Twilight: Respecting Personal Boundaries

Twilight Recap: Mike has demanded that Bella explain why she isn't planning to ask him to the dance, and Bella has answered that she is going to Seattle for the day.

Twilight, Chapter 4: Invitations

   Gym was brutal. We'd moved on to basketball. My team never passed me the ball, so that was good, but I fell down a lot. Sometimes I took people with me. Today I was worse than usual because my head was so filled with Edward. I tried to concentrate on my feet, but he kept creeping back into my thoughts just when I really needed my balance.

Remember when I questioned that the good teachers of Forks High School apparently don't take yearly violence prevention and/or conflict resolution classes? I'm going to now hazard a guess that they don't take any safety training either. I mean, I know that Bella hasn't been formally diagnosed with any health problems, but they're putting her out on a basketball court and telling her to go at it with the rest of the students? Do they want to get sued? And it's the Chief of Police's daughter, no less, you'd think there would be at least a little inkling of a doubt that maybe, just maybe, you might want to keep Bella on the bench. Or give her a nurse pass. Or anything, really.

Although, to be fair to S. Meyer, this actually reads realistically to me. My gym teachers in school were universally dreadful people. I understand that there are good gym teachers out there, but I understand this in the way that I understand mitochondria: I believe the people who tell me they exist, but I have no direct observation of such. So maybe Bella's gym teachers just don't care if she kills herself and takes someone with her as part of the educational process.

But let's for a moment assume that Bella's gym teachers aren't dreadful people and ask: why is Bella being forced to play basketball? Why are they playing basketball at all? Maybe it's just me, but we almost never played team sports in my gym classes -- we had track and exercises and the sorts of things you could do with very large classes, because really doesn't basketball just take up a dozen kids? Tops? Does the Forks High School have two dozen basketball courts so that all the students can work up a sweat during their hour long gym class?

Is basketball in gym class a thing I don't know about? Does it teach meaningful life skills for exercise that the students can use on their own as they get older to keep their muscles fit and healthy? I'm seriously not trying to pick on physical education, but I don't understand how basketball would be an efficient use of the gym class time. Am I missing something obvious? It's very likely.

Anyway. Ahem. Twilight. Bella is even more clumsy than usual in gym because she's distracted by thoughts of Edward. The interesting thing here is that apparently Bella's clumsiness can be slightly mitigated by conscious concentration, but whatever her conscious concentration brings to the table, her unconscious muscle memory can't make up for when her consciousness is otherwise occupied. I'm not sure if this helps narrow down the source of the balance issues or not.

   It was a relief, as always, to leave. I almost ran to the truck; there were just so many people I wanted to avoid. The truck had suffered only minimal damage in the accident. I'd had to replace the taillights, and if I'd had a real paint job, I would have touched that up. Tyler's parents had to sell their van for parts.

...quoted to answer the question of why Bella is driving around without problems after the accident in the parking lot. I myself would have expected quite a bit more damage to the truck than what is provided here, but I will leave those speculations to the commentors who are better at physics than I.

   I almost had a stroke when I rounded the corner and saw a tall, dark figure leaning against the side of my truck. Then I realized it was just Eric. I started walking again.

Last week, I argued that Bella has every right to be anxious in her surroundings, particularly when it comes to Edward, because he's been oscillating wildly between open hostility and aggressive shunning since she arrived in Forks, with only a brief stop-over into displaying-impossible-speed-and-physical-strength ville. None of which is conducive to a calm, relaxed state of mind.

This week, I'm going to pick on the language used to describe Bella's day-to-day life. I realize that at least some of the motivation here may be a simple need to add conflict to a story where, in-probably-not-all fairness, very little actual action has occurred. And in-a-little-more fairness, this is probably a realistic depiction of how I would have narrated my life when I was seventeen, so points to S. Meyer for understanding how at least one teenage girl talked and thought.

However, in-significantly-less-fairness, I'm not enthralled with the running narration that seems to make light of Bella's experiences by... well, by portraying the actually-dangerous as flippantly-dangerous. We've seen this already before, where Bella narrowly made it down the icy brick driveway alive. And the thing is, she did very narrowly make it down the icy brick driveway alive! This statement here? That I am criticizing? It's a true statement. I'm not criticizing it for not being true -- I'm criticizing it for being flippant. Carefree. A quick statement of a very grim fact (i.e., that Bella's clumsiness combined with her move to icy, wet Forks may well result in her Very Serious Death) before segueing into how endearing and cute her clumsiness is and isn't Edward just the most dreamy thing ever. It takes something real and serious and turns it into something fluffy and flippant.

There is a tall, dark figure waiting by Bella's truck. She is leaving school in the middle of winter so it's pretty much a guarantee that it's rapidly getting dark outside, if it's not fully dark already. The parking lot is emptying out at an alarming rate. Bella is alone. There is a someone waiting -- deliberately waiting -- by her car. Presumably by the cab of her car, blocking her obvious escape route (Get in car --> Close door --> Drive away). Bella can't run: her clumsiness means that has never, ever been in the cards for her, and her reputation at school means that anyone and everyone knows that she's an easy target.

Top all these factors off with the cherry-on-the-sundae fact that Bella's father is a police officer. As such, I feel pretty safe saying that it's reasonable to assume that Bella is doing an internal risk assessment on the tall, dark figure blocking the entrance to her car in a rapidly-becoming dark, empty parking lot. I would have been, at seventeen, and I wasn't a particularly careful seventeen year old. But this is classic Schrodinger's Rapist territory and S. Meyer should know that.

Beyond that, I want to emphasize that Bella is not wrong to be scared in this situation. Oh, she's wrong right now because it's just Friendly Neighborhood Eric waiting to spring a "will you, won't you, come and join the dance" request on her. But in general, Bella's instincts to be frightened of the tall, dark figure looming next to her car are right on the money, considering that the bulk of the drama in this series will be a collection of various stalkers determined to kill Bella. I mean, besides Hostile Biology Class Edward, there will be Laurent, Victoria, James, and a whole slew of Italian vampires whose names I can't even keep straight. And, for all I know, there will probably be a violent werewolf or two. I'm guessing. Forks is a dangerous place, and it's a dangerous place for Bella. This instinct? The oh-my-god-someone-is-waiting-by-my-car-and-I-can't-run-and-I-can't-drive-away-and-my-friends-have-already-left-and-it's-too-dark-to-see-their-face-and-why-did-I-leave-the-pepper-spray-at-home instinct that Bella is having right now? This is a natural reaction, a valid response, a genre-savvy precognition of what's to come, and 100% entirely Bella's right to have.

So what does the author do? Trivialize the reaction by characterizing it with over-the-top hyperbolic language. Bella nearly has a stroke. Haha! And then have the anxiety immediately and perfectly fade away once it becomes clear that the person blocking your exit from a dark, empty parking lot is someone you know. Well, as long as it's not a stranger, that's alright then.

Now, it's a standing rule of mine not to infer malice where other factors are equally likely to be in play, and I'm not in the deconstruction business to shame or psychoanalyze authors. I think it's most likely that this recurring pattern of trivializing danger to Bella in Twilight probably comes from the same place that makes all dark things in Twilight shiny and pretty. Probably this pattern of FEAR! Oh, no, it's nothing. Hahaha. is meant to inject quick drama without having to dwell on anything dark or unpleasant or wrong. (At least until we get to the Big City later. Then I will have different things to say on this matter.)

But the problem with this is that even if the intent is benign, there's an ongoing pattern here of trivializing very real sources of danger to Bella, while still keeping her "over the top" hyperbolic reactions to the source of danger, and the end result is that Bella comes off as being over-reactionary to things that really are potentially dangerous. And since that potential danger is never explored beyond Bella's hyperbole, it has the effect -- in my opinion -- of minimizing real danger and making Bella look foolish and overwrought. Her only "narrowly" surviving the trip to her car ignores the very real danger that this move to wet, icy Forks could seriously injure or kill her because of her disability. Her near "stroke" over harmless Chess Club Eric ignores the very real danger represented by a person who has known a girl for only a few weeks, considers himself romantically interested in her, and has planned to wait for her alone by her car at dusk in an emptying parking lot. In both these cases, I want Bella's fears to be presented as real and reasonable and not as excessive over-reactions blown way out of proportion. That was nine paragraphs where I meant to write one. Sorry about that.

