In The Force Awakens, Rey is waiting for her family, that she doesn't seem to remember. She has Force flashbacks that give some hints when she touched Luke's lightsaber. The novelization for those flashbacks shows that her family member left her in a wooded area and said to wait and that he/she would come back for her (see this answer).

What is the situation when she is left, as far as we know from canon? Who left her on Jakku? What, if anything, do the main characters Luke, Han, etc, know about her? Why was she left on Jakku when the novelization shows her separation from family happened in a forested area? (I don't have the novelization so I'm hoping there is more in it than there is in the movie. I also have my fingers crossed for a good extended-edition of The Force Awakens.)

From watching the movie, it seemed pretty clear to me that she was not left on Jakku by said family member.

I may be reading too much into expressions, but I think it's appropriate given that J.J. Abrams and company intended to speak more with actions than words, as opposed to the prequel trilogy. Here are some things I noticed from the movie:

  • Rey, as a child seen in flashback, is held back by Unkar Plutt1 2 3 while she screams "come back" at the departing spaceship.
  • At the end of The Force Awakens, it seems as if Luke was surprised to see her. Maybe he thought she was dead?
  • Throughout the movie, Han seems to feel remorse or guilt toward Rey. The most telling scene in my memory is Han and Rey piloting the Falcon to Maz Kanata's place. Rey essentially says she didn't believe there would be so much green in all of the galaxy. Han's face shows grief and guilt.

I'm kind of trying to validate my theory that Rey is Luke's daughter and that he may have thought she was dead (killed at the same time the mother was killed?), and that Han knew what happened to her or was responsible for it—that she grew up alone and hungry in the desert—when no one could find Luke. But, I'll be just as happy to be proved wrong with some quotes from the novel. Or maybe this.

1 See this screen clip that was posted to imgur and reddit and since been removed.

2 Another site that shows the image of Young Rey and Unkar.

3 I watched the movie twice and looked and listened closely during this part as it was one of the questions I wanted answered. Unkar's face is also partially visible, but the only photos I've found didn't capture it the way a 3D widescreen theater shows it.

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    Are you asking what the situation was that LED to her beng left; or what her situation was AFTER she was left? Commented Dec 24, 2015 at 21:34
  • Joseph, can you confirm Rey is held by Unkar Plutt in her vision / flashback. That was my interpretation as well but I've not found any substantiation for that.
    – NKCampbell
    Commented Dec 24, 2015 at 21:56
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    The novelization doesn't identify the person holding her back, but looking at the hand, it and the voice are similar enough to make that leap.
    – phantom42
    Commented Dec 24, 2015 at 22:13
  • @NathanK.Campbell Unkar Plutt's hand is a certain orange-pink hue, with a fat palm and tiny little digits. The arm in frame in the movie was similar enough in all three observations that I feel confident. On top of that, I like to think I am fair with identifying voices and I heard the same voice. Commented Dec 24, 2015 at 22:28
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    The film indicated it was unkar and it was on jakku (btw she even states multple times she was left on JAKKU by her family in the film and I guess also in the novelization. From what I heard about the novelization vision scene....the forest part seems more like some confusion happening there but no book here). That aside in the german version of the film she says "Lass mich nicht zurück" which is singular (while the english version can be both singular or plural). So at least in the german version it is indicated (maybe erroneously) that it is ONE person leaving her behind.
    – Thomas
    Commented Dec 25, 2015 at 20:44

1 Answer 1


We don't yet know what Luke knows, but it is indeed confirmed that Unkar Plutt was the one that Rey was left with on Jakku.

The analysis of the screenplay sent to the WGA confirms this officially:

The script says, “A little girl. Rey as a child. She is sobbing, hysterical. Unkar Plutt’s meaty hand holds her thin arm. She is on Jakku, watching a starship fly into the sky, abandoning her.” Rey yells, “No, come back!” and Unkar Plutt responds, “Quiet, girl!” as the “ship flies towards the desert sun, which is strangely eclipsed, as if being eaten by darkness.”

