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In the movie Star Wars - A New Hope (1977), Obi-Wan takes Luke to Mos Eisley. Obi-Wan explains everything about the place to Luke.

Mos Eisley Spaceport. You will never find a more wretched hive of scum and villainy. We must be cautious.

Luke has lived on Tatooine since he was a child, with his uncle Owen and aunt Beru.
So my question is: If Luke grew up on Tatooine, why did Obi-Wan have to explain the full details about Mos Eisley to him? Did Luke not know about Mos Eisley even though it was so close that they drove his landspeeder to it?

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    "explains everything"? ..... its a comment and a word of caution – iandotkelly Jul 29 '18 at 14:47
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    Why do you assume that it was necessary for him to say it? Maybe he just wanted to share his feelings about having to visit the place. – Solomon Slow Jul 29 '18 at 18:02
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    A single sentence doesn't seem like "full details" to me. – Stop Harming Monica Jul 30 '18 at 10:37
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    The same reason why someone from relatively nearby and fairly rural DeKalb, Illinois would have no clue about what establishments, areas and streets to avoid in Chicago, if avoiding "villainy and scum" is the goal. Isn't Luke's entire character someone who has been bored to tears, bouncing off the walls on their dirt farm? Doesn't sound like someone who know the ins and outs of the nearest spaceport. – PoloHoleSet Jul 30 '18 at 22:16
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    To me it doesn't seem like he's explaining anything to Luke. He's just saying an equivalent of "Ah, this place. I don't like it much. Don't go off on your own." – DarthFennec Jul 30 '18 at 22:28
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There’s definitely exposition for the audience, but even in-world Obi-Wan is much more experienced than Luke is. Luke may know the place is a rough area, but “old Ben” who fought in the Clone Wars is basically telling him that it’s one of the toughest places he’s seen. It’s a warning on top of whatever rumors Luke may have heard.

Or... it’s just commentary. People say unnecessary things all the time. It’s kind of human nature

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    This. He's not playing tourguide, he's thinking out loud as many people (particularly older people) are prone to do. Plus, considering the striking clifftop setting when he says it, he may just be indulging his own flair for the dramatic with a little purple-prose commentary. That it also serves to highlight to Luke that he should be wary is really just a bonus. – Ruadhan2300 Jul 31 '18 at 13:29
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    @Ruadhan2300 I'm getting old. Do I think out loud? I don't think so. Maybe I tend to ramble some. Or do I? I'm just trying to share my knowledge and wisdom with others. It's not rambling when you're trying to inform people, is it? Or maybe it is ... – Jay Aug 2 '18 at 17:32
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    Seriously, good answer. If, say, I took my kids to a city with a high crime rate, it would not be absurd for me to say, "Be careful now. There's a lot of crime in this city." Even if they knew this city had a high crime rate and I knew that they knew, it would not be an unlikely thing for me to say. – Jay Aug 2 '18 at 17:40
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    It could be like starting to enter Kansas City and as you cross the city line, you say "Kansas Ctiy. This place has a lot of interesting history, including mob history." – MissouriSpartan Aug 2 '18 at 17:57
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    Can I also throw in that I've lived on Earth my whole life... that doesn't mean I know what some dodgy town in the middle of the DRC is like... – Persistence Aug 5 '18 at 14:29
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I'd like to offer an in-universe answer.

Owen Lars, Luke's uncle, is a very conservative person. Living on a relatively outlaw world with species aggressive towards humans such as the Sand People, he is focussed on his farm.

He's been given responsibility for Luke, almost certainly knowing his true parentage, he tries to bring him up as a farmer and tries to discourage his tendency to want to leave. At the start of the movie there is an exchange about him going to the Academy, which Owen refuses:

OWEN You must understand I need you here, Luke.

LUKE But it's a whole 'nother year.

OWEN Look, it's only one more season.

LUKE Yeah, that's what you said last year when Biggs and Tank left.

Some of this fear of the unknown and conservative nature has rubbed off on Luke. When Ben/Obi-wan suggests that Luke accompany him taking the plans to Alderaan, he is suddenly nervous:

LUKE I can't get involved! I've got work to do! It's not that I like the Empire. I hate it! But there's nothing I can do about it right now. It's such a long way from here.

BEN That's your uncle talking.

LUKE Oh boy, my uncle. How am I ever going to explain this?

BEN Learn about the Force, Luke.

LUKE Look, I can take you as far as Anchorhead. You can get a transport there to Mos Eisley or wherever you're going.

Anchorhead is the nearest small town to the farm, but given that Mos Eisley is a spaceport and Owen is nervous about Luke leaving it seems very likely that Luke has never been allowed to travel as far as Mos Eisley.

