I am also a bit confused towards Rey’s motivation.
I agree with Don in that Rey wants to belong somewhere. An expected reaction for someone so isolated. Further evidence for this:
- She is in denial that her family will come in TFA
- She saves BB8, her only friend possibly ever. Her insistence on getting BB8 to the resistance may be due to he trying to help the only friend she has even known.
- She never outright helps the resistance. She only wields the lightsaber to save Finn, a friend.
- She asks Luke to “show me her place in all this”.
- It seems she only wants to know her parents after she is turned down by Luke. Luke’s grumpiness causes Rey to doubt the Jedi way and ponder about her parents once more (the cave).
- She then develops a force connection with Ben and comes to believe he may have what she seeks (a place to belong to).
All this is building to Rey taking Ben’s hand.
Why would Rey want to join the Jedi? Luke has done nothing but criticize her. We all know the Jedi way is right, but from her POV she just met this grumpy hermit who doesn’t want her. Why should she care about the Jedi?
It seems Rey’s primary motivation in turning down Kylo is because she has friends in the resistance? Like Finn and BB8? But the entire film has been building up Kylo and Rey’s relationship. As for the “she realizes she does not need a purpose, she can make one herself” well wasn’t that where she was before TFA. On her own with no one?
I think Rey would have been a great character had she taken Ben’s hand and charted us a new, bold direction for TROS.
Now she feels more like a missed opportunity bordering “perfect” which is a shame given how close we were. I hope TROS does the best job they can with Rey- if they provide some clarification on her motivation I think the whole Mary Sue argument will finally be over.
First of all, Rey had no purpose on Jakku besides waiting for her parents to show up and give her one. Being able to take care of yourself does not mean you have a purpose in life. Her life was literally in wait.
This pretty much summarizes the flaws that were built into her character from the first moment she appears on screen. She has no history, character, or purpose. She’s sympathetic, and self-reliant, and that’s about it. She’s literally waiting for whatever the writers decide will be her destiny. She’s a void waiting to be filled. Her character is thus entirely story and plot driven, rather than character driven. Her decisions, and character traits aren’t informed by her history, and experiences.
From the moment she appears on screen I would say she has all of those things.
History: Rey was abandoned by her parents as a child and remained a scavenging junkyard orphan her whole life. She has no family, or friends at the start of TFA. She is initially very hostile towards both BB8 and finn. From the very beginning she thinks her purpose is to wait for her family to come back one day.
She has no family or friends, and she’s just waiting for a family, that will never come. She’s had a hard life, but somehow remains naive, optimistic, and hopeful. To me this is a character who is passive, and waiting for whatever the writers have in store for her. Her character development is heavily plot driven, relying mostly on where the writers want her to be. Aside from an innate goodness, which drives some of her decisions, she has little personal motivations or stakes in the story. The writers gave her no purpose in life, other than to wait for a family that will never come back, such that she can be an avatar for the light side of the Force. She quite literally has been put on hold with nothing better to do, or nobody better to spend time with. As such it is not a matter of choice for her, but her destiny to be whatever the writers want her to be. I don’t like this aspect of her character.
Her character seems pretty clear to me as well. She is trying to find her purpose, and she cares about her friends because they are the first people to have ever shown care for her. She joins the resistance becuase she gets tortured and her her friends get murdered by the first order. She knows she has to become a jedi because she thinks this will give her purpose.
If she makes friends so easily with the first two outsiders she runs into, why doesn’t she have any friends, or connections on Jakku? She seems friendly, and competent enough. Why does she wait close to two decades to make friends with a droid, and a guy pretending to be part of the Resistance? Why is she so naive, given the hard life she has led? For me TFA succeeded in making her sympathetic, but left a lot of questions with regards to who she is, and why she is, who she is, seemingly out of place in such a harsh environment. By ignoring these questions, and just stating she’s nobody, and comes from nowhere, TLJ has cemented the idea that she was just an empty vessel waiting for some decision from on high to turn her into somebody. While I like the idea of a hero coming from a humble background, to me this does not imply a character cannot have a personal history with friends, experiences, desires, mistakes, strengths, and weaknesses. The idea that a character has no life, and a history, but to wait for something to change, and that change be forced upon her through circumstances, and the will of the Force is difficult to appreciate from a character development perspective. Her acceptance of her role in the story lacks dramatic tension, since she obviously has nothing better to do, or go back to, and no previous relationships to continue.