In Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope, Obi-Wan Kenobi met his fate when he perished at the hands of Darth Vader on the Death Star. While it was evident that Kenobi’s powers had weakened during his years on Tatooine, he was still a match for the Sith Lord.
At the end of the duel, Kenobi told Vader that he “couldn’t win” before giving up on the fight and allowing his former apprentice to strike him down. There has been plenty of speculation over the years as to why Obi-Wan allowed Vader to kill him when there was so much work to do in relation to destroying the Empire and training Luke.
If you’re looking for a concrete answer to this question, then you’re in the right place. Here is everything that you need to know.
Why did Obi-Wan let himself die?
Obi-Wan allowed Darth Vader to kill him on Death Star because by dying and becoming One With The Force, the Jedi Master would become even more powerful. We know this because Kenobi says as much during the battle!
While mid-duel he tells Vader that if he strikes him down then he will “become more powerful than you (Vader) could possibly imagine.” What Kenobi meant by this was that destroying Kenobi’s physical body meant that his soul could become One With The Force.
As we know, Obi-Wan’s former master, Qui-Gon Jinn, had found the path to immortality by the end of Revenge of the Sith and had passed his teachings on to Obi-Wan during his solitude on Tatooine. Clearly, by the time Obi-Wan faced Vader on the Death Star, he had also learnt this skill.
By mastering this skill, Obi-Wan knew he would be able to guide Luke on his path as a Jedi Knight even after he had died. What’s more, he would be able to be with him every step of the way as a Force Ghost, something that wouldn’t be possible if he was alive.
So, when Kenobi tells Vader that he “would become more powerful than you could possibly imagine” what he was referring to is the fact that he would be able to ensure that Luke maximised his potential as a Jedi Knight. Therefore, letting himself die was the best choice to make for the sake of the Galaxy.
There are a couple of other reasons why Obi-Wan let himself die, which we will now look at. These reasons are as follows:
- He sacrificed himself to help Luke, Leia and Han escape the Death Star.
- He didn’t want Luke to become embroiled in the fight.
- He knew he was going to lose eventually.
#1 He sacrificed himself to help the heroes escape
While Luke, Han and Chewbacca were rescuing Princess Leia from the clutches of the Empire, Obi-Wan was sneaking around the Death Star trying to disable the tractor beam to allow them to escape on the Millenium Falcon once the rescue mission was complete.
After he had successfully disabled the beam, Kenobi ran into Vader and their duel commenced. Towards the end of the duel, he noticed that Luke, Leia, Chewbacca and Han were in touching distance of the Falcon and that his job was nearly complete.
He had stalled Vader long enough and now just needed one final distraction to allow the heroes the time to board the Falcon and escape. The sight of Kenobi battling Vader was enough for a group of stormtroopers to vacate the space around the Falcon.
This space gave the heroes the time they needed which meant all that was left to do was for Kenobi to allow himself to perish to Vader so he could send a message to Luke through the force. Upon dying, he told the young Jedi to “run” which he did and the group escaped.
#2 He didn’t want Luke to get embroiled in the fight
Perhaps poetically, the final thing that Obi-Wan sees before dying is Anakin’s children, Luke and Leia, together and ready to fight. Everything had come a full circle and he knew that they were the Galaxy’s best hope of overthrowing the Empire.
With that being said, Luke was still a young, rash, untrained Jedi at this point and the last thing Obi-Wan wanted was for him to try and get involved in the fight. Luke looked up to Obi-Wan and would have almost certainly tried to help his mentor out if the fight continued.
However, by allowing himself to die, there was nothing for Luke to try and save. Instead, he could focus all his energy on escaping the Death Star which was imperative for his future development and training. If Luke had tried to take on Vader with a blaster then the young Jedi would have died in an instant.
#3 Kenobi knew his time was up
As we’ve already mentioned, Kenobi was very much an old man when he fought Darth Vader on the Death Star and hadn’t used his lightsaber in a duel for many years. He was clearly rusty and didn’t fight with the same fluency that he did during his peak years.
Vader himself could sense that his former master’s powers were waning and called him “weak” and an “old man” during the duel. Although Kenobi was holding his own, he would also have known that he was no longer a match for his former apprentice.
By allowing himself to perish, he was essentially going out on his own terms. We don’t know the “rules” around becoming One With The Force after you pass away but it may well be the case that if you die in a certain kind of way then it’s more difficult to become a Force Ghost. Kenobi may well have needed to die in the way that he did to ensure a safe passage through the netherworld of the force.
To conclude, Obi-Wan let himself die because he thought he would become more powerful and more useful to Luke as a Force Ghost. Aside from this, you could also look at the fact that it provided the distraction that allowed Luke, Leia, Han and Chewbacca to escape the Death Star.
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