I just rewatched A New Hope and was bothered by the following two (!) lines after Obi-Wan dies:

LUKE I only wish Ben were here.

as well as

LUKE I can't believe he's gone.

I felt like Luke seemed awfully attached for someone he only knew for what, two days: Luke goes after R2, meets Obi-Wan, talks a bit, returns to find his aunt and uncle dead. This was the same day. Then they go gain passage and travel to Alderaan, where they are captured and Obi-Wan dies.

Unless they were on the Millennium Falcon for weeks, it doesn't seem like he should be mourning Obi-Wan more than his adoptive parents. I get that Obi-Wan opened his eyes to the Force and took him from a life of boredom on Tatooine, but still.

  • Can I add something to make my answer more acceptable to you? – Wad Cheber Jan 10 '16 at 20:02
up vote 48 down vote accepted

How long did Luke know Ben/Obi Wan?

According to the new, canonical webcomic, Ben saved Luke from a Krayt Dragon attack when Luke was 13 years old. As you might expect, Uncle Owen was less than enthusiastic about Ben getting involved in Luke's life, despite the fact that the boy would have died if not for Ben's intervention.

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It appears that the two didn't meet again until Luke was 19, when R2-D2 ran off to find Obi Wan, Luke and C-3PO chased after him, and Luke was attacked by Sand People. We all know that story already...1

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Lucasfilm has said the comic is indeed canon:

Back in June, Coffee with Kenobi was able to talk to a Lucasfilm representative about the Korean webtoon, confirming the studio’s collaboration with Hong Jac-Ga and the legitimacy of the new story. They said that “the story being told is part of canon and will explore Episodes IV, V and VI through its 10-month run that concludes January 2016. ‘Yes, the Lucasfilm publishing team and Story Group were involved in the development and worked closely with’ Hong Jac-ga, Lucasfilm said.”
- Source


Why did Luke seem to grieve more for Obi Wan than he did for Owen and Beru?

Borrowed from my answer to this question: What upset Luke more: the death of his family or the death of Kenobi?

We don't know which deaths affected Luke more.

However, as to your suggestion that Luke seems to be more upset about Obi Wan's death, I think there are a few possible explanations:

  • Luke saw the mission to save Leia as a way to avenge Owen and Beru. Being able to do something makes the grief more bearable: "Those imperial scum killed my family - let's get 'em!" Contrast this with "That Vader bastard killed Obi Wan - RUN AWAY!"

  • In a similar way, rescuing Leia and learning about the Force on the way gave Luke something to keep himself occupied. He had less time to dwell on the past. After it was over, he was finally able to absorb and process everything that had happened over the past week or two. This is when the deaths of Owen and Beru finally sunk in. His bereavement at this point is about Obi Wan and Beru and Owen.

  • When Owen and Beru were killed, Luke still had a tie to his former life - Obi Wan, who knew him, his dad, and his aunt and uncle, and who had been (unbeknownst to Luke) watching over him his whole life. After Obi Wan died, Luke was totally alone, with no ties to his former life, which must have been crushing. Luke's link to Tatooine was totally severed. He was on his own, and he had no idea what to do next. The future was a complete unknown.

  • We don't see every moment of every day, and much of Luke's grieving may have taken place off camera. The movie would be less enjoyable if it consisted of scene after scene of Luke moping. He's already whiny enough, any more griping and moaning - however understandable it might be - would run the risk of making Luke an unlikable protagonist.


1Prior to the recent retcons, it appeared that only a few days had passed between Ben rescuing Luke from the Sand People and his death at the hands of Vader. However, we have no reason to believe that this was the first time Luke met Obi Wan - after all, when Luke regained consciousness after the Sand People attacked, he recognized Kenobi on sight.

  • 6
    +1, Good answer and thanks for pointing out this web-comic. – Rogue Jedi Nov 23 '15 at 1:11
  • 10
    This excellent answer should also point out that Luke talks about Ben Kenobi in A New Hope when R2D2 insists Leia's message is for Obi-Wan: "Obi-Wan Kenobi? I wonder if he means old Ben Kenobi?" imsdb.com/scripts/Star-Wars-A-New-Hope.html – Jibb Smart Nov 23 '15 at 7:08
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    @JibbSmart: yes — regardless of the retcons and comic, it seemed clear that Luke and Kenobi weren’t meeting for the first time at the start of A New Hope — that Luke had known Kenobi at least a bit before the events of the film. – PLL Nov 23 '15 at 11:04
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    I would say Kenobi was probably more of a surrogate father for Luke than Uncle Owen. Uncle Owen wanted to hide everything about Anakin from Luke, but Obi-Wan told him seemingly more about his father than he'd ever known before, and gave him his father's lightsaber! So Kenobi seems to be the best and last link to his father, so Luke could be grieving for his father by proxy or his father's memory. – Todd Wilcox Nov 23 '15 at 12:48
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    The "link to Tatooine" point would explain why he was so excited to see his friends. – Rogue Jedi Nov 23 '15 at 13:38

Luke explicitly states in the new (and canon) novelisation of A New Hope that he'd only known Ben Kenobi for a single day.

Luke nodded, a numbness settling in at his center. He’d known Ben for only a day, and yet even he’d been able to see that Ben was a great man. But there was still so much about the Jedi he didn’t know. And he hadn’t actually given Luke any details about his life, not really. Something about that made Luke feel betrayed, and it brought his anger back up to a simmer beneath his skin.

A New Hope: The Princess, the Scoundrel, and the Farm Boy

That being said, we also learn in the webcomic that he did (briefly) encounter Ben Kenobi when he was much younger. Clearly Luke didn't think that that counts.

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