Star Wars rather obviously deals with relationships between fathers and sons (Vader and Luke; Han and Ben) or father figures (Mando and Grogu; Hunter and Omega; Kanan and Ezra; etc.). It’s a subject George Lucas himself wanted to explore as a result of his challenging relationship with his own father.
But what about mothers? Who are the mothers of Star Wars, and what, if anything, do they say about motherhood itself in the galaxy far, far away?
Here’s a list of the most obvious mothers in Star Wars and my take on their relationships with their children:
- Shmi Skywalker. Shmi is the Skywalker matriarch, and raised Anakin by herself on Tatooine. Though they were slaves, Shmi raised her son with love and wisdom. Shmi knew her son was special, as he apparently had no father and displayed uncanny abilities in podracing. Because she knew he was destined for greater things, she found the strength to let him go with Qui Gon and live a better life. Unfortunately, Anakin’s love for his mother was something that got in the way of his Jedi training, and proved to be the first step on his path to the dark side–namely, that he felt he failed her when he couldn’t save her from the Tusken Raiders who kidnapped her. But with her last dying breath, Shmi only praised her son and told him she loved him. The pain of losing her only made Anakin determined not to lose Padme, at any cost, and…well, we know what happened there.
- Padme Amidala. Birth mother to Luke and Leia, she dies just after giving birth to them. In Revenge of the Sith, Padme seems nervous at first about telling Anakin she’s pregnant, knowing the consequences, but ultimately seems happy about it. When Anakin tells her about his dreams of her dying in childbirth, she asks worriedly, “And the baby?” So it’s always been a little irritating to me that Padme dies of “sadness” or a broken heart because of Anakin’s turn to the dark side. Yes, it’s devastating, but she’s got babies, plural, to love and look after. You’d think that would be enough to give her something to live for. Padme, in Eps 1 & 2, is a strong, capable woman, as well as a loving, compassionate one; I’ve always found it hard to believe that she would simply give up. I know the story needed her to die; why couldn’t they have had her die of complications in birth, like Anakin dreaded? I get that Anakin’s dreams were a self-fulfilling prophecy–that he caused the death he so desperately wanted to prevent–but still. It irks, lol. It goes against her character, in my opinion.
- Breha Organa. Queen of Alderaan, Leia’s adopted mother and Bail Organa’s wife, we see little of her in the films. She’s been mostly fleshed out in the book Leia: Princess of Alderaan by Claudia Gray, and in the recent series Obi-Wan Kenobi. Breha is regal, strong, intelligent, and loves her adopted daughter deeply. She raises Leia firmly but lovingly; and instills in her the sense of duty that Leia takes very seriously as she grows up. She expects much from Leia, and more importantly, lets her know that she believes in her. She and Bail tell Leia from the very beginning that she is adopted (while omitting the more distressing details) and instill in her the sense that she is an Organa in every way. She is royalty, and raised as royalty. While Leia has many qualities from her birth parents, the Organas are an extremely important part of who she is.
- Beru Whitesun Lars. While Leia was raised as royalty, Luke was raised as a farmboy by his Aunt Beru and Uncle Owen on Tatooine. Though technically not related by blood, Owen and Beru love and raise Luke as their own. In A New Hope, Owen is portrayed as a grumpy barrier to Luke’s destiny; Beru is the content homemaker, serving blue milk and making whatever it is in that kitchen appliance. But in the series Obi-Wan Kenobi, we get more insight into both of them. Owen truly does love Luke (which I never doubted, really), and Beru, well, Beru is a bona-fide badass, lol. Owen wants to flee when Reva is on her way to kill Luke, but it’s Beru who gets out the guns and insists they make a stand. More is learned about Beru in the Padme trilogy books; Sabe goes to Tatooine to try to help free slaves. She meets Beru Whitesun, who is a prominent figure in the movement to fight slavery on Tatooine (the group is called the Whitesuns, so there you go). This is what I love about the books and series that are coming out–we learn a whole lot more about these women than in the films; they become more three-dimensional characters. In sum, Beru was a great mother/aunt to Luke.
- Leia Organa Solo. Mother to Ben Solo, who eventually turns to the dark side to become Kylo Ren. Some say that Han and Leia were bad parents, ignoring their son while they pursued their careers, and that’s why he went bad, among other things (like Luke attacking him, and oh, Palpatine whispering in his ear since the womb). I don’t think they were bad parents. I think they were busy parents who underestimated the enemy, and their son’s discontent. But it’s clear they loved him dearly. They both sacrificed their lives for him. Leia, in particular, never lost hope for her son. Sensing her decline, she made that long-distance Force call to Ben, using the last of her life force to reach him. It was the first step in getting him to wake up. Whenever Ben heard Snoke or Vader in his head, it had been Palpatine deceiving him. But Leia’s voice, the voice of his mother, was real. It was a mother’s love, and it helped bring him back to the Light. Leia also, as well as being a mentor to Rey, was a kind of mother-figure for her.
- Miramir. We know from The Rise of Skywalker that Rey’s then-nameless mother and father were killed by Ochi of Bestoon after hiding her on Jakku and refusing to divulge her whereabouts. That’s all we really knew about them (except that Dathan was a failed and discarded clone of Palpatine). In the book Shadow of the Sith, we learn more about them. They deeply loved Rey and were willing to do anything to protect her. They were both brave, but Miramir, in particular, was clever. She had a knack for technology, ship mechanics, slicing, that sort of thing, and used her talent to always keep them one step ahead of the enemy that relentlessly pursued them. And it was Miramir’s idea to hide Rey on Jakku–to bring her back there, in fact, since that’s where they lived for awhile in the first place. It broke both their hearts to leave her there with Unkar Plutt, but they were desperate to keep her safe. And it was only supposed to be temporary; we know it turned out otherwise. She also thought to use some beads from Pasaana to throw Ochi off and make him think that’s where Rey was, and that’s why Luke and Lando pursue him there; that’s why he died there in the sinking sands. So Rey was absolutely right when she told Palpatine, “My parents were strong. They saved me from you.”
- Lyra Erso. Wife to Galen Erso, and Jyn’s mother, we only see her a little bit at the beginning of Rogue One; we learn a lot more about her in the book Catalyst by James Luceno, as well as the book Rebel Rising by Beth Revis. Lyra gave Jyn the kyber crystal necklace she wears in the film. Before she was born, Galen and Lyra were studying kyber crystals; Lyra was completely devoted to Galen and looked after him, as he often got lost in his work. She was also suspicious of Krennic long before Galen figured it out. She’s smart, but I thought she was foolish to leave Jyn as they fled Krennic; I’m not sure what she hoped to accomplish, but she got herself killed, Galen was taken by Krennic, and Jyn was left alone, only to be taken in by Saw Gerrera. As with Padme, I was puzzled over a mother’s decision to choose her husband over her child(ren). And yes, Jyn losing her mother and being alone is part of her character arc, but Lyra could have died defending her child. That I could have understood. I make it sound like husbands are chopped liver, lol, but that’s not what I’m saying. It just seems counter-intuitive to me, but everyone’s different, I suppose. I don’t doubt Lyra’s love for Jyn, though.
Those are all the main ones I can think of. Though fatherhood seems to take center stage in Star Wars, motherhood is just as important, obviously. Both mothers and fathers sacrifice themselves for their children, as most would. Star Wars is about, among other things, the importance of family, and how those relationships shape us and determine our actions.
Did I miss anyone? Who’s your favorite mother in Star Wars? Let me know in the comments, and we’ll talk about it!