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Editorial: Fishing for Finnick

When Sam Claflin was first rumoured to be playing the role of Finnick one of the most common phrases used to reassure fans who weren’t sold on Sam was to say “Oh, don’t worry, Finnick’s only a supporting character, he won’t be in the movie very much”. Now that the dust has settled I thought I would take a look at just how large Finnick’s role is in Catching Fire the novel and discuss what may make it onto the screen. The results may surprise you…

Note: There are many spoilers within! Please do not read on if you have not read Catching Fire and do not wish to be spoiled!

As a refresher, let’s start with some basic facts about Finnick:

  • He is 24 years old, having won the 65th Annual Hunger Games at the age of 14
  • He has bronze hair, sea green eyes (which Katniss describes as “incredible”) and is tall and athletic
  • Finnick is from District 4, the fishing specialists, and his weapon of choice was a trident, which he would use to finish off opponents after entangling them in a net

I was surprised to find that Finnick’s name appears in Catching Fire no less than 293 times, more than Gale’s at 181, Beetee’s at 125, Johanna’s at 105 and Prim’s at 87. The only character’s whose names are mentioned more frequently are Peeta’s and Haymitch’s, with 664 and 312 mentions respectively. Finnick’s name isn’t mentioned until Page 178 of Catching Fire as Katniss watches the Reapings and he is introduced on Page 193 when he offers Katniss a sugar cube. Even though Finnick is with Katniss in the arena, for a character that is introduced halfway through the book 293 mentions is quite a lot in a short space of time, certainly more than “just a supporting character”.

Sam now comes with the Elizabeth Banks seal of approval!

Going through the book again I counted 11 scenes that I consider major in terms of both the storyline and Finnick the character:

  • Introduction pp193-196
  • Training prior to the Quarter Quell pp209, 210, 211, 216-217
  • Pre-game interviews pp232-233,241
  • Entering the arena pp250-255, 256-257
  • Saving Peeta pp260-261
  • Escaping the fog pp277-281, 282-284
  • Fighting the monkey mutts pp287-289
  • Fight at the cornucopia pp311-312
  • Jabberjays pp316-321
  • The lightning tree/destroying the arena pp343, 348, 352
  • Hovercraft to District 13 pp357-361, 362

The above doesn’t include general arena moments such as setting up the first camp (pp267-275), the first beach camp (pp292-295), Johanna’s arrival with Beetee and Wiress (pp297-302) or the second beach camp (pp325-334).

Even if I swing the axe pretty hard and nominate half of those scenes to hit the cutting room floor (either entirely, or parts of them), that is still a lot of Finnick. Can you imagine if the sugar cube scene was cut? Peeta’s rescue? How about running from the fog or fighting off the careers at the Cornucopia? For argument’s sake let’s estimate the running time of ‘The Hunger Games: Catching Fire’ to be approximately the same as ‘The Hunger Games’, going for around 2 hours and 20 minutes. Also using ‘The Hunger Games’ as a model, we can pretty comfortably assume that the Quarter Quell arena will, hopefully, take up an hour of screen time or even slightly more, and the rest of the film will be based on the rest of the book. Because of this and the scenes Finnick is involved in I am tipping Sam to appear as Finnick for at least 25 minutes on screen. Of course this figure may turn out to be a lot higher and I haven’t taken into account scenes where Finnick is not involved and may just be in the background.

I am basing the 25 minute figure on a rough estimate of the length of each scene and including differing angles and non-speaking moments in those scenes. For instance, the breakfast scene on the train of ‘The Hunger Games’ between Katniss, Peeta and Haymitch took approximately 2 and a half minutes, and although Peeta is not on screen every second of this that still counts towards his total. Using this as an example for ‘The Hunger Games: Catching Fire’ the sugar cube scene may last 1-3 minutes depending on how it is done. Adding up the rest of the Capitol moments such as training sequences and the pre-game interviews will likely add another 5 or so minutes. Continuing on like this, and I think I am being pretty conservative, you can see it is quite easy to rack up 25 minutes worth of screen time. To give you more of an idea in ‘The Hunger Games’, Gale, a major character, was on screen for all of 3 minutes, and Cinna, a supporting character, was on screen for 5 minutes. Peeta was on screen for about 40 minutes, a figure that will no doubt grow in ‘The Hunger Games: Catching Fire’. Based on this, the argument that Finnick is a minor supporting character, and therefore will hardly appear on screen, just doesn’t stick, especially considering his involvement in Mockingjay is equally as large and no doubt larger still given that it will be split into two films.

So there you have it, a whole lot of Finnick and that’s just in one film. Personally Finnick is among my favourite characters, so perhaps I am a little biased, but I see no reason why his role will be drastically reduced. Sure there will be cuts, but a lot of Finnick’s scenes involve Katniss and further the storyline, plus Nina Jacobson and co know how popular Finnick is among the fandom. I will admit I initially had some trepidation about Sam playing the role, but going back over the books and getting to know more about Sam I am now confident he has the skills to pull off the role and I’m glad he’ll get plenty of opportunity to do so. What do you think? Too much Finnick? Not enough?

