About the Book

Book Protagonist: Coriolanus Snow
Publication Date: 2020
Genre: Action and Adventure, Dystopian, Teen and Young Adult


The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes

By Suzanne Collins

'The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes' is an intriguing spin-off and prequel to the 'Hunger Games"' Trilogy, with a range of interesting quotes.

Published in 2020, the novel tells the origin story of the main antagonist of the Trilogy, Coriolanus Snow. It also outlines the origin of the barbaric Hunger Games themselves. The story has several memorable quotes that capture the message of the novel beautifully.

The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes Quotes


The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes takes place ten years after the rebellion. The effects of war are still seen in both the districts and the Capitol. Despite this, the Capitol is determined to keep the memories of the war alive – to remind the districts who are in power.

People had short memories. They needed to navigate the rubble, peel off the grubby ration coupons, and witness the Hunger Games to keep the war fresh in their minds. Forgetting could lead to complacency, and then they’d all be back at square one.


The Capitol uses propaganda to depict the districts as wrong. They justify the Hunger Games and all of the violence towards the districts as merely an act of defense for a righteous land. 

When one of ours is hit, we hit back twice as hard. The Hunger Games will go forward, with more energy and commitment than ever before, as we add your name to the long list of the innocent who died defending a righteous and just land.


The Government of Panem is reeling from the devastating effects of the rebellion. According to Dr. Gaul, it has been unable to lay down strong roots in the nation, mainly because it has not been able to understand human nature. 

You can blame it on the circumstances, the environment, but you made the choices you made, no one else. It’s a lot to take in all at once, but it’s essential that you make an effort to answer that question. Who are human beings? Because who we are determines the type of governing we need.

Dr. Gaul takes Coriolanus under her wing and helps him understand how to form a government. 

Start with that. Chaos. No control, no law, no government at all. Like being in the arena. Where do we go from there? What sort of agreement is necessary if we’re to live in peace? What sort of social contract is required for survival?

Human Rights

The Capitol punishes the districts for the rebellion by stripping away all of their rights. The only person who thinks that this is wrong is Sejanus Plinth, who says:

You’ve no right to starve people, to punish them for no reason. No right to take away their life and freedom. These are things everyone is born with, and they’re not yours for the taking. Winning a war doesn’t give you the right. Having more weapons’ doesn’t give you that right. Being from the Capitol doesn’t give you that right. Nothing does.

However, the Capitol has given itself the right to do this by justifying that people from the districts are subhuman. As a result, they do not deem it necessary to provide them with basic human rights. This is how Coriolanus thinks of the people from the districts as well. 

A second-class citizen. Human, but bestial. Smart, perhaps, but not evolved. Part of a shapeless mass of unfortunate, barbaric creatures that hovered on the periphery of his consciousness.

Human Nature

There are two views on human nature presented in the novel. The first is that human beings are naturally violent. Dr. Gaul strongly believes in this view.

What happened in the arena? That’s humanity undressed. The tributes. And you, too. How quickly civilization disappears. All your fine manners, education, family background, everything you pride yourself on, stripped away in the blink of an eye, revealing everything you actually are. A boy with a club who beats another boy to death. That’s mankind in its natural state.

Coriolanus is unsure of the nature of human beings at the beginning of the novel. However, by the end, he begins to subscribe to Dr. Gaul’s version.

And if even the most innocent among us turn to killers in the Hunger Games, what does that say? That our essential nature is violent.

The person that provides a counter for this point of view is Lucy Gray Baird. She believes that human beings are essentially good and that they fight hard to keep their good nature even in their arena.

“People aren’t so bad, really,” she said. “It’s what the world does to them.”


Coriolanus realizes that he can trust very few people in his life. Both he and Lucy Gray agree that trust was more important to them than love. 

Trust is important. I think it’s more important than love.

Unfortunately, Coriolanus loses the trust he had within people, both by choices made by him and by the people around him. He also realizes that it is impossible for him to trust a government that does not care about his life. 

If the people who were supposed to protect you played so fast and loose with your life . . . then how did you survive? Not by trusting them, that was for sure. And if you couldn’t trust them, who could you trust? All bets were off.


The novel hints at how Coriolanus rose to power. Dr. Gaul’s assignment forces him to come up with the theory that only control is capable of eliminating chaos. Coriolanus also comes to the conclusion that it is better to have the upper hand in the battle. This is where his power-hungry personality stems from.

“We control it,” he said quietly. “If the war’s impossible to end, then we have to control it indefinitely. Just as we do now. With the Peacekeepers occupying the districts, with strict laws, and with reminders of who’s in charge, like the Hunger Games. In any scenario, it’s preferable to have the upper hand, to be the victor rather than the defeated.”

Collins makes use of a constant refrain throughout the novel to refer to power. The refrain is a play on words. While it refers to Coriolanus’ family name, “Snow” it also refers to the snow that falls from the sky. 

Snow lands on top.


Is President Snow a bad guy?

Yes, he is. President Snow is the main antagonist of the Hunger Games Trilogy. His origin story is revealed in The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes, where he is an 18-year-old boy trying to get into University. The story shows his progression from being an innocent child of war to becoming a ruler obsessed with power.

What is The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes about?

The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes is a prequel and spin-off to the Hunger Games Trilogy. It follows the story of a young Coriolanus Snow as he becomes the mentor to the District 12 tribute, Lucy Gray Baird in the tenth Hunger Games.

Who is the main character in The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes?

The main character in The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes is Coriolanus Snow. Snow is the main antagonist of the Hunger Games trilogy. The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes provides a back story to him by showing us what he was like when he was 18 years old.

Is Katniss Lucy Gray’s granddaughter?

It has been suggested by several people that Lucy Gray could be Katniss’s paternal grandmother. If not Lucy Gray, it might also have been her cousin Maude Ivory, who, it has been suggested, was the ancestor that passed down the song, The Hanging Tree to Katniss’s father.

What happened to Lucy Gray on her way to the town?

In the poem titled “Lucy Gray”, Lucy Gray steps out of her house and gets lost in a snowstorm on her way to the town. Her parents track her footprints in the snow, but they find that the footprints have disappeared. This suggests that Lucy Gray died when she went to town.

Neesha Thunga K
About Neesha Thunga K
Neesha graduated in 2020 with a degree in MA English. Before that, she has spent several years teaching English and writing for various organizations. As a lover of English literature, she truly believes that crafting stories through words is the greatest achievement of mankind. She is now pursuing her passion for literature as an Expert on the Book Analysis team.
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