EU Debates Spinoff II: Mara Jade's sacrifice in VOTF

Discussion in 'Literature' started by Jades Fire, Mar 1, 2001.

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  1. Jades Fire Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Nov 8, 1998
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    In the EU Debates: Balanced Views of Balance Point thread, a discussion of Mara Jade's sacrifice has broken out. Rather than bogging down that thread, and to open it up to others, I'll move some of the posts over here.

    I started things off by saying:

    "But she'd made her peace. She'd given up the one thing dearest to her, her ship Jade's Fire. In its place, she'd received... well... Enough." (page 37 of BP)

    This is little bit that I do not reflect on favorably. This makes Mara's sacrifice in VOTF seem a bit trite. Maybe I am over-reacting to the unfounded derision that pivitol scene gets because it seems like so many people need it spelled out completely for them.

    Mara didn't only sacrifice her ship. Her ship was merely a representation of what she sacrificed. Mara sacrificed her freedom; her ability to chose to go wherever she wanted, whenever she wanted. She gave up the part of herself that most defined who she was as a person -- the independent free spirit who relied on nothing and no one. She gave herself over to something larger than herself, to a cause larger than herself, something she was unwilling to do prior to that moment. In essence, she gave herself to the Force; she gave herself over to a destiny she could not control. For Mara Jade, that is a life altering event, and is the sacrifice that she made.

    My opinion though. You may see it differently.
  2. Jades Fire Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Nov 8, 1998
    star 4
    On 2/28 11:35am
    Jedi Merkurian said:

    Jades Fire, good points from BP about Mara. One thing I must disagree with you on:

    "Mara didn't only sacrifice her ship. Her ship was merely a representation of what she sacrificed. Mara sacrificed her freedom; her ability to chose to go wherever she wanted, whenever she wanted. She gave up the part of herself that most defined who she was as a person -- the independent free spirit who relied on nothing and no one. She gave herself over to something larger than herself, to a cause larger than herself, something she was unwilling to do prior to that moment. In essence, she gave herself to the Force; she gave herself over to a destiny she could not control. For Mara Jade, that is a life altering event, and is the sacrifice that she made."

    Nope, she wrecked her ship. Sorry, IMO no matter how you try to dress it up, she wrecked something that could be easily replaced. I don't see that as giving up much of anything.

    Of course, that's just my opinion...
  3. Jades Fire Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Nov 8, 1998
    star 4
    On 2/28 11:40am
    Jades Fire said:

    >>>>Nope, she wrecked her ship. Sorry, IMO no matter how you try to dress it up, she wrecked something that could be easily replaced. I don't see that as giving up much of anything.

    That's the whole point Merkurian. If a ship is such an easy thing to replace, don't you think that
    means a larger, more profound sacrifice was made when she crashed the Fire?
  4. Jades Fire Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Nov 8, 1998
    star 4
    On 2/28 12:20pm
    aleja said:

    Re: Mara's ship:

    (although this isn't a VotF thread )

    One way of reading the scene is to see it as THE FORCE determined the extent of Mara's sacrifice, and the Force found it sufficient.

    After all, it was only after she sacrificed the Jade's Fire that Mara was able to hear the Qom Jha. She was on her way to becoming a true Jedi Knight.

    And IIRC the text in VotF supports Jade's Fire version of the events, but it took this long to remember to bring Balance Point to work, it might take me longer to remember to bring VotF

    I don't think sacrifices can be measured by material means. A young child who gives up his treasured teddy bear that has been his constant companion since birth so a less fortunate child can have one is making a selfless sacrifice worth applauding. It is the intent that counts. Are you only thinking of yourself, or you only thinking of others and how to make their lives better?

    (And everyone also seems to forget that in the cloning chamber Mara fully intended to sacrifice herself so Luke could live, but that is another thread )

    By the same token, someone who gives up something because they think they are going to get something out of it is not doing something worthy. A child who gives up his teddy bear to a less fortunate child but thinks that this means Mom and Dad will buy him a new one is not really making a sacrifice.

