- "My friends call me Lucy Gray — I hope you will, too!"
- ―Lucy Gray at the District 12 reaping ceremony[src]
Lucy Gray Baird was the female tribute from District 12 in the 10th Hunger Games. Her mentor was Coriolanus Snow, a top-performing student at the Academy. She was the victor of the Games, and was a Capitol favorite. A member of the Covey, she and her kin were trapped in District 12 following the First Rebellion, but originally traveled throughout Panem. She was formerly in a relationship with Billy Taupe and Coriolanus Snow.
Pre-Games District 12
- "You can't take my sass / You can't take my talking / You can kiss my ass / And then keep on walking."
- ―Lucy Gray Baird singing during her Reaping
- "You could start by thinking I could actually win."
- ―Lucy Gray Baird to Coriolanus Snow on how he could repay her for saving his life[src]
Lucy Gray Baird first met her mentor, Coriolanus Snow, when he came to meet her when the tributes of the 10th Hunger Games arrived in the Capitol via cargo train. She did not seem to think much of him at first, but was impressed by his pluck when he boarded the train, which brought the tributes to a cage in the Capitol Zoo. She protected him from the other tributes, who wanted to kill him. She then spoke kindly to the Capitol children visiting the zoo, who seemed enamored by her, and charmed a reporter, Lepidus Malmsey, who told her that her colorful dress had been a big hit in the Capitol. Later, Snow returned to visit her at the zoo. He suggested that she might sing again for the Capitol audience, though she wasn't entirely sure what she would get out of it. She also revealed that the tributes weren't being fed, saved what little scraps they were getting from visitors to the Capitol Zoo. Later, the tributes were brought to the Academy's Heavensbee Hall, in order for the mentors to get information about them for a questionnaire. Lucy Gray was one of the few that would even speak, telling Snow about her history with the Covey and the two of them bonding in a way over the fact they were both orphans.
As the time before the start of the Hunger Games stretched on, Snow worried that his tribute would starve to death before they even began. Things, however, took a dramatic turn when the Capitol Arena was bombed during a tour held for the mentors and tributes. Snow was buried under rubble, but Lucy Gray saved him, dragging him to safety. Afterwards, the two met and Snow told her that he didn't know how to repay her for what she had done for him. She replied that he could start by thinking that she could actually win the Hunger Games.
Lucy Gray's words forced Snow to reconsider his strategy towards her. Although he knew that he could make her popular with the audience, he had never really considered the possibility of her being a Victor before. He worked with her to plot a strategy for survival and eventual victory. During the interviews, Lucy Gray played guitar and sung a song that once again moved the Capitol audience, "The Ballad of Lucy Gray Baird." By the time she was finished, there were few dry eyes in the audience, but Snow was jealous, due to the song's reference to a lost lover. He told her as much, and gave her a token, his mother's compact, with the intention that she use it to smuggle rat poison into the arena to poison her fellow tributes. She understood him instantly, and told him in response that the only boy her heart had a sweet spot for was him, and gave him a kiss.
10th Hunger Games
- "You're headed for heaven / The sweet old hereafter / And I've got one foot in the door..."
- ―Lucy Gray Baird, singing to the snake muttations loosed into the Capitol Arena[src]
The 10th Hunger Games opened with Lucy Gray Baird an absolute crowd favorite. Snow's interview strategy had many viewers half-believing that Lucy Gray was Capitol-born and not from the Districts. The games opened with the sound of a gong and a scrimmage for a pile of weapons set within the center of the arena. Though some of the tributes went for the weapons, Lucy Gray fled immediately for one of the tunnels which had been opened up by the bombings. She was not seen until the second day of the Games, when a rabid Jessup Diggs, her fellow tribute from District 12, was chasing her. Jessup cornered Lucy Gray up the remains of a concession stand. At this point, Snow remembered something that he had read about rabies victims: that they experience hydrophobia, or the fear of water. He readied his communicuff to send in numerous bottles of water to scare him. His own mentor, Lysistrata Vickers, however, realized what was happening and waved Snow off, sending in the water herself instead. She knew that her own tribute could not win, so she wanted the other tribute from District 12 to win instead. Upon seeing the water, Jessup entered a frenzy and fell from the stands, his bones breaking the sound heard as he hit the ground. Lucy Gray comforted him as he lay dying, telling him that he could "sleep" now. She then took some of the remaining bottles of water to hydrate herself and used more of it to clean Jessup's face, before closing his eyes with a handkerchief given to her before the Games by Snow. She then collected a sponsor gift of bread and cheese and exited into a near tunnel, then saw Reaper approaching. He let her run into the tunnels while took the remaining water bottles.
