In Defense of Uncle Owen

Owen talks to Luke
Fine, Uncle Owen, I get it. South ridge condensers need to be repaired. But why are you in a bathrobe?

Owen Lars.

We speak about him in the latest episode of Words With Nerds; and this is a blog that I’ve wanted to write for a little while yet.

Before Luke gets to see the world at large, Owen Lars is his great obstacle. The last rampart to block his visions of the future, Owen continually wants Luke to stay on the farm for just one season more.

He wants Luke ignore the friends who have grown past him and moved into the world in favor of remaining a farmer.

And of course, Luke wants nothing to do with it. Like the audience, Luke has dreams of adventure and love that are greater than his surroundings can provide.

So naturally we identify with Luke. He is not just the hero of the tale, but I would argue a uniquely American one in many ways. He does not want to enter the trade that provided for him his whole life. He feels he can be fulfilled only if his greatest dreams come true.

Of course for Luke they do. He is our generational archetype, the great hero who came from nothing to change the world.

But what about Uncle Owen?

A Different Perspective

Now that I’ve been a father for a few years, I’m starting to think Owen Lars got a bit of a bad rap.

Owen knew what Luke’s father did. If you pay attention to the ending of Revenge of the Sith, he never interacts with Obi–Wan. That’s on purpose.

Good ol’ Ben Kenobi drops the progeny of Death and Fear into your arms and leaves him to you. Owen never had his own children, looking at the films. Luke was his one and only tie to a sense of family that had disintegrated for Owen since Shmi’s death. So he grew to love and was watching over the child of the galaxy’s most notorious sociopath. Owen was afraid, to be sure. But wouldn’t you be?

I would.

So after 40 years, can’t we give Owen a break? He did the best he could, and even raised a kid with a good sense of values who, when he had the tough choices, made the right ones. He had something to do with that.

We might not like that Owen was protective of Luke. But he did a damn better job than the Jedi did with Anakin.

And I think that’s the point.

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