Study Guide

Star Wars: A New Hope Chewbacca (Peter Mayhew)

Chewbacca (Peter Mayhew)

Chewbacca is a Wookiee from the planet Kashyyyk… and it's weird how completely natural that sentence feels to us. We must be watching too much Star Wars.

Chewbacca is Han Solo's trusted companion and first mate aboard the Millennium Falcon. Although he doesn't say much—at least, we can't understand much of what he says—it is clear that Chewbacca has two character traits that make him a soon-to-be hero among the Rebels. First, he loves freedom; second, he is fiercely loyal.

Freedom!

As one would expect from Han's best buddy, Chewie enjoys his freedom. This is pretty evident on the Death Star when Luke is hatching his plan to rescue Princess Leia:

HAN: What's your plan?

LUKE: Uh, 3PO, hand me those binders there, will you? Okay.

LUKE (to Chewie): Now… I'm gonna put these on you.

CHEWIE: Grawh!

LUKE: Okay. Han, you-you put those on.

HAN: Don't worry, Chewie. I think I know what he has in mind.

From this exchange, we can learn two things about Chewie. First, he has never seen a Scooby-Doo episode, or he too would have known what Luke was up to. Second, the idea of being bound is so reprehensible to Chewbacca that he instantly, loudly, violently rebels against the idea. It takes Han, perhaps the only man Chewie trusts, to get him in the binders even for an act.

Loyal to a Fault

Chewbacca is also extremely loyal. This trait seems foundational to his character in a way. As George Lucas said about writing the character:

"The Wookiee actually came from my dog, Indiana, who is a big malamute, a very large, furry dog."

Like a dog, Chewie is written as man's best friend… or in this case, one man's best friend. That man is Han.

It seems there is nothing Chewie won't do for Han. He'll take on a couple of unwanted passengers, march into an Imperial detention center, and fight outnumbered against stormtroopers to keep his friend safe. Just the fact that he sticks by Han despite Jabba the Hutt putting a price on his head is a true sign of loyalty.

By the end of the film, Chewie's sphere of loyalty has widened to include Luke, Leia, and maybe the droids. The following exchange clues us into this fact:

LUKE: All right. Take care of yourself, Han. I guess that's what you're best at, isn't it?

HAN: Hey, Luke. May the Force be with you.

CHEWIE: Arrugh.

HAN: What are you looking at? I know what I'm doing.

Chewie's forlorn growl lets us know he feels torn between helping Luke and Leia fight the Death Star or staying with Han, who, despite his statement to the contrary, realizes his own budding loyalty to the others. Unlike Han, Chewie realizes he has extended his loyalty to the others and can't turn his back on them now.

Of course, when Han comes to realize this truth himself, the two rush back to help Luke save the day, and Chewie stands triumphantly with the rest of the heroes at the film's conclusion.

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