(In The Force Awakens, Han has precisely the same attitude toward Kylo, his son, as Luke did toward his father, Kylo’s grandfather. True, that didn’t work out so great. But just wait. For the third trilogy, I predict that some redemption is on the way, and for more than one character. You’ll see.)
In A New Hope, Anakin is the satanic figure, the embodiment of evil. He is made good because his son insists on seeing good in him, and chooses to loves him, and because in the end, he chooses to love him back.
The redemption scene is preceded by a vicious fight between father and son. (Every son wants that, a lot, and also hates and is terrified by the idea.) Vader ought to win, as he did in The Empire Strikes Back; he is far bigger and appears stronger. But trained by Yoda, Luke succeeds in gaining the upper hand. Vader is forced back, losing his balance, and he is knocked down the stairs. Luke stands at the top, ready to attack. On the verge of victory, he refuses to do so. With his soft, youthful voice he says, “I will not fight you, Father.” In his menacing baritone, Vader responds, “You are unwise to lower your defenses.” As Vader senses that Luke has a sister, he threatens her with a kind of finality: “Obi-Wan was wise to hide her from me. Now his failure is complete. If you will not turn to the Dark Side, then perhaps she will.”
It’s at that stage that Luke falls into a Dark Side rage and slashes off his father’s right hand at the wrist (a kind of emasculation). Vader is at his son’s mercy. The Emperor to Luke: “Good! Your hate has made you powerful. Now, fulfill your destiny and take your father’s place at my side!” But rejecting what he himself is becoming, Luke refuses to commit patricide: “You’ve failed, Your Highness. I am a Jedi, like my father before me.” It is then that the Emperor tries to kill Luke, hurling lightning bolts at him. Christlike, Luke asks, “Father, please. Help me.” At the last possible moment, Vader lifts the Emperor and hurls him to his death, saving his son; but Vader himself is dying.
Here’s the redemption scene:
Darth Vader: Luke … help me take this mask off.
Luke: But you’ll die.
Darth Vader: Nothing … can stop that now. Just for once … let me … look on you with my own eyes.
[Luke takes off Darth Vader’s mask one piece at a time. Underneath, Luke sees the face of a pale, scarred, bald-headed old man—his father, Anakin. Anakin sadly looks at Luke but then gives a tired smile.]
Anakin: Now … go, my son. Leave me.
Luke: No. You’re coming with me. I’ll not leave you here, I’ve got to save you.
Anakin: You already … have, Luke. You were right. You were right about me. Tell your sister … you were right.
[Anakin smiles and his eyes begin to droop, slumping down in death while giving one last dying breath.]
For a fairy tale, that’s good. Actually, it’s very good. It’s even great. And a nice bit from the novelization: “The boy was good, and the boy had come from him—so there must have been good in him, too. He smiled up again at his son, and for the first time, loved him. And for the first time in many long years, loved himself again, as well.” (One reason we love other people is that they help us to love ourselves. Luke did that for Anakin, and Han tried to do it for Kylo.)