The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes – A Captivating Journey into Panem’s Past

The long-awaited prequel to the internationally popular juvenile dystopian book series The Hunger Games, The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes, by author Suzanne Collins, will be published in May 2020. The novel tells the story of President Coriolanus Snow, the antagonist of the trilogy, during his formative years. He serves as a student mentor during the 10th Annual Hunger Games and is paired with Lucy Gray Baird, a folksinger from District 12, who is a female tribute. Songbirds and Snakes, which is set in the wreckage of the Capitol following the Civil War that nearly brought Panem to its knees, examines the creation of a monster and the establishment of a dystopian government through the eyes of its protagonist, Snow. The book contains a great deal of the lore and history that fans of the franchise have been thinking about for years. It is full of moments of love, fear, and treachery. This week will see the release of the cinematic adaptation of the YA series. Tom Blyth will play a young Snow, and Rachel Zegler from West Side Story will play Lucy Gray Baird. This is a summary of everything that occurs in The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes, with a trip back to Panem soon.

Decades before Coriolanus Snow became the despotic President of Panem and 64 years before Katniss Everdeen offered herself as a tribute. A teenage Coriolanus (Tom Blyth) who represents the final chance for his dying lineage—the once-proud Snow family that has fallen from grace in a post-war Capitol—is the focus of The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes. A tribute from the impoverished District 12, Lucy Gray Baird (Rachel Zegler), is grudgingly given Snow’s mentoring role after his livelihood is threatened. However, as Lucy Gray’s charisma captures Panem’s audience, Snow recognizes a chance to change their destiny. Snow teams up with Lucy Gray to change the odds in their favor as everything he has worked so hard for hangs in the balance. Fighting his natural tendencies toward good and evil, Snow embarks on a mad dash for survival to find out whether he will end up a snake or a songbird.

When Is ‘The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes’ Set?

The war ended ten years before the events of the novel, with the Districts being pushed back into their zones and the attempted uprising against the Capitol being put down. The early Hunger Games were created by leaders and scholars who convened to determine a punishment for the rebellious Districts. The formerly wealthy Snow family is now outnumbered and penniless after the battle. In the family’s Capitol apartment, a young Coriolanus Snow resides with his grandmother and his cousin Tigress. As the city is rebuilt, Snow and his relatives survive on food rations and their old belongings after losing both of their parents to the battle.

Who Is Lucy Gray Baird?

Despite his struggles, Snow excels academically in the Capitol Academy, working against Dean Highbottom, the principal, and is selected to participate in the mentorship program for the upcoming 10th Annual Hunger Games. Snow views this as his chance to bring his family’s fortune back, especially since there’s a monetary award for the victorious mentor. But Snow becomes worried when he finds out he’s been paired with the tribute woman from District 12, which is the poorest district in Panem. The Covey is a touring music group, and Lucy Gray Baird is one of their members. The war drove them into the District. When Lucy draws the eye of the boy Mayfair likes, Mayfair makes sure Lucy gets reaped, so she creates a splash in the Capitol during the reaping ritual by slipping a snake down the back of Mayfair Lipp, the Mayor’s daughter.

The 24 teens are transported to the Capitol on a train after the tributes are harvested and the arena is prepared. Snow unintentionally boards the train while attempting to meet Lucy at the correct station. After realizing that Snow is a student at the Capitol, the tributes consider killing him. Lucy Gray warns them that doing so will result in the execution of both themselves and their families. After Snow’s life is spared, the tributes and Snow are dropped off at the old zoo, where they will remain until the games. Serving as a prototype for the Tribute Center, the zoo permits the Capitol to maintain the tributes in cages, starve them, and let residents of the Capitol to see them. A bond of trust develops between the two as Snow starts smuggling food from the Academy to give to Lucy out of concern that his tribute will become too feeble if kept starving. Upon noticing this, other tributes start subtly nourishing their own, such as Snow’s friend Sejanus Plinth, a District supporter whose father successfully negotiated his family’s entry into the Capitol from District 2 following the war. Observing the public’s fascination with the tributes, Snow and Lucy devise a plan wherein Lucy will sing for the folks in an attempt to become more well-known.

Snow Creates the Idea for Hunger Games Sponsorships

The news that Snow’s classmate and fellow mentor Arachne Crane was killed by her tribute after she teased them with food overshadows the excitement around Lucy and the games. Due to the grief experienced by his peers, especially Clemensia, his essay companion, Snow is left to compose a paper on his own regarding game additions. In his essay, which Snow presents, he makes several recommendations for a betting and sponsorship scheme that would let Capitol residents fund their preferred homages to the Head Game Maker Volumnia Gaul. This concept would go on to play a significant role in contemporary video games. Gaul throws the essay into a tank filled with genetically altered snakes intended for the arena, believing that Snow was the only person who contributed to the work (be careful around these snakes!).

