I love how people come anonly on my blog to tell me how wrong I am.
If we want to go by the strictest meaning, the revolution starts with Cinna. He’s the first one in the series to use the word “rebellion,” and while we could argue all day about whether his choice of District 12 was a conscious hellraising decision on his part, he’s definitely the first one to stand up directly to Snow and the Gamemakers (to allow Katniss her pin in the arena) as opposed to the kind of sneaking-around hellraising Katniss gets up to with her hunting.
But if we go by the looser meaning, no, sorry, RUE starts the revolution—not least by keeping Katniss alive. When she dies, for the first time there are people in the Capitol who see not a Tribute but a CHILD, crying and in pain and dying far away from her mother. In the book, there’s a further implication that Rue is the start of the revolution; while in the movie District Eleven salutes Katniss and then begins to riot, in the book the entire District puts together every scrap of money they have to send Katniss a piece of bread, a meal that is many things in one: a funeral meal for Rue; a token that like Cinna, they are now betting on Katniss; valuable sustenance that may keep Katniss in the game; a thank-you for taking care of Rue, as best she could for as long as she could; maybe even a piece of comfort, “we know you tried”. Katniss comments in the book that the Districts never sponsor anyone, not even their home Tributes—it’s too expensive, they can’t afford it. District Eleven, who still have Thresh to support and who don’t know Katniss from Adam except as a face on their television screens, are collectively literally willing to risk starvation and retribution to send her a single, tiny gift, to let her know they’ve got her back. They don’t do it for Katniss. They do it for Rue.
Katniss says herself that she’s not easy to like; Cinna and Haymitch both have to coach her on her personality and a chunk of the third book’s plot is her failing to be likable (“And that is how a revolution dies”). Without Rue to show Katniss’ softer side, there would be no Mockingjay and no revolution. Katniss would be just another killing machine, one that happened to be in love; the star-crossed lovers storyline would have been as real to the Capitol as a soap opera, Katniss another pretty face in the parade of victorious Tributes who so eerily echo our real-life celebrities.
Rue’s death gives Katniss depth. There’s probably never been a Tribute who grieved onscreen before, certainly not one who grieved for a Tribute who stood in the way of victory. Suddenly Katniss isn’t just a character. She is a young woman who has a family. She is screaming and crying and trying to honor someone who, by rights, should have been her enemy. Rue isn’t just a body—she is a little girl this young woman fell in love with, who in a fairer world might have been a family friend, someone to be protected and cherished who should not have died such a hard death, who asked only to be sung to as she died.
Rue is the final straw for at least one District, according to Catching Fire, and it’s possible that she sets off the rioting in other Districts, too. She keeps Katniss alive to gain the sympathies of the Capitol, who are able to see Katniss as a person because of the depth they see in the arena, depth that Rue is the first one to bring out.
So yes. Rue starts the revolution. And next time you feel the need to tell me I’m wrong, don’t do it on anon. It’s cowardly.