Suzanne Collin’s prequel novel to her Hunger Games trilogy was recently released, The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes. I got the book early and read through it quickly. When I reached the part where Snow and Lucy Gray are at the lake house, after just beginning to start to run away together, Lucy Gray seems to disappear. In the song earlier in the book, it is said that the girl in the song who is the real Lucy Gray’s namesake mysteriously disappears and in the song, no one knows how. The only clue is her footprints in the snow. Yet in the book, the footprints are replaced by Lucy’s orange scarf, placed right next to a snake. Snow is convinced that Lucy was trying to kill him with that snake as she “Always knows where to find them” and Lucy has had other connections with snakes at her reaping and in her games. Snow then takes his gun and shoots into the woods but doesn’t find a body. I was pretty confused here, did Lucy Gray try to kill Snow, or was she kidnapped or taken somehow? Did Snow actually kill Lucy Gray? Is there something I’m missing or is it supposed to be a mystery like in the song?
Until we have more information any answer here will be purely speculative. I think it is clear the author doesn’t want us to know at this moment in time and may be purposely keeping this open ended either to allow a future book to reveal or because, as some authors like to do, it is intended to be kept ambiguous. What is clear is that as the story is written from Snows perspective the reader is expected to have the same questions, doubts and uncertainties as Snow. Possibly in a future story Snow will find out what happened to and the revelation will cause another character development step.
I just finished the book 5 minutes ago and was wondering the same thing! My guess is twofold (physical and metaphorical):
Physical - I’m not sure when Lucy Gray started to get suspicious of Coriolanus, but at the very latest she got suspicious when he wouldn’t say who the third person he murdered was. I personally don’t think she wanted to murder him, only used a harmless snake as a decoy to escape; but I love the way Suzanne Collins wrote it so that we can she how easily trust can slip away and how negatively it impacts relationships when there is no trust. It was so convincing to see it from Coriolanus’ perspective - what we took at truth in the beginning, and then how easily the doubts crept in and made it confusing to know what was true and what was warped. Very cool progress to reveal the unreliable narrator at the end! In my dream ending Lucy Gray survives and took the Covey to another district to escape from District 12.
Metaphorical - I think Lucy Gray took on a ghost form because she left an impact on the culture forever, which is incredibly amusing since Dr Gaul tried to erase Lucy Gray from history. The Lucy Grey legacy includes: the hanging tree song was passed down (obviously), she introduced the importance of showmanship into the games, the dynamic her and Coriolanus shapes him and his experience of the games which he carried with him, and Their romance personally haunted Coriolanus so much that he shut off his humanity (Even in the epilogue he was only known as Snow - siding with the cold military Father he never really knew in life). He shaped the games in a lasting way that impacted Katniss’ era; additionally he shaped is life and ideals in a way that impacted the Snow family for generations - as seen in President Snow later on. None of that would have happened if Coriolanus had a weak victor who he didn’t bond with.
I believe Lucy Gray knew the ONLY reason Coriolanus was willing to run away with her was that he was trying to escape death. By bringing him to the exact place the weapons were hiding, it seems she was testing him to see if he was really willing to kill his old life and run away with her. It was clear to Lucy Gray that he wasn't willing to give that up and that's when she went to go "dig out the katniss." By leading him to the snake, she knew he would believe she poisoned him, and hoped it would force him to run back to District 12 and leave her to run away, but that only made him go ballistic.
Just as Coriolanus is trying to shoot her (and I believe he did at least shoot her once, remember he's got a good shot), Lucy sings a verse from the Hanging Tree:
'Are you, are you
Coming to the tree?
Wear a necklace of rope, side by side with me.
Strange things did happen here
No stranger would it be
If we met up at midnight in the hanging tree.'
I believe Lucy Gray was using her last moments to show Coriolanus his greatest weakness: his purely egotistical desire for control. Coriolanus was not willing to die with her, but rather kill her to make sure there was no chance he would be hung for the murders that he committed.
You see throughout the book how Coriolanus is obsessed with having ownership over everything, ESPECIALLY Lucy Gray. I can't count how many times he considered her "his girl." However, Snow proved that absolutely nothing he owned was worth his own life. Furthermore, he is so blind to his own evil that he doesn't understand Lucy Gray's reference to the verse in the Hanging Tree because he is too focused on his survival rather than the fate of his once-beloved Lucy Gray.
I think if you keep in mind the ever famous line from President Snow in the 3rd hunger games novel, The Mokingjay. ("Ms. Everdeen, it's the things we love the most that destroy us.") We have to expect that this is the romance that turned Coryo's heart to ice. So if she survived, which I expect her to, I could guess that she will somehow add fire to the rebellion or in someway become a personal enemy to Snow. Sadly we know, this won't end well ... and it's not over.
I think this part of the story was to show Snow's descent into depravity - that not even love could save him from being the beast that the capital created. Lucy is just a focal point around which he dances as his dehumanization is completed. Where she was in those moments is not the point of the story but the mystery is used to further Snow's delusion and confusion. We know he has the Wordsworth poem and the hanging tree song swirling around in his consciousness adding to his rationalizations that Lucy is something "other" than human. He's unwittingly proving Dr. Gaul correct. Without consequences (he's destroyed the peacekeeper's gun he used to murder Mayfair), he devolves into animalistic behavior and thinking in minutes.