The snakes appear indifferent to Snow retrieving the pages, but they bite Clemensia’s arms as she lowers her hands. Snow realizes he’s been caught and Clemensia is brought to the hospital after realizing the snakes were able to detect his scent on the pages rather than his classmate. Before long, the games are drawing near, and Snow and Lucy Gray never stop entertaining the Capitol with Lucy’s flair and performances. Unexpected explosions that go off during the stadium tour swiftly overshadow all the excitement that the two had created since the zoo, killing a number of mentors and tributes alike. While the Capitol and the Game Makers are focused on the bombing, Lucy momentarily muses over the prospect of running away in order to tend to an injured Snow. The games start with most tributes dying swiftly from malnourishment, illness, and frailty despite another obstacle. Lucy chooses to hide in shadowy areas of the arena since she knows that the other tributes that are left are bigger than her.

Who Wins the Hunger Games in ‘The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes’?

Sejanus, the aforementioned District supporter who detests the games, enters the stadium to voice his opposition to the Capitol. Snow pursues him and persuades him to go by telling him that if he were still alive, his ideals could have a greater influence. When a tribute attacks them as they attempt to sneak away, Snow is compelled to kill them, which is Snow’s first violent act. After returning to the Capitol, Snow remembers the snakes that Dr. Gaul had used on Clemensia. She then throws a rag into the tank containing Lucy’s perfume, causing the snakes to get habituated to her aroma.

As predicted, the following day sees the release of the snakes into the arena. While the other tributes are attacked, Lucy escapes unscathed and is instead encircled by the snakes, which slither up her limbs and embrace her. Lucy Gray is declared the Games’ victor after the other tributes pass away from their wounds after a few days. After Lucy returns to her District, Game Makers corner Snow at an Academy party to show him the incriminating proof that Snow fed Lucy and tamed the snakes in order to help his tribute. Snow is compelled to join the Peacekeepers in District 12, far away from the justice he had been longing for.

What Happens to Snow and Lucy After the Hunger Games?

After feeling inadequate upon arriving in District 12, Snow finds solace in his reunion with Lucy, and the two explore their developing romantic feelings for one another. As Snow gets to know Lucy further and her untamed, rebellious personality, she begins to feel sympathy for the Districts. Soon after arriving, though, Snow learns that Sejanus—who was also appointed a Peacekeeper in 12—is arranging to assist District citizens in fleeing to a region in the North that they perceive to be beyond Panem’s control. With his reputation in jeopardy at the Capitol, Snow uses a Jabberyjay to covertly record the evidence, which he then returns to Dr. Gaul. Sejanus proceeds with the plot until the Mayor’s daughter and another citizen overhear him and a fellow rebel named Spruce talking.

Seeing the scenario close by, Snow and Lucy decide to shoot the intruders and bury the bodies even though they know doing so will jeopardize the plot’s safety. However, it appears that nothing will come of these efforts when, a few days later, Spruce passes away from his wounds and Sejanus is hanged for treason, leaving Snow and Lucy as the sole living witnesses to the killings. As the mayhem and confusion worsen, Lucy tells Snow that she is going to escape to the North nevertheless. Snow chooses to accompany Lucy on her flight even though she has been given a job at the District 2 Officers Training Academy in exchange for his information on Sejanus.

When Snow and Spruce discover the pistols they used to kill the Mayor’s daughter by mistake while traveling to the North, they know they have the evidence they need to erase all memories of their crimes and restore their family’s name. Swayed toward treachery, Snow finds it difficult to hide his heartfelt repentance. Lucy sees that Snow is getting ready to go, so she takes off into the forest, only for Snow to realize that Lucy is unsure of herself. In an attempt to murder her, Snow draws his pistol and fires into the trees. Snow fires multiple shots in all directions, but he is unsure if she was hit or not. Not wanting to waste any time, he gets rid of the firearms, returns to District 12, and is taken to the Capitol. At their meeting, Dr. Gaul compliments Snow on his knowledge of Sejanus’s scheme and says that she originally sent Snow to 12 in order to help him accept Panem’s social reality. The father of Sejanus, who is oblivious to Snow’s role in his son’s demise, almost adopts Snow after he accepts his post to train as an officer.

What Happens at the End of ‘The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes’?

The games were invented by a young Dean Highbottom, who came up with them as a crude and unkind way to complete a school assignment with Snow’s father Crausses, the novel’s epilogue discloses. After that, Crausses would pitch the concept to Dr. Gaul, who eventually approved the games without Highbottom’s knowledge. Highbottom is still bitter towards the Snow family and against the games. As a result of Highbottom’s treatment of him, Snow grows weary of it and decides to poison the Dean with his medications, murdering him and starting a lifelong habit of poisoning his foes. Later on, Snow becomes into a game developer, adding his own concepts to the games. Lucy Gray vanishes from view, either dying in the wilderness that day or leaving Panem behind.

Aside from the casting of Snow and Lucy, the next film features Peter Dinklage as Dean Highbottom, dubbed Casca, Viola Davis as Dr. Gaul, and Hunter Schafer as Tigress, Snow’s cousin. With particular recognition going to the supporting cast, the movie has received great reviews and has been dubbed the best of the Hunger Games films. Time will tell if there are any significant changes from Collins’ original work, even if trailers and early reviews appear to indicate that the film follows the book quite closely.

November 17, 2023, sees the release of The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes in theaters.

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