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In A New Hope Luke consistently says he wants to join the (Imperial) Academy. Owen keeps saying he should wait but Beru pushes Owen to let him go. Could she be referring to him seeing Kenobi and not the Academy?

It seems the main hole is in Beru's remarks, since if it's taken at face value you’re left with a woman sending her fugitive son to the Imperial doorstep.

Hopefully somebody has a half decent answer to this.

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    From a certain point of view. – Lenie Lenape Mar 4 '15 at 16:10
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    Good question. +1. I suspect it might just not be in their power to keep him permanently. Or the alternative would be telling him his back-story, which they might not be prepared to do. – bitmask Mar 4 '15 at 16:12
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    Quite plausible, but with that assumption you have to also assume that when Beru tells Owen they need to let him go that they also need to tell him his backstory as you said, which Owen is obviously not prepared to do, it's almost like we're missing a line/conversation to explain this oddity. It fits on Owen's part perfectly but with Beru we have to assume that she was hinting that it was time to tell Luke. – Lenie Lenape Mar 4 '15 at 16:21
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    Beru can't take Luke's whining anymore and wants to get rid of him. – phantom42 Mar 4 '15 at 16:25
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    Very funny. Enough to risk his death? – Lenie Lenape Mar 4 '15 at 16:26
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The short answer to this is that Luke isn't a slave. Although Owen has been brow-beating his nephew on an almost continual basis (to the point that he's withdrawn his application to the Imperial Academy), the simple fact is that he's old enough to make his own decisions and they certainly can't stop him if he wants to just get up and leave.

As we see in the film's official novelisation, Luke has a gentleman's agreement with Uncle Owen to remain for one more season. Evidently this isn't the first time that he's succumbed to their persuasion:

“You know,” Luke replied distantly, “I think these ’droids are going to work out fine. In fact, I—” He hesitated, shooting his uncle a surreptitious glare. “I was thinking about our agreement about me staying on for another season.”

His uncle failed to react, so Luke rushed on before his nerve failed. “If these new ’droids do work out, I want to transmit my application to enter the Academy for next year.” Owen scowled, trying to hide his displeasure with food. “You mean, you want to transmit the application next year—after the harvest."

...

“I need you here, Luke. You understand that, don’t you?” “It’s another year,” his nephew objected sullenly. “Another year.” How many times had he heard that before? How many times had they repeated this identical charade with the same result?

As to why Beru would be more amenable to the idea, it boils down to three factors;

  • His friends have already left for the Academy:

“Owen, you can’t keep him here forever. Most of his friends are gone, the people he grew up with. The Academy means so much to him.”

  • He's clearly unhappy at home:

“He never will be, no matter how hard you try to make him one.” She shook her head slowly. “He’s got too much of his father in him.”

  • There's no evidence that entering the Academy would be a threat

Note that they didn't even bother to change his name, nor is there any special evidence that the Empire is actively seeking him. Owen seems to think that all of that Jedi nonsense is behind them now.

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    Even if Owen and Beru didn't have any concrete reason to fear the Empire, and even if they didn't know Anakin = Vader, isn't this like allowing your adopted son to join the military/bureaucracy of a fascist police state? Maybe Owen and Beru didn't totally dislike the Empire, or were one of those conservative old folks who welcome police states because "they keep the order"? – Andres F. Sep 10 '15 at 22:44
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    @AndresF. - The imperial academy also supplied ships crews, merchant navy, medics, home-defence pilots, etc. It wasn't all cruising around in TIE-fighters killing passing terrorists – Valorum Sep 10 '15 at 22:58
  • True. I understand the Empire provides logistics, technology, education, etc., and that as an institution it's therefore somewhat unavoidable if you want to make something of your life. But like someone else said in a related question, isn't this like (and please excuse Godwin's Law) Owen and Beru considering allowing Luke joining the Nazi bureaucracy and risking that he might end up joining the SS, instead of explaining to him he is Jewish? Actually, as shocking as this sounds, it's actually a valid survival plan... just not sure if this is what Star Wars intended. – Andres F. Sep 10 '15 at 23:11
  • @AndresF. - You're reading far too much into this. Don't forget that Tatooine is a very long way from both the Empire and the Rebellion. As far as Beru and Owen are concerned, the Academy is just a fancy school, like sending your son to Sandhurst Military Academy – Valorum Sep 10 '15 at 23:20
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    From what we saw in "The Phantom Menace," the Old Republic never did much of anything for Tatooine. I don't think the upper crust on Tatooine even considered the planet part of the Republic, really. Slavery existed there, and Republic money wasn't accepted as legal tender when Qui-Gon Jinn wanted to use it to pay for some repairs to his ship. So I'd go along with the idea that, from Owen and Beru's point of view, neither Republic nor Empire had ever lifted a finger to make things better (or worse) for the average citizen on Tatooine, and there really wasn't much difference between the two. – Lorendiac Aug 5 '16 at 0:29
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Although we as the audience see the inherent risk in allowing young Luke Skywalker to join the Imperial navy, Owen & Beru Lars did not.

