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The Ending of Mockingjay

June 27, 2014

Spoiler alert: In case you didn’t notice, this post is about the ending of Mockingjay. It will contain details about the ending of Mockingjay. So if you haven’t read the ending of Mockingjay, you probably shouldn’t read this post.

Because I’m down popular culture (as the young people say), I finally read The Hunger Games. Aside from the fact that for some reason, I pictured Finnick as a black guy, I enjoyed the series–but not so much the ending.

The death of President Coin. In all the outrage aimed at the end of Mockingjay, this is the least of the complaints. By this time, Katniss is a 17-year-old girl whose experience in the Hunger Games sparked a bloody war. Among its targeted victims were children, including her sister. She doesn’t possess the most reliable viewpoint.

Through Katniss’s eyes, Coin is an authoritarian bitch. But given the circumstances in District 13, an authoritarian bitch may be required to assure survival. Coin restored the Hunger Games for one final round, but had Katniss’s vote in doing so. At first, when I read the death scene, I flashed back to the scene in which Magnum killed Ivan–technically murder, but a required murder. But Magnum wasn’t nearly as emotionally compromised as Katniss.

By killing Coin, by having the set up to kill Snow in a way she wouldn’t even kill an animal, you could argue that she became what she thought she was killing. And you could certainly argue that her viewpoint wasn’t emotionally stable enough to be reliable on the point of Coin’s death.

The death of Finnick. It was unnecessary to kill Finnick, the argument goes. we liked him and he shouldn’t have had to die.  And his death wasn’t grand, glorious, or drawn out. It was stupid and unnecessary. Maybe that’s part of the point.

Katniss winds up with Peeta, who tried to kill her. Sure, Peeta was pure–as close to it as anyone in the books–at one point. But then the Capitol got a hold of him and brainwashed him, hijacked him. She would have been better off with Gale. Except, you know, for the whole Prim thing. And while Peeta did try to kill her, by the end of the book, he was restored. Mostly. Sort of. So Katniss settled. Sort of. Except look at her…a emotionally damaged, former addict, murderer. She basically became Haymitch. Maybe they both settled.

The death of Prim. The entire book series started because Katniss volunteered for the Hunger Games to save her sister–the very same sister killed by something the rebels–her side–and Gale–her friend and maybe lover–did. In other words, everything Katniss did was worthless, for nothing. The people who she sided with–because the enemy of my enemy is my friend–were probably the instrument of her sister’s death. Either side would have caused the same thing to happen.

She sold her soul and got nothing in return.

Again, maybe that’s part of the point. By the third book, Katniss is a mess. And this war is killing people on both sides. If you think about the concept of war being hell, this is it.

In summary…

Although the fans didn’t like the ending, maybe they didn’t have to. Maybe the ending was what it should have been all along. Maybe part of the point is that war is sometimes necessary, but it’s not grand or glorious. Instead, it’s a sad last resort. And maybe when you have two sides to pick from, the lesser evil is still an evil. And sometimes you become a monster so the monster will not break you.

As writers, sometimes we might have to choose between pleasing our readers and making our point. Suzanne Collins seems to have chosen the point. Although I would have liked some level of redemption for Katniss and life for Prim and a happier ending, I can’t fault her choice.

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