When we first saw trailers for The Force Awakens, I was hoping the new character Rey would be an NT type. There are so few women of those types in fiction, especially as “light side” characters. It turns out, though, that she’s an amazing example of the ISTJ personality type, which is also one you don’t see very often in fictional women.
Rey is often typed as an ISFP or, less often, as an ISTP. These typing come from the assumption that because she’s so comfortable in the physical world and with physical activity she must be an Extroverted Sensing (Se) type. I’ll address that claim when I talk about her Sensing preference. But the main reason ISFP is such a common typing is because people see Introverted Feeling (Fi) in her function stack. This is also a function that ISTJs use.
While SP types are the ones usually cast as action heroes. SJs can certainly learn physical skills if need be. They may be inward-focused, but they’re still in tune with the physical world. They also have a good sense of self, which definitely helps Rey with her physically demanding life on Jakku. And her Force sensitivity gives her an advantage in learning combat skills. Obi-Wan Kenobi (an ISFJ) and Mace Windu (an ESTJ) are two other examples of SJ-type Force users.
Introverted Sensing (Si) relies on memories of past events, experiences, and learned facts to process what’s going on. These types filter their lives through what has already happened to them. They learn and process new information through the lens of their pasts. And they also prefer to take in new information from the physical world. That’s why Rey tries to interact with the Force in The Last Jedi by literally reaching her hand out and expects to feel it as a physical sensation.
The fact that Rey stayed so long on Jakku also says SJ type to me, as does her hesitancy to move forward into the unknown. When confronted with opportunities an Intuitive would likely find fascinating or an SP type would have found exhilarating, she simply wants to go home. Being swept up into the Resistance upsets the established order of her world and forces her to confront the fact that the story she’s built around herself (that her parents will come back) isn’t true.
My Place In All This
“Of all the types, ISTJ is the most driven to fulfill its role in society.” — Personality Hacker
“I need someone to show me my place in all this.” — Rey, The Last Jedi
In The Force Awakens, Maz Kanata tells Rey that the belonging she seeks is ahead of her, not behind. For Rey, this search for belonging isn’t just about finding her family. It’s about finding what she’s meant to do. Even more than needing to belong to someone, Rey needs to feel that she belongs to something and somewhere. She wants to have a place in the galaxy.
I think this is one of the reasons why Ben Solo’s pitch for her to join him in ruling the galaxy fell short. He read her as someone seeking connection, like he is as an ENFJ type. But being told that she means something to him even though she has “no place in this story” wasn’t enough for her. She knows who she is now and how she fits. She is a Jedi.
Yoda (an INFJ), Luke, and even Snoke see that Rey has “the spirit of a true Jedi.” She’s what the Force brought up to balance out the darkness in Ben Solo. That’s her place in all this and, like any ISTJ, once she knows what she’s meant to do and where she belongs she’s driven to fill that role.
So we’ve talked about an ISTJ’s driver process, which is Introverted Sensing. Now let’s talk about her co-pilot process, Extroverted Thinking (Te). It’s a judging processes, which means she uses it when making decisions. Te is also the one she uses most when interacting with the outer world.
Te is a mental process that Personality Hacker nicknames “Effectiveness.” This is the part of her mind Rey’s using when she’s repairing the Falcon and starts to lose patience with Finn’s incompetence (“No, the one I’m pointing to”). She also doesn’t need credit for saving Finn from the rathtars. Explaining would be inefficient, so she just says, “That was lucky” and they move on to the immediate need to escape.
Her focus on Effectiveness scares Luke when she arrives on his island in The Last Jedi. She’s willing to give both the Dark and Light a chance to show her the answers she’s looking for. Rey wants to measure and test things for herself, as any TJ type would. She’s a problem-solver, and she’s going to find the most effective way to make something work.
Rey balances out her Introverted Sensing and Extroverted Thinking with a well-developed tertiary Introverted Feeling (Fi) process. Fi users place a high value on authenticity. They’re always checking their decisions against the question, “What feels right to me?”
This is why Rey doesn’t sell BB-8 to Unkar Plutt, even though trading the droid for food would have been logical. It’s how she’s able to get past judging Ben Solo’s actions and demanding explanations for his conduct, and start connecting with his authentic self. It’s the part of her that holds on to hope and, immediately after defeating Snoke’s praetorian guard, demands that Ben do the right thing by stopping the attack on the fleet.
Rey balances her Te emphasis on doing what’s logical with her Fi perspective that she must always do what’s right. And she doesn’t understand why Luke Skywalker (who leads with Fi as an INFP) can’t do the same thing. She’s constantly trying to wake up his hope and lead him back to who she thinks he should be. But he’s trapped in an Fi-Si loop and blinded by being “in the grip” of his stress-function, Extroverted Thinking (more on that when I write a post for him).
A Solid Vision
ISTJ types have Extroverted Intuition (Ne) as their inferior function. For most types, the inferior function shows up when they’re under stress, but ISxJ types tend to come across as being constantly worried. This is because Ne deals with exploring future possibilities. Since it’s a blind-spot for ISxJ types, they’re uncomfortable with the idea of an uncertain future.
We don’t see this tendency to worry show up very much in Rey’s character. Her life on Jakku made living with hardship and danger a normal thing and she had to learn to rely on herself. But when that life is turned up-side-down, that’s when she struggles. She wants to get back to Jakku even though she already knows no one’s ever coming back for her. She won’t imagine a different future until she’s forced to. And even then she runs from Maz into the woods, trying to flee the unknown.
Once Rey connects with the Force, though, the unknown doesn’t scare her as much. She has something reliable to ground herself in. Some people who type Star Wars characters think the Force is something that only Intuitive characters can have. But for Rey and other Sensing-type Jedi, the Force is as observable and sensory as anything else in the universe. She describes her vision of Ben’s future as real and solid, as solid as seeing Luke standing there before her.
I’m excited to see how Rey’s journey plays-out in the next Episode. She’s such a well-balanced character with a strong, healthy sense of self. I love her as a role-model for young people and I feel like she’s carrying on the Skywalker legacy ideologically even though there’s no blood relation.
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