In my dream scenario, Lucy survives and she's Katniss' grandmother or something amazing like that. It would make Katniss killing Snow that much sweeter. I'd like to think that Lucy did realize she couldn't trust Coriolanus and that she went back to protect the younger members of the Covey. That she then makes peace with the mayor somehow by laying the deed at Spruce's feet, and goes on to live a free-ish life in District 12. But that would be so unlike this series.
I think that it might be that she knew about Sejanus all along, because in the beginning she asked Coriolanus how he felt about him being hung, hoping to get him to confess. Then later she wouldn't stop asking who the third person was and when he answered you could tell she was very skeptical at his answer. I say this because it seemed like the entire trip was staged and she was quickly losing trust in him but still had at least a little hope.
When he didn't confess she had to use her back-up plan, which was to escape before he could kill her too. So when Coriolanus left she was free of the burden of having a murder with her and she could live freely. What I think happened is she travelled and travelled and travelled until she reached the ruins of District Thirteen. She started to get sick immediately so the people there took her in, and she became a resident of District Thirteen.
She changed her name so she could leave her old life behind then she worked her way up the scale and became President Coin. That's why, when Katniss wanted to kill Snow, she was fine with it. Because she wanted to watch him suffer the way she had suffered for so many years. Then the other Covey found a letter she had sent them and they also came to district thirteen. Sadly, they all died before the second war. But when Coin (Lucy) died she was Happy, because she got to see them again. 🙂🙂🙂
" I was pretty confused here, did Lucy Gray try to kill Snow, or was she kidnapped or taken somehow? Did Snow actually kill Lucy Gray? Is there something I’m missing or is it supposed to be a mystery like in the song?"
I think in attempt to answer questions, it could possibly be a little bit of everything. She might have wanted to see if he would instantly jump to the conclusion of her trying to kill him when that non venomous snake bit him. Then again it was raining a lot and like the lady in the hospital said, snakes tend to come out a lot more in the rain. It might have even simply been coincidence. Snow or "Corio" used to try to give the benefit of the doubt in situations...Also I found it interesting that Lucy briefly mentions meeting the commander the day before. Perhaps the commander shared more with Lucy than she let on...And perhaps Lucy was hoping that by sharing how the commander met with her, that Corio would mention his meeting with the commander as well. Also, concerning the jabber jay. ...Perhaps they had their own recording him and Lucy Gray at times when they were in the meadow alone....In terms of Snow killing her. I think he may have shot her but she was still alive singing that song, and the birds took over loudly where she could have made a run and hid. She knew the lake area very well. It wasn't an accident picking to go there first instead of straight north right away. Plus I think she wanted to protect her other friends still heading north. Perhaps the basket/wagon left might have signified other things as well, such as a new type of "underground railroad" in a sense. You know how district 13 being actually still intact wasn't made known until the very end of book two of Catching Fire. Perhaps this is a similar thing, making known of a land and people up north. Remember how one of the other Covey members who doesn't talk much, mentions how they had been there before, and how there used to be people there. So Lucy might actually already know the way, and she was pretending that she was more reliant on Snow to moreso see his reactions and gage them and really test the depth of their trust. Once she knew she couldn't trust him anymore she took off on her own....I also wonder if when the other Doctor, Doctor K, mentions how she felt that someone from within the military unit had been a spy and leaked things....I wonder if it might have been this commander....And if this commander was playing double agent in a sense when he first met with Lucy Gray, and then with Coriolenus Snow, telling him of needing to leave to district 2 right away for elite commander school training.. .Final thing...I wonder if whatever he was given when he was in the lab originally with his stitches where things seemed suddenly a lot sharper and clearer rather than fogged up by morphling, might have been doing something to his brain to subtly put him into more of a hyper focused fight or flight mode that would get stronger and stronger triggered until finally he snaps at Lucy Gray, shooting at her over and over by the lake...Who knows....
There is an implication in Chapter Twenty-Three of The Hunger Games that Lucy survived and returned to live in District 12:
That's right. If we win, we'll each get a house in the part of town reserved for Hunger Games' victors. Long ago, when the Games began, the Capitol had built a dozen fine houses in each district. Of course, in ours only one is occupied. Most of the others have never been lived in at all.
If "most" of them have never been lived in then at least one of them must have been lived in. As Lucy was the only other District 12 victor, it would presumably have to be her who lived there.
In the Epilogue of The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes it is revealed that the idea of the special housing for victors was only executed after Snow's final confrontation with Lucy:
And to tempt a better class of tributes to possibly volunteer, Snow suggested that the victor should be given a house in a special area of town, tentatively called the Victor's Village, which would be the envy of all those people in the hovels.
Thus, Lucy's occupancy of one of the houses could only have occurred at a later point, in which case she must have been alive and residing in District 12 at some later point.