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We’ve finally started reviewing Part 2 of Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes, the new prequel to the Hunger Games Trilogy. In those five chapters, we have discovered that Coriolanus Snow has developed an intense liking for his tribute, Lucy Gray Baird. We have also witnessed the official commencement of the 10th Hunger Games, where Lucy didn’t shine that much on the first day.
In this article, we shall discuss the second half of the second part of the novel. Find out what would happen to Snow and Lucy in the arena, and who would become the victor of the 10th Hunger Games.
Chapter 16: Snow and Sejanus manage to escape from the Arena
As Snow struggled to pull Sejanus out of the field, his friend finally conceded to his wishes. They decided not to pull Marcus’s dead body as Bobbin and the other tributes were pursuing them. While rushing to the barricade by the rear, Snow killed Bobbin by stabbing him as an act of self-defense.
Upon fleeing from the Arena, Snow was thanked by his friend, and he was sent to the hospital so that his bruises could be treated. Before he left, Dr. Gaul congratulated him for successfully executing the task. She also told her student to share his experiences in the Arena – he replied that he was tempted to murder people as an instinctive response.
With that, she explained that the task sort of “transformed” him by teaching him the need to engage with such bloodshed for justified purpose. She also prompted him to write further on why the war was favorable in another essay. That will not only make him grasp why she said that he “changed” but also serve as an incentive to his application for the Hunger Game Makers.
As Snow went home, he narrated everything that happened during that night to Tigris. He decided to hide it from the Grandma’am because she might be horrified about it. In case his other classmates would ask what happened to him, he and Sejanus would just make a fib that both of them got injured due to a bike crash.
Everyone gullibly believed the two men’s cock and bull story as they wondered how Sejanus was rescued and Bobbin was murdered. Sejanus also declared to the class that whoever would win the 10th Hunger Games would receive a free slot to the University from his family, the Plinths. Of course, Snow kept to himself his burning ambition to procure that scholarship so that he would be able to pay the taxes levied to his family.
By that time, only half of the tributes were fighting for their life. A frail girl named Sol from District 5 was mercilessly killed by tributes Mizzen, Coral, and Tanner, who allied. Then suddenly, the camera turned to Lucy; however, her partner Jessup did not tag along with her, much to Snow’s apprehension.
Chapter 17: Snow’s despair worsens
Snow’s fellow mentor Lysistrata informed him that Jessup was suffering from rabies. Immediately, they began to wonder how such a disease emerged in the Arena. They speculated that some raccoons bit the tribute in the Capitol before the survival competition. Meanwhile, Lucy, who was earnestly imploring for water, was trapped in the debris.
Snow had his sponsors deliver bottles of water for his tribute as once. Upon knowing that people with rabies had an irrational fear of water, he seized that as an opportunity to finish Jessup off. Lysistrata then replied that she would be fine if her tribute wouldn’t survive, as long as his fellow tribute from District 12 would be crowned as the victor.
As a result, Lucy was able to satiate her thirst, while Jessup was able to flee from her fast; he suddenly fell and couldn’t move. However, Lucy decided to “guard” him as an act of gratitude to his support, as their two mentors made efforts to send them some food. Lysistrata then told Snow how Jessup also saved her life during the explosion. She emphasized how he had done the same thing to Lucy throughout his stay in the Hunger Games.
As soon as Jessup took his last breath, the billboard of the survivors was updated. Snow felt hopeless that no one would protect his dear tribute anymore. Much worse, he learned from Tigris that they had to settle their debt in their apartment, lest they lose their home.
Chapter 18: Snow plans to cheat to win
Snow was in disbelief upon hearing that news – they had to pay the tax bill by six weeks. He just wished that Lucy would win the Hunger Games so that he could receive the stipend from Sejanus’s parents. The young student later decided to visit the Plinths without informing his Grandma’am because she would be humiliated if she’d find out that her grandson kept this shameful secret from her.
Snow learned from his classmates that their tributes (aside from Mizzen, Coral, and Tanner) had formed alliances, e.g. Lamina and Reaper. He also learned that they copied his strategy in ensuring the survival of their tributes – by stealing the remaining food in the Academy.
Meanwhile, Lamina, who was ensconced above a flagpole, was pursued by the trio. As she took out her ax and knife, Coral and Mizzen climbed, with the former striking Lamina with her trident. Before dying from the blow, she managed to severely injure the knees of the two tributes.
Much more interestingly, a backstabbing took place in the trio. Immediately after their reveled in Lamina’s demise, Coral threw the trident to Tanner’s back. Then Mizzle terminated that person whom they betrayed by striking him with his knife. The mentors later figured out that Tanner was easily deceived due to his good-natured, innocent disposition.
Snow decided to deliver more food to Lucy as the remaining of the survivors, led by Reaper, snugly put Lamina and Tanner’s bodies (Jessup’s was intentionally let to rot due to the possible contagion of rabies) in an improvised morgue. Reaper later decided to use the remnants of the flagpole as an accessory. Despite his valiance, his mentor Clemensia scoffed at the idea of offering him some sustenance.
As soon as Snow left, Dr. Gaul informed him that his classmate Gaius had been fatally injured from the explosion. He also inferred from his professor that she would be hatching a new twist to the games because of Lucy’s slyness. Snow’s intuition was right – the same venomous snakes that bit Clemensia would be brought to the Arena.
Snow realized that he must do something for the snakes to recognize Lucy’s smell. When he noticed that no one was in Dr. Gaul’s lab, he dipped a handkerchief carrying Lucy’s smell to the fangs of the serpents. Unfortunately, he was not able to retrieve the hanky because those reptiles might bite him.