   "Hey, Eric," I called.
   "Hi, Bella."
   "What's up?" I said as I was unlocking the door. I wasn't paying attention to the uncomfortable edge in his voice, so his next words took me by surprise.
   "Uh, I was just wondering . . . if you would go to the spring dance with me?" His voice broke on the last word.
   "I thought it was girls' choice," I said, too startled to be diplomatic.
   "Well, yeah," he admitted, shamefaced.
   I recovered my composure and tried to make my smile warm. "Thank you for asking me, but I'm going to be in Seattle that day."
   "Oh," he said. "Well, maybe next time."
   "Sure," I agreed, and then bit my lip. I wouldn't want him to take that too literally.

I want to like on Eric here. I do. See? There's nothing explicitly wrong with his words here. In many ways, he's worlds better than Mike because he doesn't get belligerent with Bella when she says she's going to be out of town that day. He doesn't demand to know why she's not going to the dance. He doesn't ask her if she can reschedule her plans to suit his desires. In fact, if you just take the words here and nothing else, a lot of this passage would read like the Not-Creepy Guys' Handbook To Asking Girls Out.

But unfortunately for Eric, I've spent all week reading about Skepchick's adventures at the CFI Student Leadership Conference and her experiences with being propositioned by a stranger in an elevator at 4 am, and now (unfortunately for Eric) it's got me thinking about context.

It may be unfair to Eric, but I've lately been thinking about how so little of human communication is words-only. A wealth of communication is in tone, posture, positioning, facial expression, and body language. Indeed, this is one of the reasons why online communication seems so apt to be misunderstood: so many of our usual methods of conveyance aren't allowed when the only way we have to express ourselves is our words. Because of this -- because a huge percentage of the way we communicate ourselves is non-verbal -- the onus is on us to think about the effect of our non-verbal communication at least as much as we think about the effect of our verbal communication.

Eric doesn't seem to have put himself in Bella's shoes prior to this conversation. One of the points of a "girls' choice" dance is to take some of the pressure off the girls being asked and putting the power in their hands to do the asking. It is meant (among other things) to deliberately empower girls with the asking of a date, not just in the passive "gatekeeper" sense but in the active "selection" sense. With a girls' choice dance, the ideal is that no girl at the dance is there because she was pressured into accepting a date.

Eric, by asking Bella directly to go to the dance with him, has ignored the point of the "girls' choice" convention. He doesn't want the dance to be girls' choice. He wants it to be guys' choice. This isn't Mike's question of Are you going to ask me? but rather a direct question of Will you go with me? Perhaps Eric deserves 10 points to Gryffindor for personal assertiveness and working positively towards his goals, but I can't help but feel that he's trying to make an end-run around a system that he finds inconvenient.

In addition to breaking the social convention of girls' choice, Eric has also chosen to wait by Bella's car until she approaches alone, at dusk, after school, in a rapidly-emptying parking lot. He's waiting by her car. He doesn't call her at home, though surely everyone in Forks knows the number Charlie has had for twenty-odd years (or can look it up in a pinch). He doesn't ask her in class. Or after class. Or by her locker. He's waiting by her car.

We don't know Eric. Maybe he's the nicest guy in the whole world. Maybe he just doesn't have any insight into the fact that women in our society are socialized to fear the approach of their car because someone might be in the car, waiting to grab us. Or someone might be beside the car, waiting to grab us. Or someone might drive by and grab us -- a situation that happened to two (two!!) different women one year in my under-lit college parking lot. What we do know about Eric -- and Mike -- is that he's the sort of guy who will get proprietary about a girl he's known for a week and act like a jerk to Tyler because Tyler might represent a romantic threat to Eric's known-for-a-week romantic interest. This does not recommend Eric highly to me.

Eric will be defended in the comments. (Heck, he's been de facto defended already in the Mike post, since it's easy to confuse the two boys.) So I want to be clear that I do not think Eric is a terrible, horrible, awful person whose existence should be illegal. I do think that he's meant as a character to be socially awkward and unaware of social boundaries. And -- ironically -- I actually think he's the least creepy of all of Bella's suitors thus far. I'm serious. If you made me pick a team based on everything up to this point, I'd be Team Eric. You can take that to the bank. So I'm not calling Eric a terrible, horrible, awful person.

But! This thing that Eric is doing here? This ignoring of social conventions specifically designed to make women feel less threatened? This is not a good thing to do. Do not do this thing. I understand why you did it. You think Bella is too shy to ask, so you'll do the asking for her! You think Bella won't want other people around when you ask, so you'll wait for her by her car! After all, a phone call is so impersonal! And, by gum, your words are good! You're being non-pushy with those words and you're accepting rejection with aplomb. You're a good person, Eric, I get that. I'm (conditionally) on your side. But you're working with the wrong set of facts. You're approaching this without realizing that you are a potential creepy stalker guy in a world filled with creepy stalker guys. You're in high school, so it's okay that you don't know this. But now I'm telling you: Read this post, and use the phone next time. Or a note! Don't corner her by her car in a parking lot. Do not be That Guy now that you do know.

Wow. I'm wordy today. I'll try to speed back on topic. 

   He slouched off, back toward the school. I heard a low chuckle.
   Edward was walking past the front of my truck, looking straight forward, his lips pressed together. I yanked the door open and jumped inside, slamming it loudly behind me. I revved the engine deafeningly and reversed out into the aisle. Edward was in his car already, two spaces down, sliding out smoothly in front of me, cutting me off. He stopped there -- to wait for his family; I could see the four of them walking this way, but still by the cafeteria. I considered taking out the rear of his shiny Volvo, but there were too many witnesses.

And now, dear readers, you find me in a bit of a CAPSY mood. You see, I hate this passage, and I don't say that lightly. This passage made me want to throw the book across the room. Remember last week? When I was utterly unpleasant and told Edward he didn't get any cookies for picking up Bella's books after he'd been almost-uninterruptedly hostile, aggressive, and shunning of her since the first day they met? And then he went and called her name only so he could get her hopes up and dash them again (as far as she can realistically know) and then -- despite making it absolutely clear that he has regrets about the day he saved her life -- getting visibly angry when Bella pointed out he has visible regrets about the day when he saved her life?


See? CAPSY. Now I will explain why I feel CAPSY and I will try very hard not to use swears. Because I'm told kids read my blog.

Edward is laughing because Bella -- who hates confrontation of any kind and has made it abundantly clear that she just wants to be ignored at school -- has been literally forced into two confrontations already today. Three, if you count the one with Edward. Edward is laughing because Bella has been emotionally distressed multiple times today by young men who have stepped over serious social boundaries (don't belligerently demand a girl change her plans to suit your needs; don't approach a girl in a dark parking lot; etc.) and in the process have made Bella feel threatened and fearful.

Edward is also -- be fair -- laughing because he's amused at Eric's inner turmoil at being rejected. But it doesn't speak volumes for our hero when I have to "be fair" and point out that he's not just laughing at the emotional pain of our heroine -- he's also laughing at other people's emotional pain, too! What a prankster he is, ladies and gentlemen. And he's not even trying to hide it.

Bella has every right -- every right in the world -- to hate Edward right now. Heck, I hate him and he's a fictional character. The reader has every right to believe that Edward is an entitled, spoiled, selfish, jerk who is not worth Bella's time, nor the reader's. The reader has every right to go be Team anything except Edward. So how does Bella express her completely appropriate and 100% deserved anger? Calmly? Carefully? Coldly? Coherently? No.

No, instead we get to see Bella fantasize about ramming his car.

Remember the starting rant to this post about how Bella's overwrought over-reactions have the effect of trivializing very real dangers and problems in her life? Here's another one. Two on one page.