** Page numbers come from the PDF eBook edition of Catching Fire.

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  1. I’m scared they turn it into a whole new story

    and their ‘he is a minor character’ means either that or that they just don’t want people to make a big deal out of Sam playing Finnick

    Hopefully its the latter

    Great analysis, by the way! Must have taken hours!

  2. Don’t worry Death2analog, I heard Francis Lawrence was going to make the movie as true to the book as possible. Not like Gary Ross who did his own vision of the first film. (No offense) Some of Gary Ross’s elements will still be there cause you want to get the same feel as the first film, but the script has for sure changed. (I’m sure they will reduce the shaky camera element though)

    High hopes on Finnick screen time. (I personally like Sam Claflin as Finnick so plus for me)

  3. Thanks for the reassuring comment Jabberbird009, I’m also glad to know I wasn’t the only one who wasn’t thrilled with what Gary Ross did

  4. Yup. I already thought he definitely wasn’t just a minor or a supporting character. He’s gonna appear a lot. And I really like Sam for Finnick, so yay for me!

  5. Listen folks, this guy is in my opinion a great actor, any of you that’s seen him in the fourth Pirates of the Caribbean movie can tell he can hold his own with Johnny Depp, I have no problem with any of the cast they’ve choose, after all the story is about Katniss, not the rest of the cast.

  6. I think Sam C is a pretty good actor. I went back and watched some of his past work. He will be able to pull this off with ease. I too was wondering about the choice. But when it all comes down to it the director will make this seem right in the end. Since Lionsgate is happy with FL directing I take this as a good sign the movie is looking good.

  7. I hope that Francis does better at adapting then Gary because after I saw the HUnger Games I was really mad at Gary but then all my friends and family told me it couldn’t be exactly like the book I guess I just had too high expectations.

  8. i sat through two hours of SWATH just for ten or so minutes of sam, so the more of him i get, i say, the better. 😉

    very nice analysis, tash! i like the idea of predicting finnick’s screentime, and i loved that you actually searched the book to see how many times finnick’s name is mentioned– i never noticed that as i read, it’s a really interesting thing to know.

    that said, i’d point out there’s a difference between “supporting character” and “minor character.” i’d never argue finnick is a minor character, but i would definitely say he’s a supporting character. now, that’s not an indicative of how much screen time the character gets or he/she is dealt with in merchandising/promotion– take effie, for example: she’s pretty much the definition of a supporting character, yet elizabeth banks was everywhere in the first movie. and it’s not an indicator of the complexity of the character either– supporting characters by definition are there to add dimension to the main character, but when they can develop complex stories of their own, like finnick did, that makes them major players in the plot.

    i don’t think anyone can honestly argue that finnick is not majorly important, but he’s certainly not on the level that katniss and peeta are, despite all the fandom support. let’s say, hypothetically, that sam does a terrific job in catching fire and he gets nominated for an oscar– it’d be a supporting actor nom. unlike in the case, say, josh were nominated. so, if the “he’s just a supporting character” argument was meant to imply he won’t get much screen time (and as such won’t “ruin the movie” for people who thought sam was a poor choice for the role), then i definitely disagree. but he IS a supporting character, that much is true.

    also, another distinction i’d make is: the difference between scenes that are significant because they’re key to the plot, and scenes that are significant to us as fans. when people say “omg, this scene HAS to be in the movie because it’s crucial for so-and-so to happen!”, a lot of the time they don’t take into account that so-and-so can happen in a number of different ways. despite the eternal cries of the fandom, some scenes can be edited out or changed without leaving irreparable plot holes in the narrative (for example: madge, the avoxes, etc).

    that’s why i’m not generally concerned that they’ll drastically reduce finnick’s screen time– i think they’ll milk the character’s (and the actor’s) appeal for all it’s worth, because that’s what the capitol did in the book– but i do think it’s possible they might change some things the fans consider “really important.” for example, the sugar cube scene: i personally (and this is just me) don’t consider it a crucial scene, though it’s one of my favorites simply because of sentimental, fangirly reasons. but looking at it objectively, the value of that scene for the overall plot is to introduce finnick’s public persona of being cocky and mysterious. the thing is: you don’t really need sugar cubes to do that. so if they find a different way for that to come across, i could see them not having that scene in the movie. fans will rage that they “left out the sugar cube scene,” but in reality its purpose to the plot is still there. if they were to leave out the escape from the fog, on the other hand, they’re not only just killing one of the major emotional scenes in the book, but then what would they do with mags? that’s the type of scene they can change around a little (the dialogue, for example), but the basic structure of it still has to be there– namely mags sacrificing herself so as not to hold the rest back.

    so, uh, yeah, i’m rambling again. i really did love the analysis, tash, it was very interesting. and i’m looking forward to those 25 minutes of finnick– fingers crossed! 🙂

  9. Makes me sad to see Gale’s screen time is short.
    🙁 But it makes me even more excited for both Mockingjay films!

  10. If they say that Finnick is just a supporting character, that will be just like at the end of the Hunger Games when they completely changed the end by ending the movie where they are united and still in love. Peeta doesn’t know anything, right now. Finnick is one of the most important characters. He is a leading rebel, he saved Peeta, he shares a jabberjay moment with Katniss and many many more scenes. I really hope they give Finnick a more deserving title than “supporting character”.

