Thursday, April 14, 2011

Kenobi's Plan

So, in posing my question yesterday about why nobody changed Luke’s last name when he went into ‘hiding’ as a baby, I got to thinking about the implications of that and just what Kenobi might have been thinking. Just what WAS his plan in regards to Luke?

All of the following is just assumption and guesswork on my part, as I don’t recall there being an ‘official’ story describing what ‘the plan’ was (or if there was, I missed it). That having been said, it seems to me that Kenobi did have some kind of plan in mind when he first took Luke away to live on Tatooine. Part of the plan was to make sure Luke was isolated and difficult to find for any Imperial or Sith agents who might be sniffing about. In such a backwater as Tatooine, I can kind of see this. But since the planet evidently WAS part of the Empire, I still question the fact they didn’t change Luke’s last name.

Another part of Kenobi’s plan may very well have been to give Luke some modicum of a ‘normal’ life by giving him to his Aunt and Uncle to raise- to give him some amount of ‘joy’. And from all accounts (boredom aside), Luke seemed to have an okay life with his Aunt and Uncle. It seemed to be a ‘stable’ home, and despite the gruffness of Owen, Luke was clearly cared for. Of course, having been raised within the Jedi, I wonder why Kenobi would give Luke a ‘normal’ upbringing like this and not raise him, himself- training him from childhood. Perhaps Kenobi thought that he might be hunted down by Imperial agents and didn’t want to risk the boy being captured, too. That’s possible- indeed plausible. I’m not entirely sure that Kenobi would see the value in a ‘normal’ upbringing, however. Indeed, the Jedi of the era seemed to see familial attachments as a problem and a source of potential Dark Side corruption. So in the end, I’m thinking Kenobi’s reasoning for giving Luke to his Aunt and Uncle was a pragmatic one.

But in the end, Kenobi knew that Luke would grow to maturity- and that he would likely be powerful in the Force. The question remains, then, what he intended to do once Luke reached adulthood. I am of the opinion that Kenobi (at least originally) intended to train Luke, to shape him into a weapon to use against Vader and the Emperor. But judging from the fact that Kenobi made no attempt to start Luke’s training at an early age (i.e. as a “youngling”), I’m thinking that somewhere along the line, Kenobi lost heart. Perhaps he grew tired and resigned to his fate. As he saw Luke growing up, he just didn’t have the heart to intrude on his simple life- didn’t have the heart to expose the young man to his true destiny and the dangers around it. Of course, another part of this could be that Kenobi might not have trusted Luke to ‘do the right thing’. Afterall, he was Anakin’s son. And indeed, when you look at the movies you can see many of the same traits between father and son- most notably their impetuous nature. Having been ‘burned’ by Anakin, perhaps Kenobi was afraid to try again with Luke. Then, of course, there was the Influence of Luke’s Uncle- who probably fought against Kenobi trying to train his nephew at all. So maybe Kenobi had just resigned himself that Luke would become a simple farmer.

The initial encounter between Luke and Kenobi in the original movie (Episode IV), was rather ambiguous. Kenobi talks about the ‘old days’ and about Luke’s father, but clearly misleads Luke by painting Vader as a completely different person. To me, this is rather telling. It seemed to suggest that Kenobi did not plan to tell Luke the truth about his father- at least not at first. It makes me wonder WHEN he did intend to tell Luke? After his training? Or after he killed Vader. This holding back of information says to me that Kenobi did NOT trust Luke entirely. And once again, it paints the Jedi in an odd, not so noble, light. But at this point they could (perhaps) be forgiven. Considering what happened to them, and HOW it happened, they had justification to be wary of a Skywalker.

In any case, once Kenobi heard of the plea of Leia to come to her aid, I believe something was rekindled in him. That is why he asked Luke to come along. Well, that and the fact he knew he would need help. So at this point, Kenobi’s plan of training Luke suddenly comes back to life- a little late, perhaps, but better late than never.

Onboard the Death Star, in Kenobi’s duel with Darth Vader, we see something happen that could be taken as a very devious thing. Kenobi allows himself to be struck down by Vader- and does so when he is certain that Luke is watching. That whole speech about “I will become more powerful than you can possibly imagine” could have been in reference to something other than Kenobi’s continued existence as a ‘Force Spirit’. Rather, by ‘setting up’ this scene, Kenobi helps to ensure that Luke HATES Vader and sees him as a monster who killed his mentor. This is a powerful impression, and one that drives Luke for the following years as he fights against the Empire.

Being “dead” now, Kenobi has to alter his plan. He won’t be able to train Luke, so he (eventually) sends him off to find Yoda. If anything, however, Yoda seems even MORE resigned and wary than Kenobi. He tries to refuse Luke as a student, despite pleas from Luke and Kenobi’s spirit. And when he finally agrees to take Luke on, Yoda remains wary and highly critical. Again, I think we see mistrust here on the part of Yoda. He knows all about Luke’s father and sees a lot of the same traits- many of which are only intensified by the training. And again, there is a conspiracy here to keep Luke in the dark about the true identity of Vader. And it is even more ‘insidious’ in that Yoda and Ben both really DO seem to be manipulating Luke into killing his father without his knowing the truth.

Eventually, the whole ‘plan’ is revealed to Luke- by Vader no less. Not only must Luke deal with the trauma of finding out the monster he hates is his father, he must come to grips with the fact that Kenobi LIED to him and Yoda just ‘forgot to mention’ the truth. At this point, were I Luke, I’d be feeling more than a little betrayed. Kenobi and Yoda both seem to try and explain away what they were doing, but neither explanation really rang true to me. When you boil it down, they WERE trying to manipulate Luke. They didn’t really trust him to do what was right. From a story perspective, its actually quite empowering to Luke’s character. Here you have the Jedi on one side, trying to force him into killing his fater. You have Vader on the other side, trying to force him into joining “The Dark Side”. And in the middle, you have Luke, who comes up with a third solution- the redemption of his father through an act of faith in the bonds of love. Not only did Luke prove his ability ‘to do what is right’, he actually exceeded what his masters AND enemy thought he was capable of. Go Luke!

So anyway, that’s my take on the matter. What do you think?

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