    And in such a manner, one can look at Leia's hair in Balance Point. She wasn't thinking of herself, she was thinking of her family and the refugees. It was a selfless sacrifice, one worth applauding even though hair grows back.
  5. Jades Fire Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Nov 8, 1998
    star 4
    On 3/1 10:54am
    Jedi Merkurian said:

    Jades Fire:
    ---------------------------------------------
    Chapter 4, the first introduction of Luke and Mara, the scene is from Mara's point of view. The tone of the opening part of the chapter presents a quiet, introspective Mara. A Mara who's still coming to grips with herself, and who greatly admires Luke.

    "She'd survived Palpatine's training one hour and one day at a time." (36)

    She's recalling a very rough time in her life. Not a pleasant memory, but a painful one. You don't "survive" good times "one hour and one day" at a time.

    "The days when she'd been the Emperor's Hand. She carried around plenty of regret from those days, things she wished she'd never seen or done." (37)

    Plenty of regret from Mara. She sounds quite remorseful of "things she wished she'd never seen or done."
    ---------------------------------------------

    Actually, BP is the first book I've seen that depicts *any* type of remorse from Mara about what she did as Emperor's Hand. I certainly didn't see that in TTT or Duology, for example.

    Likewise, I didn't see the sacrifice of the Jade's Fire being any type of real sacrifice; at least not in VotF. I remember having to re-read the book to try and figure out what the big deal was. It was later books that attempted to "ret-con" the importance of her actions, unsuccessfully, IMO.
  6. Jades Fire Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Nov 8, 1998
    star 4
    On 3/1 10:58
    Jedi Ben said:

    p.s. Jedi Merkurian, just read your post, agree entirely, BP was the first SW book where I didn't dislike Mara Jade. For reasons similar to the points you make.
  7. yoddles Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Dec 11, 2000
    star 3
    even if mara jade skywalker loses her ship its no big loss, think about it this way, the jedi can use their powers to win huge amounts of credits from gambling or doing other things, so technically any jedi can use th force to get filthy rich they therefore can aquire the best ships clothes food and homes or whatever else they desire.
  8. Jades Fire Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Nov 8, 1998
    star 4
    On 3/1 11:35
    Jades Fire said:


    Jedi Merkurian,

    >>>Actually, BP is the first book I've seen that depicts *any* type of remorse from Mara about what she did as Emperor's Hand. I certainly didn't see that in TTT or Duology, for example.<<<


    Or course there is no remorse from Mara Jade in the Thrawn Trilogy. If MJ expressed any regret in TTT, it wouldn't make sense in the context of her TTT characterization.

    In the HoT duology, it could have been in there, and I think, it is something many people wanted to see. Mara Jade's philosophy in HoT was something along the lines of "You make a mistake, you recognize it, then move on and don't dwell on it." It seems as if marriage has softened her a bit.

    >>>Likewise, I didn't see the sacrifice of the Jade's Fire being any type of real sacrifice; at least not in VotF. I remember having to re-read the book to try and figure out what the big deal was. It was later books that attempted to "ret-con" the importance of her actions, unsuccessfully, IMO.<<<

    I don't mean to sound flip here, but what books tried to "retcon" her sacrifice? Certainly none of the NJO books. Not VP since RAS didn't know of VotF's existence. I don't recall seeing anything like that in MAS's Dark Tide duology. BP didn't try to retcon it, otherwise I wouldn't have any problems with the scene I quoted.