Chapter 19: Snow protects Lucy from the snakes
Snow realized that dropping the hanky was a big mistake, but he later explained to himself that Dr. Gaul and the other scientists wouldn’t mind that item. After all, he was spared by Sejanus when his companion spotted him wrapping the leftovers from the Academy through a napkin.
Snow then visited Sejanus’s household in a futile attempt to beg for money. He began first by worming his way in Ma – only that she just gave him food. He also learned from Sejanus’s mother that her son was overdosed, so that means he couldn’t talk to him for a while. On the other hand, Mr. Plinth just praised him by saying that Snow resembled his powerful father.
Seeing that his visit to the Plinths was of no avail, Snow just concentrated on Dr. Gaul’s bonus assignment. He emphasized three points – chaos, control, and contract in his essay. For his first point, he explained that instigating disorder would incite the Districts to rebellion (just like what happened in the Dark Days). Then, he added that controlling the masses was needed to suppress their motives, and an intangible social contract “promoting peace” should be implemented.
As soon as the mentors spectated the games, another tribute named Wovey had passed away as soon as she was given food. Snow wondered if the collusion (about the compact as a tool for rat poison) between him and Lucy worked. The remaining food intended for Wovey was pilfered by Coral and Mizzen.
As night time came, Dr. Gaul announced to the audience that Gaius had been dead as well. As a retaliation, she ordered her snakes to wreak havoc in the Arena. Immediately, they fatally bit a poor tribute named Circ, as well as the treacherous Coral. Snow was petrified that the hanky was confiscated; however, he saw Lucy drawing away from the snakes convincingly with another ballad.
Chapter 20: Snow & Lucy win the Hunger Games, but with a plot twist
Snow felt relieved to find out that his game plan was going well as Lucy continued chanting. He also recalled how she managed to use the snakes to pay the Capitol’s mayor back for injuring her during the reaping ceremony. The snakes, as if they were enchanted by Lucy’s song, hunted for the four tributes remaining. Dr. Gaul then began to suspect the connivance of Snow and Lucy.
As soon as the mentors paid their respects to Gaius, Snow apologized to Clemensia for the incident with Dr. Gaul before. Morning came, and Teslee used some malfunctioning drones to send Mizzen to the flagpole and break his neck. Later, the tribute was killed by Treech, who smashed her skull with a sharp ax.
Lucy suddenly came out from a tunnel as she poured the water (with rat poison) from her bottle to lure the other tributes. She encountered Treech, who was about to strike her with his ax. Fortunately, Lucy was pushed away when Treech saw a snake in his arm; he tried to smash it, but the reptile killed him first.
Snow was already confident that Lucy would win, considering that his plan to poison the tributes through rat poison came to fruition. She hauled Reaper to the makeshift morgue he made a few days ago. As soon as her final competitor woke up, she playfully grabbed the torn flag cloth from him and made him chase up to the puddle. Unaware that the water there was poisoned, he drank it; thus, making Lucy the official winner of the 10th Hunger Games.
Snow’s classmates congratulated him for mentoring Lucy successfully. His victory was interrupted though when Dean Highbottom ordered him to go to his lab. As soon as he entered, he was mortified to find out that the dean, with the help of Dr. Gaul, was able to retrieve the napkin used to wrap Lucy’s food. He managed to confiscate the silver compass and the hanky, as well. With that, Snow’s superiors were able to expose the fact that he swindled for Lucy to win.
And here’s the plot twist: Snow won’t be murdered because of his deceitful actions. Instead, Snow would serve as a guard (Peacekeeper) as his punishment.
Commentary: On Snow breaking his moral principles
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Snow and Lucy’s triumph in the 10th Hunger Games wasn’t a win for me, at all. It was rather a loss in their battle to uphold their ethics as human beings while competing. If we are going to reflect upon the events in those five chapters, we may bear the assumption that Snow encountered several moral dilemmas.
We were already warned in the first half of the book that Snow had a ruthless streak to get what he wanted. Despite his conscience telling him to abide by the law (just like his family members), he used his knowledge in the law for impunity, instead. This means that he devised loopholes from the Capitol’s unforgivable rules to incriminate innocent people.
This could explain Snow’s base motive to create a hoax in the games. His reasoning for the wrapped napkin is understandable in the sense that it was intended to uphold Lucy’s right to basic needs seems valid. However, as readers, most of us form the judgment that using both the silver compact and the snake hanky was foul at all.
Thus, even if Snow seemed to “land on top” at first, he was demoted from his post in the Academy for the long run. That instance reinforces to us that Dr. Gaul truly demanded honesty to all of her students, and Dean Highbottom would not forgive any student who would attempt to twist the rules.
Now that Snow would become a Peacekeeper in the final ten chapters, let us see if his “downgraded” role would cause him to either soften or further harden his heart. I expect that Snow’s new job would further corrupt his moral values since that certain role would continue in the trilogy.
After all, his murder of Bobbin already served as a major indication that Snow compromised compassion for self-preservation. Let us also keep in mind that in the sequels, he would lie that he was “keeping the peace” in Panem. As the supreme dictator of that nation, Snow rather implemented his strategy of chaos, control, and contract.
Sources Used, in APA Format (6th Ed).
Al-Khatib, T. (2016, February 14). Even dictators have a soft side. Seeker. Retrieved 31 July 2020 from https://www.seeker.com/even-dictator...770880915.html.
Collins, S. (2020). The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes. New York, NY: Scholastic.
Daleziou, M. (2020, July 22). Review: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes by Suzanne Collins. Nerd Daily. Retrieved 31 July 2020 from https://www.thenerddaily.com/the-bal...zanne-collins/.
De Vera, R.S. (2020, July 13). Suzanne Collins revisits ‘Hunger Games’ with an audacious but unsatisfying prequel. Philippine Daily Inquirer Retrieved 31 July 2020 from https://lifestyle.inquirer.net/36610...fying-prequel/