The Hunger Games: Why Mags Can’t Talk


Mags (Lynn Cohen) was one of the most compelling tributes featured in the first Hunger Games sequel, especially because she never spoke a word.

Mags Flanagan was one of the most compelling tributes featured in the first Hunger Games sequel, especially because she never spoke a word. The character, played by Lynn Cohen in Catching Fire, marked the oldest competitor in the 75th Hunger Games event. Despite being 80-years-old, she emerged as a fierce ally for Katniss Everdeen until realizing her group was better off without her. Many fans of Suzanne Collins’ series, however, have continued to wonder why the eldest tribute couldn’t talk.

Before volunteering in place of Annie Cresta for the Third Quarter Quell, Mags competed in the 11th annual Hunger Games at just the age of 16. Being from District 4, the teen was an expert survivalist and skilled in making fishhooks. Her creativity and will to live led Mags in becoming the winner, allowing her to emerge as the first tribute to move into Victor’s Village. Following her big win, Mags mentored future tributes from her district, including Finnick Odair. The two grew a strong bond, which carried into the 75th Games. When the acid fog rolled in during the second day of the event, Mags bravely sacrificed herself so Finnick, Katniss, and her other allies had a chance to survive.

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Related: Every Known Hunger Games Winner (& How They Won)

Before her tragic death, the Hunger Games revealed a few other key details regarding Mags’ past in the books and movies. The woman wore a wedding ring, but information about her spouse remained a mystery. Early on in Catching Fire, it was made clear that Mags didn’t talk, and instead, she used hand gestures to communicate. Interestingly enough, her inability to speak was never directly explained in the movies. The book, on the other hand, insinuated that it was due to a medical condition.

Katniss Briefly Hinted At Why Mags Couldn’t Speak

Hunger Games

In the Catching Fire novel, Katniss mentioned communicating with Mags, noting the elder woman’s garbled speech or possible accent. It was also insinuated that the lead heroine believed that Mags previously suffered from a stroke, which would have cleared up her limited communication. Some fans had theorized that PTSD could have been a factor when it came to Mags’ lack of talking, or possibly just her old age.

Either way, Mag’s lack of talking didn’t inhibit her ability to teach Katniss key skills to survive the forthcoming event. Even in her 80s, the woman’s survival instincts kicked in, bettering the group’s chance of staying hydrated and well-fed. If it wasn’t for the acid fog and her belief that she was slowing her group down, it would have been very possible for Mags to make it out of the arena with the others. Now that the Hunger Games franchise is back in the spotlight with the recently released spinoff, The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes, maybe future stories will be developed that can fully explain the Mags mystery.

Next: Hunger Games: What Happened To Panem After The Second Rebellion

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Updated: November 14, 2020 — 8:48 pm

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