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Star Wars and Literature


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[center][b]The Galactic Civil War, the Rebellion and the Death Star:[/b][/center]
[center][i]Multiculturalism's Struggle with Established Literary Canon[/i][/center]

Throughout the years, Star Wars has achieved a fame that few series will ever see. It has become a popular culture phenomenon, influencing countless science fiction films, and inspiring many people to become filmmakers. Its appearances on popular TV shows such as The Simpsons are too many to count, and Chewbacca has even accepted an MTV Lifetime Achievement Award. One simply has to mention Luke Skywalker or Darth Vader to attract people?s attention.

But even in the light of this recognition, the Star Wars saga is vastly underappreciated, in that its relevance to literary studies has not been sufficiently explored, specifically in the study of the dynamics of multiculturalism. When examined in the context of multicultural literature, Star Wars and its Galactic Civil War between the Rebellion and the Empire become a metaphor for the ongoing struggle between multiculturalism and the conventional literary canon.

At its basic level, Star Wars is about conflict between differing ideologies. The Empire seeks control, order, and structure, as opposed to the Rebellion, whose focus is establishing a society in which everyone can live in peace, with equal opportunity for all. The structure and militaristic organization of the Empire is reflected in their presentation. Everything is precise and ordered, with very clearly defined guidelines. The Empire keeps their presence neat and clean, and this efficiency is reflected in the Death Star.

Originating from Grand Moff Tarkin?s ?Doctrine of Fear? proposal, the Death Star serves to illustrate the power and dominance of the Empire. During the early years of the New Order, various systems refused to pledge allegiance to Emperor Palpatine?s new government, and subjugating all of them would prove detrimental to the resources of the Empire. Grand Moff Tarkin was aware this danger, and proposed that instead of dealing with each system individually, the Empire should focus its energies on creating a singular tool of destruction, to quell any treasonous activities and thus establishing the Empire as the dominant force in the galaxy.

With Palpatine?s permission, Tarkin selected a group of the Empire?s top scientists, and chose the most remote and inhospitable location possible in the galaxy to begin the research and development phase of the project. With this facility, code-named Maw Installation, Tarkin?s plans were sure to proceed without interference from outside forces, as it was unheard of that any civilized peoples would inhabit such hostile environments, and because of this, the implications of any activity detected would be minimized.

Once an operational test model was created, the blueprints for the Death Star were sent to a prison camp on the distant Outer Rim planet of Despayre. Slave labor was essential in the construction of the Death Star, and Despayre?s prison population proved to be most adequate. Construction spanned several years, with many slaves perishing from the harsh work conditions. Upon the Death Star?s completion, Despayre was selected as the first test of the Death Star?s superlaser. The planet was destroyed, effectively wiping out all traces of any misconduct on the part of the Empire.

With this new battle station, the Empire was poised to finally establish ultimate control in the galaxy, and they would have had ultimate control had it not been for the Rebellion, a small, ragtag group of freedom fighters that yearned for a galaxy without the Empire. With the understanding that the newly-constructed Death Star will threaten the Rebellion?s chances of overthrowing the Empire, a handful of spies were chosen to steal the plans to the battle station.

This is where A New Hope begins. After the introductory text crawl, there is a moment of serenity as we look out into space. The stars shimmer against the black expanse, and then a ship passes over us, followed by a larger spacecraft. The smaller ship, as we soon discover, is the Tantive IV, a Rebel Blockade Runner and Princess Leia?s consular vessel. The larger ship is Darth Vader?s Imperial Star Destroyer, in hot pursuit of the Tantive IV.

Red and green bolts fly back and forth between the two vessels? turbolasers, and after countless volleys, a blast hits Tantive IV in its mid-section, knocking out its main reactor and crippling the ship. The massive size of the Star Destroyer is revealed as the Tantive IV is pulled up into the Star Destroyer?s underside dock. It is dwarfed by the imposing underbelly of the Star Destroyer, almost vanishing into the Imperial vessel?s hull. This is the first illustration of the Empire?s overwhelming presence in the galaxy, and how difficult it is to escape assimilation. C-3PO, a protocol droid aboard the Tantive IV, expresses these sentiments to his counterpart, the short, cylindrical R2D2, ?There will be no escape for the Princess this time.?

