As many of you may know, one of my favorite characters in all of Star Wars is the oft-ridiculed C-3PO. Anxious, fussy, and full of good intentions but never quite as helpful as he should be; C-3PO is a character I identify with. I’ll admit, when I see him criticized and the butt of jokes, it’s hard not to take it personally (I know, I’m taking this too seriously. I’m being too sensitive. Story of my life.) Threepio is often not treated well in Star Wars. As C-3PO himself says, “But sir, nobody worries about upsetting a Droid.”
I don’t want to delve deeply into Droid Rights or ethics here, but droids are treated differently than organic species in Star Wars. Even our protagonists don’t hesitate to make a droid a butt of a joke or an object of derision.
And this is just one more reason why Luke Skywalker is such an impressive hero. Because first and foremost, Luke is compassionate and kind–even to droids.
While recently watching A New Hope I was struck by Luke’s interactions with C-3PO and R2-D2. How affable, thoughtful, and friendly he is. How his actions contrast especially with Han’s. It brought to mind this quote from Harry Potter (forgive the franchise hopping):
When we first meet Luke he is accompanying Uncle Owen who is purchasing droids from Jawas. Owen is brusque as ever, even telling C-3PO to shut up (maybe he recognized him after all?) But Luke listens to Threepio’s advice and encourages Owen to buy R2.
Later, when C-3PO is indulging in a oil bath, Luke insists on being called by his first name. He greets R2 after the introduction. He treats the droids with respect.
After C-3PO loses his arm during the Tusken Raider attack, Luke reassures him during his despair and encourages him to come with Ben. Even when they find R2-D2, Luke doesn’t berate or yell at the droid that caused him so much trouble. Luke sets right away to repairing C-3PO’s arm.
When the droids are kicked out of the cantina, Luke politely encourages them to wait outside. He trusts them to take care of themselves while he, Han and Chewie “rescue” Leia on the Death Star. The only time Luke becomes angry with C-3PO is when he is near to being crushed to death in the trash compactor. And I think we can cut him a little slack there, especially since he then tells the droids “You did great!” after they save him and the others.
Luke is loyal to R2-D2, choosing him as his companion for the trench run. He acknowledges how much they have been through together. After R2 is hurt, Luke takes the time to comfort C-3PO, reassuring him “He’ll be alright” before going to celebrate with his friends. Later, at the award ceremony Luke offers the refurbished Droids a smile before accepting his medal–an acknowledgement of friendship and thanks.
I think we can take the measure of the kind of man Luke is examining how he treats Threepio and Artoo. He is the kind of man who is kind, first and foremost. The kind of man who doesn’t lose sight of others. A true hero.