President Snow's Bloody Price of Ambition Is Well-Documented in 'The Hunger Games'

Jamie Lerner - Author

Dec. 1 2023, Published 11:37 a.m. ET

President Snow sitting in a chair in 'The Hunger Games'
Source: Lionsgate

The Gist:

  • President Snow's mysterious blood-coughing in The Hunger Games series is linked to a dark past involving strategic poisoning.

  • The sores in Snow's mouth, a result of the poison, lead to his continual coughing up of blood.

  • The white roses symbolize Snow's attempts to hide his bloody actions, yet they become a metaphorical downfall as Katniss orchestrates his demise.

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Now that The Hunger Games is back on our radar because of the release of The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes, we have a lot of questions. The series follows Katniss Everdeen, the District 12 tribute who’s forced to compete in the inhumane Hunger Games. But after the games are over, Katniss’s aspirations take her to political heights as she fights against the corrupt and tyrannical President Coriolanus Snow.

The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes takes place 64 years before the events of The Hunger Games, following Snow as he transforms from a decent person into the true embodiment of evil. And in The Hunger Games trilogy, he finally gets his comeuppance as he coughs up blood throughout the series until his death. But why does he cough blood?

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President Snow in a white fur jacket in 'The Hunger Games'
Source: Lionsgate

President Snow coughs up blood because of the poison-caused sores in his mouth.

Snow did many unspeakable things to get to where he is in The Hunger Games series as the true leader (and dictator) of Panem. He had to fight against many people, both enemies and friends, and he even killed multiple people. But his worst move was explained to Katniss in Catching Fire by Finnick Odair.

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Finnick shares that Snow once thought his allies were too strong, so to weaken them, he poisoned them all at a group meal. Worried that they’d be suspicious, he also drank the poison but was prepared with the proper antidote, so he didn’t die. Even still, the poison left its mark on Snow by leaving sores in his mouth.

President Snow in a burgundy suit in 'The Hunger Games'
Source: Lionsgate
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Ever since then, Snow has been coughing up blood, which is partly why he surrounds himself with white roses. The genetically engineered smell of white roses is one of the only smells that can nearly mask the smell of blood Snow has to cover on a daily basis. But Snow’s blood and roses are also symbolic of is journey through the series.

The constant blood and roses that surround Snow are symbolic of his rise to power.

Like many real-life leaders, Snow tries to portray himself as a kind and generous leader. In fact, Napoleon did something similar by hiding his hand in his waistcoat to portray a calm and restrained persona instead of his real-life erratic personality. In The Hunger Games, Snow knows it’s important to appear refined, humble, and kind, so he always wears a white rose on his jacket lapel.

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A young Coriolanus Snow in 'The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes'
Source: Lionsgate

Also, he often decorates with and is surrounded by white roses for this reason. But the real reason is, of course, the bloody sores in his mouth that he has worked for decades to hide. This represents all of the awful things he has done and hidden to get to where he is, but no matter how much he tries to hide his crimes, they are still there.

The blood he coughs up is a reminder to Snow and his allies that he has killed and will kill to get what he wants. But it’s also his downfall. As Katniss kills Coin at the end of the trilogy, Snow laughs and coughs himself to death, likely choking on his own blood. In the end, he’s the master of his own demise.

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