This Edward Cullen guy is dangerous. Bella may not realize that he's an immortal vampire constantly tempted to murder her as his dinner, but she's not so obtuse as to not notice that this guy consistently and frequently over-steps social boundaries and takes pleasure in her discomfort and pain. He alternates between bristling hostility and extreme avoidance of her. He lies to her and plays mind games with her emotions. He smirks when she's in pain and giggles when she's emotionally tired, exhausted, and fearful. This guy is not a good guy, and she knows that because he's being crystal clear about it.

Bella has every right to hate him. Every right to keep a serious eye on him. Every right to record all this in a journal and inform her father, her mother, her counselor, and anyone else in authority who might listen. Every right to vow never to talk to this controlling, violent jerkface. But she expresses those serious, real, valid feelings to the reader... by revving her engine at the shiny Volvo. Could anything be more childish, more silly, and more utterly impotent than that?

   I looked in my rearview mirror. A line was beginning to form. Directly behind me, Tyler Crowley was in his recently acquired used Sentra, waving. I was too aggravated to acknowledge him.
   While I was sitting there, looking everywhere but at the car in front of me, I heard a knock on my passenger side window. I looked over; it was Tyler. I glanced back in my rearview mirror, confused. His car was still running, the door left open. I leaned across the cab to crank the window down. It was stiff. I got it halfway down, then gave up.
   "I'm sorry, Tyler, I'm stuck behind Cullen." I was annoyed -- obviously the holdup wasn't my fault.
   "Oh, I know -- I just wanted to ask you something while we're trapped here." He grinned.
   This could not be happening.
   "Will you ask me to the spring dance?" he continued.
   "I'm not going to be in town, Tyler." My voice sounded a little sharp. I had to remember it wasn't his fault that Mike and Eric had already used up my quota of patience for the day.

Bella has now been trapped three times today in emotional uncomfortable situations where she could not easily escape. Edward Cullen has engineered at least two of these situations personally -- a fact he finds hilarious. This zany comedy is, in fact, the source of the chapter title: Invitations.

I'm being dour. I'm sure S. Meyer meant this to be a funny, zany, comedic interlude. It's a major plot point (Bella and Edward will hook up on her ill-fated trip out of town), as well as a point of character building: Bella is attractive, wanted, desirable and yet she doesn't let it go to her head. She's not flattered by all this attention, she's just a humble girl with humble wants and needs. She happens to be surrounded by clueless, eager high school boys, but they're really so much sweetness and light: there's no danger here, no reason for Bella to feel threatened. It's harmless fun. I know, I'm certain, that's how this chapter was meant to be taken.

So I know I'm reading too much into things here to harp on Bella's fear and uncomfortableness when those things are solely meant to show us that she's not arrogant or narcissistic. And yet... I didn't invent her fear or uncomfortableness. This isn't me extrapolating from wild jumping-to-conclusions. It's there, right there in the text. It's there and this book is more popular than chocolate fondue fountains and I've not seen any real ink spilled over the fact that Edward is deliberately forcing -- physically forcing -- Bella into emotional confrontations that make her uncomfortable. He's deliberately hurting her, because he wants the guys at school to "get their chance" -- he's putting their wants before her needs, and he's doing it because it amuses him.

And the worst part is that measured against the weight of Edward's creepy disrespect of boundaries, Mike-and-Eric-and-Tyler get lost in the shuffle when their behavior is not -- in my opinion -- much better. Mike browbeats Bella in Biology class. Eric waits by her car. Tyler approaches her while she's "trapped" in a traffic jam. Not a single one of these boys has thought about the situation from Bella's perspective, not a single one of them has considered "how can I make this most comfortable for her", not a single one of them has thought about how to minimize her discomfort.

I don't blame them for this. They're young boys raised in a culture that condones this behavior. I'm not saying that they've done anything wrong so much as saying that they're not doing things right. Twilight is the most popular book on the planet, and you'd think there'd be a chance here to say "I know you mean well, but don't do this because look how painful this is for Bella". But instead we hear from Edward -- a designated protagonist! -- that these boys deserved Bella's time. Bella's attention. Bella's ear.

He thinks that she owed them a chance to proposition her romantically. And because I think we're supposed to agree with almost everything Edward says, I think we're supposed to think that too. And I think that's creepy.

   "Yeah, Mike said that," he admitted.
   "Then why --"
   He shrugged. "I was hoping you were just letting him down easy."

YES. Because I am going to let a guy down easy with a fake out-of-town trip and then completely blow my cover by showing up with a different guy. Because I am logical like that. Tyler, I'm not sure if there's some kind of award for failing to see a situation from a woman's point of view, but I'd say you're a strong contender for the gold medal.

   Okay, it was completely his fault.
   "Sorry, Tyler," I said, working to hide my irritation. "I really am going out of town."
   "That's cool. We still have prom."

You thought I was kidding when I said I was Team Eric, didn't you? You can admit it.

   And before I could respond, he was walking back to his car. I could feel the shock on my face. I looked forward to see Alice, Rosalie, Emmett, and Jasper all sliding into the Volvo. In his rearview mirror, Edward's eyes were on me. He was unquestionably shaking with laughter, as if he'd heard every word Tyler had said. My foot itched toward the gas pedal . . . one little bump wouldn't hurt any of them, just that glossy silver paint job. I revved the engine.
   But they were all in, and Edward was speeding away. I drove home slowly, carefully, muttering to myself the whole way.

Sufferin' succotash, no doubt.

Sorry about the long post this week, ya'll, and doubly-sorry it got a bit ranty. I promise to try to be more funny and light-hearted next week. Except, now that I'm glancing ahead, I see that next week is apparently going to be a Charlie post, and if past experience is anything to go by, that will probably be ranty too. We'll see if I can't turn over a new leaf.


Susan B. said...

'Sokay if it's ranty; I like that! I DON'T, however, like the implicit trivialization of these fears, just as you say. It's perfectly fine if an author wants to write a character who has no sense of empathy and thinks nothing of putting pressure on someone else without realizing how creepy it is. Lots of people in the real world do exactly that, and it's unsurprising to me that these three high-school idiots would behave this way (and also unsurprising that a self-proclaimed predator would find it amusing). But it certainly shouldn't be played for laughs.

I realize Stephanie Meyer probably didn't realize how popular her books were going to become, but the effect is that the millions of fans who think of Twilight as the Greatest Love Story Ever are probably going to laugh off this sort of situation too, or feel embarassed if they find themselves frightened by a dark figure standing by their car. And in most cases they're probably right that there's no real danger, but how can you tell ahead of time?

As an aside, I've been lucky enough never to experience this kind of thing myself, and I never learned through experience OR advice to be careful and wary when encountering strangers alone at night. It was a shock to me when, at age 18, I started college in a not-so-safe city far away from home and was warned multiple times to keep my wits about me when walking across campus in the dark. Now that I'm living alone in another city, frequently walking home from the bus stop late at night, I have to consciously pay attention because somehow I never developed that instinct to be wary.

JP said...

Ana, you've put your finger on something that has bothered me throughout these entire wretched books (oh, besides the Edward-is-a-giant-creep thing): that trivialization of real danger and real crisis. And your post here highlights how it is particularly insidious for girls to think it's right to "laugh off" the gut instinct about the guy-waiting-in-the-parking-lot (or for that matter, the guy convulsed with laughter over your emotional pain).

Suicide, hardly a trivial topic, especially in conjunction with teen-agers, is continually presented in that inappropriately "Haha!" manner. I'm thinking of much later, when Jacob is narrating, and he says something like "I would have put a bullet in my head but then someone would have had to clean up the mess"--and it made me recoil. And that's just the one vivid example I recall clearly--I think there are a lot of little instances. Well, Bella, of course, is always going on about how worthless her life is.

depizan said...