Snow was summoned to the office of Dr. Volumnia Gaul, the head Gamemaker for the 10th Hunger Games. There, she told him that one of the other mentors, Gaius Breen, had died from his wounds sustained in the bombing of the Capitol Arena. She told him that there would be repercussions and that it was his "girl" who had given him the idea. He then realized what she had in mind: to unleash her specially bred snake muttations upon the tributes in the Capitol Arena. Having seen first-hand the unusual and deadly nature of the snakes, and knowing something of how they worked, he slipped a handkerchief previously used by Lucy Gray into their tank in order to familiarize them with her scent. On the fourth day, Wovey, the female tribute from District 8, passed out and died, clutching an empty water bottle. Nobody found it suspicious, however, Coriolanus Snow, noticing something slightly off about her spittle, realized that she had most likely been poisoned by Lucy Gray. Not long after this, Dr. Gaul released the snake muttations into the arena, as Snow had suspected she would.
The snakes behaved as Snow expected, immediately fanning out and attacking tributes. They managed to find victims, but then Lucy Gray emerged from one of the tunnels, doing a sort of dance and singing a simple tune on "la." Her tune seemed to draw the snakes from all over the arena, surrounding her and swarming her dress, until she appeared to have a brilliant skirt of weaving reptiles. She then began a soft, sweet song which mesmerized both the snakes and the audience of the Hunger Games. As she released her last note, the snakes began to stir, but she started softly humming and the snakes relaxed around her, contented.
The games continued until only three were left: Lucy Gray, Reaper Ash and Treech, the male tribute from District 7. Approached by Lepidus Malmsey of Capitol News, Snow tried to play up the attention that Lucy Gray had attracted from the Capitol audience, stating that he felt a great injustice may have occurred by her even being in District 12 at all and that if others felt with the same way, they knew what to do. His smooth words resulted in a barrage of donations, but it was of little help, as he already received more than enough to feed her for weeks. Not long after this, Lucy Gray materialized from the tunnels, apparently trying to figure out who was still left in the Games. She was set upon by Treech, who was carrying a large ax. He raised it for the strike, but she flung himself into his arms, avoiding the swing, and his eyes widened in horror as she realized what she had done. He shoved her away, tearing the snake from his neck, but it was too late. He collapsed to his knees, smashing the snake into the ground, but fell dead in the dirt.
With only her and Reaper left, Lucy Gray set up a meticulous plan, infuriating Reaper by moving pieces of flag that he had used to cover the dead tributes' corpses. She took advantage of the fact Reaper had not eaten much for many days as a symptom of the rabies he had received from Jessup to tire him out. Reaper then desperately drank out of a puddle that Lucy Gray had poisoned with rat poison. He only just made it to the body of Treech, and covered up only half of himself with a flag before his body gave out. At the time, nobody was sure if he was really dead. Sitting on the bleachers at the time, she waited thirty minutes before going to check Reaper's body. Not seeming to find a pulse, she closed his eyelids and then carefully arranged the flagpole over the tributes, before sitting against a pole to wait. Finally convinced, the Gamemakers declared her the winner of the 10th Hunger Games.
Post-Games District 12
- "You're mine and I'm yours. It's written in the stars."
