Second Look: The Pull to the Light: Redemption and Salvation in Star Wars


Another ongoing debate left in the wake of The Force Awakens: what becomes of Kylo Ren? Not just what will happen, but what should happen? Between invading Rey’s mind and ending Han’s life, many are already convinced he is beyond redemption. Recently, guest writer Mark Eldridge considered the deeds of Darth Vader in this light—were they not just as bad? The fascinating thing about Vader is how important his redemption is to the first six films while at the same time it’s dwelt on barely at all; what does it mean, in the cosmology of Star Wars, for someone to be redeemed?

…almost as soon as he has saved Luke from the Emperor, Anakin Skywalker ascends into the Force and is rewarded by retaining his identity. The film does not show him facing up to his previous actions, and he does not have to atone for them in the physical world. Nor does he face justice through any legal system. Star Wars avoids these questions entirely, and is not interested in showing him redeeming his bad deeds by working to rebuild the galaxy. Sacrificing his life for his son is enough.

Mark considers that something more, well, cosmic is happening than simple worldly atonement—certainly Vader didn’t manage that. He then goes on to apply this perspective to Kylo and where his character might go from here. Not just will he be redeemed, or does he deserve to be redeemed, but: what would it mean if he was?

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