Would It Make a Difference?

Shmi Says Farewell to Young Anakin
From this point forward, it’s pretty much game over no matter who tries to train him. Tip of the hat to http://starwarsaficionado.blogspot.com/ for the great screen grab.

Not so long ago there was a discussion of Destiny and Free Will, and then the kids watched Episode I again, and so thoughts about Anakin’s character came up for me, and whether the role of teacher—fulfilled by Obi–Wan—would have (or should have) had a major impact on how the little scamp turned out.

Surprisingly, I don’t know anymore if it would have made a difference. For years I contended that Qui–Gon would have known better how to handle Anakin. Or possibly, if Yoda had stepped in, Anakin would have chosen a better path.

The Path of My Reasoning

In the original trilogy, Obi–Wan’s spirit confesses to Luke, “I thought that I could teach him just as well as Yoda. I was wrong.”

So before the prequels, with no lens on the actual structure of Jedi life, we viewed it as a learned–too–late humility on the part of Obi–Wan. After all, the Jedi were heroes and it we didn’t have the perspective to lay the blame at the foot of the endemic flaws within the system.

But here’s the overlooked problem with Obi–Wan’s belated humility in light of what was revealed in Attack of the Clones: Yoda’s own star pupil, Dooku, turned to the Sith as well.

Let that sink in. Let it sink in if only for the fact that I think a lot of people watched that film and missed the significance of it.

While we all held Yoda in highest esteem as a character and Jedi (and still do), Obi–Wan’s belief that Yoda directly teaching Anakin would have produced a better and more stable result is now immeasurably flawed.

In fact, if you really want to argue the point, it would have been worse if Yoda had taught Anakin. Dooku was not as powerful as Anakin, and had spent the large part of his life in the service of the Jedi Order, and he still fell. Dooku’s own pupil, Qui–Gon, was so incapable of following the Jedi Code that he was denied a seat on the Council; Obi–Wan says as much in Episode I.

Dooku’s good friend and fellow Jedi, Sifo–Dyas, was murdered as part of the intrigue to create the Clone Army. (Hint: Dooku did the killing, as well as the recruitment of Jango Fett as the clone template.)

So what’s the basis for thinking now that Anakin would have taken a different path? If anything, it supports the theory that Qui–Gon inappropriately and arrogantly screwed with Fate and took the boy away from his mother too soon. If the Jedi truly believed in destiny, they would have watched the boy from a distance since technically, his destiny would always have found him.

The Up Side

The “up side” is that Obi–Wan and Yoda learned from their mistakes and instead of pushing Luke too hard down a path they wanted, even when they had the opportunity, they let that moment be chosen by Luke; or at least until (arguably) Fate reduced his choices to “living alone in the desert” and “answering the call.”

The added maturity and exercise of free will within the framework of destiny obviously led to a person more able to handle the burden of difficult choices.

Well, I think that’s my point of view on it now at least.

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5 thoughts on “Would It Make a Difference?

  1. The only thing I don’t buy is the general argument that believing in fate means that things will happen regardless of the choices of third parties. To believe in fate is to say that the third parties are destined to do what they need in order for that fate to be realized. In other words, all of our fates are intertwined, and all our actions predestined to unfold exactly as they did. Yes, this means that there’s no free will, but tough luck, Jedi. It’s your world view. Deal with it. (And yes, that means that J.J. Abrams is full of it if he thinks Kirk would have found away to become Enterprise captain anyway, but I don’t care. It’s a movie, not real life, and I liked it.)

    1. Well, the Star Trek (2009) destiny angle was a bit forced for sure, but more on the scale that the *entire* crew gets assembled *exactly* the way it’s supposed to be purely through the dreaded “Voyager Effect” that kills off anyone that stands in the way of the desired composition of the crew.

      But I think that Fate, Free Will, Destiny, what have you — they’re intertwined in a strange way. It’s like you have an overall arc, and the choices you personally make determine how you get there, or sometimes you delay the outcome such that you don’t get there (even though you were on the road to it) and/or change the peripheral happenings.

  2. It’s not about who taught him. Anakin lacks a best friend – a Spock (or Hawk, if you will) in his life in addition to his teachings. As a result, Anakin lacks having someone to turn to that is not his teacher and makes a poor choice in turning to an undercover Sith lord to discuss his conflicts and fears. Anakin lacks having a non-authority figure in his life to say, “wait a minute, are you sure?”. Padme doesn’t count, because she’s a love interest, and there’s a power thing at play there, too. So when he turns to her, he’s not satisfied with the answer.

    1. You say ” Anakin lacks having someone to turn to that is not his teacher … in his life to say, “wait a minute, are you sure?”

      And yet, on an earlier blog, you argued that it would be:

      “a pretty big assumption that a choice that looks bad to you will only have bad outcomes.”

      So using your own arguments combined, maybe Anakin should have had no one tell him what to do, ever?

      This is, ironically, something I said above: if the Jedi believed in destiny, really and truly believed in destiny, then Qui-Gon should have left the kid alone and come back when they had the time to get him, or sent Mace/Yoda to handle it. If the kid was the Chosen One, then he could take care of the Naboo situation and come back for him. Or even have left Obi-Wan with him to watch over him, since they were going directly to Coruscant at that point and they could take care of things in their proper time and with proper reflection.

      Darn it, now I want to write more about this – but I’ve already covered (I think) that the Jedi “bureaucracy” was kind of what did them in, in the first place. Maybe I can find another angle.

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