What is the cave structure that Luke enters while training with Yoda on Degobah?

Nov 8, 2016

What is the structure that Luke enters during The Empire Strikes Back?

It wasn't until I read this awesome article about Ralph McQuarrie that it dawned on me that yes, what is that place that Luke ventures into on Dagobah when is is undergoing training with Master Yoda?

It seems to be a cave but it has like structure to it.

Ross Plessat asked McQuarrie and then wrote:

"Hoping to learn about the stone hallway on Dagobah where Luke confronts “Vader,” I pointed to his sketches of it and asked, “Is that a remnant of a mysterious civilization?” “It must be,” he answered.

“Somebody lives there, Yoda lives there. I don’t know very much about Dagobah.“ I replied,

“In an early script Yoda tells Luke that Dagobah had been used as a training ground for Jedi in the past, so maybe this structure was part of the academy.”

 “Could be,” he said. “There must be some barracks or something left there. [Laughs] I don’t know; I didn’t get into it with George.”

Training ground in the past?

Seems like not too bad an idea. But why would Yoda hide so close to such a place?

Couldn't Vader find him? Maybe it was a place so ancient that only people who are 900 odd years old would remember such a thing. 

Perhaps the Extended Star Wars Universe can help? The cave / structure itself is sometimes referred to the Dark Side cave. This is possibly because Dark Jedi practiced there and maybe died there. 

But frankly unless George Lucas spells it out in terms of the movie, nothing will explain it. There is however the discussion about what the cave actually represents - Dan Zehr has a pretty good go at explaining it:

"For the philosopher Plato, the cave represents the confusion between what is real, and what is false. It is a metaphorical journey into the window of one’s inner self, and just as Luke explores the inner sanctum of the cave on Dagobah, he must also journey within himself to face his biggest fears.

Not only is he concerned that the shroud of Darth Vader and the Empire will overtake his friends, but he also faces inner turmoil through the revelation of what he may become once he sees the visage of his face entombed in the black mask of the beheaded Dark Lord.

The test of the cave in literature is often as big of an exploration of unexamined geography as it is the unexamined self, and the poetry of the scene leaves us with a feeling of ominous ambiguity for the intrepid, young Skywalker."

That some pretty heavy emotional baggage from just a science fiction movie eh?

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