Tigris’s first-ever appearance is in chapter 23 of “Mockingjay,” where Katniss’s small team of rebels needs a place to hide within the Capitol. Katniss herself is at a loss for where to go, but Cressida (played in the films by Natalie Dormer) takes them to Tigris’s fabric shop. Almost immediately, she makes Katniss feel ill at ease, because by this point the elderly Tigris is more cat than woman.
“She’s an extreme example of surgical enhancement gone wrong,” the narration reads from Katniss’s perspective, “for surely not even in the Capitol could they find this face attractive. The skin has been pulled back tightly and tattooed with black and gold stripes. The nose has been flattened until it barely exists […] The result is a grotesque, semi-feline mask, which now squints at us distrustfully.”
In addition to looking like a tiger, Tigris also has a purring voice, has a tendency to growl, and apparently only eats raw meat. (Katniss is skeptical on that last point, suspecting Tigris is just lying to maintain her animal persona.) At first glance, Tigris seems like a clear example of the excesses of the Capitol gone too far. The books have often portrayed the Capitol citizens’ love of fashion, make-up, and plastic surgery in deeply cynical terms, as a sign of straightforward decadence and a sign of their unnatural isolation from any real struggle or concern.
But within the mere dozen or so pages Tigris is on the page, we get a lot more hints about her past, implying that her transformation might not be as vanity-driven as it might seem …