Much Ado About Slavery

Star Wars has many lasting themes, from hope to the importance of light prevailing over darkness. All the while, Star Wars is in the vain of mythological stories, and one such style is Greek tragedy, which the prequels are based upon.

The largest tragedy of the saga overall is the tragedy of Anakin Skywalker, which can be summarized by one word: slavery. He starts as a slave to Watto, then moves to being a slave of the Jedi, the prophecy of the Chosen One, and his own desires. In the end, he becomes the slave of Palpatine, until those final moments of redemption.

For the most part, Anakin as a child slave gets pushed to the side. He gets freed, move along, move along. Yet, if there is one child slave, or one slave for that matter, it implies that there are more; this point has not been dealt with, until recently.

queens shadow

In both Queen’s Shadow and Master and Apprentice, protagonists deal with slavery and take stands against it. This is what we would expect of protagonists, as slavery is the most vile practice in existence. The problem is that there goal was to end slavery on a much larger scale than what they were actually able to achieve. 

Starting with Queen’s Shadow, where Sabé  goes to Tatooine at the behest of Senator Padme Amidala, to free Shmi Skywalker and as many other slaves as she can. Sabé  learns that saying you want to free the slaves and actually doing it are two very different things. In the end, she frees but a handful, Shmi Skywalker not among them.

In Master and Apprentice, Qui-Gon takes a stand against the Czerka Corporation’s slaving practices. Yet he receives backlash from Yoda for losing sight of his mission as he declares he must do something about the issue. Besides making Yoda look really, really bad, this does increase the motivation of Qui-Gon once he meets Anakin.

In the end, however, the issue of slavery at large never gets solved. There are a few ways to look at this “problem.” Within the narrative of the larger saga, this shows how special and unique it was for Anakin to be freed. It just wasn’t something that happened, despite those with power and influence knowing it existed. The second possibility is that this could be a set up for another story, wherein all the slaves do get freed (possibly metaphorically, if a stormtrooper rebellion were to be a part of Episode IX).

AnakinScintel

With the stories we have, however, there is a vital lesson. Sometimes we have to do just what we can, in the spheres in which we exist. Problems on the galactic scale may be too overwhelming for one person to handle, but the problem right in front of your face is something you can do something about.

This is what Anakin does on Zygerria. It is what Luke does in “Skywalker Strike.” It is all we can do.

Sabé  feels like she failed her mission, but she didn’t. She saved the lives of 25 slaves, and that has a butterfly effect for the generations beyond those 25 people. Qui-Gon was able to save Anakin because he looked to the least of these, like the slaves, and saw value in a way the Jedi seemed unable to do. We may not be able to change the galaxy on our own, but we can change our little world. 

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