As C-3PO says this, loud metallic latches clank and heavy equipment is heard moving around the outside hull of the ship. The Imperials are preparing to board the ship, violently, undoubtedly. Rebel soldiers take their defensive positions throughout the halls of the Tantive IV, some in the first line, their blasters trained on the entry hatch, and their faces contorted into hushed terror. Moments pass and the noise grows louder, then an explosion rips open the passageway, and the hallway erupts into laser fire, as teams of Stormtroopers force their way through the hole. The battle is relatively short, and there are casualties on both sides, but Stormtroopers and the Empire have numbers on their side. When the immediate entryway is secured, the Stormtroopers snap to rigid attention.

The seven-foot-tall Dark Lord of the Sith steps into the hallway. He resembles Death himself, with his skeletal, black helmet: large, round, dead eye sockets; harsh, sharp cheeks; and a respirator that looks fashioned out of charred bone. This is Darth Vader, serving only the Emperor, inspiring fear and dread in everyone else. He does not tolerate failure or excuses, and will stop at nothing to retrieve the stolen plans. Vader?s presence does not bode well for the Princess? chances of escape.

When Princess Leia is brought to him, the Empire?s hold on the galaxy is further reinforced. Leia, the cute and spunky supporter of the Rebellion, can only insult Vader, and Vader thinks nothing of it. She can say nothing in her defense, as Vader will not be made a fool of, and does not tolerate her blatant lies concerning her ?mission.? She says, ?Darth Vader. Only you could be so bold. The Imperial Senate will not sit for this, when they hear you've attacked a diplomatic...?

Vader does not allow her to finish her sentence, ?Don't play games with me, Your Highness. You weren't on any mercy mission this time. You passed directly through a restricted system. Several transmissions were beamed to this ship by Rebel spies. I want to know what happened to the plans they sent you.?

Leia?s excuses are useless, as Lord Vader will not let her elude him again. He knows she has the plans to the Death Star and he will stop at nothing to retrieve them, including sending a distress signal to Alderaan, Leia?s home planet, with report of Leia?s ship entering an asteroid field and being destroyed. But while Leia is now in the hands of the Empire, the plans are not. An escape pod jettisons, carrying C-3PO and R2D2, the droids we saw earlier in the scene. Stored in R2D2?s databank are the stolen plans and a message from Princess Leia to Obi-Wan Kenobi, a wise Jedi Knight and staunch supporter of the Rebellion, now in hiding after the Jedi extermination at the hands of the Empire. The escape pod descends down onto the desert planet of Tatooine, where these two droids are picked-up by a group of the diminutive and grimy Jawas, and will come into the ownership of a local farmboy. That farmboy is Luke Skywalker.

Never knowing his father personally, only through stories and second-hand information, Luke has lived with his Uncle Own and Aunt Beru on their moisture farm all his life. Luke has been told his father was merely a navigator on a spice freighter, but his father, Anakin Skywalker, was actually a very powerful Jedi Knight who at first fought for the Old Republic until falling to the Dark Side of the Force to become Darth Vader. This is revealed to Luke later in the Trilogy and becomes a conflict of interest and loyalty in the story, similar to the conflicting loyalties present in multicultural literature. Some authors long for success and have ?sold out,? in that they give publishers what is expected (ethnic stereotypes, clichéd characters, etc) so that their lives may be made easier.

Luke will be faced with this same choice in the next Episode of the Trilogy, The Empire Strikes Back, when he faces Vader in a lightsaber duel. Many viewers would say that Vader ?owned? Luke in the duel, and surprisingly, this slang is a very accurate. Luke has not completed his training and is ill-equipped to face such power. This is made clear throughout the fight, as Vader easily dominates the battle, forcing Luke out onto a thin balcony, where he is able to slice off the right hand of the young Jedi-in-training. Vader does not want to kill Luke, as Luke would be ?a powerful ally if he could be turned.? He offers him a choice: join the Dark Side to rule the galaxy with Vader as father and son, or be destroyed. Joining the Dark Side, choosing the path with least resistance, is the Star Wars equivalent of ?selling out,? while Luke?s decision to let go of the guardrail and fall into the abyss is ?sticking to his morals.?

