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Picking Apart Twilight, The Novel – Chapter 9

October 16, 2011

9. THEORY
A lot of what happens in this chapter lines up with how it’s presented in the movie, it just happens in a different place and at a different time. In the movie, most of this conversation happens quite a bit later, outside, in the forests near Forks High School. This time, it’s all happening in Edward’s car on the way back from Port Angeles.

“Well… you said you knew I hadn’t gone into the bookstore, and that I had gone south. I was just wondering how you knew that.”

“Fine, then. I followed your scent.” He looked at the road, giving me time to compose my face. I couldn’t think of an acceptable response to that, but I filed it carefully away for future study.

You’re reacting quite a bit on the calm side for somebody who not only admitted that he’s been following you, but also admitted that he was following you by smell. That’s pretty much a Let-Me-Out-Of-This-Car-Right-This-Instant moment for me.

“Why do you think you can’t hear me?” I asked curiously.
He looked at me, his eyes enigmatic.
“I don’t know,” he murmured. “The only guess I have is that maybe your mind doesn’t work the same way the rest of theirs do. Like your thoughts are on the AM frequency and I’m only getting FM.” He grinned at me, suddenly amused.
“My mind doesn’t work right? I’m a freak?” The words bothered me more than they should – probably because his speculation hit home. I’d always suspected as much, and it embarrassed me to have it confirmed.

This whole exchange bothers me for a number of reasons. For one, let’s say that Bella’s brain is indeed set to “AM” rather than “FM”. Why the hell is she the only one on that frequency? All you’ve basically done by phrasing it in radio terminology is… well, just that, state the same information in a different way. There’s no special reason why she’s the only person in the world whose brain he can’t hear. The only real answer is because she’s “different”. She’s a complete Mary Sue special little snowflake.

On top of that, there’s a really strange sort of tugging between feeling pity for her and admiring her coming from this book. A common trait in Mary Sue characters will be that they’re so different and so embarrassed by being so different, when in reality it’s nothing they should be embarrassed about at all. By being some kind of a “freak”, which is a word that should have negative connotation, in actuality it’s just another way of identifying Bella as being so different that she’s actually “special”. Even if she’s concerned about why she’s the only one whose thoughts he can’t hear, isn’t there really no downside to that? Doesn’t that make you… kinda awesome, actually? You know what makes this even better? What everybody seems to miss is that this makes their relationship NOT SPECIAL AT ALL. It means that they have to work hard to communicate with one another LIKE EVERYBODY ELSE. So, while the book is having you believe that this girl is special, in reality, there’s nothing special happening.

Or, you know, maybe Edward just can’t read Bella’s mind because there’s nothing in her mind to read. Yeah, that’s another likely option, I guess.

Edward is driving crazy fast. It freaks Bella out.

“I’ve never been in an accident, Bella – I’ve never even gotten a ticket.” He grinned and tapped his forehead. “Built-in radar detector.”

Bella tells Edward that she’s been told by Jacob that he’s a vampire, and that she tricked the information out of him.

“Tricked him how?” he asked.
“I tried to flirt – it worked better than I thought it would.” Disbelief colored my tone as I remembered.
“I’d like to have seen that.” He chuckled darkly. “And you accused me of dazzling people – poor Jacob Black.”

Dang. Now even Edward’s a bit critical of your behavior. Good job, Bella.

“I decided it didn’t matter,” I whispered.
“It didn’t matter?” His tone made me look up – I had finally broken through his carefully composed mask. His face was incredulous, with just a hint of the anger I’d feared.
“No,” I said softly. “It doesn’t matter to me what you are.”
A hard, mocking edge entered his voice. “You don’t care if I’m a monster? If I’m not human?”
“No.”
He was silent, staring straight ahead again. His face was bleak and cold.
“You’re angry,” I sighed. “I shouldn’t have said anything.”
“No,” he said, but his tone was as hard as his face. “I’d rather know what you’re thinking – even if what you’re thinking is insane.”
“So I’m wrong again?” I challenged.
“That’s not what I was referring to. ‘It doesn’t matter’!” he quoted, gritting his teeth together.
“I’m right?” I gasped.
“Does it matter?”

