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At the beginning of Return of the Jedi Luke Skywalker sends R2-D2 and C-3PO to Jabba the Hutt as a "gift", a sign of respect. By doing this, he hopes to win Han Solo's release.

Obviously, Luke probably always knew that Jabba would never voluntarily turn over Han, and there would eventually be violence. Offering the droids, attempting peaceful negotiations, and repeatedly warning Jabba of utter destruction, were his way of attempting to resolve the situation with no bloodshed.

What was Luke's plan if Jabba actually agreed to let Han go in exchange for the droids and the money Han owed? Was he really willing to let the droids go?

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    He probably would have been willing, the heroes in Star Wars are total droid racists. Consider for instance Obi-Wan's comment in Attack of the Clones "Well if droids could think, there'd be none of us here, would there?" And of course none of them seem to have a problem with droid enslavement, the use of restraining bolts and memory wipes, etc. I don't think Lucas takes the plight of droids very seriously either, for example the torture of the dustbin droid in Jabba's palace seemed to be played more as comedy than horror: starwars.wikia.com/wiki/Dustbin_Droid – Hypnosifl Jun 24 '14 at 3:04
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    @Hypnosifl: Luke seems to treat his droids more like valued pets, or later, human servants, rather than as disposable slaves. His reactions to the idea of Artoo being "sold into Imperial slavery" (Luke's own words) in Heir to the Empire, as well as his - and Leia's - opinions on the mistreatment of droids in The New Rebellion are a sign of this. While ROTJ pre-dates those novels, it is unlikely that Luke displays the 'droid racism' that was prevalent among other Star Wars characters. He's more like Benedict Cumberpatch than Michael Fassbender, if we're using the slavery metaphor. – James Sheridan Jun 24 '14 at 3:42
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    The fact Luke hid his new lightsaber inside Artoo indicates he never intended to let Jabba keep the droids. – SeanR Mar 30 '17 at 6:06
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In the epilogue to Shadows of the Empire, it is established that Luke has no intention of letting Jabba keep the droids. The epilogue actually has Luke's inner monologue while recording the message. While Luke does believe that things would be much easier if Jabba agreed to bargain with Luke and/ or the Alliance for the release of Han Solo, he does not expect Jabba to do so, and is simply baiting a trap.

It is further established, in The Paradise Snare and The Hutt Gambit, the first two books of The Han Solo Trilogy, that it is common practice among the Hutts to send a 'business' (ie; criminal) rival a message that simultaneously contains a threat and a gift. This is a part of Hutt culture that Luke, a native of Tatooine, was likely familiar with. If Luke wasn't familiar with such Hutt cultural nuances, Chewbacca certainly was. By offering Jabba the droids as a gift, he is simultaneously increasing the odds that Jabba will actually bargain for Solo's life by being friendly, showing his own cultural worth through his familiarity with Hutt culture, threatening Jabba with the might of the Rebel Alliance (Last Man Standing, a fantastic short-story about Boba Fett in Tales of the Bouty Hunters, establishes that most of Jabba's subordinates were planning to flee after Jabba executed Solo, Chewbacca, and Skywalker, as they thought the Rebel Alliance would launch a retaliatory strike that Jabba, for all his might, had no chance of surviving), and baiting his trap by getting Artoo, with Luke's lightsaber, through Jabba's security. Growing up on Tatooine, the idea that Jabba would take him outside the palace for the execution is also something Luke would have known.

As for what Luke would do if Jabba surprised him by actually agreeing to negotiate; that's a very interesting question. Luke obviously believed he could get Jabba to give up Solo by using his Jedi mind tricks, with Leia, Lando, and the droids simply as a back-up in case that failed. He would presumably have also taken the droids with him if that worked. If Jabba agreed to negotiate and mind-tricks were not necessary or effective, Luke likely planned to also negotiate for the droids. It is unclear exactly how much authority Luke had from the Rebel Alliance, but Leia certainly had the authority to make a devil's bargain with Jabba, giving him a great deal of autonomy in Hutt Space and possibly even military backing for a coup on the Hutt homeworld of Nal Hutta; far more important than controlling Tatooine and Nar Shaddaa. She could even have offered Alliance help in eliminating what was left of Black Sun for Jabba; he would have liked that.

Failing all of this, it is never established, either in the films or anywhere in the EU,what exactly Luke would have done about the droids if Jabba had agreed to give up Solo. He definitely would not have willingly let them stay with Jabba; in Heir to the Empire, he has to fight back a very angry response when Talon Karrde suggests selling Artoo to the Empire and letting Luke return to the New Republic.

It is possible that Luke, despite his recent Jedi training, was still not quite over the impulsive behaviour of his youth, and didn't actually think through all the possible permutations of his plan before launching it. After all, he didn't seem to consider the possibility that Leia would get raped while in Jabba's palace, which is a real possibility in Last Man Standing, where she is given to Boba Fett for the night as "a gift from Jabba." If Fett weren't a stand-up guy for a criminal - he gives Leia the bed and sleeps sitting up in a chair, telling her that "sex between those who are unmarried is immoral." "So's rape." - things could have gone very wrong there.

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    Does Luke's inner monologue say that he doesn't expect there's any chance Jabba will accept, or does it say that even if Jabba did accept Luke wouldn't let him keep the droids? – Hypnosifl Jun 24 '14 at 3:34
  • It states that he doesn't expect Jabba will accept. He never states, even in his monologue, what his intentions would be towards the droids if Jabba accepted his offer for Solo. – James Sheridan Jun 24 '14 at 3:38

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