portion of the program, President Snow came on to make a major announcement: For the 75th Hunger Games (the third Quarter Quell), the two tributes from each district would be reaped from that district’s existing pool of victors. This meant that Katniss would definitely have to go back into the Arena, along with either Haymitch or Peeta.

Katniss immediately ran out of the house to get some air and process this news. She ended up getting drunk with Haymitch. During the drinking, she made him agree to volunteer for Peeta if his name was called. If Haymitch’s name was called, they both knew Peeta would volunteer. If this happened, Katniss made him promise, as their mentor, to keep Peeta alive this time around.

The three decided their best course of action was to train like Career Tributes. They exercised to improve their strength and endurance and ate a special diet provided by Mrs. Everdeen to gain muscle. They also practiced combat skills and tree climbing as well as with the weapons available to them. On Sundays, Gale worked with them and taught them all he knew about snares. In the evenings, they watched tapes of past Games to learn more about their potential opponents.

The day of the Reaping arrived. As Katniss was the only female victor, her name was pulled. Haymitch’s name was pulled, and Peeta volunteered to take his place. Instead of the usual hour for goodbyes in the Justice Building, the three were herded directly on the train and departed for the Capitol, along with Effie. Haymitch had stopped drinking, and Effie kindly declined her own wine as well in sympathy.

After dinner on the train, the group watched the replay of the Reapings. Tributes of note included: Chaff, an old friend of Haymitch’s; Johanna, who had won by pretending to be weak; Finnick, a handsome man who won when he was only 14; and Mags, an 80-year old woman who needed a cane to reach the stage and had volunteered in the place of a younger woman.

That night on the train, Katniss and Peeta watched the tape of the 50th Hunger Games, aka the Second Quarter Quell. That was the year Haymitch won. Maysilee Donner, a friend of Mrs. Everdeen, was also a tribute. Maysilee and Haymitch had been allies for a while, but she was killed by a flock of pink birds.

In the end, it came down to Haymitch and a Career girl. The two fought and both sustained potentially fatal injuries. Haymitch lured her to the edge of the Arena, which he had discovered earlier. She threw an axe at him, but he fell to the ground. The axe flew over the edge of the abyss but (as Haymitch knew it would) the force field caused it to bounce back, hitting the girl in the head and killing her.

In the Capitol, Katniss met with her Prep Team to get ready for the opening parade. They were all teary, and she spent much of the session trying to make them feel better. Cinna finished helping her get ready; the costumes this time made Katniss and Peeta look like living embers and were easily the best in the parade.

Before the start of the event, Finnick chatted with Katniss, saying provocative things and telling her he traded secrets for the pleasure of his company in the Capitol. Afterwards, Haymitch introduced the two to his friends from District 11, Brutus (who had lost a hand in his games) and Seeder (a woman in her 60s). Seeder told Katniss that Rue and Chaff’s families were still alive, which made her feel a bit better.

In the elevator, Johanna Mason (District 7) took off her tree costume and rode to her floor naked to throw Katniss off. When the group arrived on their floor for dinner, the same red-haired Avox girl from before was there. They were stunned to see that their second Avox was Darius, formerly a friendly Peacekeeper from their district.

Training began the next day. Haymitch sent Katniss and Peeta to the Training Center with two instructions: 1. Keep looking like you’re in love, and 2. Make friends. He wanted them to have some allies going into the Arena since all the tributes were former victors and tougher competition than last time.

While Peeta practiced throwing spears and knives with some of the tributes, Katniss met Wiress and Beetee from District 3 at the fire-making station. With some subtle conversation, she was able to confirm that there was, in fact, an uprising in that district. Beetee and Wiress showed her how to tell that there was now a force field separating the Gamemaker’s viewing area from the training area.

Katniss met most of the other tributes during training and learned some new skills at some of the stations. She told Haymitch that she wanted Mags (the elderly woman), Wiress, and Beetee as allies. At their group’s dinner after the assessments with the Game Makers, Katniss revealed she had created a noose and hung Seneca Crane in effigy. Peeta had been similarly defiant by painting a picture of Rue dead, covered in flowers. Both received Training Scores of 12, which Haymitch said meant the other tributes would target them first.

The next day was supposed to be coaching for the televised interviews, but Haymitch and Effie cancelled the coaching, so Katniss and Peeta had the day off. They spent at the roof garden, having an extended picnic and relaxing.

