Names are important in stories. They are identifiers of character and purpose. This series looks at the hidden meanings of names in the galaxy far, far away.
The surname ‘Tico’ is predominantly found in Latin America and translates directly to ‘a male from Costa Rica’. Costa Rica, like Alderaan, is pacifist; they have no military and are known for progressive human-centered politics. A 1940 U.S. census listed ‘laborer’ and ‘assistant’ as the most reported jobs for men and women with the last name Tico. The meaning of the name ‘Paige’ is also ‘helper’ or ‘assistant’. A ‘Rose’, however, is a flower.
Luke, Anakin, and Rey are all introduced as nobodies from a nowhere desert planet. But they all seek the truth about their family to achieve a sense of belonging. Darth Vader, Queen Amidala, and Kylo Ren hide their true selves behind a mask and pseudonym. But their familial connections are a key component to their story and identity. Names, family, and identity are important to Ezra Bridger in Rebels, Jyn Erso in Rogue One, and Din Djarin in The Mandalorian. These themes are prevalent across the franchise, as integral to Star Wars as hope and resistance.
But while the Skywalkers begin their story anonymous, they are a hidden dynasty. The leadership of the resistance has long been made up of people who can afford to spend their time and money on activism. Han Solo, Lando Calrissian, and Finn are all called out for putting their own interests ahead of the Rebellion’s but they don’t have a bloodline or a safety net.
The Organas and Kryzes are royalty. Hera Syndulla and Sabine Wren are from wealthy homes. Galen Erso has enough money to run away. Even the Lars family owns land and property. The Jedi eschew wealth along with attachment but it is their choice and their needs are taken care of. In contrast, Rose and her sister watch what little they have be taken from them.
Rose Tico is not a protagonist, antagonist, love interest, mentor, or tragic hero. She’s not a general. Instead, she’s all of us. Rose is radicalized by firsthand experience with an unjust system. She is not destined to be a hero. She chooses to become one.
The oldest and most fatal ailment of all republics
In The Last Jedi Rose and DJ pull back the curtain on income inequality in the Star Wars universe. It was always there: propping up Leia and holding back Han, allowing the Republic and the Jedi to turn a blind eye to slavery, breathing life into the underground crime syndicate. But Rose and DJ make it explicit. They tell Finn, and the audience: the anonymous wealthy don’t care who is in charge, only that whoever it is keeps creating profit for them.
Bail Organa and Mon Mothma, Obi-Wan Kenobi and Yoda, want the Republic restored. Leia was raised to fight against the Empire and for the Republic. Luke is taught to emulate the Jedi Order. But the Republic didn’t help Shmi Skywalker. The Jedi Order didn’t save Anakin. The Empire is worse, of course, but better doesn’t mean good or right. Rose understands that restoring the status quo isn’t enough, the system needs to change.
“That’s how we’re gonna win. Not fighting what we hate. Saving what we love.”Star Wars: The Last Jedi
Rose, DJ, and Kylo Ren see their galaxy for what it is: a cycle of perpetual war that benefits a tiny percentage of the population. DJ chooses to exploit the system for his own profit. Kylo wants to kill the past, to blow everything up and break all ties. Rose believes destruction is beside the point, what matters is protecting what we care about. And that truth is just as wrapped up in family matters as all the Skywalkers: her sister blew up a dreadnought and it changed nothing. The First Order barely blinked before continuing their pursuit. Paige succeeded, but she didn’t win.
Roses are perennials. They come back year after year, beautiful and full of thorns. Since Ancient Greece the rose has been a symbol of love.
Rose Tico is a maintenance worker. She fixes things. Rose Tico is a resistance fighter. She disrupts the system by setting a bunch of animals free. Rose Tico is an inspiration. She spreads the promise of rebellion to a child trapped by the same system she and her sister fought to escape. Rose Tico is proof we don’t need a dynasty or a destiny to make a difference. We just need to act.
Rose Tico is a progressive laborer for love, just like her name tells us.