Hey, asshole, she just told you THREE TIMES that it doesn’t matter. Now she’s gonna tell you a FOURTH time. For a guy who hears a bunch of things, he sure doesn’t LISTEN.

“Don’t laugh – but how can you come out during the daytime?”
He laughed anyway. “Myth.”
“Burned by the sun?”
“Myth.”
“Sleeping in coffins?”
“Myth.” He hesitated for a moment, and a peculiar tone entered his voice. “I can’t sleep.”
It took me a minute to absorb that. “At all?”
“Never,” he said, his voice nearly inaudible. He turned to look at me with a wistful expression.

Wistful expression? What… why? Do you… do you WISH you could sleep? Do you WANT to sleep? Are you, like, constantly tired or something? Is it something you frequently long for but can never have? I wish Meyer would elaborate on that. That’s the most interesting thing that’s been written about, and yet I get NOTHING about it. Just more of Bella being totally entranced by Edward’s pretty eyes.

Edward explains that he and his family eat animals instead of people because they don’t actually want to be monsters.

“I can’t be sure, of course, but I’d compare it to living on tofu and soy milk; we call ourselves vegetarians, our little inside joke. It doesn’t completely satiate the hunger – or rather thirst. But it keeps us strong enough to resist. Most of the time.”

Huh… well… why don’t you just order a bunch of raw steaks, then? At least then you’d be able to actually eat in public.

Bella admits that she worries about him like he worries about her.

“Ah,” he groaned quietly. “This is wrong.”
I couldn’t understand his respones. “What did I say?”
“Don’t you see, Bella? It’s one thing for me to make myself miserable, but a wholly other thing for you to be so involved.” He turned his anguished eyes to the road, his words flowing almost too fast for me to understand. “I don’t want to hear that you feel that way.” His voice was low but urgent. His words cut me. “It’s wrong. It’s not safe. I’m dangerous, Bella – please grasp that.”
“No.” I tried very hard not to look like a sulky child.
“I’m serious,” he growled.
“So am I. I told you, it doesn’t matter what you are. It’s too late.”
His voice whipped out, low and harsh. “Never say that.”

Oh, I would LOVE it if this meant that Edward was just going to drop her and we could get this novel over with.

…Oh. There’s still fifteen more chapters.

Oh…

Edward drops Bella off at home. He makes her promise not to go into the woods alone ’cause dangerous stuff is there. Okay, cool, that means she’s gonna end up there eventually. I love transparent story telling.

“Sleep well,” he said. His breath blew in my face, stunning me. It was the same exquisite scent that clung to his jacket, but in a more concentrated form.

Oh, eww. What does that even mean? A more concentrated form? Yuck. Also, his jacket smells like his breath? What, does he breathe all over his jacket heavily? Pardon me for getting a little TMI, but my breath totally smells nothing like my neck, back, and armpits. And for a guy who eats raw animals, I doubt his breath could possibly smell that good.

Bella goes to bed kinda early. But she leaves us with this lovely nugget of information.

About three things I was absolutely positive. First, Edward was a vampire. Second, there was part of him – and I didn’t know how potent that part might be – that thirsted for my blood. And third, I was unconditionally and irrevocably in love with him.

NO.
NO, NO, NO.

Ugh… you aren’t taking that back, are you?

Tell me you guys see what I see. A seventeen-year-old girl who has never had a boyfriend before, let alone been in love, is suddenly terribly, deathly in love with a vampire she knows very little about. Oh, but she thinks he’s gorgeous and smells awesome. That’s love, right?