    An understanding of Mara's sacrifice comes straight from VOTF, and nowhere else. Before the sacrifice, Mara said she always ran up against barriers in using the Force. She couldn't hear the Qom Jha? or "Child of Winds" speaking, but Luke could. Luke told Mara that she would always run into barriers when using the Force until she gave herself to the Force. After her sacrifice, she could hear "Child of Winds" and she found those barriers to using the Force were not there anymore. By sacrificing that which she held most dear to her -- sacrificing her independence, her freedom to go anywhere she wanted at any time, as represented by her ship -- Mara gave herself to the Force, and the Force accepted her. She committed a selfless act, and later in the caves, almost gave up her life (twice). One would expect that the Force would not accept her if she was acting in a way that wasn't a life altering event or one that did not ring true.
  9. Jades Fire Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Nov 8, 1998
    star 4
    On 3/1 12:18
    EchoBase said:

    Quote from Jades Fire:

    "An understanding of Mara's sacrifice comes straight from VOTF, and nowhere else. Before the sacrifice, Mara said she always ran up against barriers in using the Force. She couldn't hear the Qom Jha? or "Child of Winds" speaking, but Luke could. Luke told Mara that she would always run into barriers when using the Force until she gave herself to the Force. After her sacrifice, she could hear "Child of Winds" and she found those barriers to using the Force were not there anymore. By sacrificing that which she held most dear to her -- sacrificing her independence, her freedom to go anywhere she wanted at any time, as represented by her ship -- Mara gave herself to the Force, and the Force accepted her. She committed a selfless act, and later in the caves, almost gave up her life (twice). One would expect that the Force would not accept her if she was acting in a way that wasn't a life altering event or one that did not ring true."


    The point that folks are trying to make about Mara's sacrifice is that it isn't really a sacrifice. Saying "the novel says it is" doesn't make it one. People are disagreeing with Zahn's writing, so you can't fall back on what he tells you in the novel. Zahn can write anything he wants, he can say that crashing the ship was a sacrifice, but that doesn't mean it really is one.

    Tying ones freedom to a vehicle is, in my opinion, not convincing or believable. My 12 year old cousin used to think that you could do anything once you had a drivers license. It was a childish view and obviously wrong. There are other ships in the GFFA, there are many modes of transport. In my opinion, she didn't give up anything beyond a material possession. The fact that Zahn says that the Force thinks this is some kind of noble sacrifice only makes the whole situation even worse. Her 'sacrifice' is not supported by the Force, it cheapens the Force.

    To sum it up, here is my flow of logic: Giving up a replaceable material object is not a noble sacrifice nor is a persons independence/freedom linked to a vehicle, therefore Mara's sacrifice is not really a sacrifice. The Force was mishandled as well, so it's acceptance of her sacrifice proves nothing other than that the author made two mistakes in a row.
  10. Jades Fire Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Nov 8, 1998
    star 4
    Okay, did you follow all that? Now back to real time. yoodles, I see you snuck in there. My response to EchoBase...



    EchoBase,

    From my POV, the problem people have with Mara's sacrifice is that they can't see beyond the symbolism represented by the ship. They see the ship as an easily replaceable material possession. All they see is the ship, and nothing more, and nothing beyond.

    By the time of VOTF, Mara has more or less established herself as an independent woman and her own boss. She's working for Karrde again, but can detach herself from his organization at any time. She's avoided making any lasting personal relationships. She has any uneasy friendship with Luke and his relatives. More importantly, she's kept her emotional distance from anyone. She's so afraid of becoming emotionally attached to anything or anyone. And the thing she's most afraid of is giving herself over to a cause. When Luke tells her that in order to really connect to the Force, she has to give herself fully to the Force. She blanches at that idea, saying she doesn't like the personal sacrifice that comes with it. Luke tells her that the sacrifice can come in many forms.

    Mara Jade sacrifices her ship, her most prized personal possession, for the greater cause of keeping the Chiss from contacting the Empire. After this, she can finally hear "Child of Winds." Later when she is the cave with Luke fighting the guard droids, she formulates a plan to give up her LIFE so that Luke can get out alive. Her life! The ultimate personal sacrifice. Luke is able to stop her and offers a different plan. And after that, she risks her life to cut the retaining wall holding back the water. She consents to becoming Luke's wife knowing fully that being married to the foremost Jedi Master carries a strong committment to serving the greater good and serving the Force with every fiber of her being. (I see many sacrifices in this list.)

