Han and Chewie: How Aliens Taught Me About True Friendship.

     Star Wars is a story modeled on Joseph Campbell's The Heroes Journey, which is a cycle of story points that nearly every modern and ancient story are based on. A design theory that George Lucas holds to with nearly all of his stories as a path to a perfect story. You have loved this story arc design in stories throughout time in the form of Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, The Hunger Games and even in the stories of Buddha, Moses, and Christ. 

     It is a pathway where the hero, in this case Luke Skywalker, goes from an ordinary person to a legend who overcomes their past, their fears, and fights their way to victory against the big evil in their life with the help of an old wise teacher.

     This is why as characters Han and Chewie mean so much to me. Because their primary story doesn't fit into the student and teacher story structure. Technically, they do fit in the Heroes Journey story structure as they are Step 6: Tests, Allies and Enemies, where the hero enters the larger world (Mos Eisley) and meet their first challenge (Stormtroopers) and then finds the allies who will help them along this path (The ever loveable Han and Chewie). But what makes these characters so meaningful is their love for each other. Not the love shared by lovers where they show outward love for one another, but instead the begrudging, unmentioned love between friends who will have each other's back forever. An unlikely pair of companions who don't share a language, food choices, morality or even a grooming regimen.

This is the story of a boy and his dog. 

 " Never tell me the odds! " ―Han Solo  Photo courtesy of Walt Disney Company / Lucas Films Promotions

"Never tell me the odds!" ―Han Solo

Photo courtesy of Walt Disney Company / Lucas Films Promotions

     Anyone who has had a dog knows that bond. Knows that you don't needs words to talk to each other, share cultural touch stones or hobbies and there is something special about this relationship where walls that are there with every other human don't exist. Hell most of you would probably be more affectionate with a strange dog you walk past on the street than you would be with people you call true friends. Let's be honest, how many friends do you have whose poop you would pick up or give a bath or spoon in a totally platonic manner? I'm not judging, but I'm gunna guess very few.

     As old and complete as Campbell's structure of myths is and as much as it relates to stories told before we could record language, these myths are not as old as the bond we have forged with these companions, partners, or as the classic saying goes, man's best friend. 

     Now you might be able to point to dozens of other wonderful stories about a boy and his dog, and wonder what is so special about this one, but the special thing about this story is something you might not have realized. 

     Han Solo is the dog. 

     Think about it. Anyone who has a dog knows that when you go to the park or a walk around the neighborhood you will meet other dogs and their owners, when you see them you think "Oh look Peanut is here" and never "Oh Greg and Susan are here with their dog". Likely you don't even know Greg and Susan's names. All you know about is the plucky little companion, full of life, always off to find a new adventure, chase a stick, making a friend or pulling a dumb face that makes your heart melt and you fall in love. This is Han Solo.

     Behind this dog is their human. Someone who physically towers over the them, and though they may seem to be the one doing the following in the end when the human wants to go they go. They are fine with the dog getting into a scrap here and there but if it looks like it is getting too rough all it takes is a yell and waving of hands and everyone knows the adult is here and both sides back down. This is Chewbacca. 

     Han Solo is a charming, scruffy lookin' scamp who runs around the galaxy chasing adventure, ladies, and things he probably shouldn't do. Though generally well behaved he does occasionally make the wrong call like chasing something he shouldn't (Stormtroopers down a hallway) or making bad choices like wanting to have fun rather than join the alliance. But his best friend is always there to offer training on how to act to be better behaved. Sound like familiar behaviour? 

     Chewbacca on the other hand is an ancient creature who who doesn't speak the same language as his best friend and was around for what would amount to several of Han's life times before they ever met, and they know that one day even though Chewie is much older, he will outlive his little buddy. He's probably had best friends before Han and will likely have them after but right now, there is nothing that can separate them. Afterall though Han was a dirty stray, he was the one who saved Chewie from slavery. Ofter times with dog owners you question who it was that rescued who? The human saving the dog or the dog saving the human. Sound familiar? 

     What makes this story special is that Star Wars has taken this classic relationship and has made us relate to the dog, not the human. Through Han and Chewie we can see life through the eyes we never have before. It gives us a deeper understanding of ourselves through that we will never get to see in person. The life of a loving dog owner, and their better half, only with more laser swords.