Books

Full Recap on The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes

In this blog post we will mention and recap everything about The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes, so you can ace your assignments! Check out our other recaps here.

Characters

This book is a one person narration through the eyes of the eighteen-year-old Coriolanus Snow, future president of Panem. There are common reappearances of Lucy Grey (love interest), Dr. Gaul (professor), Sejanus Plinth (classmate), Tigris Snow (cousin), and Clemensia Dovecote (classmate).

Setting

This book follows in the events of the 10th annual Hunger Games. For a large span of the book Coriolanus is 18 and, in the epilogue, almost 19. It takes place between the Snow’s family home and Coriolanus’s school both of which are located in the Capitol. Snow also spent quite some time in District 12 as a peacekeeper.

Main Conflict

As a direct result of the war between the rebels, the Snow’s have since fallen into hard times. Orphaned and left with no money, Coriolanus must keep up his grades and honor. So, when he is presented with the task of mentoring in the Hunger Games, he has no option but to oblige. The main conflict of the book is that Coriolanus needs to make sure his tribute Lucy Grey wins the hunger games so he can get a university scholarship. He soon ends up embroiled in ongoing conflicts between the Capitol and rebels and must push through matters of love, control, contract, and chaos; the three C’s.

Part 1 “The Mentor” (Pages 3-153)

Coriolanus Snow is chosen to mentor a tribute in the upcoming 10th annual Hunger Games. For Coriolanus, whose family’s wealth is no longer, mentoring a winning tribute could secure him a scholarship to the University. To his disappointment, Coriolanus is assigned to mentor Lucy Grey, district 12’s female tribute. However, this disappointment is quickly flipped after his tribute boldly sings during the reaping, capturing both his fascination and the Capitol’s attention.

After being given hope for his tribute, Coriolanus decides to meet Lucy Grey in advance. To his surprise is being kept in dirty cattle cars along with the other tributes. Nervous his tribute won’t cooperate, Snow decides to accompany her inside the cattle car, and almost immediately gets killed by district 11’s male tribute, Reaper. Soon after, Snow and the other tributes were transported to the monkey zoo, where families and reporters stood there watching and filming the tributes to live television.

Once back at the academy, Coriolanus regains his composure, ready to face his punishment for meeting his tribute in advance. At the academy, Dean Highbottom, creator of the Hunger Games approaches him and informs him he has one demerit; once at three demerits Coriolanus will be expelled.

When he visits the tributes at the Capitol Zoo’s monkey enclosure again, Coriolanus realizes that the tributes have not been fed since the reaping. He begins to sneak in food for his tribute. The other mentors soon follow suit, but the arrangement ends when one mentor, Arachne Crane, is murdered after taunting her tribute Brandy with a sandwich. Clemensia, distraught after the murder of Crane, leaves Coriolanus to complete an assignment that the three were tasked to write.

The next day, Snow presents the essay to Dr. Gaul, proposing a betting system and sponsorship of the tributes to engage more citizens. Upon reading the assignment, the Head Gamemaker has both Snow and Dovecote reach into a tank of snakes who already familiarized with the paper. After reaching his hand in the tank, the snakes leave Snow alone, but they bite Clemensia, thus indicating that they didn’t write the paper together.

During a tour of the Arena, undetected bombs placed by the rebels from the Dark Days explode, killing several tributes and mentors and Lucy saves Snow after he gets stuck under debris. Later on, only some of the remaining mentors and their tributes partake in televised interviews to garner favor and donations. (dr. Gaul assigns the class to write about what they liked about war)

Part 2 “The Prize” (Pages 157-320):

Lucy Gray is the focus of the interview, after she once again performs a song. At their final meeting before the games, Coriolanus and Lucy Gray develop a strategy for her to hide during the entire span of the game while letting the other tributes starve or kill each other. Snow then gives her a goodbye token – his deceased mother’s makeup compact. With that he lightly hints that she should fill it with poison. Before the two part ways, they share an intimate goodbye kiss.

The games begin soon after, and many tributes die quickly from starvation, disease, or injuries from explosions. Sticking to Snows’ proposal, Dr. Gaul gives the remaining mentors communicuffs which allow them to send gifts (from their amassed sponsor money) to the tributes via drones.

Full with hatred toward the Capitol and the Games, Sejanus, enters the Arena at night to die as a sacrifice to his former classmate and dead tribute, Marcus. Coriolanus, being of the least favored in Dr. Gaul’s class, is summoned to guide Plinth out of the Arena. Untelevised, Coriolanus enters the Arena and convinces him to leave. While trying to make an escape, the two are attacked by several tributes; in the process, Snow kills Bobbin, the male tribute from District 8. The whole extraction is kept quiet by the Gamemakers, and the murder of Bobbin is placed as an off-camera death by the tributes.

During the next few days, more tributes die, including Lucy Grey’s partner Jessup, this brings the number of tributes down to ten. (coriolanus and Tigris talk about what snow had to do in the arena and taxes.)

Coriolanus goes to Dr. Gaul for his injuries from the previous day. However, on the way out he learns that snake mutations similar to the ones who bit Clemensia, would be released into the Arena. Snow quickly slips a handkerchief used by Lucy Gray into the tank of snakes to prevent her from getting killed. As a result, Lucy Gray is not attacked by the snakes; instead using them as a weapon, along with poison. Soon, she is declared the victor of the Games.

The Academy celebration party is quickly spoiled when Snow is privately confronted by the dean with the makeup compact, handkerchief, and a napkin from the Academy, therefore implying his cheating in the Games and stealing food from the Academy.