- ―Lucy Gray Baird to Coriolanus Snow[src]
Lucy Gray Baird was sent back to District 12, where she resumed her life performing with the Covey at The Hob. Snow watched, holding his breath, as she appeared on stage, introduced as being fresh back from her engagement as the Capitol. She then entertained the crowd with a bright, lively number. She continued with the song she had sung on the day of her reaping, Snow realizing the truth of the words she sang, "Nothing you can take from me was ever worth keeping!" as the Capitol had tried to take everything from her and failed. She rounded out the night with the song "Down in the Valley," and Snow lapped in the words, "So I can see my true love go by." He moved in to meet her, but there was a disturbance in the Hob, caused by the appearance of her scorned lover, Billy Taupe.
Billy Taupe's appearance ended up creating chaos in the Hob and Snow was denied his meeting with Lucy Gray that evening. The next day, however, Snow spoke with Sejanus Plinth, his former classmate and mentor who had joined him as a Peacekeeper recruit in District 12. Plinth told him that he had learned that Lucy Gray lived in a place near the woods called the Seam and he could take her there. They set off and Snow finally had his long-awaited meeting. He discovered her in a field, strumming a song which brought to mind a hanging which he had witnessed two days previously. She at first reacted skittishly to his approach, but admitted it was only because she was still skittish from the arena. They hugged, him telling her that she knew he would find her. She admitted that she had hoped, but she didn't know for sure, and the odds didn't seem in her favor. He gave her ice, a rare treat in the hot days of summer, and she asked what had brought him to her meadow.
He told her that he was just spending time with his girl and that he wanted to hear what had happened to her in the games, off-camera. The two exchanged stories, and Lucy Gray admitted that she knew something of Snow's foray into the arena to rescue Plinth, in which he had killed the tribute Bobbin. She didn't breathe easy again until he sent in the water for her and she knew he was alive. He admitted that he had felt useless to her, but she promised that everything he had done for her was important. She asked him about the snakes and he admitted the truth of what he had done with the handkerchief. She told him that having saved each other's lives it was written in the stars that they were responsible for each other. She asked if he might write Pluribus Bell for more strings for her guitar, telling him that she had money that Dean Casca Highbottom had given her secretly. This shocked Snow, as Highbottom hated him, and he didn't understand why Highbottom would give money to his girl.
She took him to meet the rest of her family of the Covey, but the meeting was interrupted when they learned that Billy Taupe had come around again and was talking with Sejanus Plinth. Lucy apologized to him for having to deal with her baggage and, amused, he replied that it was in the stars. She then told Plinth that her fellow Covey member, Maude Ivory, was upset at his shirking the work she had given him to talk with Taupe. She told Taupe go away and not come back and he asked if she would sic her Peacekeepers on him if he didn't. She told him that there was no walking back what he done, that he was still running with the girl who had tried to get her killed. He asked where he was supposed to go and she bit his hand. He sniped at Snow, telling him that he had a few surprises waiting for him before leaving. Afterwards, Lucy Gray told Snow that what Taupe was implying wasn't true - that she sometimes had to flirt with people as part of her job, but she was loyal. She said that she hadn't come back from the Capitol for more of the same and he told her to make a new life with him. They made plans to meet again the coming Saturday, as the Covey had a gig performing at a wedding.
- "Hm. So they keep me safe. And what do I give up for that?"
"Give up? Why, nothing."
"The Covey did. Can't travel. Can't perform without their say-so. Fight getting round up, and you get shot dead like my daddy. Try to keep your family together, and you get your head broken like my mama. What if I think that price is too high to pay? Maybe my freedom's worth the risk."
- ―Lucy Gray Baird discussing her philosophy of freedom with Coriolanus Snow[src]
The next day, the group set off on the journey to the lake. Along the way, the group debated the meaning of the "Lucy Gray" song. Lucy Gray Baird told them all that the true meaning of the song was a mystery, just like herself. As they settled in at the lake, Lucy Gray told Snow that she was sorry she had upset him the night before. He agreed that he had over-reacted, telling her that he believed they needed the Capitol to maintain order. She asked him if he really thought the Hunger Games were right and he answered that he wasn't even sure why they did them, but that the Capitol was the only thing keeping people safe from people's animal desires. Lucy asked what it was that she gave up for safety. He replied that it was nothing, but she didn't think so, noting that the Covey had taken from them their ability to travel, to sing certain songs they wanted and to even keep their family together. She told him that he wanted to think for himself and she knew because of what he had done for her in the Games. Afterwards, she complimented Clerk Carmine for bringing some katniss, explaining to Snow that it was an edible plant and in a few weeks it would grow potatoes that would be good for roasting.
