Discussion: Obi-Wan Kenobi: A Character Study

By Clarice Taylor

The Force will be with you, always. Obi-Wan Kenobi, the great Jedi Master, has had a pretty amazing journey throughout the Star Wars franchise and he has helped shaped so much of what has happened and what will still happen. But looking back through the films, we will see how Obi-Wan became who he was meant to be and show how his character changed so much throughout the course of his life. There are not many characters who’ve been on this great a journey.

Beginnings and Ends

We first see Obi-Wan aboard the Trade Federation ship with his master and amazing Jedi, Qui-Gon Jin. The two work well together and it’s clear they have known each other for many years. Qui-Gon trusts Obi-Wan and vice versa. Obi-Wan is a complacent and obedient apprentice to his master, yet Qui-Gon doesn’t seem like someone who barks orders or criticizes his pupil very much. It doesn’t appear in his nature. Obi-Wan definitely cares for his master and wants to remain by his side. However, he follows the council and believes in their will. Qui-Gon is more rebellious. Obi-Wan even mentions this later in the film how he says if Qui-Gon just obeyed the council, then his master would have a seat on the council. Obi-Wan is young and wise and, much like any new boss or someone trying to please higher-ups, he will follow all rules and not cut corners or ask questions. Everything changes when they find Anakin. He doesn’t seem too sure about the boy but he trusts his master. He definitely believes gambling parts of a star ship is very foolish but, again, trusts Qui-Gon. During their duel with Darth Maul, we see that Obi-Wan is slightly overwhelmed with the idea of fighting this Sith Lord but doesn’t hesitate. He helps his master as best as he can…until Maul kills Qui-Gon. This destroys Obi-Wan, who watches helplessly. Then, using rage and sadness, Obi-Wan fights to kill and eventually wins against Maul, slicing him in half. And Obi-Wan wants to forget about the rage he had to unleash. He won’t let the dark side consume him. He promises to train Anakin and the boy becomes Obi-Wan’s apprentice. Obi-Wan is uncertain and overwhelmed but won’t let his master down.

Ten years pass. Obi-Wan has adopted the role of master and serves to teach Anakin, but seems to be failing. Anakin is more rebellious and risk-taking. He tries to be a father figure to Anakin but ends up being cold and constantly criticizes Anakin. Even chastising him by called Anakin “young padawan” or “my very young apprentice”. Obi-Wan is afraid to give Anakin certain freedoms and doesn’t want to recognize him as the Chosen One…at least not yet. Anakin’s moving too fast. Obi-Wan holds Anakin back slightly out of concern but mostly out of jealousy. Obi-Wan never made it this far this soon, so why should his apprentice. A rivalry is born. Obi-Wan also fears what Anakin could become. Yet, he supports his apprentice and is the only one there for his wedding. Many people criticize Obi-Wan during this film…but he’s still learning too. He wasn’t ready to be a master and now, his apprentice is ready to move on. Everything changes once the war begins.

The Long War and Rise of the Empire

Anakin and Obi-Wan are thrown into the galaxy wide conflict known as the Clone Wars. But this doesn’t drive them apart, the two learn to rely on each other and become like brothers. Obi-Wan trusts Anakin more, allowing him to have more responsibilities. He doesn’t suspect that the new youngling apprentice, Ahsoka Tano, is in fact Anakin’s apprentice but welcomes the idea with much enthusiasm. Speaking of which, Obi-Wan seems to be easier going and cocky, even cheeky. He seems to be more positive even through the war. But he trusts Anakin and the rest of the Jedi to do what is necessary and defeat Count Dooku, who Obi-Wan had a run in back on Geonosis. Dooku tempted him with the dark side and Obi-Wan refused, defending his old master by saving “Qui-Gon Jin would never join you.” Obi-Wan is loyal to the Jedi but he’s also loyal to his men, the clone troopers. Throughout the Clone Wars, Obi-Wan visits the Duchess Satine of Mandalore and starts to develop feelings for her. Even though the Jedi code forbids attachment, he can’t deny the love he feels for her. Yet, he doesn’t act on them. Another instance that will backfire was Obi-Wan’s fake death. Anakin feels deceived especially by his own master who tells him that it had to be done. Again, Obi-Wan believes in the Jedi. This puts doubt and anger into Anakin. But the war continues and the two brothers continue fighting side by side in the war.

Everything changes when Darth Maul returns. Maul’s revenge and hatred seem to bleed from him and Obi-Wan wants nothing more than to finish off Maul once and for all. Maul represents Obi-Wan failure to protect his master and failure of acting out of revenge. He is Obi-Wan’s real life demon. And his demon kills his angel. Maul summons Kenobi to Mandalore and then slaughters Duchess Satine in front of Obi-Wan. He tries to recover but doesn’t seem to be the same after that. Another event that tears down Anakin is the framing and trial of his apprentice, Ahsoka Tano. She is proven innocent but, very soon after that, Ahsoka leaves the Jedi Order. This also affects Obi-Wan, who bonded with Ahsoka on multiple occasions by giving her guidance and advice. Anakin never truly recovers from this and more distrust of the Jedi forms. Obi-Wan looks to Yoda more, still looking for guidance and knowledge. In time, Yoda will teach him about living on through the Force. At some point in the Clone Wars, Obi-Wan is made a Jedi Master and sits on the Jedi Council, fully embracing the Jedi Code.