  11. Ok just found this out that Lionsgate might be cutting out Annie! WTF! Annie is the love of Finnick’s life! I also heard that they are cutting Bonnie and Twill. This is a rumor so don’t go spreading it. Maybe if we don’t mention it they’ll bring the characters back. If they do cut those characters I say “If we burn you burn with us!”

  12. Thanks for all the comments so far everyone, I’m glad you’re enjoying it 🙂

    @carla – Great write-up and I’m glad you understood where I was going with the piece, even if I didn’t get into the real gritty of definitions. Essentially the aim was to get everyone thinking about it and to point out that even with changes Finnicks role is larger than other supporting characters and larger than what some may initially think.

    @Death2analog – It definitely took a while but I had great fun doing it 🙂 I sat through THG again and wrote down the times Gale, Peeta and Cinna appeared then converted the seconds into minutes to get their total screen time. I knew Gale wasn’t in it for long but 3 minutes stunned me.

  13. @Hannah- Even if that is just a rumor, that is ridiculus! Annie might not be very important but she is symbolic. She brings out good character in people. Like Mags volunteering for her and Finnick crying when the jabberjays imitate her in pain.

  14. Finnick is a supporting character, but a really important and major one. I don’t think he’s a prominent character than, say, Gale, who generally gets a lot more promotion and is treated as one of the leads because the media are trying to market the (pseudo-)triangle as the most important thing in the books.

    @Andrea: The ending of THG didn’t show Peeta and Katniss in love or ‘together’ in that sense. It might have been too subtle for some people, but the movie certainly made it clear that, while Peeta was in love, Katniss’s feelings were more ambiguous and that she was exaggerating the act for the audience. The difference is that movie!Peeta seemed to figure that out without having a conversation with Katniss about it. I saw the movie first so I am confident that this is what I got from it. The only thing that the book helped me understand was that the book shows more clearly that Katniss does have some real romantic feelings for Peeta, which I was far more unsure based on the movie itself.

    @Hannah: Lionsgate will most definitely not be cutting Annie, since that would make no sense at all. But Annie is not cast because she doesn’t actually appear in the book, except shortly in the reaping scene where she has no dialogue, something they can do with an extra.

  15. *That was supposed to read “I don’t think he’s a less prominent character than, say, Gale”

  16. Wow! Impressive research! I think you are bang on!
    My hopes is that since they are not breaking CF into 2 parts, that they will give it a longer running time ( ala Harry Potter ) and give it the 3 hour treatment. I heard the script is thorough, so it will need to be 3 hours long. All of those major scenes you mentioned, NEED to be in the film.

  17. @Tash: Could you post the results of name search for the other 2 books, too? What kind of search are you using? For some reason, I get different results when I search the PDF version of the book and the Word version (i.e. all the numbers are larger when I’m searching the Word version, although the order of frequency is the same).

  18. Oh, I LOVE THIS! My literature nerd comes out. I thought I was the only one who counted stuff (although I tend to do it with words, like how many times Peeta is described as “steady”).

    Finnick is a great character so I’m excited to think about how much screen time he might get. Thanks for the analysis.

  19. I’m personally really, really excited to see Sam in the role of Finnick!! Finnick is by far my favorite character in the series and I hope he’d given the amount of screen time needed to really show people (who have not read the books) who Finn is and just how deep he goes. I was really hoping for Garrett Hedlund to get the part but when I heard it was going to be Sam I was thrilled. He’s a great actor and I really believe that he will transform in to our beloved Finnick Odair.

    I can’t wait for this movie!!!!

  20. @Carla, thats a very interesting to point out, thanks for the definitions, I completely overlooked that it said ‘supporting’

  21. Uhh… Gale only has 3 minutes of screen time??? Thats… interesting

  22. 293 times.
    Wait, how did you count that?
    Sorry for the OT, just kidding.

    Um.. (I think) Finnick is difficult. He is minor character but appears in important part, mostly.

    And his story suddenly ended after Katniss gang going through Capitol sewer. I don’t know, I feel that final part is so rushed for him. If they introduce Finnick a lot in CF now, how they deal with him later in Mockingjay? I just don’t want to feel left hanging. (Johanna, too >_<)
    Just my 2 cents.

  23. Whoa sorry, supporting character not minor.

    Gale is okay. He will appear a lot in Mockingjay.

  24. @Ivana, sure thing 🙂 I’m not home until tomorrow night but I’ll add another comment then. I originally started out talking about Mockingjay as well but it was getting very lengthy!

    I used Adobe X’s advanced search function, so it came out with the count as well as a reference for each page. I then cross referenced a handful of pages with my paperback to make sure the name was appearing.