However, this is not the first time Luke has had to make a difficult choice. When we first see him in A New Hope, he is a disheartened farmhand, working for his Uncle Owen. He yearns for adventure, dreaming of piloting starships, as evidenced by his play with his T-16 Skyhopper model. Luke doesn?t belong on Tatooine, and he knows it. The only reason that Luke stays on Tatooine with his aunt and uncle is because they need his help. He wants to remain loyal to his family, but his dreams of flying through the galaxy and fighting the Empire pull him away from that.

Again, this conflict echoes the conflict of multicultural literature, as Luke?s desire to remain loyal to his family can be viewed as a dedication to the good of those around the individual, while leaving the farm (betraying his aunt and uncle) to fulfill his dreams will make him happy, similar to the multicultural author who ignores those around him in order to gain a better place in life.

This all changes when R2D2 ventures out into the Dune Sea, to find Obi-Wan Kenobi and deliver the message from Princess Leia. Luke is obligated to go after R2D2, as the moisture farm?s survival greatly depends on C-3PO and R2D2 being fully functional. If R2D2 were to be lost in the Dune Sea, Owen?s livelihood and Luke?s chances of ever embarking on great adventures would be shattered. Because of this, Luke risks his life to retrieve R2, as he is attacked by Tusken Raiders and nearly killed.

Covered in tattered rags and their heads wrapped in ragged cloth, the Tusken Raiders, or Sandpeople, as they are commonly called, are a terrifying sight to begin with. They are nomads of Tatooine and often attack any who tread into their territories. Carrying Gaderffii sticks, a particular type of bladed club exclusive to the Sand People, and non-energy rifles, the Sand People are well-equipped for combat. While their weapons may be less effective when held up against the weapons of the Empire, they are more than a match for Luke Skywalker, and the Sand People?s ferocity and aggressiveness more than make up for any lack of firepower.

After incapacitating Luke, the Sandpeople begin raiding his speeder, ripping out containers, rooting through Luke?s belongings, taking what they can salvage, tossing aside what they cannot. There is no stopping the Sandpeople, it seems, and Luke surely will not survive, but off in the distance in the canyon, a massive howl echoes.

The Sandpeople jump, their cloth heads locked in the direction of the shriek. A krayt dragon is approaching, and the screams are getting louder and angrier. The Sandpeople retreat, leaving Luke to perish in the jaws of the gargantuan predator that lumbers closer. The howls are now just over the next ridge. There is a dramatic pause, then a cloaked humanoid figure steps over the hill.

This is Obi-Wan Kenobi, come to rescue the unfortunate farmboy. He revives Luke and Luke tells him about R2D2 and the message. Obi-Wan can?t recall ever owning a ?droid but discussing the matter there is not safe, as ?the Sandpeople are easily startled but will soon be back and in greater numbers,? and Obi-Wan suggests they move in-doors.

Back at Obi-Wan?s hut, Luke is told the truth about his father, but not the entire truth. Obi-Wan does not tell Luke that his father is Darth Vader, but instead that his father was betrayed and murdered by Darth Vader. Telling Luke the entire truth would compromise the secrecy that Obi-Wan has worked so hard to keep. After viewing the message from Princess Leia, Obi-Wan is visibly shaken. He knows his assistance is needed, but it is impossible for him to go alone, as he is much older now than he was during the Clone Wars, when he served Leia?s adoptive father, Senator Bail Organa. He asks for Luke?s help, ?You must learn the ways of the Force if you're to come with me to Alderaan.? Luke replies, ?Alderaan? I'm not going to Alderaan. I've got to go home. It's late, I'm in for it as it is[?]I can't get involved! I've got work to do! It's not that I like the Empire. I hate it! But there's nothing I can do about it right now. It's such a long way from here.?