The next day, at the interviews with Caesar Flickerman, many of the tributes expressed sorrow and anger about the Quarter Quell, with suggestions that it could be stopped so that the people of the Capitol wouldn’t have to grieve the loss of so many victors they had come to love.

President Snow had insisted that Katniss wear the winning wedding dress from the public voting for her interview. When she twirled, the dress started smoking, then burned away, leaving a dress in the same style made of black feathers. When she raised her arms, she looked like a mockingjay.

Next came Peeta’s interview with Caesar. Peeta told everyone that he and Katniss had already gotten married in a private District 12 ceremony, with just the two of them. Nobody, even Mrs. Everdeen and Haymitch, knew about it. He also said that Katniss was pregnant. Neither of these things was true, but it sent the audience into an uproar.

The anthem was played loudly to end the program, and the tributes all lined up and held hands in the first cross-district show of unity in a long time. Afterwards, Haymitch gave Katniss and Peeta his final words of advice: Stay alive, and remember who the enemy is.

The next morning, Cinna escorted Katniss to the pre-games staging area, just as he had done the previous year and helped her dress. The tribute outfit this time around was a blue jumpsuit with a purple plastic bet. Cinna said the fabric wouldn’t be insulated against cold or water, but it might help with sun if it had been treated with something.

When it was time, Katniss stepped onto her platform, but it didn’t immediately rise. Instead, two guards entered the room, beat Cinna severely, and drug him out in handcuffs. Katniss assumed this was punishment for the wedding-dress-turns-into-a-mockingjay design she wore at the interview. After that, the disc rose, and Katniss was surprised to see she was surrounded by water.

Part III: The Enemy

When the gong sounded, she dove in and swam to the Cornucopia. She grabbed a golden bow with arrows and turned with an arrow nocked when she heard someone behind her. It was Finnick, holding a trident ready to attack. He told her it was a good thing they were allies and showed her Haymitch’s gold bracelet, which he was wearing as proof of this. The two agreed to work their way around the Cornucopia to grab anything useful.

Finnick yelled at Katniss to duck, which she did, allowing him to kill the male tribute from District 5 with his trident. After taking the weapons they wanted from the Cornucopia, they headed off to help Peeta, who was still stranded on his disc. On the way, Katniss shot arrows at a couple of tributes, wounding Brutus in the leg. Finnick left his weapons with Katniss along with instructions to cover him and swam off to retrieve Peeta. As she waited, Katniss noticed Mags swimming toward her.

Once the foursome was together, they headed to shore. A sandy beach quickly met an upward-sloping jungle, so they began to climb, heading upward for about two hours. Katniss noticed the blurry square that signified a force field too late to warn Peeta, who was swinging his knife in that direction to clear some vines.

Peeta collapsed, had no pulse, and wasn’t breathing. Finnick moved to help him, but Katniss thought he was trying to make sure Peeta was dead and lunged at him. Finnick knocked her back, and she realized what he was doing. Finnick was able to successfully perform CPR, and Peeta started breathing again. He insisted that he was okay to move on as long as they went slowly. They needed to find a water source quickly, as the water around the Cornucopia was salty and undrinkable.

Finnick asked Katniss how she’d known about the force field. She didn’t want anyone else to know the trick she’d learned from Beetee and Wiress, so she said she could hear it out of her left ear (the one reconstructed by Capitol surgeons after the previous Games). Katniss lead, looking for signs of the force field, and also throwing nuts, which sizzled and bounced off it. Mags started eating the nuts; Katniss worried that they might be poisonous, but Finnick didn’t seem concerned. After a bit, they stopped to rest. Katniss climbed a tall tree to get an aerial view and came down to report that the Arena was a perfect circle, with the Cornucopia and salt water in the center.

While Peeta and Mags rested, Katniss went off alone in search of water. She didn’t find any but shot an animal that looked like a cross between a rat and a possum. When she returned, she found that Peeta had been frying nuts by throwing them at the force field. They cooked chunks of the animal the same way and had a decent meal.

The anthem played, and the group learned that eight tributes had died in the initial bloodbath. A silver sponsor parachute arrived, containing a metal object that none of them knew what to do with. After a bit, Katniss realized it was a spile, something she had seen her father use to get sap out of trees. They tried it on a tree and were rewarded with fresh water. Midway through the night, a bell tolled twelve times, followed by a lightning strike and the start of a storm off to the side of them.

