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Thanks! - The Phantom Librarian
Spewing out too many words since November 2003
fernwithy
fernwithy
Thanks!
Wow, thanks to all those sibs who answered my questions yesterday. As a couple of people noticed, it's striking how similar the older siblings' responses are.

The essay I'm writing for Saga Journal deals with the different expectations of relationship implied in Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith. In AotC, Anakin responds to Obi-Wan's quip ("You'll be the death of me") with a horrifed, "Don't say that. You're like my father." In RotS, Obi-Wan, emotionally hurt after their destructive duel, cries out, "You were my brother! I loved you!" Obi-Wan's behavior bears out with what a lot of older siblings said about sort of running interference between Anakin and his perceived parental figures (the council), exhibiting authority, but in a role modling sort of way, and expecting to be obeyed (though it rarely happens). His expectations of Anakin are simple, and as they grow older, he seems very happy to take on the role of older peer rather than guardian.

Fatherless Anakin, on the other hand, has first adopted Qui-Gon as a father, but loses him and adopts Obi-Wan instead. The Council doesn't comprise his parental figure (though Obi-Wan thinks it does); his parental figure is the guy who's helping him catch up on all the schoolwork he missed and making sure he eats his green vegetables. He looks to him for protection, approval, and more or less unconditional love. When he's small and Obi-Wan is very much acting as his guardian, the dynamic works well for both of them. As they grow older, the expectations come more into conflict, as the sibling role tends toward equalizing while the parental role simply doesn't. Anakin is looking for approval; Obi-Wan is seeking partnership. Palpatine senses this and absolutely buffets Anakin with images of paternal love--calling him "son," talking about how he wants to share and pass on his knowledge, telling stories, reassuring him of his strength and talent. On the latter, the only time in the movie we see Anakin bloom, other than when he learns that he is to be a father himself, is when Obi-Wan--exhibiting some level of discomfort--tells him that he is a great knight who makes him (Obi-Wan) proud. Palpatine is smart enough to recognize that Obi-Wan is his "competition" for this role in Anakin's mind, but Obi-Wan, who is in a different relationship altogether, keeps trying to equalize things rather than fill the role Anakin expects him to perpetually be in. This goes back to the initial circumstances of the adoption--Anakin and Qui-Gon have formed a bond, but Anakin and Obi-Wan don't know one another well. Anakin clearly thinks of it as transferring his allegiance to a new father ("What will happen to me now?"--TPM), while Obi-Wan sees it as taking on a responsibility as an honor to Qui-Gon, and in lieu of a parent ("The Council have given me permission to train you" rather than, "I take Anakin as my padawan learner").

Had Anakin had a younger sibling's expectation--which appears from responses to be of a kind of evolution to peer-status, if one where advice can still be sought--then he might not have been as susceptible to Palpatine's manipulations. Had Obi-Wan had a parent's expectation of a kind of lifelong bond, which is strongly defined and based in unconditional love, high expectations, but also a great deal of approval and acceptance, then he might have intervened a lot sooner in Anakin's relationship with Palpatine.

Anyway, I hope that's not too trivial a topic for those of you who so kindly helped out! (I didn't get into it because I didn't want to color the responses. Though I did talk about it with sjepstein in the comments on the "Younger" survey, so it's not entirely clean of influence; I probably should have held off that discussion until today.)

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Comments
imadra_blue From: imadra_blue Date: June 7th, 2005 01:54 pm (UTC) (Link)
Wow, that's really insightful, Fern. I'm glad you did this, it helps clarify things for me as well, about how different their relationship was when viewed by each of them. That was a great survey and very, very informative and helpful of you to write out your thoughts on that. Thank you, I love meta on Obi-Wan and Anakin in any capacity. ♥
murasaki99 From: murasaki99 Date: June 7th, 2005 01:55 pm (UTC) (Link)
Best discussion of Anakin's need for a parent I've seen. Well done!