The group had a fish lunch and contemplated the colorful clouds in the sky. Lucy Gray explained to Snow that each of the members of the Covey got their first name from a ballad and their last name from a color. At one point, Lucy Gray commented that Clerk missed Billy Taupe and Snow asked if she did. She replied immediately that she hadn't since the reaping, explaining that Taupe had bet he could have both her and Mayfair Lipp. She told him that he had tried to meet in the meadow and he became jealous, despite her claim that she couldn't ever trust him again. She told Snow that she trusted him, but when he asked her why, she said she would have to give it some thought.
At the next performance at the Hob, Lucy Gray performed a downbeat number, "I'll Sell You For a Song," which irritated Snow, as it reminded him of Taupe. The two then accidentally stumbled upon a secretive rebel meeting in which Sejanus Plinth was plotting with Billy Taupe and man named Spruce to escape up north. Spruce was suspicious of their presence, but Plinth tried to smooth it over, telling Spruce that Snow was like his brother and would cover for the. Spruce then motioned to Lucy Gray, asking about her. Billy Taupe replied that she was his girl and Lucy Gray agreed, "If you'll take me." Spruce asked about Snow and Lucy Gray lied, claiming that he was seeing her cousin, Barb Azure. Snow was unsure exactly what was going on, but decided to play along. Things ignited, however, when Mayfair Lipp showed up, threatening to expose the group. She got in a jibe at Lucy Gray, asking how she had enjoyed the Capitol and then made to leave, but Spruce raised his shotgun to shoot her. In response, Billy Taupe knocked him to the ground, but Snow raised his Peacekeeper rifle and shot Mayfair instead. He then told Lucy Gray to run and get back onstage, but Billy Taupe shouted that if he was going to swing, then she would swing with him, so Spruce shot him through the chest. Lucy Gray stared at his body, shocked, and Snow ushered her back out onstage, telling her that she was never there. Lucy Gray then played crowd control, keeping all of the Covey onstage until the program was over. She and Snow escaped detection, but thanks to earlier treachery by Snow, Plinth was arrested as a traitor to the Peacekeepers and executed.
Snow was wracked with guilt about his betrayal and worry that he would be implicated in the crime. He returned to the Hob, where Lucy Gray performed a song called "Pure as the Driven Snow," which, based on the lyrics and title, could only be about him. Afterwards, he asked if she was alright and she told him that it had been awful, watching him die and that she would never be able to thank him for killing Mayfair to protect her and the rest of the Covey. He told her she was safe, but she said that this wasn't really true: Mayor Lipp was convinced she had killed them both and was on the Peacekeepers day and night to arrest her. She told Snow that she was going to run away, fleeing north like the others had planned. He told her that they would go together tomorrow, as he was sure that if he didn't, they would find his gun and connect him to Mayfair's murder. They promised to meet the next day at dawn. He wasn't sure where to meet, but then he heard her sing the song "The Hanging Tree." Although he was annoyed at hearing another Billy Taupe song, he realized that she was singing it to him, that "Snow lands on top." He rose to meet her at dawn the next morning, but before he could do so, he was told that he had passed his test to train as a Peaceekeeper officer and was slated to leave for District 2 the next morning.
Despite this news, Snow met with Lucy Gray anyway, sure that any moment someone would find the evidence of his guilt and his only choice was to run. He told her that she was all that mattered to him. He told her that the Peacekeeper commander had ordered her to stop singing "The Hanging Tree," as it was too dark. They took off, her saying that she was leaving behind her guitar for Maude Ivory. Snow realized that they didn't seem to be heading directly north and she told him that she wanted to see the lake one last time. As she said her goodbyes, Snow said that there wasn't much to miss and she said that she would miss her music and her pretty birds. He told her that he wouldn't miss people, that they were mostly awful, but she replied that it wasn't people that were awful so much as what the world did to them. As they walked, he let slip a reference to having killed three people. Confused, she asked who the third was and he claimed that he killed the old him so that he could come with her.
