Haiku Me Friday! Luke crosses the threshold in The Hero’s Journey

They’re gone. Both of them.
Cruelly murdered for two droids
The shifts of change come

I have always found the scene where Luke rushes back home to find Aunt Beru and Uncle Owen murdered by the Empire to be so interesting. My main reason for thinking this is it’s such a SMALL scene but it changes the entire movie. For your info, the scene is about 13 seconds.

Yet this scene is the step from Luke’s “ordinary world” into the “supernatural world” and as such, it plays a pivotal role in his journey.

George Lucas drew a lot from Joseph Campbell’s The Hero with a Thousand Faces when he created Star Wars. You can see that he almost follows it to a T in A New Hope, where Luke is defined as the Hero.

In the above image, you can follow the beginning of Luke’s journey in ANH. You see that this scene, though short in length, is the moment when Luke “crosses the threshold”.

We have been introduced to Luke on Tatooine, his ordinary world. His call to adventure begins with rumblings to his Uncle about leaving the farm (and the deleted scene with Biggs). Lucas then switches up the order and has Luke meet his mentor, Old Ben, first and then Luke refuses the call. It is plainly spelled out as Obi-Wan asks Luke to journey with him to Alderaan and Luke says no, due to responsibilities on the moisture farm.

Luke is a “good kid” and refuses because he doesn’t want to leave his Uncle without his help, though deep down he wants to leave. How can this problem be solved? The responsibility is taken away from him when the stormtroopers burn the farm and murder his Uncle and Aunt. This enables him to cross the threshold and journey to Alderaan to rescue the Princess.

At times, when I watch this scene, I’m baffled by how short it is and the way Luke reacts. For being raised by these folks since he was a few days old, Luke shows more sorrow over Obi-Wan dying later in the film than his guardians. But…

Here’s where we have to separate Star Wars the story versus Star Wars the film. Lucas did not have the luxury to spend a lot of time with Luke mulling over his aunt and uncle’s death and what to do next. This was no Rivendell, where Frodo got to relax, recover, spend time with friends, and make decisions about the future. ANH had to keep moving and this scene was only used as a pivot point. The Mentor is much more important in the hero’s journey, which is why we see Luke more visibly upset over Obi-Wan’s death.

Does it actually make sense in a human relational context? Not really. Does it make more sense in propelling a movie forward? Yes, totally. So Lucas gives us “tragic Luke” where the wind is ruffling his hair and you can see pain, but then quickly moves on because now that Luke has crossed the threshold, the storyline can pick up the pace.

If you are interested in The Hero’s Journey with other Star Wars characters, let me know. Tricia Barr did some analysis articles in Insider where she went into depth about The Hero’s Journey with different characters.  I’d be happy to take photos and send your way.

And finnnnalllly, I’M TAKING VACATION NEXT WEEK. And the big deal about this is that I’m not really going anywhere. It’s a staycation and I haven’t done a staycation since…2012 (maternity leave definitely doesn’t count). I’m so looking forward to sleeping in my own bed with no real responsibilities, not worrying about too much, and puttering around.

I’m checking out until after Labor Day, so until then – May the Force be with you.

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16 thoughts on “Haiku Me Friday! Luke crosses the threshold in The Hero’s Journey

  1. i never understood why the Imperial Storm Troopers tried to hide their attack and make it look like the Tuskin Raiders did it? why would they care?

    also, notice that Luke called them robots instead of droids

    1. I read a post about that while I was writing this. A fan claimed that it could be because there were enough stirrings of a Rebellion already that the last thing they wanted was a murder out in the open done by the government to innocent people. I liked that theory. So they went to lengths to ride Banthas and pretend to be Sand People so no one would question people.

      And yes, I remember him saying robots! But that’s two syllables, not one, so it’s harder to work with. He does say droids as well though.

  2. This was just so good. I loved the Haiku for staters. The main piece and Luke’s journey were wonderful. I like the swiftness with which the plot clips along – I like to think of Luke being carried along on a series of rapid events that he just has to run with. Mind you I always have a wry smile on my face slightly later in the film that Luke (who has lost Obi Wan who he has met five minutes ago) is comforted by Leia (who has lost her whole planet and family) on the way back from the Death Star. If that doesn’t show you how stoic Leia is then I don’t know what will!! Great article.

    1. LOL omg I know. I’ve noticed that too. I would totally raise my eyebrow at Luke and be like… Really?

      But thanks for the comments on the post. The hero’s journey is so fascinating and I’d love to do a ser on a lot of the characters but I feel weird doing that since Tricia did it in Star Wars Insider.

      1. She’s written some interesting material on the potential to read as a heroine’s journey too that is worth checking out. It’s a different take on things.

  3. A thoughtful and insightful piece! I wrote a while back on my own site about Luke crossing the threshold in regards to The Hero’s Journey and actually identify it a few scenes after this moment (when he quite literally crosses the threshold into the Cantina). With your thoughts in mind, though, is actually expand my piece (and am going to add an addendum to it with a link to this one) and suggest a third option – that the crossing is the entire sequence from this moment at his home seeing the bodies on his Aunt and Uncle to his literal entrance into the Cantina.

    1. Ooo very very interesting. Did I read your cantina price? I can’t remember and my brain doesn’t hold much information anymore. I like your literal take on crossing the threshold though I’m not sure I agree with the cantina scene… That said – I like the idea of the whole sequence in between as a crossing the threshold!

      I love my haiku for this reason – I never know what I’m going to write about until it happens. And I thought this one about the hero’s journey was definitely interesting to think about and delve into.

  4. I always get warm and fuzzy feelings when I read about Luke’s Hero’s Journey. When I was in 10th grade, my English teacher taught us Star Wars in class! We studied the Hero’s Journey with Odysseus, King Arthur, and then we watched ‘A New Hope,’ ‘The Empire Strikes Back,’ and ‘Return Of The Jedi’ while we outlined how Luke walked those same steps. It was a mind-blowing experience! Not only was I watching Star Wars in school but I was learning how there could be significant academic merits to popular culture. That’s something I’ve carried with me to this day and heavily influences my own teaching too. There’s just so much to explore here!

  5. Always like to see Joseph Campbell in a Star Wars discussion!
    Thanks for th clip: such a dramatic moment – never fails to give me goosebumps
    GREAT to see another Star Wars blog!
    As someone who enjoyed th original trilogy on th big screen when they first came out, I’ve put up my own far far away thots on th blogosphere:
    https://bradscribe.wordpress.com/2015/10/24/luke-whos-talking/
    Enjoy your staycation – w can have a chat when u come back online!
    Th Force Will Be With You
    Always

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