So when Ben and Luke stop and we see them overlooking the city, it's very likely that this is the first time Luke has been there. Ben isn't explaining that Mos Eisley is a space port, or where it is. It's clear that Luke already knew that it was the nearest place to get off-planet.

Everything we've seen about Luke so far is that he has lived a very sheltered life, a product of his upbringing on a remote farm by an arguably overprotective uncle. Ben's line is just a comment, giving Luke a warning that this place is rougher than he is used to.

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    Exactly. From what happens in the cantina, it seems pretty clear that Luke is clueless about the "big city". – Matthew Read Jul 29 '18 at 21:56
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    It would also be possible that Owen told Luke lots of places were dangerous because he wanted Luke to stay away from them, and Luke may not have known which warnings to take seriously. – supercat Jul 30 '18 at 14:43
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    Isolating a child you're supposed to be keeping a secret, whose unchanged last name is shared by the most terrifying mass murderer in the empire, is also a pretty good reason why you don't want to trot him out in a crowded area. – DoctorHeckle Jul 30 '18 at 16:04
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    @DoctorHeckle Well yeah, but Tatooine doesn't seem like the sort of planet where there's an ID out there with his name on it. – Azor Ahai Jul 30 '18 at 22:00
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    I know this is probably from the official transcript, but I went to go see why Luke would say "Oh God," and it turns out he doesn't, he says "Oh boy": scifi.stackexchange.com/questions/108573/… – JackArbiter Jul 30 '18 at 22:48
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It's called exposition, an info-dump or idiot lecture.

A plot device using characters to explain to each other what the audience needs to know about a place, character, event, history, or other or background information necessary to the plot, hopefully without the audience noticing this is being done entirely for their benefit.

Exposition is the most subtle of these and can be done by a skilful writer without the audience being aware it's happening.

At the other end of the scale is the 'idiot lecture' where characters are discussing things necessary for the audience to know, but which the characters in-universe ought to already be perfectly aware of.

As the quote has now been edited in, I'd say that's 'simple exposition' - one character telling another something he didn't already know, which we, the audience, also need to know.

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    The phrasing of the question (“Luke has lived” and so on) suggests that the OP is looking for an in-universe answer. – DaG Jul 30 '18 at 14:01
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    Usually that may be the case but in this situation it seems like Luke actually hasn't been to Mos Eisely judging by his reactions. He only knows a little about it. He has led a sheltered life under his Uncle and a space port is highly likely to be a place his Uncle would have tried to prevent him from being exposed to. – Shiv Aug 1 '18 at 4:53
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Mom is taking her teenage son to the mall to buy some new pants. They get there and mom says, "Remember Jeff: we've only got an hour before we need to head over to the book store."

Jeff replies, "Yeah, mom, I know, you've told me a hundred times."

It's theoretically possible that it's the "I know we both know this but I'll feel better if I say it out loud" concept. Obi-wan knows it's a dump; Luke knows it's a dump. They both know that they need to be careful. Obi-wan just can't set his mind at ease until he voices what's on his mind.

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    +1 old people are always telling you stuff you already know. – mxyzplk says reinstate Monica Jul 31 '18 at 3:58
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    as a person named Jeff who was once a teenage boy, I approve this answer from personal experience – JDS Jul 31 '18 at 19:42
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Earlier in the movie Luke went out into the wastes to find R2-D2 and was attacked by sand people and saved by Obi-Wan.

Also against Obi-Wan's advice he return to his home that had been just been attacked by Storm Troopers.

So perhaps Obi-Wan might think that Luke is young kid that would run blindly into danger, and could use a reminder to try avoid getting himself killed in Mos Eisley. The reminder didn't seem to work too well since Obi-Wan had to save him from Ponda Baba.

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It's a re-affirmation of the archetypal journey to the underground where the boy will have a chance to become the hero.

  • How does that answer the question? – Luciano Aug 6 '18 at 12:36
  • I think it answers it by saying Obi Wan explained to the audience they were going to the underground among the worst of the worst instead of just a normal everyday space port. He's not really talking to Luke but to the viewers subconscious. – Omicron Aug 6 '18 at 12:45
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It's part of his character as an upstanding person. Luke's Uncle Owen called Ben a "Crazy Old Hermit". Hey, maybe on Tatooine, crazy old hermits head to Mos Eisley on the weekend to partake in debauchery.

But not old Ben Kenobi-- he's passing judgement on this place, and he doesn't approve of it.

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As I know from the movie, Luke has never been to Mos Eisely before. Because Luke's uncle Owen raised him like that. Luke had only been as far as Anchorhead, so Obi-Wan has to explain the details about the place Mos Eisley.

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protected by Napoleon Wilson Jul 31 '18 at 8:41

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