Names are important in stories. They are identifiers of character and purpose. This series looks at the hidden meanings of names in the galaxy far, far away.
My first name is ‘Tamara’, pronounced ‘TAM-Uh-Ruh’, but often mispronounced ‘Tuh-Mair-Uh’ or ‘Tuh-Mare-uh’. This last would drive me crazy because I was a small girl with strawberry blond hair in the 80s and for years people would sing at me “Tuh-mare-uh, tuh-mare-uh, I love yah, tuh-mare-uh” a la Annie. In elementary school I chose to be known as ‘Tammy’. This stuck until college where I tried to switch back to Tamara but, still, no one could pronounce it correctly and, still, people liked to sing Annie at me.
When I graduated, and entered the workforce, I decided to change my name. Not in any official way, I just told people my name and they believed me. For the first year I was ‘Chloe’, chosen by my then boyfriend in a way not dissimilar to how Poe decides Finn is named Finn. But unlike Finn, it didn’t click for me and when I changed states and jobs I introduced myself as ‘Anika’. It took more than a decade for me to legally change it, but Anika was my name from that moment on.
The name Finn is of Irish origin and means ‘white’ or ‘fair-haried’; in Germanic tongues it refers to a person from Finland. Neither of those meanings are relevant to the character of Finn in the Star Wars sequels. Finland doesn’t exist in the galaxy far far away and Finn is (importantly!) the first Black main character in the franchise.
Instead, in context, Finn means a new beginning. A chance to have agency over his life and to be an individual instead of a number. This concept was introduced to great effect in the animated Clone Wars tv series. But in The Force Awakens, Finn (and Poe) made it mainstream.
I love The Force Awakens for a lot of reasons. I am a huge fan of cyclical storytelling, that “If you live long enough, you see the same eyes in different people.” I don’t find parallels and recurring themes boring or unimaginative. I love to investigate how people and events change, and how they stay the same, and how all of it intersects. It’s the same reason I love stories about alternate universes.
But TFA also gave me the moment when Anakin’s lightsaber flies past Kylo Ren and into Rey’s hand. I didn’t know how much that would mean to me until it happened. I still cry about it. TFA gave me the dark prince of Alderaan and a forbidden romance I was all in on from the beginning. Though, for the record, I also described FinnRey as “a Luke and Leia romance we get to keep” because multi-shipping is The Way.
And TFA gave me Finn, whom I parallel with Luke and with Padmé and with the clones— and with me. I chose the name Anika after my two favorite fictional characters: Anakin Skywalker and Seven of Nine. Seven’s birth name was ‘Annika’ but she was stolen as a child, assigned a number, and turned into a cyborg killing machine.
Finn is a wonderful example of a name having the meaning you attach to it. Finn means freedom. Finn means resilience. Finn means acceptance. Finn means I know who I am and that’s enough.