By Miriam Orr
The day has come for me to write about Obi-Wan Kenobi.
In previous articles, other talented (who are much more knowledgeable than myself) authors have tackled the character of Kenobi, and what his position in the galaxy. As my personal favorite character within the series, I’ve held off writing about him for a long time, as I will probably never feel adequate enough to write anything other than fiction about him.
As we already know, I approach Star Wars very differently than most people. I like to look at the bigger picture of the story and what it represents to people on a spiritual level. For me, as we all know, Star Wars has challenged and grown my faith and my personal study of the Bible as I notice the parallels and pursue the Light. So, it’s no surprise that with such a meaningful genre, its characters are powerful models as well.
For the longest time I was a Harrison Ford fanatic (you can ask my mother, she’ll be honest) and couldn’t get enough of Han Solo. As my brother and I got into the genre as children, we both adored Solo and Chewbacca, and often spent afternoons inside our own Millennium Falcon (my dad’s old Ford Ranger), outrunning Tie Fighters and Darth Vader. But, as we got older and drifted out of the series at my parents’ persistence, of course my love for Solo faded as well.
Now as an adult, we know I’ve come back to the series with the strength and tenacity of a gundark. After I really started getting into the series my senior year of college, I rediscovered my love of Han Solo and Harrison Ford again, and of course, started arguing with my brother (again) about the best character of the series. Now, having only re-watched A New Hope, I really did have an educated decision made yet. But, as the stubborn, thick-headed woman I am, I argued righteously for my favorite smuggler.
My brother would say, “You’re wrong, Miriam. The best character of the series is Obi-Wan Kenobi, and you don’t really know who that is!” He delicately pushed me towards the Clone Wars series to research for myself, and told me that it’d be a good jumping off point – after I watched the entire series.
So, the good little writer and researcher I am, I decided to take him up on his offer and marched off to Target to buy the series. With already preconceived bias about who the greatest character was, I sat to watch them with a pen and paper. Halfway through Episode One, my heart began to soar and the scales fell off my eyes at the wonder that would become the near-and-dear prequels. Suddenly, I was imagining myself as a Jedi Knight, the Falcon long gone.
And, in that moment, I discovered how truly wrong I was – and how painfully right my sibling had been.
I am convinced that Obi-Wan Kenobi is not only the greatest character in Star Wars, but I would argue he is one of the better characters in fiction ever conceived. He is gentile and strong, chivalrous but a bit of a rogue, pleasantly persistent, and tenaciously loyal. The man is dedicated beyond measure, but also conflicted – perfect, but also so very imperfect. He is successful and failure, Master and also student, knowledgeable but also naïve. The list could go on and on, but I’ll stop it there to save you the reading and romantic adjectives.
As a single (ahem) woman on the prowl for my own Mr. Right, I connected with Ewan McGregor and James Arnold Taylor’s (The Clone Wars) Kenobi almost instantly. He’s the knight in shining armor that women across the world spend their childhood’s imagining and their adulthood planning for – is an enigma of chaste charm and tasteful chivalry, and twice as handsome, and he has a kind and sincere heart. His pursuit of peace and justice is both intriguing and offsetting, and his willingness to get there is precocious. Ever the mentor figure while also being the student, he is the perfect combination of emotional appeal people across the world long for in their daily lives. He is an inspiration to men, a hope for women, and a chance for children.
Within Kenobi is the picture of humanity’s struggles. He starts off as a padawan of innocence and purity beneath a grey and offsetting master, who tries to get him to compromise his belief system and grow himself as a man and not just a Jedi. After traumatic loss of the only person who he’d truly ever known as a friend, he becomes a man at 25 years old, and takes on a burden of responsibility he isn’t ready for as a person or as a Jedi, without having much of a say so. And, from there on, he is the Master to the Chosen One, trying to compensate for all the bad that has happened to Anakin Skywalker, and to the Jedi. He has to somehow know how to council the one who is said to set everything right, while also growing himself. He, as a man taught to crush his emotions, has to council an emotional trainwreck.
And then, to top it off with a nice shave, he has to overcome his best friend’s fall from the light and live with the burden of thinking he killed him – all while shouldering survivor’s guilt from the ordeal of Order 66. He plunges into a darkness he’d been forever trying to abstain, and wallows in it for 19 long, painful years. Somewhere in there he also fights a war, looses love, and overcomes countless other tests and trials.
Needless to say, Kenobi represents the parts of us that try to pursue the light while living in the darkness. It is the struggle of Romans 12:2 – the struggle of being forced to live separately from the world that so desperately tries to pull you in.
As a writer, Obi-Wan is a character with limitless possibilities and a backstory that any author would covet of their own characters. While being painfully ambiguous, it is also exceptionally molded in the character of who he is. We know little of his history as a child, but we almost know who he was without truly knowing anything. He is the lump of clay that author’s crave – author’s like myself.
I’ve pursued a lot of fanfiction with Obi-Wan Kenobi, as he’s my favorite, and published a few works (some in progress) on various sites. My personal favorite highlights Obi-Wan’s darkest moments as a man while he struggles with drowning away his sorrows in alcohol as he contemplates his life – and, you wouldn’t believe the private emails I get about the piece. It’s amazing. People all over the globe understand Kenobi as not just the “First Jedi to slay a Sith Lord in a thousand years”, but also a man with struggles and imperfections.
Which is why people love him – he is believable, as I’ve said before. Lucas has done a spectacular job at making these characters in this galaxy believable people that audiences can connect with on whatever level. For me as a child, I identified with Han Solo’s need for adventure and sarcasm. For me as an adult, however, I connect with Obi-Wan Kenobi’s pursuit of the Jedi (and of course his devilish good looks). These characters are near and dear for a reason, and that’s because they’re believable – they also represent something more than just fictional people in a story. They represent struggles and morals, journeys and successes, ideals and ethics. They each have a place and a purpose.
They are their own people without being people at all, really.
So, despite being wrong and looking like a nerf-herder, I discovered in my ignorance a truly magnificent character in an even more magnificent era of Star Wars: Obi-Wan Kenobi; Master of the Jedi Order and General of the Clone Wars, survivor, and roguishly handsome. His character deserves every amount of attention and praise an author and dedicated fan can give. And, I have to admit, I’m pretty lucky to get to be that lady today.
But, then again, in my experience – there’s no such thing as luck.
Since the bright and adventurous age of 5, Miriam Orr has been writing adventures to captivate audiences of all walks of life. She has been published in over ten poetry journals and graduated the creative writing certificate program through the Institute of Children’s Literature in Connecticut. Currently, she possess a Bachelor of Arts in Communication and Christian Studies from Crown College (MN). She hopes to respond to the call of Isaiah 6:8 across the globe and venture with the heart of Jesus Christ into the nations. Miriam currently resides in Minnesota and enjoys film, fiction, cars, poetry, and coffee. You can see more of Miriam’s work on her blog https://loudfictionblog.wordpress.com/