In The Hunger Games Trilogy, the mockingjay becomes a huge symbol. It becomes the face of the rebellion. Symbols alone are so central to the trilogy, so I thought I’d analyze the biggest one in the novels.
We’re told that mockingjays came about when the Capitol created mutts called jabberjays, and when they outlived their usefulness, they were released to die. Unexpectedly, they mated with mockingbirds to create birds that could mimic human song—mockingjays. The point is that something created by the Capitol, once abandoned, became transformed and did something unexpected.
But is that really it?
Whenever I hear mockingjay, I immediately think of their progenitors, mockingbirds, which leads me to the famous novel, To Kill a Mockingbird. The title comes from Atticus’ warning to his children to never shoot a mockingbird, because they do nothing wrong except sing sweet music. And that leads me to thinking about Katniss.
Yes, Katniss becomes associated with the mockingjay. In fact, that’s her role in the rebellion. But what really strikes me is that Katniss didn’t ask to be a symbol. She didn’t intend for anything she does to have the major consequences they have. Her main focus is rather selfish: survival. But that doesn’t stop Panem from using her as their figurehead. She doesn’t mean to be the symbol of a revolution, but she is condemned to be one anyway.
I sort of think that people are mockingbirds. People we idolize we place on a pedestal, intent to follow them. People we dislike we made as an example of what not to be.
People do not ask to be idolized or disliked. At least, not initially. But their observers make them to be certain things, and suddenly they have so much more meaning thrust upon them, even though they’re just human. And in that way, it is a sort of manipulation.
In a way, it’s how to kill a mockingjay.