Let me tell you something, young girls. If this is what you think love is, you’re terribly, horribly, ATROCIOUSLY way off the mark. Now, some of you out there may not actually believe in true love. Some of you may be of the mind that it’s all a chemical thing, that there’s really nothing else to it, and that you can really recreate it scientifically. Okay, fine, I actually believe otherwise after many years of going through things I thought were love and finding out they were nothing in comparison to what love really is. And let me tell you something – When you find out what it REALLY is, you’re gonna realize that it’s NOTHING like what Bella’s feeling right now. It goes so far beyond being physically attracted to a person (though there’s nothing wrong with being physically attracted to the person you love), and it’s something that builds with time and experiences together, something that makes you realize that you see something in the other person that you want for yourself and the other person wants the same. It’s something that makes you want to be a better person, not just for the sake of throwing yourself at the other person, but realizing you want to do it for yourself, too. It’s something that makes you realize that together you can both be stronger, better people. And, quite frankly, I don’t see a shred of evidence that makes me believe that ANY of these things exist within the so-called “love” that Bella feels for Edward. And honestly, this is dangerous. If teenagers are learning that this is the way love works then prepare for an entire generation of battered housewives.

I’m honestly sickened and appalled.

But we’re nowhere near done.

Next up is Chapter 10, Interrogations.

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13 Comments leave one →
  1. October 16, 2011 9:35 PM

    As far as I’m concerned stuff like this is just as bad for people’s interpretation of what love is, as porn is for interpretation of what sex is. I can write both off, except that people do believe these things. After I matured (mostly through a friend’s suicide), looking back on all this high school shit, it hurt me. Some people never grow out of it, but I am so glad I did.

    Oh and if you want to see self-insertion in action. Just check out this picture: http://www.flix66.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/03/Stephenie-Meyer-and-Kristen-Stewart.jpg

    Also when you said “though there’s nothing wrong with being physically attracted to the person you love.” It isn’t as important as other things, but they have found physical attraction has its place (I don’t have citations on hand sorry). Also as an interesting aside, people tend to end up with people around the same level of attractiveness. So if you were to “rate” a couple on a 1-10 scale. Most couples are usually within a 2 or 3 point range of each other (eg: he’s a 5 and she’s a 4). This is not a rule of course, but have been found in studies.

    • October 16, 2011 9:58 PM

      Yes, I know the studies you’re referring to. It was done in a short movie (who did it, National Geographic…? Discovery…?) called The Science of Sex. It was really quite fascinating. Of course, they also made mention that while, based on physical appearance alone, a 4 and a 5 will usually end up together, other factors like things in common and personality will still make up for someone who isn’t quite as physically attractive as one would hope. And that’s how I am – While, yeah, it’d be nice to be with someone who’s so amazingly gorgeous that I have to beat all the other women away from him, attractiveness is actually one of the last things on my checklist of things I look for in a man. Which is why it’s a bonus when I happen to be attracted to the man I love. 🙂

      • October 16, 2011 10:09 PM

        I never saw that movie. We just discussed it in my Dark Side Of Sexuality class in University. I’ll keep an eye out for that.

        I actually have the same mindset as you. Attractiveness is not unimportant, but it’s not of utmost importance. Taking out significant others, I often see it with friends. The more I get to know them, the more attractive they get. Even if, it is a purely platonic relationship.

        But back on topic: This book blows :p

  2. Creature SH permalink
    October 17, 2011 1:44 PM

    This is where I stand up and applaud.

  3. October 18, 2011 7:31 AM

    “And for a guy who eats raw animals, I doubt his breath could possibly smell that good.”

    And remember, this is the girl who, in chapter 5, could smell blood from pricked fingers. I’m surprised she didn’t faint from the concentrated aroma. I’m beginning to think that she’s part dog.

    Hey, maybe that explains the “specialness” of her brain.

  4. Limey permalink
    October 19, 2011 3:00 AM

    Eh, I’m not a fan of Twilight, but I don’t think Twilight is any more dangerous for teenage girls than any other romance out there. Hell Disney characters fall in love even faster than Bella did with Edward. It took Thumbelina what, three sentences and half a musical number? Seriously, if any girl thinks this is what love is gonna be like, it won’t be long til they find out it’s not, and I don’t think it would be any less painful for them if they didn’t have Bella and Edward to compare it to. Teenagers get broken hearts, it’s going to happen. I don’t see how learning the hard way fiction is fiction can be that dangerous.

  5. shaohua permalink
    November 20, 2011 5:04 AM

    @MarzGurl…can i post your “love is about” quote on FB? That is the most brilliant way i have ever heard love described.

