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Star Wars: Why Did Leia Stop Her Jedi Training?

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After the first Jed Temple was constructed on Ach-To, the Jedi Order dedicated themselves to preserving the Sacred Texts and living a life outlined by the Light Side of the Force. Their mission was to guard the Old Republic and instill themselves as the guardians of peace. The acts of martyrs from the Jedi required great amounts of selflessness as the galaxy’s most war-torn conflicts divided planets. The Clone Wars required that they assumed militia roles and assigned themselves as Generals when defending the Galactic Republic. Their tireless efforts to uphold peace throughout the cosmos resulted in some Jedi questioning if they were truly following the Way. George Lucas’ inspiration for his Jedi Knights was pulled from the tales of samurai and heavy influences from religious devotees. Strong similarities to Christianity, Buddhism, and Hinduism can be found in Star Wars’ “warrior monks” as they structured their state of being around the law of the Jedi Code. Complete trust in the Force and the willingness to abide by the Jedi Code’s preaching were internalized by the Jedi. Much like practices followed by the Dalai Lamas that “attachments go hand-in-hand with anger and hatred,” the Jedi were expected to forego emotional attachments. A tiered structure dictated the hierarchy of the Jedi Order and allowed Force-sensitive beings to move through its ranks and ensured that the Jedi would be without end.

Born as Leia Amidala Skywalker, Leia Organa was adopted by Bail and Breha Organa on Alderaan following the death of her mother, Padmé Amidala. Actress Carrie Fisher’s performance as the rebel princess has been closely associated with themes of women’s rights, equality, and hope for the future. She was deemed a royal member of the Organa family and rose to prominence as a diplomatic senator. As she became older, she replaced her father as one of the leading politicians on Alderaan, all while maintaining her status in intergalactic aristocracy. The most fascinating aspect of Leia’s punchy personality was that she broke past the narrative barriers that boxed her into a one-note, one-dimensional love-interest purpose. She leads through an example of character teeming with a sense of nerve accompanied by her sharp tongue. Leia became a symbol of women’s liberation as her fighting spirit refused to cease. However, as skilled and fierce as she was, she never did find herself committing to the Jedi Order. She, in fact, stopped her Jedi training — here’s why.

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Padawans and younglings are first identified as future Jedi by others due to their advanced connection to the Force. Their heightened sensitivity is a clear-cut starting point for their relationship with the Force to flourish. Because of her father Anakin’s Force-sensitive nature, it was expected that his children would take after him and share that trait. As Obi-Wan Kenobi flashes back to a young Leia’s upbringing on her home planet, questions around her own personal bond with the Force have recurred. Star Wars: Episode VIII – The Last Jedi found room for a more integral place for Leia and the Force; another fresh step in the right direction for original storytelling in Star Wars. Writer-director Rian Johnson made a point to credit Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy for an insistent form of inspiration behind his ultimate decision to include such a bold choice. “She kept asking, ‘Leia’s a Skywalker, Luke gave her this speech in Return of the Jedi and told her basically, ‘You have this potential, too.’ It seemed to me it would be a really emotionally impactful thing to see her use it. I liked the idea it would be an instinctual thing. […] It would be something in these final moments to show that she’s not done with the fight. And like a drowning person pulling herself back, that’s how it manifests itself for the first time in her,” Johnson said in an interview with Entertainment Weekly.

Leia’s Force abilities have been taken into consideration before and have once again presented themselves as the Alderaanian princess’ youth is visited. Obi-Wan Kenobi screenwriter Joby Harold joined in on the conversation after speculations were made about the Skywalker daughter and her intimacy with the Force. “If it’s a Force sensitivity, she certainly isn’t cognizant of it yet, neither would the people around her be,” Harold said per Screen Rant’s reporting. “But that level of perception would be consistent with that kind of ability. It would be in its most nascent form. That scene [in episode 1] was an opportunity to show that she isn’t an ordinary kid, she’s something else.”

Related: Star Wars: The Strongest Jedi in the Movie Franchise, Ranked

Lucasfilm Story Group executive Pablo Hidalgo added more dimensions to the possible Jedi path that Leia decided against following for herself in Star Wars: The Last Jedi – The Visual Dictionary. The novelized adaptation of Johnson’s Star Wars debut shared details about Luke Skywalker’s invitation to teach his sister and his anticipation of viewing her as his Padawan. Star Wars: Episode IX – The Rise of Skywalker finds room for a flashback that nestles up against the events following Star Wars Episode VI – Return of the Jedi. The events of the scene share a glimpse at Luke guiding his sister through their training, wearing blinding helmets to tune intuition and generate trust within the Force. The twins spar briefly as they sharpen their skills in lightsaber combat. However, the concluding threequel of the Sequel trilogy does not give way to any new information about Leia’s potential use of the Force and leaves the sequence open to interpretation.

Hidalgo’s visual directory cements that it was Leia who was to be Luke’s inaugural student as he opened his Jedi Academy for all. “Skywalker’s first student was to be his sister, Leia. However, she ultimately decided that the best path for her to serve the galaxy left no room for the extended isolation of Jedi training,” Hidalgo wrote. “Leia on her new family and senatorial politics, Luke began his travels, largely disappearing from galactic view. During his lengthy journey, Skywalker gathered disciples who would go on to become his first true students.”

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