Study Guide

Star Wars: The Force Awakens Fate vs. Free Will

Fate vs. Free Will

FINN: This is a rescue, I'm helping you escape. Can you fly a TIE fighter?

POE: You with the Resistance?

FINN: What? That's crazy. No, no, no! I'm breaking you out. Can you fly a TIE fighter?

POE: I can fly anything. Why, why are you helping me?

FINN: Because it's the right thing to do.

Here's an example of free will feeding into fate. Finn makes a conscious decision to flee the First Order…which sends him to Poe…which leads him to Rey…which leads them all to whatever destiny the Force has in mind.

UNKAR PLUTT: What about the droid?

REY: What about him?

UNKAR PLUTT: I'll pay for him. Sixty portions.

REY: Actually...the droid's not for sale.

Obviously, turning BB-8 over to Unkar Plutt would be a bad thing, but a girl's gotta eat, and refusing food over principle when you're hungry all the time is a big deal. Rey needs to choose…and the good news is, she doesn't hesitate.

FINN: Hey. Rey. You're a pilot—you can fly anywhere! Why go back? You got a family? You got a boyfriend?

This is important because it means Rey is on Jakku by choice; she thinks someone is coming back for her. She decides to cling to the hope that her family will return because it's all she's had for so long that letting go is hard. Even so, it's a choice—an easy choice rather than the right choice, but a choice nonetheless.

BALA-TIK: Inform the First Order that Han Solo has the droid they want. And it's aboard the Millennium Falcon.

And just when free will seems to have won the argument, destiny throws down with a big fistful of Right Place, Right Time. One of Star Wars'secret weapons is that it can conveniently throw characters together simply because the Force wills it…and arranged for Rey's escape vehicle to just happen to belong to a crusty, old smuggler.

REY: You're offering me a job.

HAN: I'm thinking about it. Well?

REY: If you were, I'd be flattered. But I have to get home.

HAN: Jakku?

REY: I've already been away too long.

Rey is so attached to Jakku that she's willing to turn down a much more exciting position on the Falconjust to get back. Choices always have consequences, and Rey thinks she's making a sacrifice by choosing to stay behind.

FINN: I'm not Resistance. I'm not a hero. I'm a stormtrooper. Like all of them, I was taken from a family I'll never know. And raised to do one thing. But my first battle, I made a choice. I wasn't going to kill for them. So I ran. Right into you. And you looked at me like no one ever had. I was ashamed of what I was. But I'm done with the First Order. I'm never going back.

Here's Finn's problem: having made the choice to run, he thinks he has to keep running in order to stay safe. It doesn't work that way…and choosing to keep running rather than staying with his friends is still apt to bite him on the rear.

FINN: But I'm done with the First Order. I'm never going back. Rey, come with me.

REY: Don't go.

FINN: Take care of yourself. Please.

Important moment—do you follow your own instincts, or do you stand by your friend? Finn goes with his instincts. But notice also how he doesn't end up leaving, and he and Rey are put on the same path. The Force still determines their destinies. They can choose to accept it or reject it, but all they're deciding is how painful and difficult it might be.

MAZ: 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.

Again with the refusal of the call. To quote another blockbuster of this kind, "you will find adventure, or adventure will find you." Sit tight, Rey, because this ride's about to get very bumpy.

HAN: Listen to me, will you? I know every time you...every time you look at me, you're reminded of him.

LEIA: You think I want to forget him? I want him back!

HAN: There was nothing we could've done. There was too much Vader in him.

LEIA: That's why I wanted him to train with Luke. I just never should have sent him away. That's when I lost him. That's when I lost you both.

HAN: We both had to deal with it in our own way. I went back to the only thing I was ever good at.

Here's a choice of a different kind: continue to hide from what happened to your kid, or confront him and try to change it. It might not change him at all, but at least your own conscience will be clearer.

KYLO REN: I'm being torn apart. I want to be free of this pain. I know what I have to do, but I don't know if I have the strength to do it. Will you help me?

HAN: Yes. Anything.

Bad guys make choices too…in fact it's those choices that often make them bad guys. And of course, once you make certain choices—like say, stabbing your father to death as he's reaching out to help you—then your fate becomes locked in.

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