Friday, January 1, 2016

Han Solo and the Powerful Family Tragedy in The Force Awakens

Be it known that this blog post contains spoilers.

Since seeing Star Wars: The Force Awakens, I’ve been grappling with the death of Han Solo. He’s easily one of the most influential fictional characters in my life. The smuggler was easy to love. His tough-guy persona was real, but he had a heart. He was only reluctant to join the rebels because a hard galaxy had taught him not to trust in idealism.

His cynicism pleased me immensely because I’m a natural cynic. Even though he came to accept the reality of the Force, he never much relied on it. He knew his ass depended on having a good blaster at his side.

Harrison Ford played the elder Han Solo well. He clearly portrayed Han’s wariness of the Force. He had never trusted in it, and he knew that those who were strong with the Force could be unpredictable, dangerous even.

The tragedy of losing his son to the Dark Side hurt him deeply, as it would any parent, and surely worsened his misgivings about Jedi powers.

Although Han Solo wanted his son to come home, he could not discount his doubts about convincings his son to give up the Dark Side. He knew from grim experience that the power of the Dark Side was strong and certainly stronger than one man.

Yet, he opened his arms and asked his son to come home. He did the right thing. He set a fine example of fatherhood. He was willing to love and accept his son, even after his son had made mistakes.

The family tragedy that unfolded within The Force Awakens moved me deeply. I admired the choice to portray Han and Leia as separated. I imagined that the loss of their son to the Dark Side had diminished their romance. Both might have blamed the other along with themselves. Both might have seen in the other a reminder of the son that was lost. Such things can end marriages even when people love each other.

I likened their son’s seduction to the Dark Side to addiction. Han and Leia metaphorically represented parents that had lost a child to addiction. Not all addicts are redeemable, and that fact makes me both curious about and frightened of what will happen in the rest of the story. It was a masterful choice in storytelling. Now, Star Wars has a new villain in Kylo Ren that truly frightens me, but I’ll remain emotionally engaged with his character because I know how much his father loved him. 

Tracy Falbe is a life-long Star Wars fan. She saw the original movie in 1977 at the age of five and knows that Han Solo shot first. She creates her own worlds of tragedy and triumph now. She’s the author of 10 fantasy novels available worldwide at:

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