A couple of days ago, I stopped into our local financial institution to do a bit of banking, and since there were no other customers waiting in line, I took a little extra time to chat with the friendly teller. The course of our discussion took us down the path of musing about change and how open to it people are. About 35 years my junior, I was surprised when Sam told me she did not like change at all. “I like to know what I’m doing when, where I’ll be tomorrow,” she remarked. I remember being her age, and being very open to change. Don’t get me wrong. There is something comforting about the steadfast day-to-day goings-on, but change can open whole new worlds to a person, give one the chance to explore the previously unknown frontier. Different strokes for different folks, of course, but that didn’t stop me from smiling to myself as I left the bank, shaking my head pondering what Sam could be missing by wanting to keep her feet firmly planted in her own yard.
Which, of course, got me to thinking about Star Wars. [What doesn’t most days? 😉 ]
Connecting the dots, I considered the similarities [and differences] between my favorite character from the entire Star Wars Saga, Luke Skywalker, and Rey, who is ensconced as my second favorite character from the third trilogy. [Odd, you’re thinking to yourself, that I would make such a bold decision considering we have yet to see two of the films in that threesome? 😉 Some things you just know.] The first similarity that popped into my head was that both Luke and Rey were pulled – rather reluctantly [albeit to different levels] – into events that had far-sweeping effects on the galaxy. Oh sure, Luke is gung-ho to leave his aunt and uncle and the tedious monotony of toiling on the moisture farm behind once Uncle Owen purchases two more droids, but just how anxious is Luke to put the grit and never-ending heat of Tatooine behind him? Fearing the wrath of his curmudgeon of an uncle after R2-D2 hightails it away from the Lars homestead, Luke hops into his landspeeder bright and early the next morning to track down the droid-with-a-mind-of-its-own. You know what happens next, and before long, young Luke and the wizened hermit are safe and sound in Ben’s abode. In the middle of Obi-Wan’s storytelling, R2 plays the entirety of Leia’s plea. Ben pauses in deep concentration, and then says to Luke – matter-of-factly – “You must learn the ways of the Force if you’re to come with me to Alderaan.” “Alderaan? I’m not going to Alderaan!” Luke retorts. Whaaaaaaaaat? Wait a minute! Didn’t Obi-Wan just give Luke the perfect plan to escape his dismal existence? What is he waiting for? [This reminds me of a night long, long ago… Oh, I must have been about 14 or 15 years old, had just had an argument with my mother, and was so sure I needed to leave home, to be on my own so I could live my life my way. I spat, “I’m leaving!” before slamming the front door behind me. The streetlights illuminated the dark Chicago street of my youth, and even though I was familiar with the surrounding area – for miles, as a matter of fact – I stood there on the porch, not a nickel in my pocket … wondering just where was I going to go? I paced the surface of our wrap-around porch, feeling the frustration begin to ebb, but knowing I didn’t really want to reenter the house. Did I have the resolve to leave, once and for all, now that I had given myself the perfect opportunity to do so? Or was I not quite all that gung-ho for life on my own … just yet?]
While Rey is tethered to Jakku for different reasons [than Luke], she is even more reluctant to leave her sandy home world than Luke was to leave Tatooine. She explains to BB-8 that she’s waiting for her family to return for her. She adamantly informs Finn, Han and Maz Kanata that she must return to Jakku. Even when Maz helps Rey see that her family never will return, that Rey could find the belonging for which she longs by looking forward, Rey wants absolutely nothing to do with Luke, the Force, fighting the new evil in the galaxy. “I don’t want any part of this!” Rey puts forth with force. She flees into the dense forest of Takodana. It takes more “convincing” for Rey to join the fight than it did Luke, but she eventually does – and that’s all that matters. Sometimes life has a way of throwing one a curve ball. The seemingly innocuous situations of meeting up with droids [who are bent on completing their respective missions] propel both Luke and Rey to head off on adventures of a lifetime. All it took was a little push to set the wheels of change into motion.
I think that is what always has appealed to me where Rey and Luke are concerned – that they both have been enduring a rather forlorn existence in their respective corners of the galaxy [when we’re introduced to them], and they rise to the occasion to help stamp out, thwart evil. Sure, they both have special abilities, but in “A New Hope” and “The Force Awakens”, those abilities are raw – at best. A few well-spoken words from Obi-Wan Kenobi and Maz Kanata may give Luke and Rey an inkling of their dormant gifts, but they certainly have no idea how to truly channel their Force abilities. In a way, both young Jedi are “Average Joes/Jos”, and, as such, can inspire each of us to accomplish the supposed impossible.
Rey has all the qualities I admire in a person. She is tenacious, resourceful, loyal, kind, can fix virtually anything, hopeful [even against staggering odds], dedicated to doing the right thing [even though doing so takes her far away from Jakku, Rey is determined to get BB-8 to the Resistance], full of wonder – especially after living so many dismal years on Jakku, has a playful spirit – especially after living so many dismal years on Jakku, and has the heart of a lion [she is ferociously connected to those few people in her life who matter to her]. Just as I am drawn to such real-life individuals, so, too, am I drawn to characters that exude these qualities.
One aspect regarding Rey that I found rather puzzling was [and still is] fans’ uproar about Rey being deemed nothing more than a scavenger – whether it was in the news media, on packaging, even from J.J. Abrams and Daisy Ridley themselves. In the film, the stormtrooper guarding Rey calls her a scavenger. Kylo Ren does likewise, and so does Snoke. Goodness, when we’re introduced to the young woman, she is doing just what a scavenger does! Why all the flak about calling Rey exactly what she was in “The Force Awakens”? She was just that – a scavenger. We, the audience, get no inkling whatsoever that she may be something a bit more until that moment after she bids farewell to Finn on Takodana. Rey hears voices calling to her from the depths of Maz’s castle, and goes in search of the source. When Rey experiences only what we, the audience, can call a Force vision [she certainly has no idea what just happened to her!], she still is merely a scavenger. She isn’t even a Jedi-In-Training wannabe! Let’s call a spade a spade.
The final scene of “The Force Awakens” – which also happens to be my favorite scene in the film – brings together my favorite Star Wars character and [without wanting to give too much away 😉 ] my favorite human character from the new trilogy. Chewbacca has ferried Rey to the hidden planet of Ahch-To to find Luke. She has made the arduous climb to the top of the rocky mountain to find a figure staring off across the expanse of sea. The figure turns slowly, lowers the hood that hides his face, and reveals himself. At the end of Rey’s outstretched arm is Luke’s lightsaber, gripped in her hand. On her face, a look so beseeching, she beckons Luke to… what? Teach her the ways of the Force? Come back with her so he can help defeat the evil First Order? Pick up the mantle of Grand Master once again to bring balance to the Force? I certainly want to know! I suppose we’ll have to wait, though, to see what the future holds for both Luke and Rey. December really isn’t all that far away. [Patience, Melinda, patience…]
No, it wasn’t difficult for me to zero in on Rey as one of my favorite Star Wars characters. While there are some stark differences between the scavenger from Jakku and the moisture farmer from Tatooine, the similarities between the two cannot be denied. For that reason, it was a no-brainer why I found it so easy to be drawn to Rey. What about you? I’d love to know what character(s) you find mesmerizing, drawn to. Please feel free to leave a comment below, or contact me at [email protected]. 🙂
Until next time,
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