Star Wars Day 2019: What’s in a Name?

I saw Solo last summer, a few weeks after it was released.  It is exactly what a spin-off movie should be: entertaining eye-candy.  There wasn’t a whole lot of plot or character development, possibly because most of the characters die or are never to be heard from again in the rest of the story, and because, well, we know the rest of the story.

Han Solo was my favorite character in the 1977 Star Wars.  Harrison Ford was drop-dead gorgeous and one of only two decent actors in the entire movie (Alec Guinness being the other).  He also had all of the good lines, delivered with impeccable timing.  But, Han Solo was an unlikable character most of the time, only in it for the money, not for the service to the greater good.

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Harrison Ford as Han Solo, circa 1977


The 2018 movie gives a glimpse into how Han Solo got to be such a lone character.  In the first few scenes, we see Han escape from an orphanage ten times worse than the one in Annie.  Throughout the remaining scenes, Han continues to be in survival mode, crushed physically and emotionally at every turn.  At one point a somewhat mentor suggests, “Let me give you a piece of advice: assume everyone will betray you and you will never be disappointed.”  After witnessing that piece of advice come to fruition, it is no wonder that Han prefers to operate solo.

Seeing Solo made me think about Star Wars names.  Following in the Dickensian tradition, some of the characters’ names give viewers a hint about their personality.  In Solo, we witness Han acquire his surname.  “Who are your people?” the agent questions.  “I don’t have people,” replies Han.  “Solo,” announces the agent and writes it down.  When I first saw Star Wars at age 10 I did not realize that a character’s name could actually mean something, but fast forward a few decades, and now I get it.  Han Solo is aptly named for his solo nature.  I looked up han for this post and got resentment, hatred, regret.  Seems accurate.  What are some other Star Wars names?  Of course Darth Vader translates to dark father.  Luke Skywalker makes sense since he does spend more time flying ships (sky walking) than walking on the ground.

I had a high school English teacher who named us within the first week of school based on something we did or said.  If you didn’t do or say anything, you might become ReposeSilencia, or Hiding. At the time I thought it was so much fun to have a different name, but now as a teacher I realize he taught so many students over the course of his career that either he couldn’t possibly fit any more names in his head, or, his mind wasn’t sharp enough to memorize all of our names in the first few weeks of school.  Of course foreign language teachers name their students too either with a direct translation (Maria for Mary, Corazón for a last name Hart, e.g.) or with a new moniker when no obvious translation exists (Niñita for a very short female student, e.g.).  A retired but legendary U.S. history teacher from the high school where I currently teach nicknamed her students too.  Lil’Bit, Grouch, Blondie, Big Boy, Curly, and Blue Eyes, are a few of the appellations I remember.

I have never renamed my students, rather I always ask what they want to be called as I take roll in the first few days.  Using name cards for the past two years has really helped this old brain of mine memorize their names in the first few weeks of school, not to mention help with classroom management.  But, I might just think about this renaming idea for the future.  Perhaps mathematician names (Hypatia) or Greek letters (Iota)?

In any case, this was a Star Wars Day post.  So, May the Fourth be with You.  Here is the trailer for the final episode in the trilogy of trilogies,  Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker.  Does the name Skywalker belong to someone else?  We’ll find out on December 20, 2019!

Other Star Wars Day Posts:

2018 — Failure: The Greatest Teacher

2017 — May the Fourth be With You

2016 — Do or Do Not. There is no Try.

May the Fourth 2015: I am a Rebel.

2014 — May The Fourth Be With You