    @Limey. Yes, it;s dangerous. It’s dangerous because girls, teenagers and even some women will idolize that type of relationship and think that it’s okay. It’s NOT okay. It’s DANGEROUS. It leads up to so many factors of potential and actual abuse it’s not even funny. Marzgurl had it right with the “new generation of abused housewives” comment. i am completely and totally against “Twilight”‘s pushing of how “love” is supposed to look.

    i’m in a consensual S&M relationship, but i *consent* to being treated the way i am. i understand and enjoy the activities i engage in. But therein lies the difference i *understand* it for what it is and *consent* to it.

    Oh and i actually have a personality and interests outside of my life-partner.

    The Bella/Edward relationship screams “ABUSE” from the get-go.

    While Disney may show characters falling in love fast, at least the people they fall in love with aren’t abusive asshats.

    • November 21, 2011 12:17 AM

      Absolutely, please go ahead and quote it wherever!

      • shaohua permalink
        November 21, 2011 1:57 AM

        Thank you! Keep up the reviews/picking apart! i’m loving it!

    • November 23, 2011 8:14 PM

      While we’re on “love quotes”: Peter Parker’s speech to Mary Jane is pretty good, too: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0145487/quotes?qt=qt0437300

  6. DarkFusion permalink
    November 20, 2011 4:01 PM

    If you thought this chapter was bad check it out from Edward’s perspective and what he was thinking in regards to Bella finding all that stuff out from Jacob:

    http://das-sporking.livejournal.com/86866.html

  7. enchanted_hats permalink
    November 26, 2011 1:01 PM

    I’ve honestly never been in love. I’ve dated a few times but nothing ever hit me like it seems to have hit Bella. So I can’t really say that I know what love is and she isn’t experiencing it. But even though I’ve never been in love, that doesn’t mean that I can’t recognize love that’s really unhealthy when i see it.

    When I read the end of this chapter, I remember getting really confused. Wondering if the copy of the book I had was missing several chapters or something. I couldn’t understand how she was in love with him already. I mean she just met him. She barely spoke to him. How could she love him? I’m still confused about that.

    Maybe love does just hit you like that. But I’m sure something profound comes before that. Or at least something small and sweet that makes you realize that the guy has always had your heart.

    I know when my sister finally realized she loved her now husband, it was a more gradual realization. But one of the things that proceeded her falling for him, was his sending her a bouquet of beautiful yellow flowers and lemons for her birthday. My sister is deathly allergic to lemons. So I had to take the bouquet from the delivery guy for her. My sister spent most of the day trying to figure out how to break the news to her boyfriend because of course he’d want to know if she liked them. So she told him she did, and that they were beautiful… but she’s allergic to lemons. I understand his face was priceless. He was absolutely mortified. This wasn’t something that he had missed in conversation with my sister, I mean she just never brought it up. But he was totally upset. He felt like he had failed her, for not knowing something like that about her.

    The next day a dozen red roses came in the mail. The day after that chocolates. The day after that a giant ugly fat yellow stuffed bunny rabbit. Eventually my sister had to tell him to stop. But it was so cute. And I could tell that his embarrassment and his failed gift meant more to her than anything he could have gotten her or done for her after wards. It was endearing and adorable. And it made a hell of a funny story.

    It got even funnier when I found out the lemons were fake a few days later. 🙂

    But I mean, this was a sweet moment for my sister. I could understand her falling for this guy. It wasn’t out of the blue. And it made sense.

    Edward just breathed on Bella and now she’s in love with him… I don’t think love works like that.

  8. December 6, 2011 11:27 PM

    Forget what girls are learning from this, what are GUYS learning from this? Especially by the general reaction one can see from the girls in regards to this. The entire phenom strikes me as positive encouragement for guys to be abusive – even guys that wouldn’t want to be but well…
    http://alphagameplan.blogspot.com/2011/06/femenists-sparkly-nightmare.html

    Also something that bugs me? How does Edward know that she’s the ONLY brain on “AM” frequency? Has he checked all 6 billion people in the world? If anything, she’s the first he’s encountered SO FAR and given what we know about Edward, I’m not convinced he’s that well traveled or experienced.

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