Picking Apart Twilight, The Novel – Chapter 14
14. MIND OVER MATTER
Edward is driving Bella home in her truck after a whole lot of time staring at one another and breathing all over each other on top of a mountain.
He had turned the radio to an oldies station, andhe sang along with a song I’d never heard. He knew every line.
“You like fifties music?” I asked.
“Music in the fifties was good. Much better than the sixties, or the seventies, ugh!” He shuddered. “The eighties were bearable.”
Forgive me for saying so, I know I’m just projecting my own personal opinion here, but frankly I think Edward’s taste in music is awful. Totally stupid. What, there was NOTHING good playing for two decades? Yet there was something great about the ’50s and the ’80s? Your choices are either ’50s… or ’80s? Somebody tell me how that makes any sort of sense. I’m just gonna sit back and assume that we’re hearing Meyer’s personal taste in music, and that her taste in music blows. After all, her Twilight Playlist includes two Linkin Park songs and “I’m Not Okay (I Promise)” by My Chemical Romance.
He looked into the sun – the light of the setting orb glittered off his skin in ruby-tinged sparkles – and spoke.
BLEAUGH! Aside from the fact that the author is illustrating the irritating fact that her vampire sparkles, it’s written so… so… I don’t know, does it make anyone else sick just reading it? “The light of the setting orb”? “Ruby-tinged sparkles”? I’m pretty sure she was trying too hard to make it sound artsy and poetic.
“I was born in Chicago in 1901.” He paused and glanced at me from the corner of his eyes. My face was carefully unsurprised, patient for the rest. he smiled a tiny smile and continued. “Carlisle found me in a hospital in the summer of 1918. I was seventeen, and dying of the Spanish influenza.”
He heard my intake of breath, though it was barely audible to my own ears. He looked down into my eyes again.
Okay, back up. Let me address everything wrong with these two paragraphs. Earlier, Bella asked him to tell her just how old he was. He doesn’t. He just says when he was born – 1901. I’m assuming this is in order for the reader to be able to better project herself into the story. That way, he’s always as old as the date the reader is reading the book. But, personally, I think that’s lazy. In the world of fiction, be that movies, books, theatre, what have you, you should always assume, unless otherwise stated, that it is “Present Day”. Or, in some cases, some stories will even outright tell you that it is “Present Day”. But as I’ve learned in theatre classes, what “Present Day” ACTUALLY means is that it is presently the date in which the work of fiction was published. In this case, that would be the year 2005. So how old is Edward? 104. There. Was that so hard?
Next, Bella is “carefully unsurprised”. What does that even mean? It says she’s being patient, waiting for more. Does being carefully unsurprised mean that she wasn’t surprised? Or that she’s trying her damnedest not to look surprised, and that she actually IS surprised? Is she just saving her surprise for later? Seriously, what does this even mean?
Then, she gasps when she finds out he was dying of the Spanish influenza at the age of 17 in 1918. Why? What’s surprising about that? You do know he died at some point in order to become a vampire, right? Or are you suddenly realizing that the date 1918 was, like, a really long time ago? Maybe I’m over-reacting, and maybe she’s just shocked that he was dying of something so horrible and painful and she was concerned about how awful his death was. I don’t know, the book doesn’t make her shock terribly clear. I honestly don’t really know what she’s surprised about.
Edward tells Bella about how Carlisle was a doctor monitoring him at the time, how he’d “saved” Edward, after his parents had already died from the flu. He describes it as being painful, but refuses to give more details. I think Stephenie Meyer just didn’t want to have to, you know, be an author and describe the pain.
One by one Edward describes how Carlisle saved his family members lives – how he wouldn’t have changed them and turned them into family members if they were well and alive enough to make the choice themselves. Frankly, I think if you’re dying you wouldn’t want somebody else making choices for you. At least, I wouldn’t. I’m the kind of person that doesn’t want to live forever. And if I were to wake up after falling off a cliff to find that somebody decided for me that I was going to live forever with a bunch of other freaks I’d never met before, I’d be pretty pissed and ask for them to kill me. But, you know. That’s just me.