While waiting by Bella's car is probably not the best idea, I'd say that the line of cars somewhat contradicts the idea that Eric is approaching her when she's alone. (Actually, I think Meyer couldn't keep track of what the parking lot was like over the course of the scene, which complicates things.) If Eric had merely approached her as they were both walking to their cars in the (presumably) crowded parking lot, that would've been better, though. Or between classes earlier in the day. To me, ignoring the fact that it's a girl's choice dance is the bigger no-no, but that's because I'm reading the parking lot as far from deserted. But, I'm with you on being Team Eric. It would take very little re-writing to make the scene with Eric completely fine. The others are fairly hopeless.

I also suspect that we're supposed to read Bella's concern about the tall dark man by her car as "oh noes, it's Edward" not "stranger danger." But... Well, lets just say that that doesn't really alleviate your problems with it. And, hell, the fact that the two are confusable says nothing good about Edward. (Also, I thought Eric was short. Did I make that up or did Meyer forget?)

Izzy said...

Excellent rant.

And honestly? Even when women don't feel *frightened* in these situations--I don't, for whatever reason--it's not fun for us. It's a pain. Nobody likes being the bad guy, and pop culture casts "rejects someone romantically" as "OMG evil" a lot, especially when the rejecting person is female. If I'm not frightened about physical repercussions, I usually *am* worried that this is that guy who will make a scene, or that guy who will not stop bugging me until I snap at him and will then tell all our mutual friends what an evil bitch I am, or whatever.


On gym teachers: I've had a few who weren't horrible, but none who were particularly awesome. We got a lot of the team-sports-for-everyone bullshit in middle school (it's supposed to "encourage teamwork" or some such assery) and in sixth or seventh grade, I basically told the teacher that I was either going to stand around doing nothing while everyone played volleyball or I was going to walk laps, because I liked walking and would actually get some exercise that way. She was reasonable about it; so was the high school general-PE teacher when I refused to do the more WTF aspects of the "ropes course".

My high school was generally decent about phys ed. You could play a sport, or you could do one of the yoga/aerobics/walking alternatives. We had a PE class in 10th grade, which was ninety percent useful--sex ed, nutrition, proper use of the gym, sleep (ha), and drownproofing--but then had the ropes course and trust falls and I have no idea what purpose that was meant to serve. "Bonding," I guess. I informed the teachers that "bonding" was for molecules, and I could make friends on my own time, thanks--in my snottiest sixteen-year-old voice, of course. Very Daria Wannabe, but I can't bring myself to regret it now.

Nathaniel said...

So let me get this straight. Edward peers into people's minds, sees emotional pain, AND FINDS IT FREAKING HILARIOUS?

A real charmer, aint he?

How the hell is this sort of asshattery supposed to square psychologically with Edward being a dreamy McDreamboat? Former fans, anyone, help me out here.

Samantha C said...

First, yeah, I played basketball in gym. My school was rich enough to have a gym big enough to have lots of nets -one full-sized court, split up into half-courts, each split in half again with a net on each quarter-court. We'd split the class/es into eights for teams. Granted, like most gym class sports, almost no time at all was spent on "Here are the actual rules of how to play basketball" and it was mostly "practice dribbling. Practice shooting. NOW PLAY!"

Second, I do have to give that passage you hate some credit; it made me actually jump.
"He slouched off, back toward the school. I heard a low chuckle.
Edward was walking past the front of my truck, looking straight forward, his lips pressed together. "

The paragraph break there is especially effective. All you know is someone's laughing, and then we turn with Bella to discover Edward there, threatening, suddenly, out of nowhere. Has he been there all the time, or did he just arrive and we didn't notice? That's a very effective vampire passage.

What kills me about Twilight is that I thoroughly enjoy vampire fantasies. But the key to the vampire is that he's SCARY. The reason the fantasy is fun is that fear produces adrenaline, that can easily be re-assigned to create passion when it's all part of a game. The dark, terrifying figure who wants you, and only you, and has the power to make you theirs whether you want or not, especially who has the power to MAKE you want, that's an effective combination going back to Dracula, and popping up in places like Phantom of the Opera.

So this part of the story, I'm enjoying far more than I thought I would. There are problematic elements, but it's tense, and leading up to something, and I'm actually finding myself drawn along. It's the point where Edward becomes harmless that the whole point of using vampires is missed.

/how many times can I say "especially" and "effective" in one post

Bayley G said...

I remember doing basketball in gym - in middle school, where gym class was only 30 students at a time, so we were broken across two courts.

hapax said...

I've tried real hard to defend Edward in these deconstructions, but for this section.... I've got nothing.

Even when I first read it, it was a major RAGECAPSLOCKGRAAAWWWRRR moment.

So, for a switch, I will defend Bella.

Yes, her reaction of revving her engine and fantasizing about smashing Edward's car was childish. But really, what other options has she got? Has any parent, any responsible adult, any classmate, ever once LISTENED to any of Bella's concerns? Noted obviously unsafe conditions and behavioral danger signals? Treated her as anything other than alternately "infantilized child who exists to amuse me" and "responsible adult who exists to take care of me"?

Honestly, I'm not surprised that Bella fantasized about taking out the Cullens. I'm more surprised that she didn't actually snap and DO it, then turn around and mow down the Three Stalkers (Mike, Eric and Tyler) while she was at it.

Ana Mardoll said...

While waiting by Bella's car is probably not the best idea, I'd say that the line of cars somewhat contradicts the idea that Eric is approaching her when she's alone. (Actually, I think Meyer couldn't keep track of what the parking lot was like over the course of the scene, which complicates things.)

I had problems with that, too. I went with my initial EMPTY PARKING LOT gut feeling because (a) a car line can be as few as 4 cars behind you, which is really only about 4 people and (b) if Eric keeps her talking for any length of time, they will be alone soon enough.

(Also, I thought Eric was short. Did I make that up or did Meyer forget?)

I wondered the same thing. The character descriptions are so sparse!! Maybe Bella is really short, and she just sees Eric as tall? Maybe he's tall and I just assumed otherwise because Chess Club Eric can't be tall and dark and still fit the evoked stereotype? I'm honestly not sure.

Random: Thank you for the basketball tales. Drills makes more sense, I hadn't thought of that.

Also random: I'm actually not a fan of cold propositions. I think I'm of the opinion that our society puts too much emphasis on the "right" to proposition people out of the blue, as per the elevator thing of "but if we can't ask people out, how will we ever get into relationships?" This strikes me as odd, because the romantic relationships I've been in didn't *start* as romantic relationships. I find cold propositions for romance about as odd as cold propositions for friendship: can you imagine someone walking up to you after sharing an elevator or going to school with you for a week and saying, "Do you want to be best friends?" Um. Not right now, no. Doesn't work that way, at least not for *me*.

I'm frustrated that Bella has to fend off 3-4 romantic propositions a day when she's just trying (in theory) to go to school and get her education. But I didn't really dive into this in-post because I'm still trying to work out my feelings on the subject and I realize that saying this will make me sound HUMORLESS. Maybe I should just say that *I* don't want to be cold propositioned, and I wish there was a way to hang a sign on my shirt to that effect. (The wedding ring has helped.)

Ana Mardoll said...

Very Daria Wannabe, but I can't bring myself to regret it now.

Whoops, almost forgot...

(This is the problem with so many awesome comments -- I just want to be THIS. THIS TOO. AND THIS. AND THIS OTHER ONE. Ha.) are now my personal hero and patron saint of P.E. students. Ha.

Ana Mardoll said...

Honestly, I'm not surprised that Bella fantasized about taking out the Cullens. I'm more surprised that she didn't actually snap and DO it, then turn around and mow down the Three Stalkers (Mike, Eric and Tyler) while she was at it.

Hapax! :D

I actually agree -- I don't have a problem with Bella wanting to do it. I'm reminded of "10 Things I Hate About You" where what's-her-name really DOES plow into the jerk's car. Very cathartic.

I'm just... frustrated? angry? upset? something... that the text will ONLY ever show Bella's frustration as revving her car and muttering to herself. It's crying out for a conversation where someone -- Bella? Jessica? SOMEONE -- points out that this is bad behavior and Bella doesn't have to stand for it, and maybe Mr. Banner can assign her a different lab partner if she asks, or something.

I want the text to take Bella as seriously as you and I do, basically. :/

Izzy said...

