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Becca's Chava Chat

The role of motherhood is minimally depicted in the Star Wars saga. Why is that?

To be honest, the role of fatherhood isn’t exactly picturesque. Yet, the entire “maternal relationship(s)” are cut short or just briefly portrayed. That is not saying, representation of motherliness is lacking substance or quality, just profusion.  It just wasn’t the angle Mr. Lucas was going for, at the time, the path of paternity took precedence.

So in light of this past Mother’s Day, I thought it’d be best to pay homage to our GFFA moms and explore their importance to the Saga. Remember, there are no small parts, only small actors. -Constantin Stanislavski –

Before I get started, I’d like to give a shout out to Chris @SWKidscast (StarwarsKidscast.blogspot.com ) for having me on his latest podcast. What an honor! In fact, his invite is what inspired this blog. Chris contacted me via twitter and asked if I’d participate in a special podcast he was preparing; A Mother’s Day Special. How could I refuse?  After all, it’s Star Wars.  So, if you haven’t checked it out, make sure you do – http://t.co/xugCL6GCZU

This is a trying time for female fans, so I must tread lightly. If you are unaware of this trend, just check out Twitter and you’ll soon realize that truth doesn’t cease to exist just because it is ignored. As Shmi so perfectly said, “You can’t stop the change, no more than you can stop the suns from setting.”The same can be said about all the recent happenings surrounding the SW realm(s).

Speaking of Shmi, there is no greater woman of importance in the saga than the Mother of the “Chosen One.” Of course, that’s just my own opinion, but in truth, without her, would we even have a story? No, probably not. She is the oldest known Skywalker ancestor; the beginning of their lineage and Legacy.

When we are first introduced to Shmi in TPM, she is bombarded by uninvited house guests and her jubilated son, Ani. Although the look on her face is somewhat exasperated, she reluctantly opens her home to the group of strangers. The modest family has very little, especially in the way of materialism. Yet, Shmi prepares a meal for her unannounced visitors and provides them with shelter from the sandstorm.

Very little is said by the single mother, yet her demeanor speaks volumes. She is well poised for a slave, resilient, and most of all, brave. The words she does say have a multitude of meaning or perhaps, caution behind them. One of my favorite quotes from her is this: “I may not like it but . . . he can help you. He was meant to help you.”  It’s the way she says it, it’s almost ….haunting in tone. The expression on her face is somewhat somber, as if she has seen what is yet to come. How much does Shmi really know about her son’s special abilities? Does she have any of her own force sensitivities?

You have to admit even Qui-Gon takes an interest in this timid mother. Ever wonder why? Sure, he questions the paternity of the boy, but besides that the looks exchanged by the two (Shmi and Qui-Gon) go without saying. He knows that she’s only saying what’s necessary; no more, no less. In turn, she’s fully aware he senses her discretion.

“There was no father. I carried him, I gave birth, I raised him. I can’t explain what happened. Can you help him?”-Shmi

“ I don’t know. I didn’t actually come here to free slaves.”Qui-Gon

What exactly did Shmi mean by that question? Could it be that she knew of the dark possibilities shrouding Anakin’s future? This would make sense, a Jedi knight would have the ability to protect and guide her son with vigilance. Again, not knowing much about Shmi’s ancestry, we can only assume that she had force sensitivity on some level. At least, that is what I choose to believe. How else does she work up the courage and strength to let go of all she fears to lose?

Probably the most poignant display of motherhood, is when Anakin “looks back” and runs straight into his mother’s arms. He’s so innocent and helpless at that moment; full of tears and fear. How Shmi was able to keep her strong composure, I will never know, nor fully comprehend. Every ounce of my instincts cries out, No! Don’t let him go. He’s your son and your whole world. That’s probably pretty selfish of me, but I know, if it were me….I couldn’t do it, I just couldn’t.   “Will I ever see you again?” – Anakin

“What does your heart tell you?” – Shmi

shmi and anakin

Interesting, very similar to Qui-Gon’s quote to Anakin, “Feel. Don’t think. Use your instincts.  Correct me if I’m wrong, but isn’t that a Jedi skill?