They took rest in a shack, where Snow was shocked to discover guns, including the weapon that he had used to kill Mayfair. Casually, he asked Lucy Gray if she should take them along and she replied that she'd rather not, that she didn't trust them. After they started a fire, she told Snow that she was going to gather some Katniss from a patch by the lake. Left alone to think, Snow realized that with the evidence in hand, he could bury what had happened and make a new life for himself. He knew that living wild wasn't for him, and as Lucy Gray took a long time with the katniss, his thoughts became doubting, thinking of the insinuations that Taupe had made against her. He walked outside, searching for her, and realized that she must have figured out that Plinth was the third person he killed. He shouted after her and searched, eventually finding her orange scarf lying across some briars. He then reached for it, only to be bitten by a snake.
Shocked and angered, he expected to die, but found he was still standing. He figured that Lucy Gray must be about to return to the shack, not about to confront him with only a knife. He estimated her position and fired a spray of bullets, but they did not connect. He called after her, telling her it was not too late to work something out, but in return, she sang lyrics from "The Hanging Tree," emphasizing the fact that she knew the truth of what had happened to Plinth. The mockingjays then picked up her song and he realized the deviousness of her plan, using them to cover for her. Shouting her name, he sprayed the trees with bullets, but couldn't be sure if anything connected.
Instead of going to District 2, Snow was brought to the Capitol by Dr. Gaul and he learned that she had erased all record of the 10th Hunger Games. The name of Lucy Gray would fade, known only a distant memory in the minds of the select segment in the Capitol who had followed the 10th Hunger Games and those who knew her in District 12. He later received a letter which stated that back in District 12, everyone thought that Mayor Lipp had killed Lucy Gray Baird, but nobody could prove it. A new commander had outlawed shows at the Hob. Snow would sometimes remember a moment of sweetness and wish that things had gone differently, but he felt that things would never have worked out between the two of the, that they were too different. He was happy to think of her as a ghost girl that could fly around District 12 as much as she wanted, but she and her mockingjays would never harm him again.
By the time of the 10th Hunger Games, she was left as an orphan with no living family. She had two older siblings. She had been taken in by her cousins. Her father was killed when she was still young, and she indicated that he spoken his mind a little too freely and was shot full of bullet holes in response. She stated also that her mother had gotten her head broken for trying to keep her family together.
During the 10th Hunger Games, Lucy Gray killed Wovey, the District 8 tribute, by poisoning a water bottle with the rat poison Coriolanus Snow gave her before the Games, which Wovey drank from. Apparently, Lucy Gray was "gunning for Coral", though. Next, Treech, the District 7 male tribute was killed by Lucy Gray in self-defense, as she uses one of the snake muttations to bite and poison him. Finally, when it is just her and Reaper left, she again uses the rat poison to contaminate Reaper's puddle that he drank out of. She later claimed to Coriolanus that it was an act of mercy, as Reaper had contracted rabies from Jessup when the latter spat in his eye in the zoo.
Before the 10th Hunger Games start, Lucy Gray and Jessup form an alliance so that "the District 12 tributes go down together" in the arena. The two had formed a close bond early on, which Coriolanus thinks "that was rarely seen in tributes from the same District", with Jessup swearing to act as Lucy Gray's protector. This thought was wrong, however, because the tributes from 3 and 4 also teamed up with each other.
However, during the games, Jessup's contracted rabies from the zoo made him act delirious and attack Lucy Gray, and she ran away and climbed a concession stand. When the sponsors' water bottles are dropped near Jessup, he became frantic and fell off the stand. As he hit the ground, he broke numerous bones. As he was dying, Lucy Gray, not wanting him to die alone, sat by him for comfort, telling him he can 'sleep now'. Afterwords, she closes his eyes and washes his face for respect.