Aw, thank you!

And I'm with you on cold propositions. It seems a little less off-putting if you're in school, because you have somewhat more in common with the other person and see them somewhat regularly. On the other hand, Bella's only been there for a week--and while I remember Ye Olde Orientation Hookups, those were generally with people who had *also* only been there for a week, so there was a very different dynamic going on.

Once you're in the real world...yeah. I guess I could see striking up a conversation with someone and then giving him my number (*maybe*: I don't really do random conversations with strangers when I'm not on vacation) but it seems like a fair-sized jump from "here's my number" to "let's get coffee sometime", and an even bigger one between that and "let's do an explicitly and publicly romantic thing".

"but if we can't ask people out, how will we ever get into relationships?"

Yeah, that always annoys me.

Um: join a book club. Join a martial arts group. Take up ballroom dancing. Go to church. Go to conventions. Take a night course. Make friends.

Don't do these things with the expectation of getting into a romantic relationship, because that will show, and also it's unhealthy. Be okay with not having a SO, do things you like and hang out with people you like, and enjoy life. That's a good idea anyhow: Bridget Jones and her male equivalent are pathetic and annoying. If you're fixated on being coupled up...people are going to sense that, and they're not going to like you, and being part of a couple won't actually make your life magically better anyhow.

If you really want potential romantic connections, check out OKC. If you really want a little action...Craigslist. No guarantees either way. That's life.

/rant over.

Ana Mardoll said...

Come to magnificent Forks. See our delightful dragons! :D

I agree that context is crucial here. I will say that I went to high schools that let out at dark in winter, but maybe my schools were weird. It does seem like my nieces school lets out earlier than mine. When did that change? I'm not sure.

We need Team Eric shirts, clearly. :P

Marie Brennan said...

I don't mind you being ranty; in fact, it's often felt to me like you're tying yourself in knots, attempting to scrape together every last shred of text that can be used to come up with an in-story justification for issues that I am personally more than ready to attribute to the author's bad judgment. If it were possible to build coherent and sympathetic characterization out of this mess, surely your efforts would succeed . . . but I don't think it *is* possible. So I don't hold it against you when you hit the limit breaks of "WHAT THE I DON'T EVEN" over the crap that goes on here.

chris the cynic said...

Ok, so, the truck. Bella's truck got crunched.

"the shattering crunch of the van folding around the truck bed"
"it had curled gratingly around the end of my truck"

The van hit her truck on one side, crunched all the way around the back of her truck in a spin and after all of that still had enough force left in it to necessitate Edward hand-stopping it with enough force to do damage both to the van itself and the car against which he had braced himself.

I'm not an expert on trucks, vans, truck-van collisions, or auto repair, but I'm pretty sure that after that Bella needs more than taillights and a paint job. If nothing else consider this: Most of the damage to the van would have been done by hitting Bella's truck. If the van was so damaged as to need to be sold for parts, and Bella's truck was hit with roughly equal force, then ... Charlie was right. They don't build them like that anymore. He bought her a fracking tank.

"Sir, the enemy appears to be launching a van at us."
"Damn. We'll need new taillights again. Good think I didn't spring for a new paint job."

Please tell me that she uses this nigh indestructible magic machine to ram unfriendly vampires at some point in the future.

Ana Mardoll said...

@Marie, oh good! I do try not to be ranty yet, because we have miles to go, but it's getting there.

And yet... somehow I found myself defending Twilight in a conversion this week. It's like its my worthy nemesis in my head: indefensible, and yet worthy of being taken seriously. Kit's and Hapax's comments in explanation of certain things have left an impression on me, and I'm thoroughly grateful for that.

But, yeah, rants are coming. I can feel it. :/

@Chris, I cannot express my delight that you tackled the truck, because that bothered me immensely, but I don't have the maths to justify my botheredness. I haven't touched physics since my first year in electrical engineering.

Marie Brennan said...

Ana -- I suspect I'm less inclined to be charitable because I'm viewing this with the eye of a professional writer. I know how much can happen in a story not because of conscious choice, but because the author's unspoken assumptions are coming out to play; in this case, I see no evidence that Meyer is thinking about inner-ear problems or depression or any of the other justifications you've come up with, and plenty of evidence that she's dancing to the tune of a romantic waltz other people can't hear.

(Except that apparently some people *can* hear it -- and that frankly disturbs me.)

Your comments about Edward, though, remind me of Robert Pattinson's comment about reading the script when he was asked to play Edward. I don't remember his exact words, but it was something along the lines of "the more I read this thing, the more I hated the guy. So that's how I decided to play him: as a manic-depressive who hates himself." He's single-handedly responsible for me watching the movies; I couldn't stomach reading the books -- everything I know about them, I've gleaned from reading analyses like this one -- but I was on board with his interpretation of the character.

Izzy said...

Right, likewise. (And also I'm less inclined to be charitable, as a general rule.)

The thing about Twilight is that it would, if Meyer had just a shade more self-awareness and irony, be a terrific deconstruction of so many things: romantic vampires, love at first sight, various tired old ideas about female virtue and male self-control, obsessiveness, and so forth.

It could be a great horror story. As a romance--as anything where we're supposed to root for the main characters and rejoice in the ending--it blows goats in 3D.

This doesn't mean nobody should read it, or nobody should find it momentarily romantic, or whatever. Hey, we're all wired the way we're wired. I eat Peeps. I find "Music of the Night" hot. But I'm not arguing that it portrays a healthy relationship, and there aren't books out there on how to "find your Phantom", and...bleaaaaah.

Kit Whitfield said...

we played team sports. they were easier to supervise: just give em a ball and leave em to it. teacher is probably lazy.

Kit Whitfield said...

(My nice husband volunteered to take dictation)

I wonder if Edward's laughing at Bella is based on the Gone with the Wind dynamic. Rhett Butler is always seeing Scarlett in situations where she is annoyed with someone and laughing about it. The difference is that he hasn't engineered the annoying situations; often she's frustrated by the same proprieties he rejects, so his laughter is fundamentally sympathetic to her feelings and respectful of her spirit, even if it is mildly mocking.

That is, at least, another famous romance where part of the hero's attractiveness is his air of danger and his refusal to respect the heroine on the terms that she sets. In Mitchell's book this works because her terms depend on pretending to be somebody she isn't and he insistently loves the real her, including her aggression and capacity for anger. Since Edward consistently brushes off or smacks down Bella's anger that does not seem to be the case here. You cannot claim to be admiring a woman's spirit when you step on it every time she shows it to you.

Gone with the Wind is also, of course, a book of explicit social Darwinism and horrible racism, so superiority is more openly acknowledged than in Twilight. The curious upshot is that a laugh of superior understanding comes across as less malignantly superior.

Ana Mardoll said...

*applause for Kit's husband*

Seriously, that's awesome. Thank you, Kit's Husband.

I haven't seen or read Gone With The Wind, but I like that interpretation. It becomes a failure of moving the trope to a completely different medium instead of being "jerks are sexeh".

Kit Whitfield said...

also, Bella is far more unclear about the difference between what she pretends and what she really feels. scarlett aways knows when she' lying, so the laugh of recognition is also a laugh of communication. e doesn't communicate: his laugh puzzles and silences bella where rhett's antagonises but also engages and arouses scarlett.

Firestorm17 said...

No love for Team Like A Fish Needs A Bicycle?

chris the cynic said...

If Bella showed devotion for anyone the way fish do toward their bicycles that would be extremely unhealthy, don't you think?

I mean, fish and their bicycles are inseparable.

Antigone10 said...

Well, I'm not sure of the physics of the situation, and I keep getting the movie scene confused in my head as opposed to the actual description, but I do know one thing about old trucks: They really can take a beating. I was once in a rear-end collosion with a truck- I was at a stoplight in the fog in my 1970's model Ford F150, the gentleman in question was in a Ford Thunderbird. He ran straight into the back of me; I felt a slight bump and lurched forward a few inches. His car was totaled. My vehicle had a couple scratches on my back bumper. (I felt for the poor gentleman: he was lost, and he was focusing more on peering through the thick fog trying to find street signs than looking at the cars in front of him).

