<em>I killed you</em>, I think as I pass a pile [of rotting and burned bodies]. <em>And you. And you.</em> Because I did. It was my arrow, aimed at the chink in the force field surrounding the arena, that brought on this firestorm of retribution. That sent the whole country of Panem into chaos. (1.11-12)
Katniss refers here to an event in her past (it takes place in <em>Catching Fire</em>, the second book in the series), when she made a choice in the arena to protect herself – without knowing the effects it would have on her home district. Because of her, indirectly, all these people are now dead.
Caesar leans in to him a little. "I think it was clear to all of us what your plan was. To sacrifice yourself in the arena so that Katniss Everdeen and your child could survive."
"That was it. Clear and simple." (2.23-24)
Here, Peeta continues to send a message that he's an innocent figure who would "sacrifice" himself to save Katniss's life. And, whatever else might be true or disguised in his speech with Caesar – whatever else might be propaganda that he has to say – it's pretty obvious that he would sacrifice himself for Katniss, just as she would do the same for him.
It's impossible to be the Mockingjay. Impossible to complete even this one sentence. Because now I know that everything I say will be directly taken out on Peeta. Result in his torture. But not his death, no, nothing so merciful as that. Snow will ensure that his life is much worse than death. (11.62)
Katniss feels like she can't go on, not because of what it means she has to give up, but because of what Peeta would have to sacrifice. It would be easier to undergo punishment and torture if it were inflicted on just her directly. But for that torture to be inflicted on someone else is more than she can bear, and we get that. It becomes a kind of mental torture, where all she can do is imagine the terrible things that are happening to Peeta. She doesn't want to sacrifice him.
I know he's telling the truth. That Gale would sacrifice his life in this way for the cause – no one doubts it. Perhaps we'd all do the same if we were the spies and given the choice. I guess I would. But it's a coldhearted decision to make for other people and those who love them. (15.11)
It's one thing to sacrifice yourself; it's <em>your</em> call. No one else is hurt but you. It's a totally different thing to sacrifice other people, to hurt others in the name of your own "cause." Here, Katniss recognizes it as "coldhearted." Despite her strong sense of justice – or, perhaps, because of it – it's the kind of activity she doesn't want to be a part of. It's bad enough to have one person sacrificing himself for her. She doesn't want others to have to do so too.
"That's how they tortured her in the Capitol. Soaked her and then used electric shocks," says Haymitch. "In the Block she had some kind of flashback. Panicked, didn't know where she was. She's back under sedation." Finnick and I just stand there, as if we've lost the ability to respond. I think of the way Johanna never showers. How she forced herself into the rain like it was acid that day. I had attributed her misery to the morphling withdrawal. (18.33)
The book constantly reminds us of all the sacrifices people associated with the rebels have made, or are in the process of making. Johanna made tremendous ones, all off-screen – we just hear about them after the fact. Regardless, they've permanently damaged her. Can you imagine what it's like to emerge from torture sessions afraid of plain water?
Far below, I can just make out Finnick, struggling to hang on as three mutts tear at him. As one yanks back his head to take the death bite, something bizarre happens. It's as if I'm Finnick, watching images of my life flash by. The mast of a boat, a silver parachute, Mags laughing, a pink sky, Beetee's trident, Annie in her wedding dress, waves breaking over rocks. Then it's over. (22.52)
This is such a sad moment. Finnick made it through <em>two</em> Games only to be torn apart by mutts. At least he had the happiness of being married to Annie and getting to live with her for a few days. Now it's all gone. And Katniss can only watch in disbelief as her dear friend slips away.
And here I am again. With people dying because of me. Friends, allies, complete strangers, losing their lives for the Mockingjay. "Let me go on alone. Lead them off. I'll transfer the Holo to Jackson. The rest of you can finish the mission." (22.18)
Here, Katniss tries to sacrifice herself and the others won't let her. She wants the rest of her group to split off from her, since she's the real target – that way they might be able to live. But the rest of the team won't leave her, staying as a unit to attempt to "finish the mission."
Leeg 1, Leeg 2, Mitchell, Homes, and Messalla
"Wait! Where are Jackson and Leeg 1?"
"They stayed at the Grinder to hold the mutts back," says Homes.
"What?" I'm lunging back for the bridge, willing to leave no one to those monsters, when he yanks me back.
"Don't waste their lives, Katniss. It's too late for them. Look!" (22.38-41)
Throughout the book, characters are forced to make some major sacrifices. But they also make these sacrifices willingly. Sometimes no one notices what they've done. Here, Homes encourages Katniss to move away from grieving over them and make their sacrifices worthwhile by saving herself. Ironically, soon after this Homes will be sacrificed too; by the end of the chapter, he won't make it above ground alive.
I fall into a doorway, tears stinging my eyes. <em>Shoot me</em>. That's what he was mouthing. I was supposed to shoot him! That was my job. That was our unspoken promise, all of us, to one another. And I didn't do it and now the Capitol will kill him or torture him or hijack him or – the cracks begin opening inside me, threatening to break me into pieces. (24.70)
Katniss is so overcome with emotion that she feels "cracks begin [to] open" within herself, just as they opened on the street mere moments ago. Her sense of self is being ravaged by the war just as the Capitol city is. Here, she fears she's sacrificed Gale unknowingly – that she didn't protect him (by killing him) the last time she had a chance to do so.
Was it like this then? Seventy-five years or so ago? Did a group of people sit around and cast their votes on initiating the Hunger Games? […] All those people I loved, dead, and we are discussing the next Hunger Games in an attempt to avoid wasting life. Nothing has changed. Nothing will ever change now. (26.62)
Katniss is saddened, even furious, about the fact that "nothing has changed" and that "nothing will ever change now," based on the latest decision coming down from Coin. The rebels sacrificed so much in their fight against Capitol in the name of change. They were fighting against the Games. And now, here, they're being pushed to decide whether the Games should be reinstated.