Eagerly await the release of the new Star Wars: The Last Jedi, I have this persistent desire to revisit the first of the trilogy, The Force Awakens. I read an interview recently which spoke of the overall theme of the new movie, The Last Jedi and I wondered what are some themes in the Force Awakens and will they carry over. I will look at three character themes in Star Wars: The Force Awakens and hope to glean something meaningful.
Let’s start with Rey, our main character. We find Rey on the planet of Jakku. She’s a scavenger who just happens to be Force Sensitive.
From the moment we meet her we realize something subtle yet important. She’s waiting on something or possibly someone. After she meets her new friend Finn, we find out that she was left on this desert planet with the promise of someday being rescued. There is this deep sense of abandonment in Rey’s story and she deeply desires to be found.
In the battle at Takodana we see Rey facing a decision, one which she finds hard to reconcile. She must decide to abandon her current quest of waiting on Jakku. Is worthwhile to wait to be found or go out and do something which needs to be done, fight with the Resistance. In addition, there is a call to something deeper as she discovers Luke Skywalker’s very own Lightsaber. If you’ve seen the movie, you know the choice she made, if she didn’t the movie would’ve probably ended right there (would’ve made for a bad movie). Underneath it all, we see a young woman who has to forego satisfying her own deep desires to be stand against evil.
Rey has escaped her passive state of waiting on Jakku and is now entangled in the affairs of the Resistance and General Leia. Despite the crazy plot to destroy yet another planet-sized weapon of destruction, Rey starts to discover, in greater measure, who she is and what she’s made of. Her raw and untrained ability in the force is pitted against the evil and murderous Kylo Ren. Though quite reluctant at first, the injury of her friend Finn, who helped her in times past, forces her to become greater than she’d ever seen herself. Abandonment issues or not, she must stand.
The power of a good story comes from how well others are able to identify with the characters in the story. Even if you’ve never gone through something like what Rey has gone through, we can put ourselves in her shoes and somewhat draw conclusions. Whether we’ve been abandoned or not, our imagination can make it real.
In this case, we all must face satisfying quite legitimate desires. Rey’s desire to be reunited with the person she’s waiting for is completely legitimate and a worthy goal. And who could fault her for that? Who could fault a foster child wanting to know who her real mother and father is? Or fault a mother wanting to find her lost child. Rey faced something no one should be without, yet turned her back on it to accomplish a greater purpose. This shows great character and heroism.
As I look forward to the coming of the new movie The Last Jedi, I truly hope the character Rey has shown in The Force Awaken will carry over.
In the next post, we’ll take a look at Finn and his character themes.
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