Had the idiotic Jedi Council gone and rescued Anakin's mother, this whole sad loop wouldn't have happened. "For want of a nail the shoe was lost..." The Council really needed revamping. Too bad Anakin did the job with a large broom and big hammer. :-0
neotoma From: neotoma Date: June 7th, 2005 05:20 pm (UTC) (Link)
I don't know how idiotic they can be considered -- they are culturally a LOT different from Anakin, who is basically an immigrant to their society.

I think they didn't rescue Anakin's mother because it simply did *not* occur to them. No Jedi is raised by their parents, and a purely biological relationship would seem insignificant to the Council members, who were raised in the Temple and have allegiances to their training Masters.

Actually, I think that's part of why Ghost!Obi-Wan keeps insisting to Luke that he needs to kill Vader, and doesn't give any weight to Luke's "But he's my *father*" protests. To Obi-Wan, that fact is immaterial.

Of course, Obi-Wan's also got tons of issues with Vader, from the betrayal of their brother-bond to everything else Vader has done. Add into it Obi-Wan is an Old Republic Jedi, who seems to have been raised to dispense justice but not mercy, and you have a man doomed to fail at dealing with Vader. Only Luke, with his impossible and unconditional love and mercy can save Vader from himself.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: June 7th, 2005 05:51 pm (UTC) (Link)
It's definitely a culture clash... I think of Anakin more as a convert than an immigrant, but it's the same idea. And it's true, it wouldn't have occurred to them on their own. The place where it gets dicey, imho, is that Anakin's been among them for many years and they are empaths. They're also devoted to service. By either of these, they should have realized that something needed to be done. (Of course, the fact that they are bound to the Senate, which wasn't willing to interfere in Tatooine slavery, is problematic; they're right to bind their power to an outside entity--a rogue Jedi order full of righteous vigilantes isn't an anyone's best interest--but the entity they're bound to is becoming steadily more corrupt.
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akashasheiress From: akashasheiress Date: June 7th, 2005 02:45 pm (UTC) (Link)
Really good essay!
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: June 7th, 2005 03:24 pm (UTC) (Link)
Heh, that's just a synopsis... I haven't written the actual essay yet. It will include actual book sources. :)
From: psalm_27 Date: June 7th, 2005 04:09 pm (UTC) (Link)
I'm so glad you've done taken on this subject. I had a lot of these same thoughts, but couldn't put them together cohesively. I had wondered about the father vs. brother relationship that the two had formed.

Anakin clearly thought of Obi-Wan as his father-figure in AotC, though as the viewer it was clear that Palpatine was trying very hard to unseat Obi-Wan in this role. It was interesting that the one trying so hard to be the father-figure was losing hand over fist to the one who didn't want the role to begin with.

When Obi-Wan refers to Anakin as his brother twice in RotS, I assumed that there was a change in the relationship. (not considering that it was only Obi-Wan that saw it as a brother-brother relationship) Clearly, Anakin had matured, he'd passed the trials and had become a Jedi. The two had been all over the galaxy as a team, protecting the Republic. Anakin had been married for 3 years which changes the dynamics in all his other relationships, including the one he has with Obi-Wan. So...I would almost argue with you that Anakin had also come to see Obi-Wan as a brother, except their last scene together when Anakin shouts that he hates Obi-Wan. That exchange is very typical of parent-child, with Obi-Wan answering with an I love you.

The relationship between A/O and father/son/father triangle of O/A/P is fascinating. I look forward to reading your essay. I do have a question about Saga Journal, is there a forum to discuss the essays archived there?
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: June 7th, 2005 04:14 pm (UTC) (Link)
Not a specific one, but you could probably talk about them fairly easily at a_p_'s Homepage Forums, in the Saga category (which covers time-spanning topics, or in appropriate era-based ones. It's a good idea, though.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: June 7th, 2005 04:31 pm (UTC) (Link)
It was interesting that the one trying so hard to be the father-figure was losing hand over fist to the one who didn't want the role to begin with.

