Essay: The First Grave Is For My Brother
Diana DeRiggs

In Return of the Jedi, Obiwan stated that Luke was taken to live with his brother. In an earlier Jedi Apprentice book, an imprisoned Obiwan forced himself to remember small details when he was undergoing a memory wipe. The memory that kept his mind intact was of his brother, whom he had not seen in many years, who's name was Owen.

Now, in Attack of the Clones, we have a situation where Shmi Skywalker, Anakin's mother, marries Cliegg Lars, the father of Owen Lars. It turns out that the Uncle Owen in A New Hope is, indeed, really Luke's Uncle Owen, by marriage.

When Anakin Skywalker buries his mother, she is put to rest in the newest of three graves, marked by a plain headstone. The one next to hers was the same size, and next to that one is a smaller tombstone of identical design. Obviously, one of the tombstones is Cleigg Lars's first wife. But what of the other one, the first one? The smaller size seems to indicate a child -- children probably commonly died, far from adequate or even rudimentary medical facilities or skilled healers. Perhaps nothing extraordinary. (Some sources say these are the graves of Cleigg's parents, but then where is his wife's grave? The smaller size of one tombstone seems to be disrespectful to one of his parents! Anyway, the same source claims the Lars family were on Tatooine for many generations, but in fact, this history seems to now belong to the Whitesuns of Mos Eisley, Beru's family. Always shifting, is the future! And the past, too, so it seems. But on to the present arguement ...)

But given the apparently conflicting information about who Owen Lars' brother is, my thoughts came to this conclusion: Owen Lars is the blood brother of Obiwan Kenobi, and the step-brother of Anakin Skywalker.

And if A = B and B = C, then A must = C, making Obiwan and Anakin brothers by marriage, as well as in the Jedi tradition.

The Lars family are from the Core World of Ator (according to the Episode II Visual Dictionary), where they lived in poverty and in near-slavery conditions, housed in a cramped garret. Cleigg and Aika decide to become pioneer settlers on the outskirts of Anchorhead, a farming support town on the fringes of Mos Eisley on Tatooine, an outer rim planet. They became moisture farmers, determined to carve out a better life than the one they suffer. They acquire land via homesteading, which encroaches on the Tusken Raiders' nomadic lands. Aika dies of unknown causes, perhaps from childbirth, a Tusken raid, or simply from the hard life she suffered both on Ator, and then on Tatooine. A widower with an adolescant child, Cleigg went in search of a farmhand, and instead fell in love with Shmi, consequently buying her freedom from her owner, Watto. He proposed marriage to her, and she accepted.

Shmi would have talked of her son, the Jedi studying toward knighthood. There would have been nearly no chance of seeing him again, as human Jedi are required to sever attachments to family and friends, to serve the Republic. She apparently kept vigil for him, for he promised to return someday, and the Lars family knew intimately about her now-grown son.

It seems a simple story, but there is the matter of Obiwan remembering his brother's name, and even declaring to Luke that Owen Lars was his sibling, not Anakin's. We also know that Owen was determined to keep the "old wizard" away from Luke, for fear the young boy would aspire to become a Jedi, a very dangerous thing to be in Palpatine's Empire. So, despite their shared blood, Owen does not care for his brother. We may be missing some information, but it's a strange reaction toward a brother.

What if ... the Lars family actually left their home to become pioneers for another reason? Ator, a Core World and a part of the Republic, would have occasionally had Jedi searching for potential initiates into their order. A son is born to a poor family. One day a Jedi comes to their door and asks to see the child, who's blood is tested and his force potential evaluated. The son is taken away to the Jedi Temple on Coruscant, and returns briefly as an adolescant, only once, to visit his family a final time, before immersing himself into the requirements of the Jedi Order. He learns he has a brother, named Owen (Obiwan ... Owen ... seems similar enough, no?). The young Jedi remembers his mother, remembers sharing fruit with his blood family, but has no regrets in choosing to leave them forever.

Seeing Obiwan and losing him again -- this time forever -- breaks his mother's heart. They fear that young Owen might be tested and taken from them, too. The Kenobi family change their name to Lars, and run away to Tatooine, a planet not in the Republic, in the outer rim, controlled by gangsters -- a place where no Jedi would be called. The Jedi would not find them there, and Owen would be safe.

Aika mourns her first son; young Owen asks when his older brother will come to visit again. Cleigg decides to have Obiwan die; for to them, he is indeed dead. He erects a grave marker, perhaps burying some of the baby things Aika had kept all those years. Owen understands now that his brother is dead. But Aika can't deal with Obiwan never coming back to her ever again, and dies of grief.

Cleigg marries Shmi, who helps to raise Owen, as a stand-in for her own lost son. Perhaps she and Cliegg bond immediately when they meet, both having lost something irreplaceable to the Jedi. Perhaps Owen does have some force abilities, but he is never encouraged to use them, might even have been prevented from using or knowing about them, and he is perhaps never told his blood brother is a prominent Jedi Knight.

When Obiwan brings Luke Skywalker to them, Owen and his wife Beru take the child in, being the sort of honest, hardworking folk who would never shirk a responsibility. But Owen is determined to hide real facts about the violent Anakin from the boy; too, the Empire has declared Jedi as outlaws and have been rigorously executing them. Any time Luke intuitively uses the force, or when Obiwan has contact with Luke, Owen punishes Luke. Neither Owen nor Beru have ever had a desire to leave Tatooine, perhaps knowing the life Cliegg and Aika left behind, and perhaps knowing something of the losses they had suffered. They simply and honestly can't understand Luke's desire to go off-planet.

It's possible that Owen doesn't know that the "crazy old hermit" is his blood brother. Obiwan may have realized this upon meditation, and only revealed the information as a ghost to Luke. Perhaps he felt that Luke would not be able to take the real truth of the relationship. It's not revealed why Owen and Beru have no children of their own. Obiwan never refers to Anakin as his brother or step-brother. Lots of loose ends, alas.

This is an example of "the long arm of coincidence" but Lucas has chosen to address an important point subtly, revealing his hand slowly and, surprisingly, with great grace. (George is not normally a graceful fellow!)

No one knows why the Tusken Raiders took Shmi and kept her alive for a month. They were certainly attacking the farms and farmers invading their ancestral territories, but why keep her alive? Perhaps she was needed for a ritual or festival? Perhaps the Raiders were paid to take her, as a way to disturb Anakin and give him a hearty push toward the Dark Side? Since Anakin killed the whole tribe, there will never be a way to find out. Certainly, Darth Vader is aware of this technique and uses it to draw Luke to Bespin in The Empire Strikes Back. There are lots of little clues and foreshadowing going on with and around the Lars family. I wonder how much more there is?

It's not really important in the whole context of the main story who Obiwan's parents are, and how he came to be a Jedi. But it's an interesting series of details, the most intriguing being the first, smaller grave in the sands of a moisture farm on Tatooine. It makes the story richer, which for me is a large part of the appeal of these movies.

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