“Now be brave and don’t look back. Don’t look back.” Again, her words are strikingly close to that of a Jedi mentor instructing his/her padawan. Almost reminiscent of Master Kenobi’s spiel, “You’re focusing on the negative, Anakin. Be mindful of your thoughts.” Or am I having, “Delusions of Grandeur?”

What an inspirational woman, fictional or not. As mothers we give our children the gift of life, but Shmi gave it twice. Yes, she carried him, gave birth, and raised him, but she also gave him a choice to change his life.  The choice to take it was his alone and she did everything she could to make sure that he took it.

I’m sure those binary sunsets never looked the same to Shmi after that. Just like the stars ablaze in the night sky, eventually….even they burn out.

Happy belated Mother’s Day to all the moms out there! Thanks for sharing in my tribute to the role of Motherhood in the GFFA and please, leave me a comment and tell me how you spent your holiday. Or, let me know what you did for your mom on her special day.  I look forward to hearing from all of you! You can contact me directly at beccab@coffeewithkenobi.com  or find me on Twitter @urangelb

As always, May the Force be with you! Remember, this IS the Podcast you’re looking for….

 

 

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14 Comments

  1. Melinda
    May 21, 2014 at 10:47 Reply

    Wow! What a great blog, Becca! 😀

    I read this on the heels of Jay’s wonderful writing about those female characters — Star Wars-related, and non-Star Wars-related — who have figured prominently in her life. How apt! 🙂

    I love what you have to say about Shmi. It isn’t that she is ignored when discussing Star Wars. However, she isn’t always the top character to pop to mind when even thinking about the Saga. For someone who really didn’t garner a great deal of “face time” onscreen, she certainly played an important role in much of what followed (especially in the PT). 🙂

    Just goes to show — no character is too inconsequential. 🙂

    more…

  2. Jeff McGee
    May 21, 2014 at 12:34 Reply

    That blog was downright concise for you, Becca! Just kidding! Great read, and a great meditation on a character that didn’t have much screen time, but one that, as you pointed out, had a tremendous impact on the saga.

    Much of the credit for the impact she does have MUST go to Pernilla August, the actress who portrayed her. She gives her so much real weight, she’s everyone’s mother. She plays all of her scenes with an air of inevitability, as if she knew this day would come, she just wasn’t sure when. I get the sense she’s been preparing herself for this from the beginning, so there seems to be a sense of relief among her letting go. She reminds me alot of my own mother, which may account for the fondness I feel toward the character.

    Can’t wait for next month!

    1. Becca Benjamin
      May 22, 2014 at 18:17 Reply

      “She’s everyone’s mother.”- Love that, that’s awesome.
      Absolutely, her role/portrayal was so significant to the beginning of Anakin’s character growth.

      Children are an extension of their parents, they’re only as “Good” as those who teach them. Shmi definitely did all she could to keep Anakin on the right path. She was also his biggest and only support system, which I’m sure, guiding/raising the chosen one couldn’t have been easy.

      I agree with you on the preparation aspect. For starters, she knew he was special and should have more opportunities than that of what was available on Tatooine. Not saying that anyone deserves to have a slave life, but the two of them certainly warranted more from life.

      Thanks for reading, Jeff 🙂

  3. Melinda
    May 21, 2014 at 12:46 Reply

    … “Yes, she carried him, gave birth, and raised him, but she also gave him a choice to change his life.”

    Oh my gosh, Becca! My heart nearly skipped a beat when I read these (seemingly) simple words of yours! So deep. So heartfelt. So poignant. They spoke to me.