So, I feel pretty confident that a good number of vehicles could crash into that old, Detroit-steel created beast of a truck and the truck would shrug it off.

Ana Mardoll said...


That's fair. To be honest, yeah, I'm very much Team Bella (no hookup!) or Team Leah (lesbian alternative, ftw!) because I don't like any of the guys in the Twilight verse thus far and frankly I'm not a huge fan of lifelong romances formed in high school in general.

BUT. Technically we haven't met Leah yet, and to be absolutely honest, Bella could use a friend. If she's bound and determined that that will ONLY happen in a romantic relationship (because she refuses to make friends), then maybe Eric would be healthier than nothing at all. :(

But I definitely reserve the right to switch teams later. :D

chris the cynic said...

The things that stand out to me about the scene are that a van is no small thing, the contact point was not something as clean as rear ending, and the van still had enough momentum left after wards to keep going. The van hit the back corner of Bella's truck. All of that mass is being directed against corner. It's not exactly a single point, but it is a single line. The surface area is as close to zero as can be, the psi has got to be off the scale.

The wheels on Bella's truck are more exposed than the wheels on most modern cars and trucks. Compare Bella's truck to one from 60s, for example, and you'll see that the wheels on the truck from the 60s are far less exposed than hers are. If the van managed to screw up the area around her wheels then she needs to do a hell of a lot more than replace the tail lights.

The van doesn't strike a glancing blow, not does it bounce off the truck. Bella tells us that it was coming straight at the corner of her truck and then curled around it, the van pivoted on her truck, the grinding she heard was the van and the truck remaining in contact even as the van powered around the truck inexorably towards Bella. The two were in contact the whole time and they weren't having fun.

By the time the van made it to Edward's hands it had crunched, grinded, or both, three sides of Bella's truck after making initial impact with a corner. That's nothing so clean as being rear ended.

I think I skipped the first thing. The van is, well, a van. It weighs more than Bella's truck. Bella's truck is the thunder bird. The van is the F150.

I've never rammed a spinning modern van into a truck more than half a century old, I don't know what would happen. I could be completely wrong. But generally when big giant thing with mass and velocity on it's side hits puny little thing, puny little thing loses.

Ana Mardoll said...

The two were in contact the whole time and they weren't having fun.

Chris, you have a delightful way of anthropomorphizing inanimate objects. :D

Susan B. said...


I don't remember the exact details of the crash and I'm too lazy to look it up, but couldn't a lot of the momentum from the van have been absorbed by Edward bracing himself (Super Strong vampire that he is)? I think he was leaning against the truck, so that would have spread the force out a lot, but he was also bracing his legs against the ground and the friction between his shoes and the asphalt could have helped as well.

The key mental image I'm going for is Edward's sneakers leaving little skid marks on the road, possibly flaming a la Back to the Future.

Ana Mardoll said...

Edward Van Stoppage (sounds like a snooty name!) is the final act, though. There's left-side crunch (assuming it's on the left) then roll-across-the-back-gate then right-side Edward Van Stoppage.

Izzy said...

Yeah, with you on that.

High school romances that work out forever, in RL, swan kinda things, if I'm using the phrase right. They're not impossible, but you probably shouldn't count on 'em, and I find them pretty damn hard to believe in fiction.

(Which is going to make things interesting if I ever do a sequel or four to my own YA book. Heroine starts out fourteen; I would find it hard to identify with someone who ends up forever with a dude she met in high school; not sure what to do about the romance plot there.)

Ana Mardoll said...

Can you have someone leave town for a few years and come back later to be a love interest? I find that a bit more palatable.

Izzy said...

That could work.

Honestly, my current plan--and that's if I end up writing a bunch of sequels, which, who knows--is to introduce a lot of possible love interests, not have her end up with any exclusively at the end of high school, and then...well, we'll see. A lot of what distinguishes Hickey is the boarding school thing anyhow, so.

chris the cynic said...

Yeah, the problem is that Edward only gets involved after the van is done with the truck. He isn't braced against the truck, he's braced against the next car over.

Another thing is that for the van to still be coming at them in a way that he needs to brace against that car makes me think that the van is actually stuck to the truck somewhat, otherwise I'm not seeing how the van can threaten to crunch them in that direction. Even assuming that the spin is working in favor of the van going around the truck it should be deflecting, away from the line of cars at least somewhat, instead it's turning further into them. Instead of the impact with the truck pushing the van it's pulling the van. They have to have somehow attached to each other (probably on the rear corner of the truck nearest the tan car.)

I don't think it's all that usual for vehicles to get stuck together during collisions, so I don't think what Meyer's is doing there is unrealistic, but I have trouble believing the fallout from that is just taillights and paint job.

Pthalo said...

Black swans are the norm in Australia. They don't have white swans. I was surprised to learn this, but for my love, white swans are as weird and wrongly-coloured as black ones are to me.

Izzy said...

Really? Neat!

Man, Late Night Internet is educational...

Ana Mardoll said...

Alas for poor Michelle. :D

But, really, if you managed to redeem 3 out of 4 stalkers (Ed, Er, Ty), Mike can't complain that he stayed a jerk despite the rewrite. I like the visual of Edith pantomiming how to drive a stick properly. :P

readerofprey said...

There's a difference between waiting for someone at their car in a large, anonymous parking lot, though, and waiting for someone in your small school parking lot filled with students that know both of you leaving for the day. I know she says "rapidly emptying," but to my mind, that means that the parking lot is still full of people leaving all at the same time. It's probably at least a little crowded, especially given the traffic jam Eric causes. Plus, most American high schools let out between 2:30 and 3:00, so I can't imagine any time even in the winter when that would constitute dusk (unless the sun sets earlier on the West coast). I really don't see that as any worse than waiting at her locker. I think Bella nearly had a stroke because she thought it was Edward, not because she thought it was a stranger.

Mike, Tyler, and Edward, though, remain assholes.

Ana Mardoll said...

I could well be wrong about the darkness. My opinion was that if Bella cannot at a glance tell the difference between Eric and Edward (whose voice, and presumably appearance, are intimately familiar to her), then that either speaks very well of Eric or very badly of Bella's eyesight. :D

readerofprey said...

I think that when Stephenie Meyer uses the word "depressed" she's using it in the vernacular "I am unusually sad at the moment," rather than the clinical "I have a mental illness that requires therapy and treatment" sense. She just has a bad tendency toward hyperbole and doesn't know when to stop.

readerofprey said...

I always found it disturbing in the first two books the way Angela is the only person in her group she actually likes, yet she purposely avoids Angela in favor of Jessica and Mike, neither of whom she cares for. I suspect the real reason she never becomes real friends with Angela is that Meyer didn't want Bella to be sad to say goodbye to anyone when she became a vampire, but the in-text reasons focus creepily around Edward and keeping their relationship a secret. Jessica and Mike are, in Bella's opinion, too wrapped up in themselves to notice other people's emotions, whereas Angela, being kind and caring, is perceptive. First she avoids Angela because she's afraid Angela will notice the embarrassing intensity of her crush on Edward, then because she doesn't want her to guess that she's seeing Edward, then how much in love they are, then how sad she is when he leaves...Edward is already isolating her from the one peer she might develop a true friendship with and he's not even trying yet.

chris the cynic said...

I disagree.

I don't think it's hyperbole.

I've been dealing with depression, that has utterly failed to respond to any treatment, for more than a decade now and Bella's internal monologue reads as a very good depiction of depression to me. I'm not convinced that Meyer knows this, in fact I think she probably doesn't. Even so, I think depression is an accurate description. An unintentionally accurate description perhaps, but accurate none the less.


I read somewhere a claim that depression is the mental illness you'll find accurately portrayed in fiction most often because the people creating the fiction don't realize that's what they're doing.

For most forms of mental illness you'll probably only see examples of it if the writer, actor, director, or whatnot sets out to make a character with that illness. At that point they're probably going to bring loads of misinformation to the table and there's a significant risk that the character will end up a mental illness personified rather than a character who happens to have a mental illness.