Edward describes the weird, unnatural ways that Emmett and Rosalie as well as Alice and Jasper fell in love. It doesn’t particularly sound real and loving to me, but I guess we aren’t here to read about other couples. Alice apparently has similar magical sparkly vampire powers to Edward. She has visions – sees the future, that sort of thing. But not always accurately, as the future isn’t always set in stone. It’s an interesting ability, but I still don’t understand why she has it, just like I don’t understand why Edward has the ability to read minds. I also don’t understand why only a small handful of vampires appears to have any magical powers at all. Why is it selective? And why isn’t it the same power in all vampires? How do you get that? How does that even work? Can vampire venom really give you magic? See, there’s lots of ideas that I MIGHT have bought, but I don’t because they’re unexplained. And just because something is fictional or magical doesn’t mean that it can’t be explained. I think it should be, even, even if it can’t REALLY work that way. After all, it’s fiction. I don’t want to believe it happens “just because”. Fantasy and sci-fi should have its own rules. When it doesn’t, it falls apart. Like this, for example. This is the world of Twilight falling apart. Not that it was ever being held together in the first place, but…
Blah, blah, blah, we stay in the North because it’s sunless, there aren’t many like us, most are nomads…
A couple pages later, they’re at Bella’s house.
“I want to stay with you.” It was easier to say in the darkness, knowing as I spoke how my voice would betray me, my hopeless addiction to him.
“Can’t I come in?” he asked.
“Would you like to?” I couldn’t picture it, this godlike creature sitting in my father’s shabby kitchen chair.
“Yes, if it’s all right.” I heard the door close quietly, and almost simultaneously he was outside my door, opening it for me.
YOU FOOL! HE JUST TRICKED YOU INTO INVITING A VAMPIRE INSIDE YOUR HOUSE! Wait, actually… I’m sure that was thoughtlessly written in and won’t ever be an issue. Sorry, book, please continue.
He reached the door ahead of opened it for me. I paused halfway through the frame.
“The door was unlocked?”
“No, I used the key from under the eave.”
Now the creeper vampire knows where your hidden keys are. You are also completely unphased by the fact that he knows this, meaning he’s been watching and paying very close attention to you, maybe even coming into your home. Bella, it’s alarming how unalarmed you are.
“I was curious about you.”
“You spied on me?” But somehow I couldn’t infuse my voice with the proper outrage. I was flattered.
…”How often did you come here?”
“I come here almost every night.”
I whirled, stunned. “Why?”
“You’re interesting when you sleep.” He spoke matter-of-factly. “You talk.”
“No!” I gasped, heat flooding my face all the way to my hairline. I gripped the kitchen counter for support. I knew I talked in my sleep, of course; my mother teased me about it. I hadn’t thought it was something I needed to worry about here, though.
She only becomes upset that he’s been watching her unannounced every single night for the past God-knows-how-long when she learns that he’s heard her talk in her sleep!? What kind of backwards human being are you, Bella? Are you even really human? Did you become vampire without anyone, even yourself, knowing it?
“Don’t be upset!” he pleaded.
Don’t be upset!? Why shouldn’t she be? Of course, that’s going to work on her because he’s using his super powers of godly beauty to manipulate her emotions.
…”You did say my name,” he admitted.
“Don’t be self-conscious,” he whispered in my ear. “If I could dream at all, it would be about you. And I’m not ashamed of it.”
You… don’t know that.
Bella’s dad arrives back home. Edward poofs away. For a couple of pages Bella does a tremendously terrible job at acting like there’s nothing she’s hiding. And then it’s several more pages of Bella and Edward quietly trying to hide the fact that there is a vampire boy up in her bedroom while they get lovey-dovey. This takes entirely too long.
He lay, smiling hugely, across my bed, his hands behind his head, his feet dangling off the end, the picture of ease.
It’s the first night the girl has actually invited you into her house, and you decide to sprawl across her bed? Girls, get this through your head – don’t date a boy like this in high school.
He lifted my chin, examining my face.
“You look very warm, actually.”
He bent his face slowly to mine, laying his cool cheek against my skin. I held perfectly still.
“Mmmmmm…,” he breathed.
It was very difficult, while he was touching me, to frame a coherent question. It took me a minute of scattered concentration to begin.
“It seems to be… much easier for you, now, to be close to me.”
“Does it seem that way to you?” he murmured, his nose gliding to the corner of my jaw. I felt his hand, lighter than a moth’s wing, brushing my damp hair back, so that his lips could touch the hollow beneath my ear.
“Much, much easier,” I said, trying to exhale.”
Just screw! Okay? Just hurry up and get down to it!
But, still, it just continues to paint this picture in my head of Edward putting on all these moves and working his magic vampire charms while Bella isn’t exactly asking for it. Granted, she’s not saying “no”, but the relationship still seems very forced from one angle.
He keeps touching her and breathing on her and being all disgusting and she likes it and junk, I guess because teenage girls really don’t have the brains to know that feeling good isn’t happiness. And then they talk about earlier in the forest. Ugh. Again? Really? Now, actually, this part is written kind of vaguely, so it’s a little difficult for me to tell whether they’re talking about his lust for her blood or his lust for her body, but I’m assuming that because it’s written so vaguely they must be talking about sex, because Meyer won’t just outright say that the two of them are horny.