While Katniss was keeping watch, she noticed a bank of fog moving toward them from the area where the storm had been. She realized it was actually some kind of poison gas that caused painful burns and quickly roused the others. Finnick picked Mags up and ran, and Katniss helped a still-groggy Peeta move as fast as possible.

After a bit, they realized the gas caused nerve issues as well as burns, and their arms and legs weren’t working properly. Peeta couldn’t keep going, even with Katniss helping him. Finnick came back for the pair but explained he couldn’t carry both Mags and Peeta since his arms had stopped working. Mags kissed Finnick goodbye, walked straight into the fog, and died quickly. Finnick carried Peeta, and Katniss stumbled along behind them until they all collapsed. Katniss realized that the fog had stopped and was pooling up behind some sort of invisible barrier, then vanished into the sky.

The three crawled to the beach, where Finnick collapsed. Katniss realized that, although the water made the burns more painful, it also leached away the poison. She and Peeta gradually moved more and more of their bodies into the water. Jumping in all at once would have been too painful. Once they were somewhat recovered, they helped Finnick, first by pouring water over his hands and arms, then by dragging him gradually further into the water.

Once they were all feeling better, Peeta went to tap a tree for water. The other two went to join him and realized that a massive horde of orange-colored monkeys were in the nearby trees. The monkeys attacked, and the three formed a defensive triangle and fought them off back-to-back. When Katniss ran out of arrows, she asked Peeta for his. While he was removing them from his back to hand them to her, a monkey launched itself right at him. Neither Katniss nor Finnick could move quickly enough to intervene, but the female morphling addict from District 6 appeared out of nowhere, threw herself in front of him and took the fatal attack in his place.

Almost immediately, the monkeys retreated. Peeta carried the dying girl to the beach and talked gently to her about painting and colors until she died. Finnick wanted to stand guard while the other two slept, and Katniss agreed, since she could tell he wanted some private time to grieve for Mags.

When Katniss awoke, she discovered that she’d been scratching the now-itchy burns scabs in her sleep. She announced that Haymitch should send them some ointment, and it arrived almost immediately by parachute. It helped with the itching but turned their skin a decomposing shade of green. During his watch, Finnick had gotten some water and shellfish, and the three had a decent meal.

They heard a scream and saw, directly across the arena from them, a giant wave coming down from the top of the slope and crashing into the center water. A cannon fired, bringing the total number of dead tributes up to twelve. Then they saw red three figures stagger out of the jungle and move toward them on the beach. Finnick realized that one was Johanna Mason and ran to greet her.

Katniss and Peeta followed and were surprised to see that the other two were Beetee and Wiress. Joanna explained that they’d been caught in a rain of blood, during which Blight (the male tribute from Johanna’s district) had run into the force field and died. Beetee had been knifed in the back at the Cornucopia, and Wiress was confused and walking around in circles saying, “tick-tock” over and over.

The group returned to the beach camp, where the new arrivals cleaned up and had some food. Katniss treated Beetee’s injury by using moss to cushion the wound and absorb the blood. Katniss and Johanna kept watch while the others slept, and Katniss explained what had happened to Mags. After a bit, Wiress woke up and wandered over, so Johanna went off to get some sleep.

Around noon, Katniss saw another lightning strike, followed by a storm, in another section of the arena. Thinking back over when and where each of the other attacks had occurred, combined with the “tick-tock,” Katniss realized what Wiress was trying to tell them…the arena was a giant clock!

Katniss shared the clock theory with the rest of the group, and Wiress was calmer now that she’d been understood. At Finnick’s suggestion, the group went to the Cornucopia to observe and verify the clock idea. Peeta drew a map of the arena on a leaf; it looked like a pie cut into twelve wedges, with a different threat each hour.

While Beetee rested in the shade and the others looked for additional weapons, Wiress took Beetee’s coil of wire to the water’s edge to clean it while singing a children’s song about a mouse and a clock. When Katniss realized the singing had stopped, she turned with an arrow ready and saw that Wiress had been killed. She fatally shot Gloss, while Johanna killed Cashmere with one of her newly-acquired axes. Finnick used his trident to deflect a weapon Brutus aimed at Peeta and took Enobaria’s knife in his leg.

Suddenly, the whole center area began to spin wildly. Katniss, Peeta, Johanna, and Finnick were barely able to hold on, but Beetee was flung into the water. While Finnick swam out to help him back to land, Katniss realized that Wiress was still holding Beetee’s coil of wire. She swam out and retrieved it before the bodies were removed from the water.

