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I checked the Wikipedia article and some interviews, and haven't found any specific answer.

What specifically does the "awakening" of the Force in the title refer to?

Was the Force somehow asleep or dormant? (which would, since it Binds The Galaxy Together, explain the Inflationary cosmological models).

Or that there were no active Force users since Vader and Sidious offed every Jedi and then each other? We know Luke's still around.

Or something else?

Canon or word-of-god answers only, please.

  • OK, I feel kind of stupid asking this... but I'm fairly certain the upcoming novelization will address it. – DVK-on-Ahch-To Dec 18 '15 at 2:10
  • Ray being Awoken, Luke being Awoken, Ren completing his training next time. – CandiedMango Dec 18 '15 at 2:10
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    There's a good theory here, albeit with no canon backup. Not worth an answer? – Rand al'Thor Dec 18 '15 at 2:16
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    I believe it was the moment in the film where a certain droid was awoken out of “low-power mode.” – JakeGould Dec 18 '15 at 8:44
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    @JakeGould But R2 can't use the Force; that doesn't make any sense. Unless it's the sense of sarcasm... I'm sensing you're stronger in the Farce than the Force. – Nate Dec 18 '15 at 14:06
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In my opinion, the title The Force Awakens refers to the awakening of two characters.

Rey

We are introduced to Rey in her humble and meager life of poor scrounging, as she patiently awaits the return of her family to Jakku. Throughout the film, she is pure, she is skilled, and she is strong. As she faces Kylo Ren and his clearly strong grasp of the Dark Side, something awakens (unintentional word choice) inside her, and prevents Ren from accessing the information he needs. Slowly, she gains her powers (a point Ren himself acknowledges). Over time, she becomes stronger in her recognition of the Force within her, culminating in one of the final scenes of the movie where her newfound strength, originating from the Force, saves her. Also: she is always dressed in light colors, and her outfits look typically Jedi.

Luke Skywalker

Throughout much of the film, Luke feels like a J.J. Abrams nod a what Hitchcock called a macguffin: something that drives plot but never really appears on screen. Of course, this only applies to the first… two hours and fifteen minutes of the film or so. Early on, we learn that Luke abandoned his teachings when Kylo Ren was seduced by the Dark Side and disappeared. Our heroes must fight the First Order without him for the entirety of The Force Awakens. Many die. But when the mission is complete, and Rey leaves the rebel base, she heads to the location on the now completed map to Luke. Upon finding him atop a mountain(?), Rey offers Luke his old lightsaber. Perhaps Rey will be the catalyst that causes Luke to finally return.

Most likely: it is a combination of the Force “awakening” in Rey, and the Force in Luke returning to the rebels.

  • Technically it's not clear what (if anything) Luke is going to do yet. From dialog (discussion between Ren and his master), however, it's implied that the "awakening" is Rey. Also, what about Finn? Or is his mild competence with a light-saber just a result of his standard stormtrooper training? – aroth Dec 18 '15 at 3:59
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    Agreed re: Luke. I tried to keep that as open as possible in my answer. Finn, to me, is not presented to the viewer as a Jedi. Of course, the truth remains to be seen... – stevvve Dec 18 '15 at 4:21
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    @stevvve Edit your post please. You have "Dakku" instead of "Jakku" as the name of the location. With our luck, there will be a "Dakku" later and this will be confusing (RE: Tatooine vs. Dantooine). Otherwise, I agree with your answer. +1 – Nate Dec 18 '15 at 14:13
  • @Nate Hahaha good catch, and good point. All fixed up! Thanks! – stevvve Dec 18 '15 at 15:21
  • @aroth Finn had been trained to use melee weapons, and he was also considered an excellent fighter, for a stormtrooper. (Discussion) – joeytwiddle Dec 30 '15 at 4:04
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According to Visual Dictionary:

The Visual Dictionary says the following:

Since the disappearance of Luke Skywalker and the shattering of his fledgling Jedi following, the cosmic Force has lain dormant, seemingly quieted to those able to sense its presence.

The adventures of Rey and Finn on Jakku coincide with a turbulence in the cosmic Force, a sudden ripple indicating the awakening of newfound ability. With the Jedi and their records vanished, few—other than Kylo Ren and his mysterious master—are able to appreciate this occurrence.


UPDATE 2017/11

As per Adam Driver interview with Empire, that "awakening" applies equally to light side (Rey) and Darks side as well:

We find Darth Vader already completely committed; I was curious about starting with someone who was less together, who was starting in a place of self-doubt. The title of The Force Awakens wasn't just referring to the light side, it was the dark side as well.

I'm unsure of canonicity of this (as in, is this Driver's personal adlibbing or canon?) but worth menioning.

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    This is similar to something described in Legends (I know it isn't canon, but it could have been used as an influence). The meeting between Rey and Kylo was a "shatterpoint", in which Rey perceives a weakness in Kylo's force sensitivity, causing him to shatter. It kind of ties in visually to the film too, because Kylo seems weakened and more prone subsequent to their meeting, when earlier in the film, he seems more resolved and stronger with the force. – John Bell Jan 6 '16 at 8:58
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    @JohnBell - I must disagree. Shatterpoint was among my favorite books, and I think this is quite different. But it is a good theory! – DVK-on-Ahch-To Jan 6 '16 at 12:11
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Great question. The crucial thing here is that Snoke says "there has been an awakening" BEFORE the 2 most likely candidates: 1) Reah's vision 2) Reah is interrogated by Kylo.

Therefore either a) there must be something going on with the Force that we don't see or b) the title is meaningless nonsense.

When Anakin was a child, he happened to randomly fly inside a mother ship and accidentally blew it up so probably he was guided by the Force (maybe Palpatine). So maybe some of the characters are being guided by the Force and this is the Force awakening? Maybe Luke is guiding Reah?

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    This is neither a canon nor word-of-God answer. Thus it is not an answer. – Meat Trademark Apr 22 '16 at 15:29
  • Nonsense mate. It's really strong logic. Sure it's a bit speculative at the end but it's a very good question for which there isn't really a canon answer yet. Why are you being hostile? I'm sorry if my logic defies your wrong assumptions about the title. There's no need to be upset. – Daniel B Apr 26 '16 at 15:29
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    I am neither upset, nor being hostile. I just didn't find this to be a compelling answer. It just seems too speculative for a question that ends with the words "Canon or word-of-god answers only, please." You use the words "likely" and "probably," and three times use the word "maybe." – Meat Trademark Apr 26 '16 at 16:51
  • And yet, the 'best' answer here starts with "In my opinion" and the accepted one tells me nothing. – Mazura Jul 19 '16 at 5:18

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