This attitude changes, however, when they find a group of slaughtered Jawas, the same Jawas who sold C-3PO and R2D2 to Luke?s uncle. At first, Luke sees Gaderffii sticks and bantha tracks and assumes it was Sandpeople who did this. Obi-Wan believes otherwise, noting how ?the tracks are side-by-side,? and how ?Sandpeople ride single file, to hide their numbers.? He points out the blast points, which are ?too accurate for Sandpeople,? he continues, ?Only Imperial Stormtroopers are so precise.? Luke makes the connection and races home to find smoking holes that were once his home. Debris is scattered everywhere and it looks like a brutal assault has taken place. Luke calls out for his aunt and uncle but hears no response. He stumbles about through the chaos and smoke, coming across his aunt and uncle?s smoldering bodies.

He returns to Obi-Wan and agrees to go with him, as there is nothing left for him here. Luke is no longer tied down to staying on this planet, and his dreams can finally be realized, but only at the price of his family. In order to realize his destiny, he must make a sacrifice, and again, the dynamics of achieving success in the field of multicultural literature are echoed, in that an author cannot reap the benefits without sacrificing something else.

While Luke will prove to be a tremendous asset in the ensuing fight against the Empire, taking the shot that ultimately destroys the Death Star, his involvement alone is not enough, as they lack transportation to Alderaan. Since taking a public shuttle is too risky and runs the chance of capture, they travel to Mos Eisley, which Obi-Wan comments is ?[the most] wretched hive of scum and villainy.? It seems this scum and villainy collect in the local cantina:

?The murky, moldy den is filled with a startling array of weird and exotic alien creatures and monsters at the long metallic bar. At first the sight is horrifying. One-eyed, thousand-eyed, slimy, furry, scaly, tentacled, and clawed creatures huddle over drinks.?

Luke seems lost in this underbelly of society, drifting to the bar for a drink. He looks around, mesmerized by the wide range of species, all united under a common goal: to drink and to socialize. But this unity is not universal or eternal, and Luke is shoved by an angry arm. He turns, coming face-to-tusk with an Aqualish, a humanoid creature with facial characteristics of both fish and arachnids. The Aqualish grunts and squeals at Luke, and we suspect those grunts and squeals are not to welcome the young farmboy. Our suspicions are confirmed as a rodent-bat hybrid joints in the confrontation, translating the Aqualish?s vocalizations, ?He doesn?t like you,? adding, ?I don?t like you, either.?

Obi-Wan comes to Luke?s side and attempts to defuse the potentially volatile situation by offering to buy the aggressors a drink. If there is one thing the Mos Eisley cantina inhabitants should know, that is to not pick a fight with a Jedi. That is the last mistake the Aqualish and rodent-bat translator will ever make.

When the racket dies down, Obi-Wan introduces the wookiee, Chewbacca, an eleven-foot-tall ape, who is First Mate on a ship that will suit them. The ship?s Captain is a smuggler named Han Solo, who knows and owes more people than most living on Tatooine. He has been delinquent in repaying one particular crimelord, Jabba the Hutt, and now finds himself the target of an assortment of bounty hunters. Because of his delicate financial situation, Han agrees to provide his services to Luke and Obi-Wan, expecting a significant payment upon arriving on Alderaan.

However, after blasting their way out of Mos Eisley, deftly avoiding three Imperial Star Destroyers, and making the jump through hyperspace to Alderaan?s coordinates, they find themselves in the middle of an asteroid field, but this asteroid field is not on any of Solo?s charts. The planet of Alderaan has been destroyed, wiped from the face of the galaxy. As Solo and Chewbacca pilot their way through the debris, a lone TIE Fighter zips overhead. It?s a short-range fighter that ?couldn't get this deep into space on its own,? Obi-Wan observes. ?It must be lost,? Luke adds.

Lost or not, however, it still poses a danger if it should identify the Millennium Falcon. Solo is determined to prevent that and begins closing in, ordering Chewbacca to jam the TIE?s transmissions. As the race continues, a particular star in space grows larger and larger, becoming colder and more spherical. The TIE?s destination becomes clear. It is headed for the Death Star.