Back on land, the group realized that, after the spinning, they had no idea which segment (and related threat) was which anymore. They picked one at random and moved back to the beach. Finnick and Katniss started to tap a tree for more water when Katniss heard a horrible scream and took off running toward the sound because the screamer sounded like Prim.

Katniss eventually caught up to the source of the sound, realized it was a jabberjay, and shot it. Finnick caught up to her, and a new scream started. Finnick tore off after the sound, screaming the name Annie. Katniss followed, climbed a tree, and shot that jabberjay as well. A new voice started, Gale’s this time.

Finnick reminded Katniss that he wasn’t really there and drug her back toward the beach. They couldn’t reach the rest of the group, as an invisible barrier had appeared between the two sections. All Finnick and Katniss could do was wait it out as the birds continued to mimic their loved ones in extreme pain.

Once they were able to rejoin the group, they expressed their worry that their friends and family had been tortured or killed to generate the sounds the jabberjays had mimicked. Peeta pointed out that this couldn’t be the case, as they were almost down to the final eight, at which point the Capitol would interview the families of the surviving tributes. Obviously, they couldn’t do this if everyone was dead.

Beetee explained that the screams could be artificially created easily enough; this was a skill even children in his district knew. This discussion reassured Katniss and Finnick somewhat. Another cannon fired, and a dead tribute was removed from the arena in several pieces. Peeta added “beast” to his map of the arena, along with the jabberjays.

A parachute arrived from District 3 (Beetee’s district) containing rolls. Beetee was concerned with knowing exactly how many rolls were in the package before anyone started eating; there were exactly twenty-four.

That night, Katniss and Peeta kept watch while the others slept. They discussed how each had made a deal with Haymitch to keep the other alive. Peeta told Katniss that his own life would not be worth living without her, whereas she had family who loved and needed her. He opened his mockingjay locket to show her pictures of her mother, Prim, and Gale. They kissed for a bit, then lighting struck the big tree at midnight, waking Finnick, who came to take over the watch with Peeta so Katniss could sleep.

The next morning, the group received another parachute containing twenty-four rolls from District 3. Under the pretext of teaching Peeta to swim, Katniss got him away from the group to talk about when to leave the alliance; she wanted to go right away. Peeta recommended waiting until the remaining Careers were dead, as he thought Beetee was working on an idea to trap them. Katniss agreed to wait, deciding it would be better to avoid having two groups of people trying to kill them.

As it turned out, Beetee had a plan to use his wire to set a trap for the remaining career tributes, Brutus and Enobaria. The idea was to run the wire from the tree that was struck by lightning every noon and midnight down through the jungle and into the water. This would electrocute anyone who happened to be standing on the beach at the time of the lightning strike. Since the beach was the most desirable location, he assumed the Careers would move there once their own group had left.

Beetee wanted to examine the tree before the next lightning strike, so the group hiked up the jungle slope. While Beetee did what he needed to do, the others found food. As noon, the time for the next strike, neared, they moved over enough to be safe and lunched on nuts and tree rats, which they cooked using the force field.

After the lightning strike, they returned to the beach, where Beetee continued to work on his trap. The others napped, then gathered up some seafood for a dinner feast. Peeta found a pearl in an oyster, which he gave to Katniss. A parachute arrived with a pot of red sauce and another twenty-four District 3 rolls to go with their dinner. Everyone ate until they were stuffed. Then they tossed the leftovers into the sea so the Careers couldn’t eat them.

Around 9:00 that night, Beetee decided it was time to implement the plan. The group hiked back up to the lightning tree where Beetee enlisted Finnick to help him wrap the trunk is an elaborate pattern of wire. He instructed Katniss and Johanna to take the coil down to the beach, unwinding it through the jungle and over the sand, then sinking the coil and the remains of the wire deep in the water. Mid-way down the slope, the girls stopped to switch jobs, since Johanna had been unwinding the wire the whole time.

As they stopped, the wire they’d already unwound sprang free as if it had been cut from a short distance above them. Johanna hit Katniss in the head with the coil, pinned her down, and dug her knife into her arm. She then smeared blood from the arm wound over Katniss’ face and told her to stay down. Katniss stayed put, disoriented from the blow to the head. Brutus and Enobaria arrived, decided Katniss was “as good as dead,” and moved off.

