Study Guide

Star Wars: A New Hope Coming of Age

Coming of Age

Luke's evolution from youth to adulthood provides a major theme in Star Wars. When we first meet Luke, he's a whiny nerf-herder who complains about his chores. But when his family is murdered by the Empire, Luke has no choice but to grow and join the larger universe, something he is not prepared for.

To be fair, when your doorway into the adult world is the Mos Eisley Cantina, there is no way to prepare. Throughout his journey, Luke has victories, suffers more lose, but ultimately finds his place among the Rebels and as a Jedi in training.

Questions About Coming of Age

  1. Although the story focuses on Luke's coming of age, our hero to be doesn't appear until twenty minutes into the film. How do these first twenty influence our understanding of Luke's coming of age? Do you think they're important to that story or not?
  2. We focus extensively on Luke in this section, but do you see any other characters coming of age in Star Wars? If so, who? How does you answer affect your reading of this theme?
  3. What role do you see Obi-Wan playing in Luke's coming of age? Specifically, what does Obi-Wan choose to tell Luke about the universe and the Force and how does that alter Luke's course to adulthood?

Chew on This

Luke's coming of age story follows the classic hero archetype from Joseph Campbell's The Hero with a Thousand Faces.

For characters to come of age in Star Wars, their parental figures must first day. Luke's father figures—Owen and Obi-Wan—both perish. And although we never meet them, Leia's parents are also killed to clear her path to becoming a rebel leader