I’m currently reading the book ‘The man in the High Castle’ by Philip K Dick and I happened to stumble upon something which made me realize the interesting nature of the name of a character Plutarch Heavensbee from The Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins.
Valerie Estelle Frankel does a more detailed analysis of the names in the trilogy in her book ‘Katniss the Cattail: An Unauthorized Guide to Names and Symbols in Suzanne Collins’ The Hunger Games‘. But so far, I haven’t found this explanation anywhere.
**Contains spoilers** (if you still haven’t read or watched The Hunger Games series!)
To give a brief background about the character Plutarch Heavensbee, played by Philip Seymour Hoffman, may he rest in peace, was introduced as a Head Gamemaker in the second book ‘Catching Fire’ as a replacement for Seneca Crane, the Head Gamemaker from the first book (if you didn’t count Heavensbee’s brief presence as a judge in the scoring of tributes in the first book).
He had designed the arena for the 75th Hunger Games. To be assigned such important task shows that he holds the trust of President Snow. But by the end of the second book, it would be revealed that he was a part of the rebellion that infiltrated the Capitol to rescue the tributes to help and support their cause. He played a major role in the third book in projecting a colorful image of the tributes and the rebellion. Later, he helped the rebel team to infiltrate the Capitol by explaining the traps.
Coming back to the topic at hand, in the book ‘The Man in the High Castle’ chapter 3, in a conversation between Mr. Baynes and a modern artist Alex Lotze, the latter used a word ‘Plutocracy’ which I had to look up. It turned out to be a form of society under the rule or control of the wealthy (but not an established form of government like democracy or capitalism). There are no such societies currently, but a few existed in the past. I was amazed to find out that it was also called ‘Plutarchy’.
Plutarchy. Plutarch Heavensbee. See?! That cannot be just a coincidence. If you still couldn’t make the connection, let me make it simple for you. The character was the antithesis of the principle after which it was seemingly named. The main concept behind the plot of Hunger games was the oppression of the poor by the wealthy. Or to paraphrase it, the control of the society by the wealthy Capitol. And Plutarch, who was initially with the Capitol joins the rebellion and fought the Capitol and, in essence, fought the principle of Plutocracy or simply Plutarchy. Sadly, it was not mentioned in the books why he made the switch. Or whether he was with rebellion, to begin with. If you ask me, I think it takes a hell lot of time to infiltrate the upper echelons of President Snow. But District 13 survived underground for 75 years without anyone knowing, so you never know.
The other story (from the book) behind the name might reveal a similar characterization (which can also be found in the article by Miriam Krule in the Slate’s culture blog), but I found this contradicting nature fascinating. Is it deliberate or just a coincidence? Only Suzanne Collins knows.