Luke Skywalker and Ben Solo

Shadow of the Sith Shows Luke Skywalker’s Attachment Problem

One of the most important Star Wars books released last month, Shadow of the Sith, highlights Luke Skywalker’s growing problems with the Jedi concept of attachment. Adam Christopher’s new book shows several moments of Luke Skywalker struggling with his feelings towards family and friends. More importantly, we can see how his acceptance of this doctrine is impacting his nephew Ben Solo for the worse.

Shadow of the Sith shows Luke struggles with family

Luke Skywalker finds family complicated in Shadow of the Sith
Luke Skywalker has a complicated relationship with family

In the Shadow of the Sith excerpt above, Lando Calrissian muses on Luke Skywalker’s relationship to family. While Lando is aware that Luke sympathizes and misses his friends, he is aware that Luke seems to have difficulty the concept.

This is rather interesting. When we left Luke, Leia, Han and Lando in Return of the Jedi, it all seemed quite simple. Luke Skywalker is able to reach through to his father, Anakin Skywalker, through his familial connection and love.

While Obi-wan Kenobi became convinced there was no good left in his friend, Luke Skywalker did not stop believing in his father.

Luke in the Empire Strikes Back doesn’t hesitate to try and save his friends. He makes serious errors, but his error is not his love for them, but his impulsivity, and inability to focus on the present.


So why does Luke struggle with family now?

It should be noted that Jason Fry’s adaptation for The Last Jedi, has a point of view from Leia that says that Luke did not forbid attachments. How long ago was this prior to Shadow of the Sith?

It should be noted that Luke doesn’t actually even LIKE adhering so strictly to the old Jedi Dogma of no attachments.

Luke Skywalker thinks:

Truth was, it was good to see his old friend Lando again—it had been too long, and Luke had to admit he felt guilty about that, no matter how hard he tried to adhere to the Jedi Code of casting personal connections aside but now was certainly not the time or place for a reunion.

Shadow of the Sith–Adam Christopher

It truly seems that Luke Skywalker is going against his own nature in Shadow of the Sith. Unfortunately, readers can already see the repercussions this is having with Luke’s nephew Ben Solo.

Luke’s formality with Ben Solo is ruining their relationship

As Yoda famously told Luke Skywalker in Empire Strikes Back, and later The Last Jedi, Luke focuses too much on the future and not on what’s right in front of him.

Twice in Shadow of the Sith, Luke corrects his nephew Ben Solo when the latter calls him “Uncle”.

“Ben, I’ve told you before.”
Ben Solo ran a hand through his mop of black hair. “I…ah, yes, I’m sorry…Master Skywalker.”

Each time, Ben Solo frowns or looks downcast. It’s clear in Shadow of the Sith that Ben truly loves his uncle. It’s also clear that Luke loves Ben. However, Luke continually tries to create formal separation between himself and Ben.

And while Luke is aware that Ben Solo struggles with this, he acknowledges that Ben tries. Unfortunately, Luke thinks more of Ben’s possible future as a Jedi Master than anything else. Luke doesn’t truly engage with Ben to understand why his nephew would be upset at calling him Master.

It’s alarmingly clear that Ben Solo desperately wants his uncle to be his UNCLE, not just his Jedi Master. Ben Solo has been separated from his parents since he was 10 years old. His own family, his uncle is right in front of him, but Luke pushes him away with formalizing semantics. And it’s not what Ben needs.

Despite Luke Skywalker’s love and Lor San Tekka’s respect for Ben Solo, neither man sees what the reader can see: Ben is resentful towards San Tekka for monopolizing his uncle’s time.

I suspect that Luke wants to protect Ben from the Dark side enemies and forces that he will encounter in the book. However, Ben Solo likely remembers how he used to travel with Luke and Lor San Tekka, and now he is being excluded from their adventures.

Ben Solo is upset at being excluded from Luke Skywalker and Lor San Tekka's conversation and trip
Ben Solo is upset at being excluded from Luke and San Tekka’s trip

Ben Solo doesn’t even get to travel with “Uncle Wanwo”.

One thing that Shadow of the Sith does well in this book, is to give hints as to why Ben will kill Lor San Tekka when he becomes Kylo Ren. Just as Kylo sees the Millennium Falcon as something that takes away the ones he loves, Lor San Tekka is a man that “took” his uncle from him.

Sadly, even towards the end of the book, Luke returns to the Jedi temple of Ossus and reinforces the “Master” line. Ben Solo is extremely happy to see Luke Skywalker, and wants to be regaled of the stories he has.

It’s not difficult to see how Palpatine and Snoke will use Ben’s perception of being abandoned by family to turn him to the Dark. Luke Skywalker means his nephew no harm, and it’s clear he loves him. But he cannot see how his adherence to the Jedi dogma of no attachments is hurting both of them.

Why is Luke Skywalker acting this way?

This isn’t the first time we’ve seen Luke treat family as mutually exclusive of being a Jedi. In the Book of Boba Fett, Luke Skywalker tells Grogu he must choose between his father Din Djarin and being a Jedi.

He frames it in terms of Grogu’s longevity–if Grogu trains now, he may never see his father again. And Din’s life will much shorter than his son’s life. Luke is gently encouraging Grogu to spend his time with his father. Perhaps he thinks of his own father, Anakin here.

Luke also seemed uncertain about how to train Grogu in the Jedi way with Ahsoka. I’ve wondered before if Luke’s decision to adhere to the doctrine of no attachments comes from speaking to her. But it’s unclear.

Why, then, does Luke Skywalker go against his own unique, good instincts regarding family? My theory is that his decision has been influenced by his relationship to Leia.

Leia stops her training as a Jedi, when she has a vision of her future son dying. In the Rise of Skywalker, Leia tells Rey that Luke was disappointed. I can’t help but notice that in the brief insight into Luke and Leia training, Luke never insists Leia calls him Master.

Their training seems to be exactly that of a brother teaching his sister something new like a sport, not a formalized relationship.

Perhaps Luke’s enforcement of old Jedi Dogma, that works against his own instincts, is a reaction to his sister’s decision. She said he was disappointed. What did that look like for Luke?

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