    Too often, fathers’ roles in raising their children are relegated to a more supporting position, and this really shouldn’t be the case. However, women can do something men cannot do — and that is to carry a babe, and give birth to it. There is a bond between mother and child that develops here, and transcends EVERYTHING. (please forgive me. I know this is not always the case. Sadly. I am not ignoring the fact that not all children have the benefit of mothers who will go to the ends of the earth for them. However, for the time being, I would like to concentrate on the positive aspects about motherhood you shared in your blog. 🙂 ) I do NOT doubt for one moment that Tom loves our girls. Incredibly so. I know he would do anything for them that was within his power to help them. However, where he may allow the mountain to stop him (should he get stymied), I would find a way around it. Dig deeper. Consider ALL options. Think outside the box. The route between two points is not always a straight line. 😉

    Before I go off on too long a tangent… lol … Shmi is the parent many, all of us(?) would like to be — to do what is best for one’s child, knowing full well your own heart might be breaking. To let go is one of the hardest things for a parent to do. You get your first taste that first day of kindergarten. But you know what? Your youngster comes home at the end of the day! When your child leaves home to go to some far-off college, or leaves the nest entirely … now, that’s letting go! If you want what’s best for your son or daughter, you do it. No matter what! Shmi wound up doing that when Anakin was very young! She really didn’t have much time to prepare. She just did what she had to do. And trust that she was making the right decision. For Anakin.

    more…

  4. Melinda
    May 21, 2014 at 12:58 Reply

    … Once again, Becca, you reached across cyberspace to bring us another wonderful, thought-provoking, heartfelt blog. I can’t help personalize all this by thinking that in three short weeks I head off for London to “collect” Caitlin, our youngest. Because of the way her study-abroad year was scheduled (school didn’t start until October, so she’s finishing up later than U.S. colleges), she will have a shorter-than-usual summer break. Then, in mid-August, it’s off to college (1,500 miles away) to start her senior year. Once she has graduated in May 2015, she expects to take a job — in another country! (That’s one of her options that has her excited.) As if it isn’t hard enough with Erin being half a country away from home! Stand in the way of either daughter? How could I? Even when I want nothing more than to have them both much closer to home!

    For a fictional character, Shmi really is a great role model. There is that resigned look on her face as she watches 9-year-old Anakin trail after the departing form of Qui-Gon Jinn that tells the audience she is making a personal sacrifice — but a sacrifice she feels compelled to make. For the good of her son. She is resolute. She is strong. She will carry on. 🙂

    Great blog! 🙂 I hope your own youngsters treated you royally on Mother’s Day! Hope it was grand! 🙂 As always, MTFBWY 🙂

    1. Becca Benjamin
      May 22, 2014 at 18:42 Reply

      Once again, Melinda you’re too generous with your commentaries. I appreciate your feedback and support more than you know 🙂

      “As mothers we give our children the gift of life, but Shmi gave it twice. Yes, she carried him, gave birth, and raised him, but she also gave him a choice to change his life. The choice to take it was his alone and she did everything she could to make sure that he took it.” You caught that, huh? 😉 You have no idea how thrilled I am to hear that it moved you in such a way. That means I did my job well 🙂 lol!

      In all seriousness, to let of go of one’s child at such a tender age of 9 is astonishing and completely overwhelming to empathize . As I said, I don’t think I could do it :/ Even if I knew, deep down it would be better or possibly, the best outcome for my child. Which is why I mentioned that her whole outlook on life as she knew it, from that moment on,had to have changed. It must have left her emotionally scarred; traumatized to some extent.

      Your daughters are amazing young women! You must be so proud, Melinda. I see them both going on to do such great things, rightfully so, after all…..look at who pointed them in the right direction 😉

  5. pambruchwalski
    May 21, 2014 at 20:34 Reply

    Becca…This subject is one of my favorite Star Wars subjects to think about.

    Fictionally speaking, the entire Star Wars saga’s existence relies on this one mother’s decision. Even before the prequel trilogy, I wondered who Darth Vader is and WHY he is. Shmi’s decision launches everything.

    I’m probably not in the right frame of mind at the moment to say much, having just sent the fourth my of five children on her way to live in another state. Oh I KNOW about what it means to let go, how hard it is and how important it is. But the question as it relates to Shmi and Anakin has always been different. It’s the age. It’s one thing to watch my grown, adult children find their lives so far away, but Anakin was nine. NINE!!! What kind of a mother sends her kid off the planet with a stranger, knowing she may never see him again, at age nine?? It’s always bothered me. Always.