For depression it works often works differently. The people involved, whether it's a single author writing a novel or the village it takes to make a movie, usually don't set out to make a character with depression. They set out to make a character. The character ends up as a character with depression because the creators draw on their experience of knowing people with depression, but the creators probably aren't aware that those people have depression. They probably think that's just how Suzy is, or that's just how Mike is. And so, without realizing that's what they're doing, they create a realistic depiction of a character with depression.

Amarie said...

Hey, everyone! I apologize for coming in kind of late; I’ve been a little sick and fretting over getting a job position. *worry-wort* >.<

Ana, I wholeheartedly agree with you; the text and the author *should* be taking Bella’s discomfort/fear much more seriously. *Especially* if the author is a woman, if you’ll pardon me for saying so.

However, I’m of the mind that Stephenie Meyer thinks Bella’s brand of resistance/anger/irritation is as far as a woman can [morally] go. And that certainly holds true when we’re talking about someone that advocates for the Good Girl. Extending from bekabot’s post in the last thread (I read your response to my dissection and I thank you!! Glad you liked it!!), Bella *does* work hard to get into the white Cullen family (heaven) in Stephenie Meyer’s eyes (sans the eternal suffering that the sinful and heretic Rosalie must endure). I mean that Bella rightfully keeps her sincere feelings as infantilized and silent as possible for the sake of men’s feelings, sexual desires and overall entertainment. What’s more is that I’m a firm believer that Twilight goes with the romantic comedy trope that women don’t mean what they say. Especially when they say ‘no’. Therefore, Bella inherently knows that she doesn’t mean what she says because the author knows that she doesn’t mean what she says as well (whatever Stephenie Meyer knows, Bella knows). Yet, even if Bella *does* mean what she says-perhaps I could attribute this to her intense aversion to marriage-the rules that govern a patriarchal system (a man’s desires) will always be placed first and foremost. Her resistance is overall comical and futile in the face of the Grand Plan.

And story-wise, from the audience’s point of view it’s terribly confusing and disturbing at times. I remember that even when I was a Twilight fan, I sincerely couldn’t tell if Bella’s refusal, dislike, etc. was meant to be taken seriously because every single time she allowed herself to be controlled no matter what came out of her mouth. If her neuroticism was for show…then I felt that we were looking at a young woman with quite a warped interpretation of power and a contradictory, desperate need for attention. If her disagreement was sincere…then what exactly is this ‘love’ in Twilight where everyone laughs at her at best and ultimately ignores her at worst? Even now, I still can’t answer that question and it just makes me…uncomfortable because I feel that our *female* author is saying a lot about her own sex with the way her other characters treat her main protagonist…

bekabot said...

"I could well be wrong about the darkness."

Nah. This is one of the things S. Meyer gets right, and the "gathering darkness" part of this scene reads right on the money to me. My parents moved out here (to western Washington) while I was still going to school, and they moved out here in the winter; the shortness of the days was one of the first things I noticed.

The shortest day of the year in Seattle (not that far from Forks) is about 8 1/2 hours long; a little bit less, in fact. The sun rises just before 8:00 in the morning, and sets at 4:20 P.M. That means that if you're a high school kid who gets out at 3:00 in the afternoon in mid-to-late December, you've got around an hour and 20 minutes of daylight left (and you might have slightly less in Forks, which is situated north of Seattle).

But that's close to the winter solstice. What about the day on which Bella tries to make it out of the parking lot? (Parking lots are not lucky for Bella.) Bella definitely shows up in Forks during the winter: Bella's high school parking lot ices over at one point and before that she slips on a little patch of ice. For a town like Forks, which has a strong marine climate, that's unusually hard weather; so, it's a cold winter. Bella's run-ins with boys, in this chapter, are centered around the Sadie Hawkins dance, which, most of the time in most places, is held on/around November 15. I'm uncertain about the timing here, but I'm assuming for my own convenience that the jockeying for position which Bella describes takes place a week before the dance, which would be November 8. According to the information I've been able to gather, the sun rose in Seattle at 7:04 A.M. on November 8 in 2005 (the year Twilight was published) and set at 4:43 P.M. So, Bella would have an extra hour of daylight in the morning compared to what she'd have nearer to Christmas, but, if she gets out of school at 3:00 P.M.,she'd still only have about an hour and three-quarters (or slightly less) before the sun sets.

She might not be able to see the sun set because of the cloud cover. It is no joke that winters in the Pacific Northwest are dark. Most days there's an overcast and sometimes the overcast is heavy. Given the right conditions the same heavy overcast can last for days or weeks. Northwesterners are pathetic when it comes to dealing with ice and snow but do know how to drive through rain and fog. It's a trade-off: you get mild weather and greenery all year round but you can also get dark gray skies and drizzle which holds on for months and months.

So, the "eerie darkened parking lot" part of this account rings true. But it doesn't sound to me as though the parking lot is deserted (though it may be "rapidly emptying") because if it were, how could Edward and Bella and their Issues bottle the parking lot up? Just my 2¢.

Izzy said...

I've been dealing with depression, that has utterly failed to respond to any treatment, for more than a decade now and Bella's internal monologue reads as a very good depiction of depression to me. I'm not convinced that Meyer knows this, in fact I think she probably doesn't. Even so, I think depression is an accurate description. An unintentionally accurate description perhaps, but accurate none the less.

I would agree.

I would argue that this is one of the reasons the series annoys me so much, because it ends up reading like the solution to depression is Meeting The Right Boy, and there is not enough "ew, NO" in the world to express my reaction to that.

But yeah. Depression, and to some extent anxiety disorder, are, I think, relatively easy to portray if you don't know that's what you're doing. There's also a "consciousness destroys the act" thing there: if someone sets out to show A Character With Depression, it comes off afterschool-special more often than not.

chris the cynic said...

I would argue that this is one of the reasons the series annoys me so much, because it ends up reading like the solution to depression is Meeting The Right Boy, and there is not enough "ew, NO" in the world to express my reaction to that.

I agree that it's wrong in basically every possible way, but I'll add that it's a damn tempting fantasy. The idea that someone could come and save you, with the Power of Love, from this thing that you're unable to overcome yourself is incredibly appealing and I spent a lot of time in high school wishing that the right girl would appear and be my salvation.

No vampire ever showed up though, perhaps because I was hoping for a fallen angel and the vampire didn't want to be someone's second choice.

Steve Morrison said...

Which is where the term black swan, as in unprecedented and unforeseeable event, comes from.

Steve Morrison said...

That’s interesting! I have often noticed passages in fiction (not necessarily characters) which seemed like portrayals of depression; one example is the underground sequence at the end of The Silver Chair. (Which is, oddly enough, almost the only part of the Narnia books that I really like.)

Izzy said...

It is, really, but...

I think there's a blog post here, or a series of 'em, or a damn academic thesis, on trying to find the tipping point between "enjoyable daydream fantasies" and "um, someone needs to tell people that doesn't work in RL."

I don't know where that is. I like pirates, and James Bond, and fantasy historical stuff where everyone's quasi-enlightened and nobody has bad breath; these are fun things, and I'm apt to get snarky at that person who has to point out How Things Really Were. Like, yes, I know, so...let me get back to having fun here.

On the other hand, I've had a lot of friends end up in trouble because they thought having an SO would make everything better; I've had a lot of friends get stuck with an SO who thought that way and blamed them when it didn't; I've dealt, both myself and by proxy, with a number of guys who believed that rom-com stalker boys were role models, or that "I'm just being myself so I'm going to pout and make a scene until you love me" works anywhere, ever. I know *way* too many guys who've absorbed the "as long as you're a nice guy, hot girls are duty-bound to leap on your cock like it was the last popsicle in July, in Death Valley" thing, and I don't know if that's from movies or anime or RL or what, but damn are they pouty when they find out it's not true.