    @HG Bookclub – Thanks! 😀 The numbers really amazed me, once I had those to form the backbones of the piece I was on a roll 🙂

  25. The use of a pie chart is inappropriate in this context as these figures are not parts of a whole. For comparing numbers you should use a bar graph.

  26. @tash–

    certainly, finnick is pretty much THE biggest supporting character in the series, at least among the younger crowd; that’s why the role was so coveted, after all. if you compare him to johanna, for example, who was arguably the next biggest role to be cast in catching fire, finnick is an important part of many more crucial events than she is. i really think they’re going to go capitol (just like they did in the first movie with the whole “the world will be watching” campaign) and really hype him up. it’s too big an opportunity to waste, when it comes to marketing, since his character is supposed to be a media darling.

    and heh, i really got to applaud your dedication, tash. i mean, not that sitting down to watch the movie is a chore or anything (haha :P), but it must’ve taken a lot of time to measure the screen time of each character and then compare and extrapolate. i really love that i’m not the only one who actually takes the time to think about these things. you’re awesome. 🙂

    I love Finnick! I hated when he died! I think he is a main character in Catching Fire because of his friendship with Katniss. If Katniss didn’t get to know him,tragic things would have happened.

  28. @ Tash, yes, I’m doing something similar for a series of op-ed posts – looking at Katniss from Peeta’s point of view based on things he says and does. It IS different looking at actual data rather than giving your opinion from your impression when reading. Both are good – it’s just that having actual numbers in front of you can tell an unexpected story!

  29. I was already well aware that Finnick was quite major for a supporting character.
    Wow. Even I’m impressed with this deep level of THG nerdery.
    I knew that Gale was given minimal screen time, but I didn’t think it was that bad

  30. @Stevie – I tried a bar chart and it just looked ridiculous. The aim with the pie chart was to add a touch of humour to the article 🙂

    @Carla – Aww, thanks! 😀

    @HG Bookclub – You’re right about the unexpected story!! I’d love to read your thoughts from Peeta’s POV, I’ll look out for that piece 🙂

    For Ivana and anyone else interested, here are the numbers from Mockingjay:

    – I counted 15 large scenes Finnick was involved in. His first appearance is on page 55 (Coins speech) and his death occurs on page 299
    – Name mentions: Finnick 172, Katniss 131, Peeta 430, Gale 367, Johanna 64, President Snow 30, Haymitch 178, Plutarch 187, Beetee 100 and Prim 93

    Most interesting though was that after Finnick’s death his name appeared in the text 10 more times, 8 of these through Katniss’ inner monologue. So that really shows just how strong a friendship they had developed.

  31. @Tash, thanks. But Snow being mentioned just 30 didn’t seem right. He may not be physically there, but he’s mentioned a lot throughout the book. I think you may have made a mistake of searching for “President Snow” rather than just “Snow” – he’s usually mentioned just by his last name.

    I’ve tried to do another search in Word to check if it’s going to match your results – I can’t get Adobe search to work right, but I can copy the text to Word and use the “Find and replace” function – and I’ve gotten pretty much the same results you did, or with very minor differences (I got 431 for Peeta, 171 for Finnick and 64 for Johanna), although I didn’t do any checking and cross-referencing. I made an exception for Snow and used the “Find next” function in Adobe and counted all the mentions one by one, to account for those few times when actual snow is mentioned rather than his name. Snow is right behind Finnick, with 156 mentions. (Or maybe one or two more or less, if I’ve made a mistake in counting.) Other characters with lots of mentions are Boggs (134), Coin (119) and Cressida (95). The fact that Plutarch and Cressida have so many mentions show how much propaganda plays a role in the book. I was also a bit surprised to see thatm out of the minor characters, Pollux has no less than 55 mentions, more than Annie (39), but I guess the mission to Capitol takes up a large part of the book, and he plays quite a role in it.

  32. Also, it’s interesting that Cinna is mentioned no less than 33 times during Mockingjay, despite being dead. Rue gets 40 mentions in Catching Fire and 17 in Mockingjay.

    I only haven’t calculated how many times Katniss’ mother and father are mentioned, which is going to be tricky and more time-consuming since they’re never mentioned by name.

  33. Finnick is personally one of my favourite characters and i truly hope that he does get as many scenes as said. He adds an amazing factor to these book series and i dont know how they could possibly take out such an amazing character! I love these book series so much, they are amazing, so i truly hope that the movies can live up to some sort of standard that im sure all of us Mockingjays or tributes or whatever we call eachother can be proud 🙂

  34. I mean i just wish that finnick does get a good amount of shows.
    i mean he’s bloody brilliant!

  35. @Ivana – Yes, sorry you are absolutely correct, I just ran the search function again and the word ‘snow’ appears 177 times, so that would match up with your figure of 156 if we take off the mentions that aren’t related to him.

    Mockingjay will certainly be interesting in terms of all these other characters, and with two movies there will be time to devote to them. I don’t imagine we will see much of Chaff in Catching Fire for example but then as your figures suggest we may get a few minutes of characters such as Pollux.