The Falcon?s crew realizes this too late, and finds themselves being drawn in by the Death Star?s tractor beam. Solo orders Full Reverse, and even begins tapping in to the Auxillary Power, but the tractor beam is too strong, and the Falcon begins shuddering as it strains under the pull of the Death Star. Solo is forced to shut-down, out of fear of melting the Falcon?s engines. Finally, the Falcon is pulled into one of the many docking bays:

?Now only a miniscule speck against the gray bulk of the [Death Star], the Millennium Falcon was sucked toward one of those steel pseudopods and finally swallowed by it. A lake of metal closed off the entryway, and the freighter vanished as if it had never existed.?

Again, the overshadowing and assimilation inherent in the domination of the Empire is illustrated by this passage. It is a fight the Rebellion cannot win, and all seems lost when the Millennium Falcon, which has become symbolic of the Rebellion, is now swallowed by the Death Star, the symbol of the Empire?s power. The diversity of the Rebellion seems to mean nothing when juxtaposed against the rigid conformity of the Death Star and the Empire?s forces stationed there, and in order to escape from this structured order, to overthrow the Empire, the radically diverse crew of the Rebellion must learn to work together.

In this sense, Star Wars becomes a microcosm for the current condition of multicultural authors? struggle to survive in a field dominated by established Literary Canon, which is comprised of authors like Herman Melville, William Shakespeare, William Faulkner, and Walt Whitman. These authors share one specific trait: they are all white males, which, interestingly enough, is the precise composition of the Empire.
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[font=Georgia][color=blue]I can't help but feel that most of this post consists of a retelling of the story. It'd be easier to follow if only the "literally significant" parts were kept and all others removed. Aside from that, I feel as if this essay contains too much filler and not enough content. The points you made were strong, but they weren't emphasized enough and diluted in the "story-telling" format of this style.[/color][/font]
[font=Georgia][color=#0000ff]Aside from that part, very cool observations and findings. You point out subtleties and the way you make your claims on Star Wars' literary power is hard to counter, but I guess a consequence of that is a lot of "fluff," if you will.[/color][/font]
[font=Georgia][color=#0000ff]Everything been said and done, I'm neutral on the quality of this work in comparison to your others.[/color][/font]
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[color=darkviolet]Uh, the literature section is that way *points*

Like Azure wolf said your post would be so much easier to read if you just stuck to the basics. Not to mention that other board members may bother to read the whole post if it was shorter and made sense instead of looked like you were simply reiterating a chapter in the book. That would be like if I started talking about the middle ages and used a global studies essay.

Now that that's done and over with I think I'll go back to microsoft word and write my stories[/color]
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I think I should mention something about the plot synopsis feel to the essay that I failed to mention in my initial post.

My instructor has never seen Star Wars, so he asked me to do a plot summary in the paper. What you see here is 11 pages; the paper only needed to be 7. I'm going to trim it down, obviously, but that's going to be a separate Word file. ~_^

But yes. The reason it's so long and detailed is because I was writing for a reader that had no background knowledge of Star Wars.
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Guest ScirosDarkblade
Well, if the paper has to be 7 pages, then yeah definitely trim it down to that. I know that your prof hadn't seen SW (you mentioned it before maybe on MyO or something, even before you put up the essay), but a lot of what you said concerning the plot has pretty much nothing to do with your thesis so I think that even though your prof hasn't seen the film, mentioning all that story-related stuff won't do either of you any good.

If I'm reading an analysis (or comparative work, or whatever) about a film I've never seen or a book I've never read, it doesn't take too many references to the film/book to convince me of the essay writer's point (as long as it's a seemingly valid one). When I wrote a paper describing the trappings of Western religion in anime last quarter, I referred to tons of anime/manga that the instructor hadn't seen (although she had seen some of them), and it really only took a paragraph at most for each example I wanted to bring up.

So, if your prof wants a plot synopsis, you can give a "Cliff Notes" version, but I don't think you should do like an entire detailed "prelude" to A New Hope before even getting into the film's storyline.
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