Revisiting the quote from the Journal of the Whills

The novelization of The Force Awakens is one of the few mentions of the Whills in any canonical Star Wars content. Apart from a few mentions here and there, they remain mysterious. But what information does this quote provide for the future of the sequel trilogy? Let’s take a look.

The aforementioned quote is from Alan Dean Foster’s novelization of TFA:

First comes the day
Then comes the night.
After the darkness
Shines through the light.
The difference, they say,
Is only made right
By the resolving of gray
Through refined Jedi sight.
Journal of the Whills, 7:477

I started looking at this quote again, keeping in mind what little we know about Episode VIII. In other words, does the quote say something only about TFA, or does it mean something as a bookend to the sequel trilogy. Rather than start at the end of the quote, let’s worked from the end back up, since this part may say the most about what is to come.

The quote ends with “refined Jedi sight”. So who could this refer to? Let’s take the word “refined”. There are basically two definitions of this word.

refined: 1. (adj.) free of impurities or unwanted elements. 2. (adj.) developed or improved.

So with the first definition, we have a Jedi that has no trace of the Dark Side. That is, if the word “refined” modifies “Jedi”. It might, however, modify “sight”, and both “refined” and “Jedi” are meant to be adjectives to describe the “sight”. So, for example, a Jedi that has a touch of the dark side may still have a “moment of clarity” of refined light-side vision.

With the second definition, we have something that perhaps comes with extensive training. At this point, I only see Luke as the only refined Jedi capable of fitting this definition. No one else, not Rey, not Kylo, not even Finn can be said to be as refined as Luke. Snoke, of course wouldn’t be able to have “Jedi sight”, in my head-canon at least, so he definitely wouldn’t qualify. That said, since “refined” can modify “sight”, it is possible that someone like Rey could have “refined sight” of the Jedi variety. Other people have pointed out that this quote refers to Luke, but I think I’m taking a different angle here, especially with my next point.

The next critical word as we work backwards through the quote is another “re-” word, in this case “resolving”. There are again two main definitions of this word.

resolving: 1. (n.) the settling of a dispute. 2. (n.) to separate into components. 

There is actually a third, less relevant definition meaning “to make a decision”, but that doesn’t seem right in context. With the two definition above the first one doesn’t make sense either. That is, most of the articles I’ve seen about this quote take the first definition, as balancing of light and dark sides of the Force, therefore resolving the differences between the light and the dark. However, if that were the case, then the quote might more likely read the “resolving of light and dark”, but instead it says “resolving of gray”. Gray isn’t a dispute, it’s the melding of light and dark in the context of this quote. Therefore, I think the second definition, of separating into two makes the most sense. Therefore, I think it means to separate light and dark, just like a prism separates out the different colors.

Pink Floyd: DSOTM
Pink Floyd: DSOTM

So what could this mean exactly? What exactly is the “gray”? The prism analogy only goes so far, and may confuse the point. What I mean is the beam of light going into the prism is the “gray”, and the prism is the “refined Jedi sight”, and the rainbow coming out of the prism is the separation of the light and dark side of the Force.

“Recognize you, I do. Part of me you are, yes, but power over me you have not. Through patience and training, it is I who control you. Control over me, you have not. My dark side you are, reject you I do.” –Yoda, Lost Missions

I am tempted to say that Kylo Ren is the gray, in the sense that he has some balance of light and dark sides of the Force. It is said in the TFA novelization that this is why Snoke desires Kylo. It could be that the key to Kylo’s redemption is for him to learn to separate his light and dark side tendencies. Another possibility is that Luke himself and his own personal struggles represents the “gray”. We don’t really know if Luke could have conflict that, as Yoda said, can be overcome through patience and training. It’s also possible that Rey may also end up flirting with the dark side, and she has shown some anger in some instances. Hence, she could end up being the “gray”.


However with the new Blu-ray commentary for TFA just released, we get a glimpse into the motivation of the film-makers here. In the latest edition of Star Wars Underworld podcast, they point out the scene at the end where Rey has her moment of clarity during her fight with Kylo that lets the Force in. In the novelization, Rey yells out “Monster!” and kicks Kylo. However, the final version of the movie has Rey have a magic moment with the Force, and it works beautifully on screen. By removing the “Monster” outburst, it also further reinforces that Rey is on the light side and not on the gray path.

Either way, perhaps “resolving the gray” is precisely what Yoda did in his arc in the Lost Missions in the quote above. He actually separated his dark side out, and fought the physical manifestation of this dark side. By resolving the gray, he was able confront his dark side directly, and overcome it.

Lucasfilm/Disney: Clone Wars, Lost Missions

I thought it was interesting that the two words “resolving” and “refined” may be a case of alliteration in a poem that otherwise uses just rhyme. Could that be drawing attention to these two words?

Taken together, the end of this quote suggests that Luke will be the key to redeeming a gray character, perhaps through a vision, and ultimately by separating the gray character’s light and dark sides.

The rest of the quote, I think refers to the rise and fall of the Jedi (the day and night, respectively). Although the light shined through with Anakin Skywalker destroying the Sith, something wasn’t finished. Something wasn’t “made right”. This might be because even though Anakin destroyed the Sith, and brought balance to the Force, the result is a new era of “gray” Force users, that straddle the boundary between the light side of the Force and the dark side.

Lucasfilm/Disney Star Wars Rebels Season 3
Lucasfilm/Disney Star Wars Rebels Season 3

In Rebels, this is becoming increasingly the theme. There is the Bendu, and a key plot point in one of the best episodes yet involves Maul and Ezra working together to merge Jedi and Sith Holocrons. This “gray” Holocron emits amazing amounts of light (shines through the light?) as well as provides answers to any question. No one knows what sort of machinations the creation of this gray Holocron will start. Could it be that the melding of light and dark powers, a growing theme of the gray in the Sequel trilogy, began as part of Rebels? Or is Rebels just following a similar trajectory that we’ll see in the sequel trilogy? Leave your comments below.

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