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Near the beginning of Star Wars: The Force Awakens when Rey and Finn meet for the first time, Finn claims that BB-8 supposedly has a map to Luke Skywalker and Rey responds by saying that she thought he was a myth.

The time difference between Episode VI and VII is only thirty years, so, why/how would Luke become a 'myth' in such a short amount of time?

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    The galaxy is a big place. Perhaps information doesn't flow to the people at the bottom like Rey very well. She can barely afford food, never mind newspapers or broadcast news (which I'm not sure we've ever seen in the movies). – iandotkelly Dec 7 '20 at 14:39
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    People drink a lot in SW universe. In 20 years they've forgotten about that massacre of sand people when someone killed whole village. Women and children too. Or how to check for resources needed to build not only a buttload of white armour but also a laser in the planet. Also Luke Skywalker who? apart from few people who knew his name he wasn't a general or even a high ranking officer. How many heroes from Gulf War can you name? – SZCZERZO KŁY Dec 7 '20 at 14:42
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    That is a very good counter argument @Charles. Han is a general of the Rebel Alliance, married to Leia as well - a Princess of a planet that was destroyed by the Empire. Luke perhaps retreats to training a new generation of Jedi and doesn't have such a high profile. – iandotkelly Dec 7 '20 at 14:43
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    Remember, in ANH it's clear that Han doesn't really think the Jedi ever had any legitimate powers. So even as little as 20 years or so after Order 66, even someone who traveled from system to system a lot already thought that a major force in the Republic wasn't "real". The information environment in this galaxy seems really fractured. – tbrookside Dec 7 '20 at 15:54
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    Perhaps a better question might be "why has Rey heard legends about Luke Skywalker?" From an outsider's perspective, what was his impact on a galactic-historical scale? Yes, he fired the photon torpedo that blew up the first Death Star - but without looking, what's the name of the pilot who dropped the atom bomb on Hiroshima? He was a guerrilla fighter in the battle of the second Death Star and was present for the death of the Emperor (though there were probably no living witnesses of this). Why would anyone aside from a history buff know any of this? – Juhasz Dec 7 '20 at 22:02
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30 years is a long time. A whole generation is born and has become adults. Some of them might already have children. And Order 66 was even 20 years before that.

The memory of the Jedi has faded. I'm often astonished about how little young people know about history - in my case, about the struggles in Germany after WWII, about the division of Germany in two and about the struggles for families that were on both sides of the border. Just this year it was the 30th anniversary of the re-unification, and the memory is already fading -- in an highly interconnected world where media access is ubiquitous.

Rey is living on a third-world planet, is poor and struggles with making enough money for food. It is surprising she has heard of Luke at all. And its really not surprising that she takes the stories about this great hero who she never saw, who can allegedly do magic with a hefty grain of salt. She has never seen anyone do magic, why should she believe that it does actually exist? Because from her PoV, "The Force" is nothing more than a fancy word for "magic".

Remember what Admiral Motti said?

Admiral Motti : Don't try to frighten us with your sorcerer's ways, Lord Vader. Your sad devotion to that ancient religion has not helped you conjure up the stolen data tapes, or given you clairvoyance enough to find the Rebels' hidden fort...

[Vader makes a pinching motion and Motti starts choking]

Darth Vader : I find your lack of faith disturbing.

From https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0076759/characters/nm0376405

Vader is a prominent figure in the Empire, to put it mildly, and that is in EP IV (BBY 0), so Order 66 was executed only 19 years prior. Motti is clearly old enough to remember the Jedi and Order 66, and even he doesn't really seem to believe what Vader can do -- prompting the latter to use Motti for a little demonstration.

Or what Han said in EP IV?

Han Solo : Hokey religions and ancient weapons are no match for a good blaster at your side, kid.

From https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0076759/characters/nm0000148

He clearly doesn't believe The Force is real -- and he is well travelled and a lot better informed than Rey.

Luke also wasn't much of a public figure. He was a pilot, not a general, unlike Han, who got promoted to that rank prior to the Battle of Endor and went on to become the husband of Leia Organa, who played a rather prominent role in the Rebel Alliance and later New Republic.

@Juhasz puts it very nicely in a comment:

Yes, he fired the photon torpedo that blew up the first Death Star - but without looking, what's the name of the pilot who dropped the atom bomb on Hiroshima? He was a guerrilla fighter in the battle of the second Death Star and was present for the death of the Emperor (though there were probably no living witnesses of this). Why would anyone aside from a history buff know any of this?

Given these facts, and that its 30 years later, I don't find it surprising at all that Rey thinks Luke is a myth. If I had only her information, I'd probably think so, too.

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  • Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. – Napoleon Wilson Dec 9 '20 at 19:22
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    Considering the reference to Order 66, I almost feel bad about upvoting from 66 to 67 points here ;-) – Gertsen Dec 10 '20 at 8:59
  • "He was a pilot, not a general" According to Wookiepedia he was named a General in the canon novel Alphabet Squadron. Using the movies, we don't know his rank but he was important enough in RotJ to waltz into a top-secret briefing for high ranking officers. This doesn't change the answer, you're right on the money. Luke would be niche knowledge, and Rey has better things to do. – Schwern Dec 11 '20 at 2:46
  • @Schwern: In RotJ, General Madine literally says "General Solo, is your strike team assembled?" in the meeting where the assault on Endor is discussed. He is very much a General in the movie. – Polygnome Dec 11 '20 at 7:53
  • @Polygnome Yes, Han is a General. Unless I misread, "He was a pilot, not a general" refers to Luke. – Schwern Dec 11 '20 at 8:20
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The other answer does a good job citing the Star Wars cannon. I'm going to come at it from a slightly different angle.

I'm going start with a question. How much do you remember from 1990? After all, that was 30 years ago.

I'd imagine it depends on your age, so let me ask a slightly different question: how much do you think anyone in their 20s and 30s remember from 1990? For people in their 20s, they remember absolutely nothing as they weren't even born yet. People in their early 30s, they probably don't remember very much at all about 1990, as they'd be around 1-5 years old at the time. People in their mid to late 30s, it would depend. They'd be 5-10 years old at the time. There's certainly a higher chance they remember something about 1990, but what they remember happening kind of depends.

All of this to say, someone Rey and Finn's probably remember very little about that time--if they were even alive at the time. What they do know about it is likely heavily dependent on what people who lived through those events told them about it (i.e., their parents, older friends, etc.). It isn't really real to them in the same way that Bill Clinton's election--for example--doesn't feel particularly real to people in their 20s. It's not that they deny it happened; it's just that they didn't really live through it. It doesn't have the same meaning to them as it would someone who actually lived through that.

Combine that with the fact that, as the other answer mentions, it seems like a suspect story, and you have a myth.

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  • Your lack of faith in mid thirty year olds to remember the nineties is disturbing.... – morbo Dec 13 '20 at 18:58
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    Not the 90s as in the decade. The year 1990 itself. – user70345 Dec 14 '20 at 0:33

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