Thursday, December 7, 2006

Jacen! Jacen! Jacen!

hen DelRey took over the franchise, Jacen shifted from his persona in YJK to hippie in the NJO. Of course, since I started reading late, and read the YJK after the NJO, I never realized just how startling that change was. In fact, I did not see that big of a difference between how he was portrayed in earlier books like the Corellian Trilogy and the NJO. Maybe because I read YJK after earlier Bantam novels and the NJO, but it was the humorless jokes, puns and the fact that he HAD friends which seemed out of place to me when I did read the YJK.

After all, we have Han's musings on Jacen in BFC(BTS):

In some ways Jacen Solo was like any seven-year-old boy. He liked building houses from a deck of sabacc cards, driving toy speeders through mud puddles, and playing with model spacecraft. The only problem, as Han saw it, was that Jacen wanted to do all of those things with his mind rather than his hands.So far, the ability to levitate even small objects had eluded Jacen. The E-wing and TIE fighter that dueled in the air above his bed were suspended by threads, not by thoughts. But knowing that it was possible was motivation enough for Han's elder son.
Still harder to accept was seeing Jacen always playing alone, with no friends outside the family and less interest all the time in playing with Jaina or Anakin. Han blamed the lack of friends on himself and Leia. The children had been whisked from one place to another, sent away with bodyguards and hidden away with nannies, all in the name of protecting them. In the process, they had been "protected" from having anything remotely like a normal childhood. And for all that, they had still been kidnapped by Hethrir, and nearly lost.
Jacen grew up, for all intents and purposes alone and frustrated in the Force. He knows it's possible to move things, but even at seven is unable to do this to Anakin who
Han would never forget the afternoon Anakin had an hourlong, Force-assisted tantrum. Every object in the playroom was shoved or thrown against the wall, leaving the youngster alone in the middle of a bare floor, kicking his heels and pounding his fists.
So not only is he frustrated at his inability to move things, he's shown up by his little brother who did it as a temper-tantrum. Then he and Jaina get to go to the Academy while Anakin is forced to wait behind "so their parents won't be lonely" and suddenly he has a number of friends there for him.

Of course one has to wonder if they were not really Jaina's friends and Jacen was just brought along for the ride, but that's another issue...

But back on topic, he suddenly has these friends surrounding him, one of which is a beautiful Dathomari girl with a penchant for wearing form-fitting, yet revealing, leather outfits as described in:
Tenel Ka dressed like other women from Dathomir, in a brief athletic outfit made from scarlet and emerald skins of native reptiles. The flexible, lightly armored tunic and shorts left her arms and legs bare. Despite her exposed skin
So not only is one of the new people around them, giving Jacen a chance at friends for effectively the first time, one is a warrior girl, who dresses in these outfits, which show off her legs. And of course Jacen being a red-blooded teenaged male cannot help but notice such things.

But his upbringing, as well as his earlier characterization of not wanting to socialize with others, leaves him floundering for HOW to act and react around her. He literally doesn't know what he's supposed to do, so he resorts to the jokes and puns as a way to cover this lack in his social skills and knowledge.

Of course, now we need to compare/contrast this to Anakin, especially since he is described as a loner-child as well. The key difference is the fact that Anakin is not so much a loner, as he is autistic (Leia's comment about Anakin dancing to a drum that no one else knows is playing or something similar). Yet he finds himself in the same situation when he goes to the academy. His first day there, the loner who doesn't talk finds himself paired up with the girl who won't shut up. Yet in keeping with his characterization, Anakin doesn't flounder around in his attempts to relate to her, but he instinctively behaves appropriately.

Anyways back on topic again, once Jacen becomes the apprentice to Master Skywalker then he no longer has to strive to impress the girl or hide his lack of social skills. At least until VP when he is shoved literally face-to-face with the equally beautiful Danni Quee
Leaving him feeling quite naked, and leaving him, as Danni likewise released her mask and cloaker, conscious of the fact that she was in a similar state, wearing no more than a tiny loose-fitting shift. Above that level of tension, Jacen noted that his companion's shoulders bobbed with quiet sobs.
But again his lack of social abilities rears its head, while this poor girl is in trauma over Miko and the ordeal she had just suffered, he's thinking about how cute she is and the fact that they're barely dressed in the close confines of the stylus ship.

but of great importance is that the boy is learning. After all a few weeks later on Dantooine he has this conversation with Danni:
"know, it's a step on the path to the dark side." She exhaled slowly, then moved up beside him on the rampart and stared out into the darkness. The firelight flashed gold from her hair. "They had me once, and I don't want to be their prisoner again. I couldn't stand it, I just couldn't."

"They don't make a good impression on their guests, do they?"

"No." She turned to look at him, half her face hidden in shadow. "I wish I could be brave like you. You joke about being a guest."

Still joking, but he's gotten better at it. He understands the necessary social skills better, and knows how to use the jokes which his lack of understanding and fears force upon him.

Of course Traitor shattered him, and I still don't think we have seen the full repercussions of that transformation. But I'm hopeful that LotF will delve into it some.

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