Lucy Gray is described to have dark, curly hair which was pulled up and woven with limp wildflowers at the reaping. Also at the reaping, she dons her signature colorful dress made of a rainbow of ruffles of colors of raspberry pink, royal blue, and daffodil yellow ruffle, now raggedy but once fancy, which drew the eye as to 'a tattered butterfly in a field of moths'. Later, for her interview, Tigris makes the filth and soot on her dress vanish, leaving fresh, starchy rows of rainbow ruffles. During the reaping and the interview, Lucy Gray wears makeup - her eyes were shadowed blue and lined with black, her cheeks rouged, and her lips stained a somewhat greasy red. Pluribus says she looks like 'someone who knows how to have fun'.
During the rest of her stay in the Capitol, she doesn't wear her makeup, and her lips were chapped, her hair loose, her rainbow dress dusty and rumpled. She was also struck by the mayor, and the mark is described as a deep purple bruise, which Lucy Gray says she can only imagine 'how hideous' it looks.
When she returns to District 12, she wears a gray dress, like her namesake.
She also wears braids during the games.
Although no specific description is given of her speech within the novel, in a clip introducing the character, author Suzanne Collins read her as having an accent like those from the Deep South region of the United States.
Her name, Lucy Gray, originates from a real life poem, "Lucy Gray," written by William Wordsworth. The poem itself is featured within the book The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes, performed as a song by Maude Ivory of the Covey.
- Lucy Gray has the most kills along with Coral, with three (Wovey, Treech, Reaper), however two of them are not direct kills.
- Coriolanus kept on insisting to the Capitol citizens that Lucy Gray was more Capitol rather than District. This garnered her more sponsorship.
- Lucy Gray can play the guitar.
- Katniss indirectly mentions Lucy Gray in the first Hunger Games book as the first victor of District 12.
- Lucy Gray is the only member of the Covey to have both their given name and color from a ballad. Despite gray being a dull color, she loved color the most out of anyone else.
- Various subtle clues, such as her singing "The Hanging Tree" and her knowledge of wild herbs such as katniss, coupled with her uncertain final fate, have prompted fan speculation that Lucy is Katniss Everdeen's ancestor (likely her paternal grandmother, assuming that Lucy returned to the Seam after leaving Snow).
Behind the scenes
Author Suzanne Collins spoke about Lucy Gray Baird in an interview, regarding The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes. She stated that in the first chapter of The Hunger Games, she made a reference to a fourth District 12 victor, but that Katniss didn't seem to know anything about the person worth mentioning. Her story is not well-known in Panem in the future, but she lives on through her music. Her other legacy is that she introduced entertainment to the Hunger Games. She had some sense when writing the reference of who the character might be, but the character evolved a lot from that point.
- ↑ Canfield, David (January 21, 2020). Who's the star of the Hunger Games prequel? Read the exclusive first excerpt. Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved on May 15, 2020.
- ↑ 2.0 2.1 2.2 The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes, Chapter 6
- ↑ 3.0 3.1 3.2 The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes, Chapter 26
- ↑ 4.0 4.1 The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes, Chapter 2
- ↑ 5.0 5.1 The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes, Chapter 28
- ↑ The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes, Chapter 3
- ↑ The Ballad of Songbirds and Snake, Chapter 4
- ↑ The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes, Chapter 5
- ↑ The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes, Chapter 8
- ↑ The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes, Chapter 10
- ↑ The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes, Chapter 11
- ↑ The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes, Chapter 12
- ↑ 13.0 13.1 The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes, Chapter 13
- ↑ The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes, Chapter 14
- ↑ The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes, Chapter 17
- ↑ The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes, Chapter 18
- ↑ The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes, Chapter 19
- ↑ The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes, Chapter 20
- ↑ The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes, Chapter 21
- ↑ The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes, Chapter 23
- ↑ The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes, Chapter 24
- ↑ The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes, Chapter 25
- ↑ 23.0 23.1 The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes, Chapter 27
- ↑ The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes, Chapter 29
- ↑ The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes, Chapter 30
- ↑ The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes, Epilogue
- ↑ David Levithan and Suzanne Collins (May 19, 2020). Scholastic Releases New Interview with Suzanne Collins, Author of the Worldwide Bestselling Hunger Games Series. Scholastic. Retrieved on June 1, 2020.