And the script itself says:

A little girl. Rey as a child. She is sobbing, hysterical. Unkar Plutt's meaty hand holds her thin arm. She is on Jakku, watching a starship fly into the sky, abandoning her.
No, come back!
Quiet, girl!
The ship flies towards the desert sun, which is strangely eclipsed, as if being eaten by darkness.

Now, the interesting thing is that I actually don't know if this directly contradicts the novelization, which says:

Around her now: barren, snowy woods, the sounds of unknown forest creatures, and a conviction that she must be losing her mind. Once more she climbed to her feet, her chilled breath preceding her. From in front of her, not far away, came the sounds of battle: the cries of the wounded and the clashing of weapons. Then behind her, another voice.
That voice.
“Stay here. I’ll come back for you.”
She whirled, glazed eyes desperately scanning the dark gaps between the slender trees, trying to penetrate the darkness.
“Where are you?” She started running toward the voice.
“I’ll come back, sweetheart. I promise.”

Now, what this seeming confusion MAY stem from (other than novelization simply having been written from an earlier script version) is the following possible sequence of events:

  1. Ray is left by someone calling her "sweetheart" on a forested, chilled area.

    As usual, the most plausible guess is Luke but we simply don't have enough information to know that yet.

  2. THEN, she got flown from that forest place to Jakku, and left with Plutt.

As for what do Han and Luke know:

Han - probably didn't know

  • Unkar Plutt wouldn't have held a stolen Falcon as his if he knew Han is likely to show up again looking for Rey.

  • Han didn't recognize Unkar Plutt's name when Rey discussed who stole Falcon from who in a great chain of thefts. And from above we know that Unkar was who Rey was left with.

  • As I documented in another answer, Han has absolutely no idea who Rey is even after learning her name and her abilities. He's mildly curious about her, but doesn't show any signs of recognition.

Luke - probably didn't leave her there. Whether he knew depends greatly on who her father ends up being.

  • This one is far harder to back with facts, but I'm basing it on the crappy treatment Rey got from Unkar Plutt. What with giving her 1/4 portion for same parts that cost 1/2 portion each a week before.

    I don't know about you, but even if I'm a jaded, money-grubbing scavenge trader on backwhater planet, I'm not going to basically starve a person a powerful and famous Jedi is known to be looking out for.

    BTW, for the same reason I'm going to hypothesise it wasn't Leia, who's another candidate.

So who left Rey and knew she was there?

  • As per above, it almost certainly wasn't Han, and probably wasn't Luke.

  • However, Lor San Tekka sounds like a plausible candidate:

    • he's well-connected enough to everyone (Luke, Leia) who likely had their fingers in this complicated pie;

    • he ended up on Jakku;

    • he's not well known enough on-planet (merely a village elder of a far away small village) to make Plutt lay off of treating Rey shabbily

    • he's formidable enough (former mercenary, Force-worshipping monk, famous to even Poe Dameron for his former adventures) to be able to look out for Rey, Obi-Wan-on-Tattoine style.

  • could it be the forest part in the novelization is part of a vision of the end of the film mixed in with her being left along? (thus a mix of both visions)
    – Thomas
    Commented Jan 1, 2016 at 16:18
  • @Thomas - that's yet another good possible explanation, but the text seems to kinda imply it was same location as the fight. Not sure Commented Jan 1, 2016 at 16:21
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    Also - not worth adding to the answer, but the script says "The two women move for each other. And Leia takes Rey's face in her hands. Despite her heartbreak, she is grateful. She embraces Rey. A mother's embrace". Read into that what you will. Commented Jan 2, 2016 at 8:03
  • Well... If this "sweetheart" detail is for good, I recall Han Solo using this term repeatedly in the original movies, while I can't remember any other character using that expression. Could that be a clue?
    – LcSalazar
    Commented Jan 18, 2016 at 20:56

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