    But on the flip side the book references and scenes may amount to nothing and we get very little lol But it is fun guessing!

  36. @Tash – Isn’t it annoying how you have to be so specific with technology. Well, not annoying. I just can’t think of a better word. I think the pie chart is good. The whole is Catching Fire characters. Or not. I don’t know.

  37. @Andrea – Haha, absolutely! But I was glad to have the help and then do a bit of a cross reference, it would have taken me hours more (and probably have been more prone to error) if I sat down with the book and went through it page by page. Then there’s the different editions and spacings and the eBooks look totally different..

  38. This is quite interesting! I must admit, I am not really a Finnick fan. This isn’t that I don’t like him, but his character didn’t really strike a chord with me emotionally. Not sure why, but he didn’t. So, I really didn’t pay much attention to the Finnick casting debates.

    Also, I feel compelled to point out that I think that simply counting the times a character is mentioned by name, and saying that this shows how important the character is, is a bit too simplistic. If that’s all there was to it, then we’d have to conclude that Katniss herself is NOT the most important character in the books, since her name isn’t the one mentioned the most times. But this makes sense because the books are from her POV, and she’s not going to be thinking of herself in the third person.

    Also, where Prim is concerned, Katniss often refers to her not by name, but as “my sister”. Katniss often refers to other people by nicknames, such as thinking of Peeta as “the boy with the bread”. So, names by themselves are not the end-all and be-all of a character’s importance. Though it probably does provide a rough estimate.

    I also would like to thank carla for supplying the definitions of “supporting” vs “minor” character. Even though I didn’t really connect with Finnick, I realize that he’s NOT a minor character. To me, Katniss herself is alone at the top for the most important character. (Peeta would have made it up there if he hadn’t been out of action for half of MJ.) I thought of Peeta, Gale, Prim, and Haymitch as among the major supporting charcters. I always saw Finnick as being on the third level, along with other important but not quite major characters such as Johanna, Beetee, Cinna, Effie, Mrs. Everdeen, etc. But maybe I was wrong and Finnick really does deserve to be on the second level.

  39. The pitfall of simply counting the times a name is mentioned, is that often, if Katniss is only interacting with one person, she won’t keep mentioning the person’s name. I think this metric shortchanges Gale especially, because Katniss thinks about him a LOT in Catching Fire without mentioning him by name. For example, she states that “I’m sure plenty of people assumed that we’d eventually get married.” When she thinks about Gale kissing her, she states, “I hadn’t imagined how warm they would feel pressed against my own. Or how those hands, which could set the most intricate of snares, could as easily entrap me.” In neither of these quotes does she mention Gale’s name.

    Also, in that CF scene in which Katniss hears what she thinks is Prim’s scream, she doesn’t mention Prim’s name at ALL. This is how that reads:

    “That’s when I hear the scream. So full of fear and pain it ices my blood. And so familiar. I drop the spile, forget where I am or what lies ahead, only know I must reach her, protect her. I run wildly in the direction of the voice, heedless of danger, ripping through vines and branches, through anything that keeps me from reaching her.

    From reaching my little sister.”

    I think that Annie, as well as Prim also shows that simply counting the number of times someone’s name is mentioned can’t be said to prove how important (or not) a character is. Katniss doesn’t refer to Annie by name a lot. In CF, when she sees at her at the D4 reaping, she doesn’t mention her name. She doesn’t understand Finnick’s reaction to the sound of her voice in the Quell, until Peeta explains to her who Annie is.

    I can probably think of even more examples of how Katniss DOESN’T use names when thinking about someone. Oh yeah, how about those kids? The boy and the girl? I know many fans have read that scene as proof that Katniss isn’t emotionally connected to her kids. But to me, it seems that either Katniss’s voice OR Collins’s writing style is one where whether someone’s name is mentioned or not is NOT the only sign of their importance.

  40. Also…it seems some people have misinterpreted Tash’s pie chart as a prediction that Gale will only have 3 minutes of screentime in CF. That’s not how I read it. I read it as, comparing Gale’s 3 minutes of screentime and Peeta’s 40 minutes of screentime in THG, to Finnick’s projected 25 minutes of screentime in CF. Gale will likely get at least one on-screen kiss with Katniss, plus the whipping, plus possibly “expanded POV” scenes of his heroics in D12. That will take up a lot more than 3 minutes!

  41. @Satsuma: I don’t think anyone is saying that the number of name mentions says absolutely everything about the character’s importance. And obviously, nobody thinks that the number of times Katniss’ name is mentioned means anything, since she isn’t going to be referring to herself as “Katniss” in her narration. But the number of name mentions is the easiest and simplest way to get a rough estimate of the character’s “pagetime” plus the times when the story revolves around them even if they aren’t there. When Katniss’ children get to appear in the last movie, they will most likely be on screen for a few seconds. Prim is extremely important to Katniss, but she doesn’t really get to do much or be talked about that much for large portions of the books. For that matter, Katniss’ late father is extremely important to her, but nobody would consider him a prominent character based on that. How major a character is isn’t defined solely through “how much they mean to Katniss”. Plutarch doesn’t mean a thing to Katniss, but he plays a big role in the story. Personally, I don’t think that Finnick is that much less “major” character than Gale, but maybe it’s just me.