Wasn't it, though? I think the difference was that Palpatine was campaigning for the job, while Obi-Wan was actually doing the work, and Anakin recognizes this. He resents Obi-Wan's fretting, but is at a loss without it, and loves the hell out of Obi-Wan I think not in spite of it, but because of it. He knows Obi-Wan has his best interests at heart. Palpatine, though is always solicitous of his welfare, always asking about just the sorts of things he wants to talk about, petting his ego... it makes him feel good, but it doesn't make him feel parented. I may be wrong, but for all of his protestations about Palpatine being a friend and a good man, I don't think he himself ever makes one of those family-equivalent statements about him.
From: psalm_27 Date: June 7th, 2005 04:44 pm (UTC) (Link)
He resents Obi-Wan's fretting, but is at a loss without it, and loves the hell out of Obi-Wan I think not in spite of it, but because of it. He knows Obi-Wan has his best interests at heart. Palpatine, though is always solicitous of his welfare, always asking about just the sorts of things he wants to talk about, petting his ego... it makes him feel good, but it doesn't make him feel parented

I've seen this sort of thing in real world parenting relationships. Children need discipline in addition to love, they're lost without it, as you said. Sure, you get mad at Mom or Dad for pointing out your faults or for giving you something to work on to improve yourself, but you love them for caring (after you get over being mad).

In my experience, most children see through the constant ego-boosting that they might get, say, from an adult friend. Unless, of course, they're so desperate for any affection and then this could lead them down a dark path. I think that we see this type of behavior with predators of children today.

In the Star Wars universe, Palpatine recognizes that while Anakin is getting the discipline that he needs, his emotional needs are not being met and takes advantage of it. I think the whole "balance to the force" concept lies deeply in this, but thats another essay ;-)
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sannalim From: sannalim Date: June 7th, 2005 04:30 pm (UTC) (Link)
Actually, I haven't seen ROTS yet, but since I read the book anyway I've been being a total spoiler-ho about it in a way that I am NOT being about HBP (though I did read the Arthur Levine comments from the Book Expo). ;)
coralia13 From: coralia13 Date: June 7th, 2005 04:49 pm (UTC) (Link)
I am completely and totally new to the fandom, so I'm sure this will be an idiotic question, but... there are books?
purple_ladybug1 From: purple_ladybug1 Date: June 7th, 2005 05:22 pm (UTC) (Link)
This is a really interesting idea. I'm glad you waited to reveal your reasons for the surveys, because otherwise I wouldn't have responded, and I enjoyed considering exactly what my relationship with my brothers is.
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fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: June 7th, 2005 06:05 pm (UTC) (Link)
And I think he'd have helped deal with Padmé's pregnancy, if they'd gone to him.

A great example of what I mean. I absolutely agree with that... but to Anakin, Obi-Wan wasn't the one to run interference; he was the one who would disapprove.
darth_pipes From: darth_pipes Date: June 7th, 2005 08:32 pm (UTC) (Link)
[i]They are devoted to service, but service to governments, not to individual people. It's a macro/micro problem; Anakin himself is a good at the small picture, while the Council and the Jedi as a whole want to focus on the big picture.[/i]

This I think was the greatest problem of the Jedi Order. They were loyal to a fault to a corrupt, ineffective government. They allowed the Republic to drag them down into destruction. They're number one concern was the Republic and they didn't do so well with individual people. It's the whole Unifying Force vs Living Force argument. To quote someone in an earlier thread, the Jedi wanted to help the government while Qui-Gon wanted to help people.

I wonder what Obi-Wan's response would have been to Anakin if Anakin had told him the truth about Padme. In an deleted scene from ROTS, Obi-Wan tells Padme that he knows she and Anakin are in love, so it would appear as if he has accepted that. But the whole marriage/pregnancy thing? How would Obi-Wan have responded to that?

