But when the mask was finally off and set aside, Luke gazed on his father’s face. It was the sad, benign face of an old man. Bald, beardless, with a mighty scar running from the top of his head to the back of the scalp, he had unfocused, deepset, dark eyes, and his skin was pasty white, for it had not seen the sun in two decades. (…) Vader saw his son crying, and knew it must have been at the horror of the face the boy beheld. It intensified, momentarily, Vader’s own sense of anguish—to his crimes, now, he added guilt at the imagined repugnance of his appearance.
But then this brought him to mind of the way he used to look—striking, and grand, with a wry tilt to his brow that hinted of invincibility and took in all of life with a wink. Yes, that was how he’d looked once. And this memory brought a wave of other memories with it. Memories of brotherhood, and home. His dear wife. The freedom of deep space. Obi-Wan. Obi-Wan, his friend… (…) Memories of molten lava, crawling up his back… no. This boy had pulled him from that pit—here, now, with this act. This boy was good. 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. (…)
He focused on Luke once again, and saw his son was crying. Yes, that was it, he was tasting his boy’s grief—because he looked so horrible; because he was so horrible. But he wanted to make it all right for Luke, he wanted Luke to know he wasn’t really ugly like this, not deep inside, not all together. With a little self-deprecatory smile, he shook his head at Luke, explaining away the unsightly beast his son saw. “Luminous beings are we, Luke—not this crude matter.”
- Return of the Jedi Novel, by James Kahn.