    For the independent minded, I-can-do-anything-I-want-whenever-I-want, Mara Jade, giving herself fully to a cause, to the Force, is a life-altering personal sacrifice. Mara Jade no longer controls her life, she's given herself to the destiny of the Force.

    Zahn didn't explain her sacrifice to the readers in such an obvious manner. One of the reasons I enjoy reading Zahn so much is that he gives the reader *all* the clues, *all* the pieces to the puzzle, and draws a rough sketch, then leaves it up to the reader to fit it all together or to make the proper conclusion. He doesn't lead you around by the nose as a reader.


  11. EchoBase Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Sep 13, 2000
    star 3
    I'm not talking about anything past the destruction of her ship. It was at that point that she 'gave herself to the Force'. I was just talking about the ship and the reaction by the Force.

    It seems like you're saying that when she destroyed her ship, she had made a decision to give up her current life and become a jedi. Is this right?

    I never thought that her sacrifice was meant to be just a material one, I just think that the 'deeper' sacrifice isn't believable or significant.
  12. Gandalf the Grey Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    May 14, 2000
    star 6
    Good idea, Jades Fire. I'll make a post here when I have time, but I agree with most of what you said.
  13. aleja Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Sep 23, 1999
    star 3
    One can't put a material value on a sacrifice.

    If someone gives up something with no other intent but to help or save others, then it is a sacrifice.

    It is what is in your heart that matters, not the dollar value.

    yoddles, GOOD Jedi don't do such things :)
  14. Jedi_Jump Jedi Padawan

    Member Since:
    Feb 8, 2001
    Jades Fire,

    I do agree with most of what you have said, but


    "By sacrificing that which she held most dear to her -- sacrificing her independence, her freedom to go anywhere she wanted at any time, as represented by her ship -- Mara gave herself to the Force, and the Force accepted her. She committed a selfless act..."

    I saw her sacrifice slightly differently. As you noted, Luke explained to Mara that the barriers she kept encountering when using the force were caused by her not having giving herself to the force (i.e. committed to the force). I felt her sacrifice was not giving up the ship, but giving up her selfishness. She finally decided to commit herself to a life of serving and helping others. She most definitely did not give up her independence. Mara will always be her own woman.

    Until she gave up her selfishness, she would not have been able to "sacrifice" her ship.

    Please let me know what you think of take on this.

  15. Darth Ludicrous Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Jun 25, 2000
    star 5
    I'm a little confused on who said what, but I have to agree with whoever said that sacraficing her ship while admirable wasn't noble for the simple thought it is a material object and material objects can be replaced. Perhaps the ship had sentimental value to her, but I still do not see how crashing it can free her to the Force.
  16. UCLAJediMaster Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Feb 16, 2001
    star 4
    i say that the sacrafice means alot more than a ship.

    mara is a very proud and reserved women who keeps her emotions to herself and does not allow herself to get close to people. Mara has always kept her ships very dear to her. i would say that they are just like Han and the Falcon. to that han sacrafising the falcon would mean nothing cause it could be easily replaced is complete bull. there isno way to replace the falcon.

    by sacraficing her ship she:
    1)helps luke
    2)gives up some of her "freedom"

    it is a very meaningful and symbolic sacrafice.
  17. Jedi_Jump Jedi Padawan

    Member Since:
    Feb 8, 2001
    I really do not think that Mara gave up her freedom when she crashed her ship. She is perfectly capable of acquiring any number of other ships. The ability to choose to crash her ship demonstrates that she has made a more profound choice, one that has altered her life. Once she committed herself to serving and helping the people of the galaxy (a life of a Jedi), the decision to crash the ship becomes a symbol of her new commitment.
  18. Jedi_Jump Jedi Padawan