“It’s not easy,” he sighed. “But this afternoon, I was still… undecided. I am sorry about that, it was unforgivable for me to behave so.”
“Not unforgivable,” I disagreed.
That’s not a sentence, Bella.
“Thank you.” He smiled. “You see,” he continued, looking down now, “I wasn’t sure if I was strong enough…” He picked up one of my hands and pressed it lightly to his face. “And while there was still that possibility that I might be… overcome” – he breathed in the scent at my wrist – “I was… susceptible. Until I made up my mind that I was strong enough, that there was no possibility at all that I would… that I ever could…”
Sex, or blood? Reader, you make the call.
I’d never seen him struggle so hard for words. It was so…
Oh. Not the word I would have chosen. But okay.
…”I’ve had the scent of you in my head all day, and I’ve grown amazingly desensitized. If I’m away from you for any length of time, I’ll have to start over again. Not quite from scratch, though, I think.”
“Don’t go away, then,” I responded, unable to hide the longing in my voice.
“That suits me,” he replied, his face relaxing into a gentle smile. “Bring on the shackles – I’m your prisoner.” But his long hands formed manacles around my wrists as he spoke. …
This imagery is also increasingly disturbing. They’re NEEDING each other increasingly. For one, you should never NEED a person as badly as they’re starting to need one another. You know, like you’re incapable of living for yourself, being self sufficient. But then there’s imagery of prisoners, shackles, manacles… it’s awful. And despite claiming to be her prisoner, he grabs HER by the wrists instead, insinuating that she’s equally his prisoner. This is not healthy. This is not okay. This is not good.
“Isn’t it supposed to be like this?” He smiled. “The glory of first love, and all that. It’s incredible, isn’t it, the difference between reading about something, seeing it in the pictures, and experiencing it?”
Book, you really have no idea.
“Very different,” I agreed. “More forceful than I’d imagined.”
Oh, then we’re all agreed, this is unusual. Good, I’m glad we’re all on the same page (that page being 302).
“That was the first night I came here. I wrestled all night, while watching you sleep, with the chasm between what I knew was right, moral, ethical, and what I wanted. …”
I see that doing the right thing wasn’t more powerful than what you wanted. Especially since you kept coming back. You know, he admits right there to her face that he struggled with the idea that sneaking into her room and watching her sleep every night probably wasn’t the right thing to do, and Bella is STILL flattered by the idea. It’s pretty enraging to me. And all because he was jealous of Mike, whom Bella was obviously treating like a puppy the whole time. It’s disgusting.
“For almost ninety years I’ve walked among my kind, and yours… all the time thinking I was complete in myself, not realizing what I was seeking. And not finding anything, because you weren’t alive yet.”
Yep. About a century of your true love not even having been born. I realize they’re both teenagers in body, but sitting and thinking about nothing but the numbers, the age difference is quite staggering. He should have had numerous life experiences, should be a well-matured person, but it seems this is simply not the case. They should be on completely separate paths in their lives, even ignoring the fact that he’s a vampire and she’s a human. The age should have total lifestyle differences. But… ugh, that would be GOOD writing, wouldn’t it?
Bella’s dad checks on her. She pretends to be asleep. They continue to cuddle and shit.
“So if you don’t want to sleep…,” he suggested, ignoring my tone. My breath caught.
“If I don’t want to sleep…?”
He chuckled. “What do you want to do then?”
I couldn’t answer at first.
“I’m not sure,” I finally said.
“Tell me when you decide.”
I could feel his cool breath on my neck, feel his nose sliding along my jaw, inhaling.
Just like every other time before now, don’t bother getting too excited. In fact, ladies, proceed to begin punching yourself in the ovaries. Because NOTHING. HAPPENS.
“I still don’t understand how you can work so hard to resist what you… are. …”
…”That’s a good question, and you are not the first one to ask it. The others – the majority of our kind who are quite content with our lot – they, too, wonder at how we live. But you see, just because we’ve been… dealt a certain hand… it doesn’t mean that we can’t choose to rise above – to conquer the boundaries of a destiny that none of us wanted. To try to retain whatever essential humanity we can.”
Again, here, he’s talking about bloodlust. But frankly? I think it’s just another way of illustrating the religious idea that God didn’t intend for man to be separated from Him and that we’re supposed to be better than something. Probably sex. That’s just my interpretation. But, come on, nowhere in these paragraphs do they talk about eating people. I think it’s pretty easy to see a religious comparison to the human race. And considering Meyer’s background, I don’t think I’m stretching that idea too terribly far.
“Why can you read minds – why only you? And Alice, seeing the future… why does that happen?”