Obi-Wan is proud of the man Anakin has become. He has become strong and wise. Obi-Wan later goes off to fight and kill General Grievous and does so, thinking the war is finally over. But things are only just beginning. Anakin turns to the Dark Side and becomes Darth Vader. Obi-Wan and Yoda return to the Jedi Temple to investigate who did this and it breaks Obi-Wan’s heart to learn that Anakin is responsible. He feels that he failed. He feels that after everything that happened, Anakin is no more. He can’t believe what security footage shows. But he knows the Jedi must destroy the Sith. He travels to Mustafar and tries to convince Anakin that he is making the wrong choices and it is not too late to return to the light. But Anakin ignores Obi-Wan’s pleas and fights him. The two have a long, emotional saber duel that ends with Obi-Wan warning Anakin to admit defeat. He doesn’t want to harm him, but he knows what he has to do. He slices off Anakin’s legs and arm. He tells him, through hurt and pain at the brother he lost, that he was supposed to be the Chosen One and feels that Anakin is lost forever. Consumed by Darth Vader. He leaves Anakin to die, taking his saber and returns to a dying Padme, who is pregnant with Anakin’s twin children. She dies in child birth as Luke and Leia enter the world.

Obi-Wan will go and watch over Luke Skywalker as he lives with Owen and Beru Lars on Tatooine. And he says goodbye to the world he knew and goes off into isolation, with a mission by Master Yoda to live on after death.


Fifteen years pass. Fifteen years and we currently don’t know what Obi-Wan’s been up to. He’s probably heard rumors of a rebellion but nothing concrete. We do know that two years later, Obi-Wan is visited by a young Jedi named Ezra Bridger who thought he was the answer to defeating the Sith. Little did Ezra know, Maul has been looking for Obi-Wan for many years and has finally found him. Obi-Wan is ready to finally defeat his demon. Maul is slower, less calculated. Obi-Wan strikes him down, at last. But, then there is dialogue between the two that was very unexpected. It almost seems like Maul wanted to die. Maul asks Kenobi if “he” is the Chosen One. We can only guess who he is referring to. We know that Maul taunted Obi-Wan and pondered why he was on this wasteland of a planet for so long and figures out that Obi-Wan is protecting someone. Maul is probably referring to Luke when he asks about the Chosen One. Maul wants revenge against Kenobi but also wants to destroy the current Sith who have taken so much from him. Obi-Wan seems to mourn Maul’s passing, after everything they’ve been through he still respects Maul. Ezra leaves and Obi-Wan goes back to watching over Luke and does so for the next two years.

Until, Luke finds Obi-Wan and delivers a message of hope. Obi-Wan gives Luke Anakin’s lightsaber and tells him about his father. He lies and says that Anakin was murdered by Darth Vader. Luke accepts this. Obi-Wan begins training Luke in the ways of the Force as they travel to Alderaan which has already been destroyed by the Empire and Luke, Han Solo, and Chewbacca travel to the Death Star. Once there, Obi-Wan decides to go take out the tractor beam so the Millennium Falcon can take off. But he soon knows he must confront his old pupil, Darth Vader, once more. Vader finds him and the two have their final duel in which Obi-Wan allows himself to become one with the Force. But his spirit lives on and he is able to guide Luke in destroying the Death Star, telling Luke “the Force will be with you. Always.”

Life in the Afterlife

Later on, Obi-Wan will tell Luke to go to Dagobah to train with Yoda. Once there, Luke finds and learns from Yoda, who at first refuses to teach Luke but Obi-Wan convinces him to do it. Later on, when Luke must leave to rescue his friends, Obi-Wan talks with Yoda by saying that Luke is their last hope. Yoda tells him there is another hope. Luke goes to confront Vader and fails, learning that Anakin is Darth Vader, his father. Luke wonders why Obi-Wan never told him the truth. Luke returns to Dagobah and speaks with a dying Yoda who tells him that only after he confronts Vader will he truly be a Jedi. Yoda then becomes one with the Force and Luke goes to Obi-Wan and asks why he didn’t tell Luke the truth.

Obi-Wan tells him that he did. Anakin Skywalker was destroyed by Darth Vader. His father is no longer that man but Luke thinks otherwise. Obi-Wan also helps Luke discover that Leia is indeed his sister. Luke knows what he must do. He goes off to confront Vader and the Emperor. He successfully redeems his father and brings him to the light, but tragically, Anakin is going to die.

Later, we see Yoda, Obi-Wan, and Anakin happy and proud that Luke has restored peace to the galaxy…or so it seems. Looking ahead thirty years in the future, we see Obi-Wan helping another young Jedi, Rey, as he tells her “you’ve taken your first steps”. Clearly, his role as mentor is not finished yet.

We see Obi-Wan Kenobi go through quite a journey as he mentors Anakin, later Luke, and now he seems to mentor Rey. He had to deal with Maul and at the end seems to accept and thank his fallen foe. We also see Obi-Wan remain committed to the Jedi even through dark and difficult times. And I sure there are many more stories for Obi-Wan to have in the future, perhaps his own spin-off film.