To the Lars family, and the galaxy at large, Darth Vader and Anakin Skywalker were not the same person. To anyone not in the know, Anakin Skywalker was just a Jedi pilot who had been killed during the events of The Clone Wars. And the only people "in the know" were Yoda, Obi-Wan Kenobi, and Bail Organa. They therefore had no reason to think that the last name Skywalker would be noticed by anyone... surely not by the Emperor or even Vader.

Without knowing his role in galactic events, the Lars found themselves in a common situation. Young men from many worlds - especially rural or remote ones - sought to join the Empire as a way to get out and see the galaxy, a way to seek adventure. Whereas Owen would prefer that Luke stay close and safe, Beru understood that parents must eventually let their children go their own way. And, as she stated to Owen, Luke would never be content with life as a moisture farmer - he simply had too much of his father (the pilot/adventurer) in him.

Related: Was Vader's true identity a secret?

As for the Academy being dangerous in general, there are two things to consider:

  • Firstly, the Empire never had much of a presence on Tattooine. The only exposure that the Lars family would have had were the stormtroopers stationed in Mos Eisley or Mos Espa. It's entirely possible that they had an ambivalent attitude regarding the Empire and/or its true nature.
  • Secondly, is this really any different than the millions of families here on Earth that have children join the armed forces? Obviously there's a potential danger involved, but it's generally treated as the young person's decision. Parents may not like it, but there's not a lot they can do. Owen & Beru were probably grateful that Luke was asking for permission instead of just running off to join up without their blessing. From THAT point of view, Owen was trying to be fair by saying that he could do it "next season".
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    People not knowing Lord Vader to be a Skywalker is an excellent point explaining the actions of Luke's step family. – Ghanima Mar 4 '15 at 22:46
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    A new hope not starting as a series where papá Skywalker existed as a central figure of a prequel explains the actions of his step parents too. – user16696 Jun 17 '15 at 18:29
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Owen wants him to stay, to help farm. Beru recognizes that he isn't a farmer and wont be happy there.

Luke's just not a farmer, Owen. He has too much of his father in him.

People often join the military in order to 'get out there and see the world' in this case galaxy. Luke wants to get out and seek adventure.

Owen and Beru are probably indifferent to the Empire, because they likely haven't had any issues with them before. Up until the stormtroopers kill them for harboring stolen droids.

For questions relating to whether Vader knew Luke was his son prior to the post-events of the Battle of Yavin see these questions:

When and how does Vader learn that Luke is his son?

Was Vader's true identity a secret?

If Obi-Wan and Yoda were trying to keep Luke safe from Vader, why would they let him keep the Skywalker name?

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    But wouldn't they name of "Skywalker" set off a few proverbial warning bells in the Imperial military.Surely there's risk to Luke attending the school of the enemy. – Lenie Lenape Mar 4 '15 at 16:23
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    If the Emperor or Darth Vader reviews all new recruits, yes, otherwise probably not. There are likely only a select few that recognize "Skywalker" as something significant. – Jack B Nimble Mar 4 '15 at 16:45
  • Again you have a pretty good point, I suppose no one would pay much attention to the Imperial military for fugitives of the Imperial military. Like hiding in plain sight. All the same I'm curious to what other have to say. – Lenie Lenape Mar 4 '15 at 16:48
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    Why is Luke a fugitive? Only Obiwan and Organa know he exists. – Jack B Nimble Mar 4 '15 at 16:54
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    @LenieLenape Vader assumed Padme died without giving birth. And his mother was already dead leaving him no siblings. If he saw a fleet pilot named Skywalker he might think it odd, but would have no reason to suspect he was related to them and certainly not be "VERY suspicious." – Jack B Nimble Mar 4 '15 at 19:16
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I didn't think the "academy" was necessarily an Imperial organization...it may have been a prep school run by the local system to train starship crews, some of whom may have gone on to be employed in the Imperial forces, but the academy itself was not directly affilitated with the central Imperial government.

  • Interesting theory, but do you have any evidence for it? – Jason Baker Jun 17 '15 at 18:19
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    Having just listened to this deleted scene again: youtu.be/5ovJcIFwZ3k?t=7m10s I think he may be right. Biggs, already at "the Academy" says he's not going to wait around to be drafted by the Empire. That doesn't settle it, but from that context it seems more like it was a non-Empire academy, though still with a risk of being drafted to serve the Empire. – Dronz Jun 23 '15 at 2:25

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