    Name mentions also reveal some interesting things, such as that some characters get many mentions after their death (Rue, Cinna). Gale gets 104 mentions in the first book despite not being away at home most of the time. Peeta gets 170 mentions in the first 12 chapters of Mockingjay which conclude with his rescue from the Capitol and the ill-fated ‘reunion’, despite only being seen in 3 TV appearances and the very ending of chapter 12. Both these facts are very telling. President Snow isn’t physically there for the action of most of Mockingjay, but he’s still mentioned over 150 times since so much of the story revolves around his actions and the plans to assassinate him.

    Anyway, I’ve done a quick calculation of the number of name mentions for the entire trilogy (with the margin of error of a few mentions here and there) for named characters other than Katniss:

    Peeta – 1675
    Haymitch – 717
    Gale – 652
    Finnick – 465
    Prim – 306
    Rue – 246
    Cinna – 240
    Snow – 239
    Beetee – 225
    Effie – 195
    Johanna – 169

    “I know many fans have read that scene as proof that Katniss isn’t emotionally connected to her kids. ”

    I’m guessing that those fans also think Katniss never cared about either of her parents, since we never learn their names.

    • @Ivana I think Katniss never mentioning her parents by name is simply due to them being her parents. I know I never refer to my parents by name. As for my own kids, I tend to consider calling them “my daughter” or “my son” when talking to others as being more loving than calling them by their names.

  42. *”despite being away at home most of the time”

  43. To get back to Tash’s OP which is focused on Catching Fire only: “Finnick’s name appears in Catching Fire no less than 293 times, more than Gale’s at 181, Beetee’s at 125, Johanna’s at 105 and Prim’s at 87.”

    It seems that if you’re just going by numbers, you can argue that “Finnick is more important in CF than Gale”. (Obviously, Gale “wins” in terms of the whole trilogy, since Gale is mentioned many times in THG, a book in which Finnick doesn’t appear at all.)

    But when I look through CF, there are many examples in which Katniss thinks about Gale, or interacts with Gale, WITHOUT mentioning his name. So, I really think that in the case of Gale, “name-mention” and “character-mention” are far from the same. And while I’d concede that “Finnick is AS important as Gale”, I just don’t think it’s fair to say that he’s MORE important.

    I also must admit, I have a general antipathy to methods of literary analysis in which the work is done mostly by a word-finding app. It just seems…lazy, for lack of a better word.

    As for the whole “Katniss not mentioning kids’s names = Katniss not caring about kids” idea. I tend to blame JKR and the HP Epilogue for this. For some reason, this seems to have made YA readers assume that because JKR thought that kids’ names were important in that Epilogue, that means that EVERY YA Epilogue MUST name the kids. HP, and maybe also Twilight, has also made many YA readers think that the only way to come up with names for your kids is to use your parents’ names, OR those of dead people you loved or respected when you were a kid.

    I suspect that SC thought it was way out of character for Katniss and Peeta to do that, but didn’t want to face flak from fans who’d be outraged that they didn’t name their kids Prue and Cinnick. So she figured she’d just leave out the names and let the readers imagine what they were. Only to have many of them conclude that Katniss not mentioning her kids’ names meant she didn’t care about them at all.

  44. Seneca Crane's Beard

    @satsuma: You are missing the point of this editorial, which isn’t to provide some comprehensive “literary analysis” but to counter the notion that Finnick is only a minor character in Catching Fire. A name-count is sufficiently revealing for its purposes, and it’s also not the only method employed.

    It seems quite apparent, to me at least, that you are labouring under something of a misunderstanding of what this article is about.

  45. Finnick isn’t an unimportant character, but I’ve always thought that his popularity was a bit out of proportion to how important he really is (I’m sure his appearance plays a bit of a role here).

    I do need to re-read the series properly though, especially MJ. It’s quite possible I’ll appreciate his significance more after having done this.

  46. I’ve slept on this overnight, and I apologize for calling people out as “lazy”. It is true that name counting is not the only method of analysis Tash used in the original editorial. Tash also mentioned the actual scenes Finnick is involved in. However, it did seem that many of the posts in response, focused on name counts as if they revealed something about a character’s importance, or lack thereof, to the story that had been unknown before. Which seemed to be a bit too simplistic.

    I also really did want to point out that there are certain characters, such as Gale and Prim, in which name counting will definitely (IMHO) underestimate their importance to the story.

    However, the article did make me revise my own estimation of Finnick’s importance. While this series of posts is likely reaching the end of its run, the next question would then be, is Finnick SO important to the story that a miscasting really WOULD “ruin the movie” the way many fans have stated?

