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Why does (former) president Snow laugh when Katniss shoots Coin to death? Is he happy because he tricked Katniss into killing her own ally, or does he laugh because he actually seeks a proper replacement for himself?

I have a feeling that I am overlooking something, because I was really confused when watching the scene.

  • 12
    Because it was funny? – Valorum Oct 12 '16 at 19:52
  • 6
    I think he was happy that he managed to get Katniss to kill his enemy. It must have seemed very amusing to someone like him to snatch away his opponent’s chance at power at the very moment of her victory. Don’t forget, by letting Katniss know that Coin was behind the bombing, he was partly responsible for her shooting Coin. – Adamant Oct 12 '16 at 19:53
  • Well, as the audience knew, Coin would not have been the best choice for president, so on the other hand it was a rather good choice – Marv Oct 12 '16 at 19:54
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    Could it just be, because the situation was a bit ridiculous? Using a person showing signs of psychological trauma as a executioner doesn't seem like a good idea to me. – Zoredache Oct 12 '16 at 20:06
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    Just to clarify, I don't think Katniss was tricked to shoot Coin. She was certainly convinced, but every indication in the book and film leads us and Katniss to believe Coin is responsible for the... uh, "unfortunate accident". – Ellesedil Oct 12 '16 at 21:55
48

This is the best possibility he could have hoped for.

He's been soundly defeated, so the death of his enemy is the best 'victory' he's ever going to achieve now. But breaking it down, we can find multiple reasons for him to laugh:

  • Coin, his enemy, having victory torn from her grasp. He's lost the war, lost everything; the best he can hope for out of life is to take some of his enemies down with him. Seeing Coin, in what was supposed to be a great moment of triumph for her, being betrayed and killed is probably the best thing he's going to see in the rest of his life.

  • Knowing that his words to Katniss made a difference. Being a powerless prisoner, there's little he can do any more to affect the outcome of anything. But, like Saruman in Orthanc, he still has the power of persuasion. He must be pleased to know that despite everything, even after his defeat and from within his prison, he's managed to get through to Katniss and convince her.

  • The irony of Coin being killed by her own poster girl. Katniss has been used as a propaganda figure by Coin and the rebellion since the beginning, so it's ironic - and therefore amusing, in a dark sort of way - that she was the one to kill the new President Coin. (Hat tip to Goombaboy for mentioning this first.)

  • The irony of Plutarch turning his coat once again? This is never spelled out explicitly, but it's quite plausible that Plutarch Heavensbee set Katniss up to kill Coin. He's clearly a very astute political player; as a former Head Gamemaker, he could well have been the one who set the scene for Katniss to shoot Snow (with Coin directly behind him, in her line of sight); as a close confidant of Coin, he was no doubt aware of who gave the order for the bombs that killed Prim; and he'd already turned against one president and helped to bring him down, so why not another? This seems especially likely in the film, just looking at his expression after Coin's death.

  • Not to mention, he dies of completely natural causes. His death was inevitable, and he got what he wanted before he died. – jmite Oct 13 '16 at 3:57
  • Didn't Plutarch end up ruling? that's your motive, in addition to opportunity – DVK-on-Ahch-To Oct 13 '16 at 12:51
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    @DVK-in-exile - in the book, Paylor (the rebel leader from district 8) was elected the new president. – Adam V Oct 13 '16 at 13:35
  • In the film too, I think. – Rand al'Thor Oct 13 '16 at 20:48
  • "But, like Saruman in Orthanc, he still has the power of persuasion." I don't think that's the best analogy. Saruman used his power of persuasion only for ill. However with what we know about Coin, persuading Katniss to take her out was at least a benign act, if not benevolent. Even if the underlying motivation was anger/hatred/vengeance. – aroth Oct 14 '16 at 4:22
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It’s open to interpretation, even in the book. But the way I took it was that he was laughing at the irony that the woman who had been the main tool of propaganda against him by his enemies wasn’t actually under their control and turned on their leader (Coin was turning into the next Snow, after all) and killed her instead. Snow was already about to die, seeing Katniss kill the more threatening tyrant instead was worth the chuckle.

9

It isn't uncommon for a rival to use the middle and lower class to upstage the incumbent, but the middle and lower class are often back where they were after the coup.

Snow gave Katniss a few key pieces of information, and reminded her of other pieces she knew but may not have considered:

  • Coin isn't much different than snow. Both bad, though perhaps different methods of bad.
  • Snow was dead already - politically and soon physically. His death in front of everyone is just more gamesmanship.
  • She won, but she was handing the leadership over to someone just as bad.
  • There was a small window to rebel against the new leader which wouldn't require all the effort that she went through to rebel against the old leader. In fact, Coin undoubtedly knew that after Snow, Katniss was her greatest liability/enemy, and Katniss had already shown significant rebellion in Coin's organization.
  • Coin killed Prim. Coin knew that Katniss would eventually learn this, making Katniss that much more dangerous.

Snow laughed.

Coin manipulated Katniss into becoming the face of the revolution, but at the last moment Snow was able to manipulate Katniss into taking out Coin.

In all this, Katniss is only provided the illusion of free agency, but at every turn her decisions were guided and led down a very narrow path and she really had no choice. Her sister was killed by Coin, and the only choice she really had was to let the old leader die, and get rid of the new leader. By doing so, she allowed the country to have a real choice - something she has been denied her entire life. Yet it was Snow that manipulated her into this path of revenge. Again, she had no choice.

So Snow laughed. He laughed at Coin. He laughed at Katniss. He laughed at the easily manipulated people under his thumb.

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