I felt him shrug in the darkness. “We don’t really know. Carlisle has a theory… he believes that we all bring something of our strongest human traits with us into the next life, where they are intensified – like our minds, and our senses. He thinks that I must have already been very sensitive to the thoughts of those around me. And that Alice had some precognition, wherever she was.”
“What did he bring into the next life, and the others?”
“Carlisle brought his compassion. Esme brought her ability to love passionately. Emmett brought his strength, Rosalie her… tenacity. Or you could call it pigheadedness,” he chuckled. “Jasper is very interesting. He was quite charismatic in his first life, able to influence those around him to see things his way. Now he is able to manipulate the emotions of those around him – calm down a room of angry people, for example, or excite a lethargic crowd, conversely. It’s a very subtle gift.”
I have to admit – this is the first actually INTERESTING idea I’ve heard so far in this entire book. Strong sensitivity to people’s thoughts becoming mind reading? Okay, interesting. Slight sensitivity to forthcoming events becoming seeing the future? Okay, cool. Charisma becoming emotion manipulation? That’s something. But the other stuff… So, are compassion, passion, and pigheadedness considered “super powers”? Those sound incredibly useless. And when Bella turns into a vampire, what in the hell is she going to bring over with her? The ability to kill the personality of anybody in the room?
“So where did it all start? I mean, Carlisle changed you, and then someone must have changed him, and so on…”
“Well, where did you come from? Evolution? Creation? Couldn’t we have evolved in the same way as other species, predator and prey? Or, if you don’t believe that all this world could have just happened on its own, which is hard for me to accept myself, is it so hard to believe that the same force that created the delicate angelfish with the shark, the baby seal and the killer whale, could create both our kinds together?”
Oh my God, Edward is a creationist. Frankly, I find it hard to believe that a vampire doesn’t know his own lineage. It doesn’t exactly seem as though there are nearly as many vampires as there are humans. How difficult would it be to trace? In any case, this solidifies it. Twilight has a very LDS undertone message. The vague mix of bloodlust representing bodily lust and the idea that a higher force created both humans and vampires suggests that there’s some other story to be told here, not just one of a romance between a vampire boy and a human girl.
And then the subject of marriage comes up.
“Well, I did wonder… about you and me… someday…”
Whoa, whoa, whoa, girl! Slow it down now! I think you’re a little love-drunk! How long have the two of you been together? And how long has it been since you first kissed? Like, a couple of hours? Good lord! Maybe I should be blaming this on the magical vampire beauty powers Edward has or something.
“I’m curious now, though,” he said, his voice light again. “Have you ever…?” He trailed off suggestively.
“Of course not.” I flushed. “I told you I’ve never felt like this about anyone before, not even close.”
Ever… ever, what? Ever lusted? Ever had sex? Ever masturbated? What? See, I just can’t stand how the author chooses to dance around the subject. I know she’s trying to avoid being lewd, but it just makes it all the more confusing. You know, like not telling your kids about sex. Then they get confused and try to figure it out themselves. You do your readers no favors by trying to dance around the subject!
“I know. It’s just that I know other people’s thoughts. I know love and lust don’t always keep the same company.”
“They do for me. Now, anyway, that they exist for me at all,” I sighed.
“That’s nice. We have that one thing in common, at least.” He sounded satisfied.
“Your human instincts…,” I began. He waited. “Well, do you find me attractive, in that way, at all?”
He laughed and lightly rumpled my nearly dry hair.
“I may not be a human, but I am a man,” he assured me.
That… doesn’t entirely make sense… but I think I see where you’re going, book. And it’s… nowhere. Because for the final time this chapter we’ve danced around the topic of sex, but we aren’t actually going to address it.
More tired than I realized, exhausted from the long day of mental and emotional stress like I’d never felt before, I drifted to sleep in his cold arms.
Eesh! No thank you! Give me warm sheets, blankets, comforters, pajama pants, and thick wooly socks any day, but NEVER cold arms. There’s no way I’m getting to sleep being wrapped up in cold.
Geez… man… this chapter is a whole bunch of just sitting and talking. Most of it feels incredibly unrealistic, and again the number of times the dialogue dances around the topic of sex is astounding and outrageously frustrating. Not because I necessarily want to read vampire/human pornography (I can pick up something that easily from Wal-Mart), but because it’s written so unrealistically and is not straight-forward with its readers, most of whom will probably be young, impressionable girls who will then be confused about their feelings of lust. It really helps no one in the end. Avoidance is not nearly as powerful as education. Book, I don’t think you understand that.
Can you believe there’s still ten more chapters? Next up is chapter 15 – The Cullens.