Catching Fire By Suzanne Collines
Summary and Analysis Part 2: Chapter 18
As Katniss wraps up her interview, she worries what Cinna's costume change means for him, and if he's in danger now. She doesn't have much time to worry about him, though, because Caesar is interviewing Peeta. Peeta tells Caesar that he and Katniss are already married. According to Peeta, the two married in secret and Katniss is now pregnant. The audience, who doesn't know Peeta is lying, can't bear the cruelty of their doomed fate as tributes in the Quell. The people in the Capitol are asking for the cancellation of the Quell and crying out that the whole ordeal is unjust and horrific.
The crowd is too wound up to calm down, and Peeta is crying as he joins the other tributes after his interview. As the anthem blares, the victors hold hands in what Katniss says must be the first showing of public unity among the districts since before the Dark Days. They are all quickly shooed off stage and return to their apartments.
The next morning, Cinna arrives to help Katniss dress for the arena. As she prepares to launch into the arena, he kisses her on the forehead and tells her he's still betting on her. She steps onto the plate and waits for it to rise, but it doesn't move. Suddenly, three peacekeepers burst into the room.
Unable to break free from her glass, Katniss is forced to watch Cinna beaten and arrested. Once the Peacekeepers have dragged his unconscious body from the room, the plate rises and Katniss is in the arena. The arena is a vast body of water, and she realizes this is no place for the girl on fire.
Caesar seems excited, but Katniss knows he also recognizes that the bird has come to symbolize rebellion throughout the districts. Katniss' fears for Cinna are justified when she watches his arrest before entering the arena. It is to be assumed that Cinna will be tortured and killed for his costume change, and his arrest shows that the Capitol will stop at no lengths to end the rebellion. As the Quell approaches, the Capitol's agenda against Katniss becomes more and more personal.
Most of the tributes' anger with the Capitol is clear in their interviews. Katniss says they are smart to play it off the way they do, never saying anything directly against President Snow. The tributes' fury will play an important role later in the novel. It also foreshadows that the tension between the tributes and the Capitol could possibly explode in one way or another.
Peeta's lies about the marriage and pregnancy are a blow to the Capitol. The Games are successful mainly because the people in the Capitol love the bloodshed so much and the people in the districts are too scared and powerless to fight back. The other tributes have upset the audience with their heart-wrenching interviews, and the audience is in a fit over the injustice of it all. They have set up things perfectly for Peeta's interview.
When Peeta makes his shocking announcement, it is too much for everyone to bear. The audience is unable to stand the cruelty of it all, and demands the cancellation of the Quell. Thus, the tributes have successfully turned one of the Capitol's own devices against them. The television interview, which is meant to humiliate and parade the tributes around for others' amusement, failed to do so this time. The tributes accusations against the Capitol, Katniss' dress, and Peeta's news have people calling for an end to the Games — arguably the strongest weapon the Capitol has against the people. When the interview is used as a weapon to incite cries of injustice among the people in the Capitol, the tributes have successfully refused to play the Capitol's games.
The interview is significant because it marks an important turning point in the novel. The Capitol has already lost the people in the districts, and now they are losing their own population. Katniss and her fiery costume have spread the blaze of rebellion and thirst for change. The Capitol is desperately trying to put out the fire, and the metaphorical significance of the arena is not lost on Katniss.