Study Guide

Star Wars: The Force Awakens Rey (Daisy Ridley)

Rey (Daisy Ridley)

"Who are you?" Maz Kanata asks Rey in the trailer. "I'm no one," Rey quietly replies.

The exchange isn't actually in the movie—a little editing magic from the boys in marketing—but it pretty much sums up Rey's beginnings.

She's a scavenger in a junk heap, living on a dusty desert planet and spending her days pulling bits of electronic garbage out of the wreckage of a crashed Star Destroyer so she can eat.

She's alone, anonymous, and unremarkable in every way…kind of like a frustrated farm boy from another dusty planet who once looked out at a pair of setting suns and silently begged the universe, "Please…anywhere but here."

As happened with him, the universe has a whole lot more in store for her, too.

Queen of the Junkyard

Rey was left behind on Jakku by her family, a family she wants back so badly she's actually making hash marks on the wall of her stylish, burnt-out AT-AT leg to count the days until they come back.

They're not, as Maz points out when they talk:

MAZ: Dear child. I see your eyes. You already know the truth. Whomever you're waiting for on Jakku, they're never coming back.

Rey, however, hasn't accepted that…and doesn't until almost the end of the film. Instead, she stays put, selling whatever bits of high-tech modern art she can pry off the bulkheads. She's sustained by her belief that someone will come for her. Someone does, of course, just not the someone she expected.

In the meantime, she's picked up her share of skills. She can pull metal off of bulkheads like nobody's business…and in the process, she's kinda-sorta figured out how to fly some of those ships. She also knows exactly, precisely how they work…to the extent that she can actually show Han Solo a thing or two about the Millennium Falcon:

REY: Unkar Plutt installed a fuel pump, too—if we don't prime that, we're not going anywhere.

HAN: I hate that guy.

So girl's got skills. She's also figured out how to take care of herself. Jakku is a tough place, and some of the locals have a hard time keeping their grabby little hands off of other people's stuff. Rey know how to keep them at bay…but while she's tough, she hasn't lost her compassion or humanity.

Case in point: BB-8, who follows her home like a lost puppy and whom she can't quite bring herself to dismiss:

REY: Don't follow me. Town is that way. No! […] In the morning, you go.

Tough gal with a heart of gold. She's gonna fit right in with the rest of the Star Wars gang.

The Special Is Reborn

As if that wasn't enough, Rey is a Force prodigy…something she knows absolutely nothing about but which launches her headlong into the galaxy's throwdown du jour between the Republic-backed Resistance and the creepy-CGI-guy-played-by-Andy-Serkis-backed First Order.

It really kicks into gear when she finds Luke Skywalker's lightsaber, stuck in Maz's basement like someone's old wedding photos. It grants her a vision, and though she fights it at first, when destiny calls, you don't get to reverse the charges.

Not that she doesn't try. Like Luke, Rey feels the call of adventure…and like Luke, she's inclined to resist it because she feels she has responsibilities back on Jakku:

MAZ: The belonging you seek is not behind you. It is ahead. I am no Jedi, but I know the Force. It moves through and surrounds every living thing. Close your eyes. Feel it. The light. It's always been there. It will guide you. The saber. Take it.

REY: I'm never touching that again. I don't want any part of this.

And what does she get for her trouble? A free trip to Kylo Ren's brain-melting chamber and a firsthand look at what the Force can do. Her stubbornness costs her…but it also opens her eyes to what she can do. In that moment, the junkyard rat suddenly gets a sense of her own self-worth.

It's a rush—especially since it lets her get the better of the little weasel trying to stick his greasy little fingers in her mind:

REY: You...you're afraid...that you will never be as strong as...Darth Vader.

Speaking of which, she finds out that she can do the same thing to other people if she wants, which is handy if, say, you're trying to escape from the bad guy's fortress:

REY: You will remove these restraints. And leave this cell, with the door open.

STORMTROOPER: I'll tighten those restraints, scavenger scum!

REY: You will remove these restraints. And leave this cell, with the door open.

STORMTROOPER: I will remove these restraints. And leave this cell, with the door open.

REY: And you will drop your weapon.

STORMTROOPER: And I'll drop my weapon.

It's a handy trick, and it also convinces Rey that Jakku isn't for her, that bigger things await and that awesome lightsaber duels are probably involved. More than probably, since the lightsaber chooses Rey over Ren, which pretty much triggers the film's climactic rumble.

All of that leads our heroine to where she needed to go: the top of that island with another lonely orphan staring back at her. Turns out, the whole thing is just the start of her journey. But now, at least, her eyes have been opened to who she is. She's not no one. She's not some little girl tossed out with the garbage. She has skills, and she can learn to use them.

The galaxy better watch out.

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