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At one point in the book, Plutarch Heavensbee claims that he didn't know that Katniss was going back into the Games. This would seem very odd if true, especially given that he was the Head Gamemaker and was already involved in the conspiracy against the Capitol. Was he lying? If so, why? If not, what might the original plan have been given that Katniss wouldn't actually be in the arena for them to retrieve?

  • What reasons do you have to believe that he was or was not lying? (Would it be possible for you to edit in some information about what in the text led you to consider this question at all?) – Aza Mar 7 '17 at 19:10
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    @Emrakul There's already some explanation in the question: "given that he was the head Gamemaker and was already involved in the conspiracy against the Capitol" as evidence that he might have been lying; set against the fact that when he said that to Katniss, the Games were over and the rebellion was starting in earnest, so he no longer had any reason to conceal anything from her. – Rand al'Thor Mar 7 '17 at 19:20
  • I'll see if I can find a citation, but I'm pretty sure the nature of the QQ was not set in advance, but one choice from a selection of cards. IIRC, no one knew that former tributes would be called back – Shokhet Mar 8 '17 at 15:25
  • @Shokhet That's true, but the thing to keep in mind is that Katniss is basing that on what she was told by the capital - they could be lying. Heck, they can write whatever they want on the cards and no-one would know the difference. I don't think we can say for sure from the text if they were actually set in advance or taken from the cards. It's not evidence per se in terms of the book, but in the movie they actually were lying (i.e. that's not what the original card said). – EJoshuaS Mar 8 '17 at 15:28
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    @Shokhet I don't often say this, but you really should see the films. They're one of the best book-to-film adaptations I've seen. The casting, pathos, and atmosphere were just right, although there were a few deviations from the book (e.g. the relationship between Katniss and Haymitch wasn't explored very well), some of them were completely worth it IMO (e.g. making Effie a more developed character with a bigger role). – Rand al'Thor Mar 25 '17 at 13:54
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He didn't know about it way back during the Victory Tour, only later on.

The quote you're thinking of is from the final chapter of Catching Fire:

“Neither you nor Peeta were told. We couldn't risk it,” says Plutarch. “I was even worried you might mention my indiscretion with the watch during the Games.” He pulls out his pocket watch and runs his thumb across the crystal, lighting up the mockingjay. “Of course, when I showed you this, I was merely tipping you off about the arena. As a mentor. I thought it might be a first step toward gaining your trust. I never dreamed you'd be a tribute again.”

And the event he's referring to is when he danced with Katniss during the Capitol stage of her and Peeta's Victory Tour, months before the Quarter Quell:

“Are you planning the Quarter Quell Games already?” I say.

“Oh, yes. Well, they've been in the works for years, of course. Arenas aren't built in a day. But the, shall we say, flavor of the Games is being determined now. Believe it or not, I've got a strategy meeting tonight,” he says.

Plutarch steps back and pulls out a gold watch on a chain from a vest pocket. He flips open the lid, sees the time, and frowns. “I'll have to be going soon.” He turns the watch so I can see the face. “It starts at midnight.”

“That seems late for—” I say, but then something distracts me. Plutarch has run his thumb across the crystal face of the watch and for just a moment an image appears, glowing as if lit by candlelight. It's another mockingjay. Exactly like the pin on my dress. Only this one disappears. He snaps the watch closed.

“That's very pretty,” I say.

“Oh, it's more than pretty. It's one of a kind,” he says. “If anyone asks about me, say I've gone home to bed. The meetings are supposed to be kept secret. But I thought it'd be safe to tell you.”

At this point, the arena was already being made - which makes sense, because Hunger Games arenas must take months or even years to build and set up before the Games begin. But the exact nature of the Quell wasn't yet known to Plutarch, the new Head Gamemaker. Most probably it wasn't known to anyone yet; the Victory Tour was still underway, Snow had only just decided that Katniss and Peeta's love story wasn't convincing enough, and so the idea of sending them back into the arena probably wasn't on the table yet. (This is assuming, as seems reasonable, that this idea was created specifically in response to Katniss and the revolutionary movement she inspired, rather than having been planned for the Third Quarter Quell ever since the Hunger Games started.)

Obviously, as Head Gamemaker, he would have known about this plan well before it was publicly announced. Perhaps he was even the one who suggested it to Snow, as in the films. But it's not particularly strange that he didn't know about it way back during the Victory Tour.

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    That makes sense. This is tangential, but out of curiosity, do you have an opinion on whether we can use the movies as at least "semi-canonical" given Suzanne Collins's extensive involvement in writing the script? Would that tangent be a reasonable separate question (either in terms of whether we could accept the movies as semi-canonical in this particular case or when we can treat books like that in general)? – EJoshuaS Mar 7 '17 at 19:42
  • Possible titles: "Is it reasonable to interpret books in light of the movie if the author also wrote the screenplay?" - "Can movies ever be considered part of the 'canon' of a book?" - "Can we treat The Hunger Games films as being at least semi-canonical?" - could those be reasonable questions in your opinion? My thought process is that the Hunger Games movies a) added details that the book couldn't possibly contain due to the constraint that the books were 100% from Katniss's perspective and b) Suzanne Collins wrote a lot of the screenplay. – EJoshuaS Mar 7 '17 at 19:46
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    @EJoshuaS I think the concept of "canon" isn't really so important here as it is on, say, SFF.SE. Answers here should generally be based on reasonable interpretation of the text. If the film adds some detail which isn't in the book but would make sense in the context of the book, then by all means reference the film, or even SC's involvement therein, when mentioning this as a possibility for what happened in the book. But "this happened in the film, so it's (semi-)canon" - nope. – Rand al'Thor Mar 7 '17 at 19:50

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