Unbound Worlds Celebrates “I Am Your Father” Day

Darth Vader and Luke Skywalker, face to face. (From The Art of Star Wars Galaxy: Volume Two. Art by Don Punchantz.)

Darth Vader and Luke Skywalker, face to face. (From The Art of Star Wars Galaxy: Volume Two. Art by Don Punchantz.)

Sunday is Father’s Day, which means that children all across the U.S. are celebrating and cherishing their fathers and grandfathers, thanking their male elders for the incredibly important role that those men have played in their lives. Because of its emphasis on personal journeys and generational lessons, Star Wars is home to a number of important father-child relationships. From the obvious and tortured (“No. I am your father.”) to the slightly less stressful, the galaxy far, far away is filled with stories about the influence that fathers have had on their offspring.

In honor of Father’s Day, I’ve selected a few examples of fatherhood at its best in the Star Wars Expanded Universe. Think of this as the EU’s tribute to fatherhood. Happy “I Am Your Father” Day!

Independence: Jango and Boba Fett

In the perilous life of a bounty hunter, family ties are just as likely to become liabilities as anything else. Despite the dangers inherent in his line of work, Jango Fett requested that the Kaminoans use his donated genetic template to produce a son for him. While he never explained his desire to raise a son, one can chalk it up to his proud Mandalorian heritage and his desire to ensure the continuation of his bloodline and the warrior culture it represented. The brief glimpse we get of the two Fetts in Episode II: Attack of the Clones suggests that Jango wasn’t simply teaching Boba to preserve the rich history of his family; more than that, he was also training him to succeed his father as a star bounty hunter.

One of the counter-intuitive aspects of this father-and-son team is that the bounty hunting profession usually requires a fierce sense of independence and a worldview that prioritizes personal safety over the welfare of partners, teammates, or “friends.” Boba obviously had enormous respect for his father –– witness his vengeful streak in the second season of Star Wars: The Clone Wars –– but he had also learned enough from his father that, by the time of Jango’s death, the younger Fett felt ready to strike out on his own. Jango’s training, while often dangerous and unforgiving, quickly turned Boba from a boy into a young man. The green-armored hunter’s personality in The Empire Strikes Back –– quiet, self-sufficient, and strictly professional –– was every bit the product of the working relationship that he and his father had shared.

Tactfulness: Bail and Leia Organa

When you’re a secret agent for the Rebel Alliance and a heavily-scrutinized former representative of a democratic body that has recently been dissolved, you need to practice discretion, keep your story straight, and guard against letting slip too much information or signaling your dishonesty. Those self- discipline “best practices” are just as important to run-of-the-mill politicians as they are to statesmen covertly fomenting dissent, and Bail Organa was both of these things. When it came to his relationship with his adopted daughter Leia, the elder Organa was careful to shape her in his image.

Thanks to the tutelage of Viceroy Organa and his trusted aides, Princess Leia was perfectly positioned to inherit her father’s double lifestyle. With her ability to project confidence and regality even as secret plans were falling apart behind the scenes, she easily grew into the role of part-diplomat-part-instigator. Growing up on Alderaan, she learned when to say what, how much to give away, how to suggest what she wanted her opponent to believe, and other rhetorical skills. Her father also cultivated her penchant for grace under pressure, recognizing that her gifts would lead her to prominent positions in the future. It was because of Bail Organa’s political and diplomatic training that Leia (first as Organa and later as Organa Solo) would find herself organizing and stabilizing several legitimate successor states to the Rebel Alliance.

Forgiveness: Anakin and Luke Skywalker

Obi-Wan Kenobi and Yoda warned Luke Skywalker that he had to defeat his father and the Emperor to restore peace to the galaxy. Instead of killing either of them, Luke sought out the good in Darth Vader and encouraged him to overthrow his Sith master. By appealing to the glimmer of redemption buried within that black armor, Luke brought the last surviving fragment of Anakin Skywalker to the surface and set it free. Whether or not Anakin redeemed himself is debatable, but this is certain: Luke’s willingness to trust his father’s long-suppressed goodness made him a better Jedi.

In novels set shortly after Return of the Jedi, Luke reflects on his father’s life and choices and tries to draw meaning from it all. When he starts training others in the ways of the Force, he shares the story of his father’s mistakes and eventual remorse to warn his trainees about the pull of the Dark Side and its costs. Luke’s confrontation with his father on the second Death Star taught him that everyone has the chance to seek redemption and atone for past mistakes, no matter how wicked they may have been. Thanks to this lesson of forgiveness, Luke was able to steer others back to the Light Side after brushes with darkness, including Kyp Durron and Jaina Solo.

Ultimately, Anakin Skywalker’s greatest gift to his son was that he forced Luke to acknowledge the complexities of behavior, personality, and forgiveness. By letting go of the hate that he had once felt for his father, Luke took a definitive step toward becoming a full-fledged Jedi.

Patience: Luke and Ben Skywalker

From a young age, Ben Skywalker seemed to fashion himself after his grandfather. Both Jedi were headstrong, impatient, and more than a little bit arrogant at a young age. It took older Jedi mentors (Obi-Wan and Luke, respectively) to discipline them. Luke, who sees a lot of himself in his teenage son, has spent the better part of several recent expanded universe novels musing about and responding to his son’s overeager, action-oriented personality. As he warns his son to sit quietly or refrain from interfering in a situation in the Fate of the Jedi series, it’s hard not to imagine Obi-Wan giving Anakin the same advice during the early days of the Clone Wars or on one of the missions that occurred between Episodes I and II.

Impatience is dangerously hereditary in the Skywalker family, but if there’s one thing Luke knows painfully well after dealing with his own dark parentage, it’s that nothing can derail a promising life faster than restlessness and recklessness. When father and son embark on a journey to discover what may have led Jacen Solo to the dark side, their travels are not always productive, but Luke is determined to keep Ben focused on the mission. He worries about the consequences of Ben losing faith in his father’s guidance as Anakin did with Obi-Wan.

At the end of the Fate of the Jedi series, Ben has grown up considerably. Over the course of the nine book series, Ben internalized many of his father’s lessons and witnessed the consequences of straying from the patient, serious path that Luke advocates. There is no doubt that he is getting ready to take up the mantle of Skywalker-in-charge, just as there is no doubt that his proud father feels more comfortable than ever before about passing on the torch. Author Troy Denning once said that the Dark Nest, Legacy of the Force, and Fate of the Jedi series could be lumped together into a kind of Jacen Solo story arc.  That may be true, but what is equally apparent to EU fans who have read all three series is that Ben Skywalker spends that decade growing and learning under the watchful, patient eye of his father.

Eric Geller is a junior political science major from Washington, D.C., whose interests include technology, journalism, and of course Star Wars. He reviews The Clone Wars TV series and manages social media for Star Wars fan site TheForce.Net.