  47. @Satsuma – Glad we both slept on it 🙂 (I was going to comment last night) I do agree with the point you’re making about name counting, as it’s certainly not a definitive ‘science’ or measure of a character’s importance, but it is one of the few metrics available. It also provides that jumping off point to find where they are mentioned and take a look at that scene.

    Ultimately though (and I believe I’ve already commented above) the main idea was to get people thinking about Finnick and his importance and how that might translate on screen, and I think I have achieved that aim 🙂

    In regards to the question you have posed, I think that it would definitely have had an effect. I don’t know that the movie would have been ruined but perhaps those scenes (filming the propos in MJ comes to mind in particular) wouldn’t have been anywhere near as powerful/emotional if they had miscast Finnick.

    I suppose the same argument can be posed about Peeta and the fandom’s common gripe about his lack of strong dialogue in THG, it certainly didn’t ruin the movie IMO but it did have an effect in places.

  48. Well, it’s not just the name mentions. I’m pretty sure that if you counted the scenes, Finnick is likely to have significantly more screentime in Catching Fire than Gale, let alone Prim. I think that 25 minutes is a very conservative estimate, since he’s in almost every scene during the Quarter Quell, and it’s not like he’s just standing around, he’s right in the middle of the action most of the time. As I’ve said before, a character’s importance to Katniss isn’t the main standard of judging how major a character is. Prim never has significant screentime or development until Mockingjay (and even then it’s not that much) and is rarely part of the action. Some may say that she’s more important as a MacGuffin than as an actual character, especially since she’s rather flat and idealized. Finnick, on the other hand, is a fully fleshed out character in his own right, who isn’t important *just* because of his connection to Katniss, even though he does form a strong bond with her, and whose story reflects the truth about the fate of the Victors and the ugliness of the Capitol. At least based on the first movie, I think that the movie version of the trilogy, even more than the books, is a story about Panem through the life of Katniss Everdeen, rather than the story about the life of Katniss Everdeen.

  49. Tash: Again, I’m sorry for my rudeness yesterday. I’ve been quite stressed out in RL recently, and it seems it’s been spilling out into my Net persona. I think the “sleep on it” approach might be a good idea the next time I feel like posting something negative.

    “At least based on the first movie, I think that the movie version of the trilogy, even more than the books, is a story about Panem through the life of Katniss Everdeen, rather than the story about the life of Katniss Everdeen.”

    Ivana: First of all, I’d like to say that while I might not agree with all your points, I do appreciate your detailed, thoughtful posts. I agree that the THG movie series will likely have a broader scope than Katniss’s personal story. However, to me, THG movie still focused mostly on Katniss as a heroine. It did showcase Snow as the main antagonist/villian in a way he wasn’t shown in the book. However, I think that many “major supporting characters” weren’t given a chance to shine and show their personalities. There seems to be a general fandom consensus at this point that, although Peeta did receive a lot of screen time, the movie didn’t provide enough character development for him.

    I understand what you mean about Prim being a MacGuffin that moves the plot forward than a developed character. But then, I’d argue that in the THG movie, MANY characters were reduced to the status of MacGuffins that simply move the story along, due to lack of character development. Peeta is the major character who suffered from this, but you could say similar things about Cinna, Effie, even Haymitch. (As for Gale, I don’t think he was that developed as a character in the first book either.) Katniss’s prep team, who play such a major role in MJ, were pretty much reduced to part of the scenery.

    So, while I agree that Finnick’s tale “reflects the truth about the fate of the Victors and the ugliness of the Capitol”, just because Finnick will likely get a lot of screentime in the movie, doesn’t mean we’ll get to see the REAL Finnick, as opposed to just his public persona of the gorgeous, popular playboy.

    I must admit that one fear I have based on the THG movie, is that the movie series will wind up falling into the trap of focusing on the major power players such as Snow, Coin, and Plutarch, to the detriment of the “little guys” that SC herself focused on. History isn’t just about what the powerful people do, and I hope the movies don’t become too sidetracked into that.

    IMHO, if I were Gary Ross, I’d have cut or shortened at least one Snow/Seneca scene, and given Peeta, Cinna, and Haymitch a few more lines to establish their characters. I’ve heard movie adaptations being compared to fanfic in the past, and Seneca really was, for all practical purposes, an Original Character. While he (and his beard) were interesting, I think the movie made him much more important than he had to be.

    Especially considering Danny Strong’s resume, I hope MJ won’t wind up becoming merely another political/war movie that emphasizes the scheming of powerful politicians and military types, and loses sight of the theme of how war affects people who don’t have a lot of power to throw around. Not that Katniss doesn’t have her share of power and influence by the time MJ rolls around, of course. But she herself doesn’t really see it that way.

    While I think expanding the story beyond Katniss’s POV makes sense, and agree that a character’s “importance to Katniss” is not the same as “importance to the story”, I personally liked the story because of the human connections Katniss makes with many others through the story. And SC herself ends the story not with a grand montage of what happens to Panem politically, but simply showing Katniss and Peeta in a meadow with their children.