    Member Since:
    Feb 8, 2001
    Everyone, its been fun and thought provoking but its waaaay past my bedtime.
  19. Kadue Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Jun 20, 2000
    star 5
    My take on things is that the ship was inconsequential, and just a symbol. It didn't matter whether she crashed the ship or not, it was the decision to give her life to the the Force that opened her to the Force. The Jade's Fire acted as a symbol of her intent. But it didn't matter.
  20. UCLAJediMaster Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Feb 16, 2001
    star 4
    i didnt mean that by literally crashing her ship she gave up her freedom but the symbolism of the act and what it meant... were the giving up of her so called freedom. her independence would be a better word for it.
  21. Marie_Jadewalker Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Nov 14, 2000
    star 4
    Good morning and Happy Friday to everyone!(Forgive me, I'm a bit hyper; my spring break starts today.)

    Comments about Mara's sacrifice of the Jade's Fire.... Well, first of all, it wasn't an ordinary shp. In Zahn's short story "Jade Solitare," it talks about what she went through to end up with it. It also describes the ship: it was one-of-a-kind, specially designed for a ruthless smuggler who forced Mara to work for him (saving his daughter who'd been kidnapped) by taking the rest of Karrde's crew hostage. In the end, his daughter gave the ship to Mara, much to his chagrin. It was an ideal ship for her because she could run it alone, but it could also transport a lot of cargo for her trading operations.

    After the incident in "Jade Solitare," Mara was able to become somewhat autonomous from Karrde's organization and trade independently. It also gave her the freedom to come and go from Yavin 4 at will, as she did in many of the books between TTT and VotF. I think whoever compared her relationship with her ship to Han's with the Falcon was on target.

    I said all of that to point out that while it is a material possesion, it's not easily replacable and it did have a lot of sentimental value to her. However, that wasn't the important part of the sacrifice.
    (It's also good to note that the only other ship they knew they'd have available to them was Luke's X-wing, which is only capable of carrying one person.) As she says to Luke after the crash, she knows it's silly to cry over a material object. That is sort of a symbol of how self-centered her life had been up to that point. When she sacrificed her ship so that the people from the Hand of Thrawn wouldn't be able to contact the Empiral Remnant, she was sacrificing her freedom. But not just the freedom to come and go as she pleases.

    She was also giving herself up to the will of the Force and committing to being a Jedi--which entails being loyal to all people, not just those you choose. That was a difficult step for her, but she took it by sacrificing something that was both dear to her and pivotal to her previous way of life. That act of selflessness enabled her to make other selfless decisions, like her resolve to give up her life for Luke in the cloning chamber.

    Just my two decicreds worth. :)
  22. Jedi Merkurian ST Thread Reaper and Rumor Naysayer

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    UCLAJediMaster:
    "i would say that they are just like Han and the Falcon. to that han sacrafising the falcon would mean nothing cause it could be easily replaced is complete bull. there isno way to replace the falcon."

    I was wondering when somebody would bring this up. Jade's scarifice vs. Han's sacrifice is no comparison. We've seen both canonically & from EU that Han has put his blood, sweat, & tears into the Falcon for at least 20 years. The Falcon is a part of Han because he's put "himself" into it. Now if there was some sort of inference that Mara had done the same or similar thing with her ship, then I would've understood the gravity of her sacrifice. I didn't get the feeling that this was the case in VotF. To me, it was just a ship, and one that could be easily replaced. No loss of freedom/independence there. To me, it's like:

    Mara:
    -I wrecked my car.
    -*GASP*
    -On purpose!
    -On purpose?!? NOOOOOOO! Oh, the humanity! Oh, the sacrifice!
    -But it was for a greater cause...*sob*
    -Hey, waitaminnit! Can't you get another car? It's not like you don't have the money or anything. You've only been on the Board of Directors of one of the biggest companies there is...
    -Y'know, that's a darned fine idea! Let's go to the dealership right now!

    Han:
    -I wrecked my car.
    -You mean that car that you've been working on every day for the last 20-odd years? That hoopty that you've re-built into a performance car?
    -Yeah. That car. On purpose, no less. But it was for the greater good...
    -DUDE!!! That car's gotten you out of I dunno how many jams! Having that car has saved your life more times than I can think of!