Katniss managed to stand up despite the dizziness and bound her arm wound with moss to stop the bleeding. As she began making her way back up the slope toward Peeta, she heard Finnick running down the hill, calling for her and Johanna. She hid, and he ran past, following the direction Johanna and the Careers had gone. She made her way to the top of the slope and found Beetee unconscious, with a wound below his elbow, holding a knife wrapped in wire.

Peeta called softly to her but was far enough away that she couldn’t see him. Worried the other tributes would hear Peeta and try to kill him, she shouted back loudly. This worked, and Finnick and Enobaria ran up to the lightning tree but didn’t see her. She planned to shoot Enobaria and hope Finnick would duck behind the tree just in time to be killed by the lightning strike.

Then Katniss remembered Haymitch’s final piece of advice to her: Remember the enemy. It suddenly dawned on her what the wire on Beetee’s knife meant. She removed the wire, wrapped it around one of her arrows, and shot it at the wavering square in the force field. The arrow went all the way through, trailing gold wire behind it. Lightning struck the tree and Katniss collapsed. 

How did Catching Fire end?

There were explosions and fires, and Katniss was on the ground, unable to move. She saw the hovercraft appear and send down the claw to pick her up. She hoped she’d die from her injuries before she made it to the Capitol to be tortured and executed, and wondered if the plan all along had been for none of the former victors to survive. Upon her arrival in the hovercraft, the first person Katniss saw was Plutarch Heavensbee. He gently closed her eyelids just before she lost consciousness.

Katniss awoke on a padded table, barely able to move. Convinced the Capitol was only trying to keep her alive so they could execute her publicly and painfully, she flailed around enough to pull the tubes out of her arm. She passed out again before she could see what happened as a result. The next time she woke up, she had been restrained. She saw Beetee in a bed across from her before passing out again.

When she woke up for real, she was no longer restrained or attached to any machines or tubes. Beetee was still unconscious and hooked up to machines. Still assuming that the Capitol was planning to execute the surviving tributes, she decided the best thing to do was to find Peeta and kill him quickly and painlessly by injecting a syringe of air into one of his veins.

Katniss made her way to a partially open door and overheard Haymitch, Finnick, and Plutarch Heavensbee talking. Shecharged into the room with her syringe, only to be intercepted by Haymitch, who forced her to drop it and sit down. He told her he would explain everything. She was not to ask questions until he finished. She agreed.

Haymitch told her that there had been a plan all along to rescue them from the arena. Many of the other tributes had some degree of knowledge of the plan. Plutarch Heavensbee was part of a group plotting to overthrow the Capitol and had been in on it from the beginning. He was the one who made sure the coil of wire was included with the weapons stash in the Cornucopia.

It was Beetee’s job to blow a hole in the force field at the proper time. The sponsor bread was a way to communicate the day and time of the rescue with the originating district being the day, and the number of rolls the hour. District 13 did exist and owned the hovercraft they were currently flying on. Most of the districts were currently rebelling.

Some of the other tributes had agreed to do anything necessary to keep Katniss alive since she was the mockingjay and keeping her alive was crucial to the rebellion. Johanna’s attack on Katniss had been to remove the tracker from her arm and lead Enobaria and Brutus away from her. Peeta had been kept alive because everyone knew Katniss wouldn’t stay in the alliance if he was already dead.

Peeta, Johanna, and Enobaria had been taken by the Capitol after the force field was blown. At this news, Katniss lunged at Haymitch, scratching him severely with her fingernails. Finnick and others tried to restrain her, and eventually she was returned to her hospital bed and knocked out with an injection.

Katniss gave up, stopped eating, and waited to die. Various people came to talk to her, but she tuned them out and moaned until she got more painkillers, which knocked her out. One day Gale appeared, injured but otherwise okay. He told Katniss that the Capitol had firebombed District 12 out of existence. Prim and her mother were safe, as Gale had gotten them out in time. The last line of the book was Gale’s: “Katniss, there is no District Twelve.”

There you go! That’s what happened in Catching Fire. We hope you enjoyed this Catching Fire summary with spoilers.

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2 thoughts on “What happened in Catching Fire? (The Hunger Games #2)”

  1. Great recap. You have one tiny mistake. After the heading HOW DID CATCHING FIRE END? There is a paragraph that must have been from the first book of HG.

    I’m a little less confused after your recap. Thank you. I hate ending a book confused…😞

    1. You’re right, that paragraph was from our recap of book 1. Great catch, Alison! I just removed it. Thanks for your help! 🙂

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