    Now, since there will be two MJ movies, hopefully Strong, Lawrence, and others involved will be able to do BOTH, tell both Katniss’s personal story AND an epic tale of war and upheaval. Much as the Lord of the Rings trilogy never lost sight of Frodo and Sam, even as it showed us grand armies battling it out.

  50. I still hate Sam

  51. @Satsuma, I understand your worries. I agree that the first movie shortchanged quite a few characters in order to focus more on the world-building (although Gary Ross also inserted that brilliant 4-seconds scene of Haymitch watching the Capitol children play a THG-like game), but I think that things will be (hopefully) very different in Catching Fire. The first movie had to establish the background of the story, especially since there’s no narration to shortly introduce us to the basics of the story. Curtailing Peeta’s development (and the K/P relationship) in the first movie may not be a problem if he gets a lot of development in CF, which I expect to happen. (After all, Collins was writing the first book before she knew she would write any sequels. The filmmakers, on the other hand, could afford to save certain things for the next movie.) Besides, the screenwriters (Simon Beaufroy, and Michael Arndt who reportedly reworked the script, though I don’t think it’s been confirmed) are known for writing stories about “little people”.

    With Finnick, although we don’t learn his entire story until Mockingjay, there’s a trajectory in CF – we first get to see his public persona, then we start seeing other sides of him and we’re supposed to wonder, like Katniss does, whether to trust him or not, we see that he’s really helping Katniss and Peeta, and then we get to see his vulnerable side and learn about his love for the insane girl back home. Also, his storyline is intrinsically connected to Mags’ entire role in CF, which is one of the most poignant moments. I don’t see how they could omit any of that, or why they would want to do that.

    I don’t really worry about characters like Finnick or Johanna getting shortchanged. My only worry about CF is if they will really get across how damaged and sad all of the former Victors are. The fact that they’ve mostly cast younger and fitter people than described in the book as most of the minor Victor characters doesn’t exactly fill me with confidence (though on the other hand, Amanda Plummer is older than Wiress is described in the book) though I guess makeup can help make the morphlings look unhealthy and worn down, for instance. I’m also worried about the portrayal of the Career Pack and whether the movie will really get across the idea that they’re not “the enemy”, though that’s easier to do in CF since they don’t appear that much during the Games themselves, and most of the torment in the QQ comes from the Arena itself (ironically, organized by a man who’s working for the rebellion). Although the first movie ended up doing better on that account than the book did, if only by virtue of one added scene. It would be easy to focus entirely on the few friendly and sympathetic characters, and make the quasi-antagonists in the Arena just “scary tough guy” or “hot deadly chick”. Even the readers barely ever seem to think about how desperate someone must have been to rip another person’s throat with their bare teeth (this likely means hand-to-hand combat with another Tribute who’s trying to kill you, with no available weapons) or what it says about the life and psyche of a Career Tribute who succeeded in he was always brought up to and won the Games at 18, when all he wants two and half decades later is volunteer again and go back to the Arena. (Of course, we don’t get the full picture of what a Victor’s life is like until Mockingjay. In that light, you look back and wonder things like, did Enobaria herself really want to get her teeth altered after the Games, or did she have to do it because the Capitol people were fascinated with her “savagery” and found it attractive. And maybe someone like Brutus couldn’t wait to go back to the Arena not just because he never learned to do anything but fight, kill and train others to kill, but also because Arena might have been where he felt he had most control over his life.) I don’t expect the movie to dwell on any of it – it’s not like the books ever did – but we have to understand that the lives of the Victors aren’t happy, and that they all genuinely hate Capitol and what it’s been doing to them, even though some of them revert to killing their friends/acquaintances as soon as they are in the Arena and the survival instinct and old habits kick in.

  52. Future Mrs.Mellark

    I really like Sam playing Finnick. I do not think he is a minor supporting character. In the book he was one of the main characters in a way so I think he should be an actual character not just a supporting character. Finnick is also one of my fav characters.

  53. @Crystal: I know. I was referring to the logic of some readers (mentioned by Satsuma) who believe that Katniss doesn’t love her children, “evidence” being that she doesn’t mention their names. I thought she sounded very loving in the epilogue, all the more so because she refers to them as “they”, “she” and “he”. There is this inclination that people often have to refer to those you love a lot by a loaded pronoun, especially in an inner dialogue. For instance, when Katniss sees that Peeta is back to D12, she doesn’t immediately mention his name in her narration, it’s not “I see Peeta and I stop short” but: “When I see him, I pull up short. His face is flushed from digging up the ground under the windows. In a wheelbarrow are five scraggly bushes.”

    (And yes, I can see Satsuma’s point that this means that some of the characters that are very close to Katniss will often be referred to without mentioning their names, so the name count can be lower than the actual number of mentions, but it’s still the simplest way to get a rough idea of the frequency of character mentions.)

  54. @Ivana – That was very deep and I have to say that I agree with you.Sometimes, you show a deeper meaning when you say just he or she instead of your actual name like Jimmy or Carly.

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