Not able to deny his cheating in the games, Coriolanus, has the option of becoming a Peacekeeper or facing punishment and public humiliation. Hoping to reunite with Lucy Gray, Snow decides to become a peacekeeper in District 12.

Part 3 “The Peacekeeper” (Pages 323-517):

Later, he encounters Sejanus, who has also temporarily moved to District 12 to become Peacekeeper as he cannot stand to face the Capitol and its people. The two’s first mission together is to watch and guard the hanging of a rebel; someone who acted out against the Capitol and its districts.

 Coriolanus reunites with Lucy Gray during her band, the Covey’s performance at the local market, the Hob. As he begins to accept that being a Peacekeeper is his future, Coriolanus resolves to take a test to begin the official training. The day prior, Snow and some other Peacekeepers-in-training were assigned on a mission to recover jabberjays, a bird mutation that can record human speech, from the wild, so they can be studied in the Capitol.

During a day at the lake with Lucy Gray and the Covey, Coriolanus scrutinizes and debates the importance of the Capitol and the Hunger Games with her. Upon their return, Coriolanus sees Sejanus talking to the black-market arms dealer, Billy Taupe, leading him to fear that Sejanus is planning things with the rebels.

Snow’s suspicions are confirmed when he not only finds thousands of dollars in Plinth’s side of the dormitory but Sejanus explains his plan to drug the prison guards, remove a rebel prisoner, and escape north through a break in the district fence. Coriolanus secretly records the conversation using the jabberjays, and sends it to the Capitol with the hopes that Dr. Gaul receives it.

The day before, Coriolanus and Lucy Grey went out a lake, and once again argued over the necessity of the Hunger Games and the District’s limitations. At another concert, Coriolanus notices that Plinth has snuck off during the show. He confronts him in a shed behind the market, only to have a gun pointed at him by the District 12 native, Spruce. Having just finished a performance, Lucy Grey enters the shed as well.

They are informed of a plan that many District 12 residents to escape north where it is said that some people live beyond the Capitol’s rule. With his money, Sejanus acquired several guns for them to survive in the wild. However, the conversation is cut short when Billy Taupe, and the Mayor’s daughter, Mayfair, overhear the conversation and threaten to turn them in for plotting against the Capitol. They are shot dead by Coriolanus and Spruce.

Needing an alibi, the group returns to the concert while Spruce goes to dispose of the weapons. The bodies are rediscovered by the Covey after the concert. The Mayor is outraged and is convinced that the only person that could be behind the murder is Lucy. Spruce is found severely injured, and dies without revealing the events of the murders. Later that day, Dr. Gaul confirms the message sent by the jabberjay and has Sejanus arrested and hanged in the public square. His last words spoken were “Ma!”

Lucy Gray tells to Coriolanus that she is going to escape North and he chooses to leave with her. She performs one final melody, “The Hanging Tree,” in which she encodes guidelines for Coriolanus to meet her at the hangman’s tree. The following morning, Coriolanus wakes right on time for the departure when he is stopped by the Commander. Snow is informed that he passed the official Peacekeeper assessment and will leave the following day for an elite training school in District 2. He hurries out of the building, still keen on leaving with Lucy Gray.

Together they make it to the lake and step inside a small shack to escape the recent rain. There Coriolanus and Lucy find the guns Spruce was to dispose of. The two talk and soon the conversation leads to the amount of killing they were forced to do and Lucy starts to get suspicious. She hastily exits the house to collect Katniss, a plant crucial for their journey. After Lucy Grey’s leaving, Coriolanus realizes if he successfully destroys the weapons, there would be no link between him and the murders, allowing him to return to the Capitol safely. He also realizes that Lucy might had had the same realization and figured out he killed Sejanus as well. He pursues her in the wood with the rifle.

In the woods, Coriolanus discovers her scarf and is attacked by a hidden snake. Angered and believing her to be nearby, Snow starts shooting randomly into the woods, and is unable to determine if he succeeded in killing or injuring her. After wiping and dumping the murder weapons in the lake, Coriolanus returns his bunker.

Snows absence went unnoticed by his peers and is treated for the snake bite in the local clinic. Having passed the peacekeeper test, Coriolanus boards a vehicle bound for District 2 with Sejanus’ personal possessions, aiming to return them to his parents. Upon arrival, Coriolanus is surprised to find himself back in the Capitol, and is meet with Dr. Gaul.

She tells that it wasn’t intended for him to remain Peacekeeper for like, it was only to give him experience in the districts and to help him better understand people who live there. Coriolanus is completely convinced of the necessity of the Games and the significance of the Capitol. Snow is also told that he will be given a discharge from the Peacekeepers and will be enrolled in the University under the guidance Dr. Gaul the upcoming fall.

Epilogue

In the epilogue, Coriolanus thinks about his ideas for future Hunger Games. He is also made heir to the large Plinth fortune by Sejanus’s grateful family who don’t know who ratted Sejanus out. As for Lucy Gray, she is never seen again, leaving her fate unknown.

Last edited on January 30, 2021 by Sarah Pereira.

About Author

Lover of all things books, cats, and art, Sarah is currently a student in high school. When she is not reading, Sarah is usually writing and can be found in libraries and bookstores. Sarah is always looking for new adventures to write about (her hogwarts letter didn't come so she's waiting to turn 50 for her adventure to the middle earth).

1 Comment

Leave a Reply