The question that has stumped readers is why Katniss shot President Snow and killed Coin in Suzanne Collins’ third and final Hunger Games book, Mockingjay.
In my last article, I talked about why it is necessary for Prim to die, as it is a crucial part of the overall themes of the story that many people, who do not like Mockingjay, fail to comprehend.
It was important that it happened on a thematic level, but it’s obvious why she needed to kill Coin on a plot level. Instead, Coin kills Katniss. We never get that payoff and the build-up towards Katniss having to kill Snow, there is another problem with people having yet with Mockingjay.
In chapter twenty six of Mockingjay, Katniss chose to kill Coin rather than President Snow. Here is the excerpt from the book:
Will nothing ever change now. Nothing has changed. We are discussing the next Hunger Games, attempting to avoid wasting life, and all those people I loved who are dead. Did someone make a case for mercy, when Snow’s scent of roses curls up my nose and tightens my throat with despair? Was there dissent? Did a group of people sit around and cast their votes on initiating the Hunger Games? Like it was seventy-five years ago or so, is it still the same now?
I carefully consider my choices, thoroughly contemplate everything. With my gaze fixed on the rose, I declare, “I affirmatively choose…Prim.”
“Haymitch, the decision is in your hands,” Coin declares.
I understand exactly how much he does, and we are very similar in how we find out when we truly know each other. This is the moment. I can feel Haymitch watching me, but I could become furious with the atrocity Peeta is faced with at the party.
“I am with the Mockingjay,” he declares.
“Fantastic. That secures the vote,” Coin states. “Now we absolutely must take our positions for the execution.”
“Right above his chest?” I raise the glass containing the rose as she walks by. “Are you able to notice that Snow is donning this?”
Coin grins. “Certainly. And I’ll ensure he is informed about the Games.”
“Thank you,” I express.
Yards away, he is in ten. It doesn’t bother me to have no one wonder. The terrace in front of the president’s mansion is narrow, but the stage in the Training Center is spacious. He doesn’t go anywhere. They secure his hands behind a post. When they march out, the insane audience goes through the door. As I turn and direct, they see me in my profile. Accompanied by the deafening roar of the crowd, I walk to my position. Then, Effie taps my shoulder and I step out into the cold winter sunlight. I hear the cheers that indicate Coin has appeared on the balcony. Victors. Leaders. Rebel Officials. Guards. Others take their places outside. The Circle City spills over and runs down the side streets. As Plutarch guides me to the front doors of the mansion, I follow his instructions and touch the last bit of powder. People sweep into the room, surrounding me.
We made a mutual agreement to refrain from telling lies to one another. We had assumed, my dear Miss Everdeen. Oh, he is uttering words once again, as if. Only the same expression of amusement that concluded our previous conversation, but there is. Anything, whether it be fear, remorse, or anger, I search for even the slightest indication of. I examine his eyes. His lips appear swollen, and his tongue flicks across them. Blood trickles down from his chin as he coughs. I observe his face, but closely. I direct the arrow towards the rose, position it, grasp it, and pull back. I can feel the purring bow in my hand.
He’s correct. We indeed did.
President Coin collapses dead, plunging to the ground and falling over the side of the balcony. The arrow I shoot shifts upward, pointing to the release string.
The subject matter revolves around the state of being human. The Hunger Games has consistently portrayed a narrative concerning the positive aspects of human behavior, as well as the malevolence inherent within it. Katniss’ primary adversary is the malevolent desires that arise from human nature. She is in direct competition with other young individuals who, like her, have fallen victim to the oppressive societal system. Katniss is not pitted against other antagonists. The Hunger Games has always strived to present a more nuanced narrative, where the distinction between protagonist and antagonist is not as clear-cut, as evidenced by the initial installment.
He represents evil, but more than just evil, he is truly wicked. He wasn’t the one who established the government in Panem. He wasn’t the one who started The Hunger Games. In reality, he is just one person, but he transforms into a fascinating villain. I find it intriguing how much he embodies everything evil, especially in the ongoing series of books. As Snow becomes the face of wickedness in Panem, Katniss becomes the face of rebellion.
The side of human nature can be bloodthirsty and evil, but it’s important to remember that Snow is not the real enemy. As the series progresses, we become more focused on Snow himself.
Nature, being a person, is not the adversary since Coin was just as wicked as Snow, which is why it was crucial to demonstrate that Coin was no better than the natural man. Instead of targeting Snow, Katniss’s decision to kill Coin reveals that the true enemy lies within individuals.
If Coin is not resistant to that aspect of the human condition, against which Katniss is fighting, as it was portrayed in the first book, then all individuals possess a sinister craving for carnal pleasure (yet it is our decisions that shape or impede such desire). Without it, The Hunger Games could not have come into existence, for there would be no spectators, no organized institution. Panem would not be structured as it currently is if he truly was the sole advocate of The Hunger Games. Naturally, Snow is not the sole proponent of The Hunger Games.
The essence of being human. It surpasses any individual. Collins demonstrates that numerous characters perceived him as the ultimate embodiment of evil, but similar to Katniss and others, we had shifted our attention towards Snow. When Katniss kills Coin, she is symbolically eradicating that aspect of humanity, potentially to a greater extent than if she had solely killed Snow. However, the issue remains.
Prim, who represented purity, innocence, and goodness, was born to be able. However, everything that symbolized her was lost when she died. Although we still see her (her sister), Katniss knows that killing in the human condition comes at a great cost.
It’s just a better future that comes with a high cost and leaves painful scars. This story doesn’t end depressingly, as it represents the good person who dies, even if all was good. The triumph of the human condition does not end in the immediate scheme of worldly truths and grand things. It’s not just in the end that the good side of human nature is represented. The epilogue remarks that Katniss is haunted by the horrors she goes through, but she copes with the good things by making a list of every good thing she has seen.
Peeta says it will be okay. We have each other. And the book. We can make them understand in a way that will make them braver. But one day I’ll have to explain about my nightmares. Why they came. Why they won’t ever really go away.
I’ll tell them how I survive it. I’ll tell them that on bad mornings, it feels impossible to take pleasure in anything because I’m afraid it could be taken away. That’s when I make a list in my head of every act of goodness I’ve seen someone do. It’s like a game. Repetitive. Even a little tedious after more than twenty years.
But there are much worse games to play.