    Great subject. More when I’m in a better frame of mind. <3

    1. Becca Benjamin
      May 22, 2014 at 19:12 Reply

      Oh Pam, how I miss thee! 🙂
      How are you, Miss Graduate?;) Congrats, my dear friend.

      Shmi’s character is so amazingly awesome, even though she is short lived (no pun intended). As much hate as the PT gets, I’m afraid such a wonderful character is swept under the rug, with little to no recognition. And that truly does bother me.

      Like you said,”Shmi’s decision launches everything.” Without her encouragement or gentle nudge/push, Anakin would’ve never gotten off that Sand Pit of a planet 😉 Even more, what mother sends her NINE her off the planet with a stranger!? We definitely think the same in this regard lol! Fifteen years later, it still breaks my heart every time I watch it.

      Miss you and love ya! xoxo

  6. Carrie C
    May 21, 2014 at 21:35 Reply

    Most excellent blog post, my friend 🙂 I have often found myself thinking about the portrayal of motherhood in the Star Wars saga, and have often found myself feeling a bit let down. To me, there is no love like a mother’s love. We go through so much to nurture our children not only while they are growing inside of us but also while they are growing up themselves. I know that my husband loves my son and would do anything for him, the bond between my son and myself is so completely different. I am not discounting the importance of the father’s role by any means, but there definitely are differences between the roles of mother and father. I only hope that I would have the courage and strength that Shmi had when the day comes for my son to go out on his own adventure!

  7. Aaron Harris
    May 21, 2014 at 23:45 Reply

    Excellent work Becca! Definitely not enough time spent fleshing out Shmi’s character but what was fleshed out was incredible. You brought her into a new light not only for me but I’m sure for others as well. As i constantly tell my mom and my wife, mothers don’t get enough credit for all they do. Thanks for the excellent blog!

  8. Erica
    May 22, 2014 at 04:36 Reply

    Shmi has always been one of my favorite characters. She exudes such quiet strength, grace, and wisdom. almost all of my Star Wars action figures I let my 6 year old daughter play with, except for 3: a blue ghost of Anakin which is still in the packaging, and a shmi and little Ani which I have set up on my dresser with shmi’s hands on little Ani’s shoulders ready to let him go fulfill his destiny no matter what it is.

    Thanks for a great blog! ♡♥♡♥

  9. Jay Krebs
    May 22, 2014 at 21:53 Reply

    As I write this, both my boys are on the cusp of closing a chapter in their loves and moving onto the next. One is going into high school (gasp) next year, and the other will be in junior high (choke). No more elementary school. Ever. It’s a bittersweet feeling I could have never imagined I would feel before becoming a Mom.

    I can’t even imagine what Pam is feeling – the depth of sending a child across the country to start a life of their own. The depth of those emotions…I know I will experience it at some point, as will you, but it doesn’t make it any less impactful, to be sure!

    Every time…EVERY time I watch Shmi send Anakin off to become a Jedi, I cry. Not because I know what happens next, but because I know what heat-wrenching feelings Shmi must have had at that moment. She was doing what she felt was best for HER SON, not herself. That’s what being a Mom really is.

    Much emotion here. Much to think about. More soon…

    Great entry!

  10. Lisa
    May 27, 2014 at 13:03 Reply

    Motherhood is not something I’ve experienced, and my own Mom has been gone for 25 years, so I’ve never really given motherhood in the GFFA much thought – Although, I do love Shmi as a character. Pernilla August was an excellent casting choice!

    Nice entry, Becca. 🙂

  11. Andreanna Landahl
    May 27, 2014 at 20:24 Reply

    Mom, your writing…so phenomenal. I love how you can connect Star Wars to basically anything. You’re very talented and your writing shows it. Great blog. Even though Star Wars isn’t my thing, this blog was very enjoyable for me to read, and I can thank your great writing for that. Keep writing!♡

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Blogger for Coffee With Kenobi, Personal Author for Steve Anderson Lucasfilm Illustrator & Artist, & Featured Blogger, Administrative Consultant, Copy Editor for The Cantina Cast. * I'm just a simple girl, trying to make my way in the universe. *

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