    Hyperbole aside, do you see my point?

    That Mara was willing to sacrifice her life to save Luke's, now THERE'S some giving herself to the Force. If she'd been able to hear the Qom Jae(sp?) after *that* incident, it would've been more believable to me.

    As EchoBase said, just because the author wrote it as some supposed great sacrifice doesn't make it so. The quotes of the "true meaning" of Mara's sacrifice are from books that came out *after* VotF, hence the "ret-conning" that I refer to.

    Good thread, Jades Fire! Very thought-provoking.


    *EDIT* Marie, that story "Jade Solitaire" seems like yet more ret-conning to me. Good point about "crying over a material object," though.
  23. aleja Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Sep 23, 1999
    star 3
    Marie Jadewalker speaketh the truth :)

    While in the Hand of Thrawn, Luke needles Mara about her incomplete training, and asks her why she doesn't become a Jedi because she has the potential to be a great one. Mara is clearly uncomfortable and says something to the effect that she just can't see herself saving the galaxy the way Luke does. Luke points out that she is one of the most loyal people he knows and that she has dropped everything else to help him, Leia and Han in the past. Mara replies something along the lines that helping strangers is different. It is also implied that she is scared of giving herself over to the service of others after the way the Emperor manipulated her.

    However, when Mara crashes the Jade's Fire, she does give herself over to helping others. The Jade's Fire is a symbol of the prior life, where she may have helped people but, as always with Karrde's organization, there was usually a price involved. If Mara really did view crashing the Jade's Fire as just destroying a material possession, don't you think she would have turned to Luke and said, "OK, so now the NR owes me and this is my price." After all, when she rescued Luke from the pirate base, she did make a joking reference to how much he owed Karrde's organization.

    But she didn't. She sacrificed her ship without any thought but to stop Parck and Fel from going to the Imperial Remnant. She didn't tell Luke and she kept it hidden from him, so she wasn't expecting either him to stop her or to praise her. Nor did she expect to become a Jedi - hearing the Qom Jha was a complete surprise to her and at first she thought Luke was responsible for it. Therefore, it was a selfless act.

    And for all of you so flippant about the ship - it wasn't her "car," it was her home. And yes, that is in SotP and VotF; Luke fully knows how much the Jade's Fire means to Mara. Let's see you willingly and without thought of replacement destroy your home and not feel one little bit upset about it. This isn't an example of a willing sacrifice, but an older friend of mine lost everything in a brush fire; her daughter was the only one at home at the time and she only managed to save one photo album and some of the family silver before being forced to evacuate. That was years ago and my friend still tears up when she thinks about it. But I guess she's just a materialistic crybaby, right?

  24. Jedi Merkurian ST Thread Reaper and Rumor Naysayer

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    Have a great weekend, eveyone!
  25. A Smuggler's Spin Jedi Knight

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    Jun 7, 2000
    star 3
    I think we should also add in Mara's past to the mix. Up untill she joined Karrde's she never owned anything. Everything she had before that was given. She was given ships, power, confidence, everything in her life had been because of the Emperor, and/or the Empire.

    When the Emperor was killed, she had to start making it on her own. She started to earn her life. Nothing was given. When Karrde found her, she was working just to get by, she had nothing. She built a life, she builta home, she made friends, she had things she had never ever had.

    She built up a brand new life. Now in order to become a full jedi, she has to give all that up. Think about that. Someone tells you to reach your full potential, you have to give up everything you've built for yourself. After you've already once had your entire life taken from you. That's a big deal.

    Now look at it from this view. If she doesn't throw away her life, she loses Luke. Not only Luke, but her "special" abilities. Something she is realizing she wants very badly.

    So her choices. Start a brand new life, giving up everything she's built, or lose Luke forever. Tough call. Did she make the right choice? Is what she gave up still flipent?
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