But Anakin just didn't have faith in his master to tell him. This is another weakness of Anakin's.
neotoma From: neotoma Date: June 8th, 2005 02:02 pm (UTC) (Link)
They're number one concern was the Republic and they didn't do so well with individual people.

They didn't have *connections* to individual, non-Jedi people. It made them vulnerable, because they had no idea of what 'normal' people were like, and they certainly had no allies when it counted.

I wonder what Obi-Wan's response would have been to Anakin if Anakin had told him the truth about Padme.

I think he would have been pissed, but gotten over it pretty quick. If Anakin could have seen that he didn't need to be in the Order to be the Chosen One, or even to be Jedi really, he wouldn't have gone batshit. It was the conflict between his two loyalties -- to Obi-Wan and the Order and the stability it represented to him versus to Padme, the baby, and all the love and peace she embodied.
nebularific From: nebularific Date: June 8th, 2005 12:45 am (UTC) (Link)
Gosh, this is great. I love meta.

Most of this went right over my head while I was watching RotS. I now feel stupid. I really wish I had something useful and/or insightful to add, but sadly, I don't. I just wanted to tell you that I really appreciate the thought that you've put into this, and that I look forward to reading your essay.
trinity_clare From: trinity_clare Date: June 8th, 2005 03:11 am (UTC) (Link)
Great analysis. Spells it right out. It also backs up my feeling that everything would have been different for Anakin if Qui-Gon had lived.
lazypadawan From: lazypadawan Date: June 8th, 2005 04:11 am (UTC) (Link)
Can't wait to see the finished product!
imadra_blue From: imadra_blue Date: June 8th, 2005 05:33 am (UTC) (Link)
Ah, one question, Fern. Are you going to post your full essay on LJ as well? Because I'd like to read the finished product, I find Anakin and Obi-Wan dynamic fascinating and would like to read your thoughts on the subject. Anakin and Obi-Wan meta is a weakness of mine and too few write it, least that I can find.

I do think a theory for you to consider (if you haven't already), is that their relationship changed as the War progressed. I think Anakin began to see Obi-Wan more like a brother, too, because Obi-Wan also treated Anakin slightly differently. I haven't seen AotC in a LONG time (on purpose) but their entire dynamic seemed to have shift. The thing is that the Clone Wars and experiences they'd been through together might have shifted the father/son dynamic to brother/partner. Relationship shiftings do occur, and parts of RotS seemed to be where Anakin saw Obi-Wan as a rival, which indicates the "father" thing might have faded or been shifted onto Palpatine.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: June 8th, 2005 01:35 pm (UTC) (Link)
I'll post a linnk. I don't think that Anakin's perception shifted at all--he never refers to Palpatine as father-like, and the very last conversation between the two of them before Obi-Wan leaves for Coruscant is very much a father/son dynamic, and it is sought out by Anakin. When things go well, they have a brotherly cameraderie, but the same came be true of parents and children in RL. But when the chips come down, Anakin still sees Obi-Wan as the parent. He refers to Palpatine solely as a friend and a "good man" who has helped him.
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imadra_blue From: imadra_blue Date: June 8th, 2005 08:16 pm (UTC) (Link)
Oh, good, links will be cool.

See, the things is, and one reason I didn't take your survey, was that my own family dynamics are so weird and affected by things around us I'm no good at judging father/son vs. brother/partner. My relationship with my parents is very odd, and often we wind up acting as peers rather than father/daughter. I raised my youngest brother and sister as my parents were out of the picture for a while, so my relationship with my brother and sister is very parental, yet not fully so. In fact, Obi-Wan and Anakin's relationship reminds me of myself and my youngest brother, where the lines of brother/sister and mother/son are kinda blurry, because he's both to me. Which is the reason I'm so looking forward to your essay, because family dynamics are something I can never pinpoint, because my own family is so screwy.
anne_jumps From: anne_jumps Date: June 8th, 2005 11:43 am (UTC) (Link)
Well done!
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