I don't know if movies in specific can be blamed for that, or for some of it; I'm not sure where the line is between "pleasant daydream" and "Christ, don't feed the bears"; I think there's a greater responsibility to distinguish with settings and plots that are closer to reality; I maybe should turn my blog into the Surly Romance Writer's Guide to RL Dating, because I seem to be ranting about that a lot lately.

chris the cynic said...

I wasn't trying to defend the idea. I'm sorry if it came across that way and looking back I can definitely see how it might.

It's just that ... there are things in Twilight I look at and find it incomprehensible why someone would think they are good. There are things where I wonder how someone could possibly think it is anything other than unhealthy. This is not one of them, not because I think it's good or healthy (it is neither) but because I know from personal experience what it is like to wish for that heart and soul.

I think it should be be noted. It is, or at least can be, an extremely compelling fantasy for someone who is depressed, I know from experience because I had it when I was Bella's age.

Given that this is something I have personal experience with, I feel like I should at least acknowledge that experience in the conversation. That's all I was trying to do.

Izzy said...

Oh, no--I'm sorry for getting all up in your grill there. Not meaning to do that either: sort of went off on a tangent that had been niggling for a while. I didn't think you were trying to defend--and you're right, it is a pretty damn compelling fantasy. Hell, IME, if you've spent enough time being frustrated at your brain chemistry, *anything* that could deal with it in one fell swoop makes an awesome fantasy.

I went off on a "oh, this reminds me of this thing" ramble/rant; sorry that it came across as lecturing you. My bad.

Pthalo said...

trigger warning: discussion of depression and suicidal thoughts

At the risk of making everyone nauseated, that is sorta kinda what happened to me. My love and I were both suicidally depressed when we met, and were still at our wits end when we fell in love. And then we sort of clung to each other and got through it together. Right before we got together, there was a day that I had secretly planned to go through with it and I didn't because I was too busy talking to her and we talked all day and then it was bedtime.

But it didn't make it all better, and it wasn't instantaneous. It was just..enough of a boost to keep on trucking and bit by bit, day by day, things started to get better.

In both our cases, the problem was situation depressional, not chemical, aftermath of trauma and PTSD.

But I wouldn't say that our problem before was that we just needed to meet the right girl. The problem was that the depression had isolated us, caused us to withdraw into ourselves and we had no support systems, no one around us who understood. And when we became best friends and then partners, we both got the support system we sorely needed, and that made life bearable enough that we were able to pull ourselves out of the muck.

Which is a very different narrative from someone reaching in and pulling you out of the muck. For us, it was just someone to sit down in the muck with you and hold you while you were there. Someone who's hand to hold while you were trying to get your footing. We both still had to do a lot of work to rebuild our lives, but we didn't have to do it alone.

It's been 2 years and three days since I didn't kill myself because Kate was too interesting to talk to. I still have PTSD, and I still have depressive episodes, but the lows aren't as low as they were back then, and I'm happier than I ever was.

No one can save you from yourself, but having someone to hold onto while you save yourself can make a huge difference. (And I think makes a more interesting story.)

Pthalo said...

(I did also spend a lot of time as a teenager wanting someone to reach in and see me in all my darkness and make me okay again as well. But I wasn't really willing to trust anyone at the time, and I was mostly like a cat backed into a corner hissing and clawing at anyone who tried to get close to me, so most people just gave up. By the time I was ready for the someone to hold my hand while I did my own work, I was a different person.)

hapax said...

chris the cynic, I don't think I tell you often enough how much I'm loving your re-writes.

And I absolutely want to huggle Tricia. Although Ben is starting to come off like a clueless lead in a harem comedy anime.

Izzy said...

First of all, I'm very glad you did come through!

Second: yes. See, the way you describe is the way these things actually work, when they work. Not so much the "romantic partner saves you from yourself" and more the "support networks help you get to a better place, particularly when they include people who understand." That was a romantic partner in your case, but it could be a friend, or a teacher, or a parent or grandparent, and I feel like fiction gives short shrift to those latter cases.

That's one of the reasons I really like both The West Wing and Buffy, actually. While there are definitely romantic plots and subplots, they're both fundamentally shows about friendship and how people support each other outside the romantic pairing/family structure model. More of that, please, Hollywood.

Pthalo said...

I agree, Izzy. I'd like to see more stories about people who are really good friends with no sexual tension. A person gets the idea from movies that two people can't be friends if they're not interested in each other romantically, and that's just not so.

And it's better when there are larger support networks. It was cosy, just the two of us, but usually it's healthier on everybody if these things are more spread out.

chris the cynic said...

First, thanks. Second, I've never really seen much anime. I've never seen any of that genre.

Actually, the only anime that comes to mind as something I got into was .hack//Sign. It's probably worth bringing up here because it's about a depressed main character surviving largely through the help of a network of friends that forms around hir. I thought it was very good, not sure how anyone else would feel.

Not being familiar with the genre I'm not sure how accurate it is to say that Ben is like a member of it. I do know that I'm seeing it as somewhat more complicated than Bella being surrounded by her suitors.

Erica is definitely interested in Ben as he is, Michelle is textbook controlling and thus interested in a concept of Ben which the reality of Ben fails to meet (because he's not interested and becomes even less so when she acts like she's entitled to him) resulting in conflict, Tricia isn't completely sure what her interest in Ben is but she definitely wants to help where she can.

I'm not seeing Edith as interested or disinterested to start with, she's not going to be openly hostile like Edward, but she's not asking Ben out either. Working on his truck gives them time to get to know each other, and when we get to the part where Edward insists he drive Bella to Seattle Edith is going to ask to come along so she can make sure the truck is alright with the long journey. (The ease with which she gets her heavy welding equipment into the back of the truck when Ben isn't looking being another one of the somewhat-more-subtle-than-stopping-a-van-with-your-hands signs that she's not quite human.)

Ben, for his part, is sympathetic to Erica while not really feeling much, somewhat scared of Michelle, and completely unsure of what to make of Tricia. If he were to pick someone to go out with he'd probably go with Erica and hope that the feeling would come. As for Edith, I'm thinking of him seeing her as a non-romantic friend at this point.

Also, Ben like Bella had a history of being more or less ignored by the opposite sex back home, so this is all completely new to him.


It's probably because I've only got a handful of characters so far and most of them are female*, but I have a strong temptation to pair Erica off with Tricia. Ben ends up with Edith. Erica ends up Tricia. Michelle ends up in therapy. And with Jesse but the therapy is probably more important because the key thing to a good ending for her is learning to not be a jerk and that is significantly more important than which bicycle she gets.

* On the other hand, a story I spent a lot of time on in highschool, which was basically my version of Twilight, centered around a male main character, his supernatural girlfriend, his first real friend, and her girlfriend. So maybe I just have a tendency to create two couple stories where three of the characters are female.

Izzy said...

So true! Particularly for me, because my real "soul mates" are my friends; I love boyfriends and all, but friends tend to be my main thing.

I wonder if I can work some serious friendship stuff into romance novels in the future? Could be a fun challenge.

Inquisitive Raven said...

Actually, given the age of Bella's truck, it just might be that much sturdier than the van. Modern vehicles are built to collapse during collisions. The idea is to have the vehicle absorb the force of the impact instead of transferring it to the occupants. Bella's truck probably predates unibody construction, much less crumple zones, so it would be built on a rigid frame. Also, even without taking crumple zones into account, unibodies are next to impossible to straighten out in after a crash.

Fluffy_goddess said...

First off: Buffy is one of my anti-Twilights. Everyone gets to kick ass at least a little, romance is not the be-all and end-all of life but having lots of friends around is definitely a boost, and species does not determine your actions so much as character does. Also, better one-liners.

Second: This truck vs van thing should be an empirical question. Don't tell me nobody's pestered Mythbusters into doing a impossible-feats-in-books segment yet?

chris the cynic said...

It doesn't predate crumple zones, but it was built early enough in the history of crumple zones that it doesn't use them. (Its model year is one year after the patent on crumple zones was granted.)

It definitely doesn't predate unibody construction, being a good 30 years too young for that, but even though I can't find a definitive source I'm going to guess that it doesn't use it. I'm told that unibody took a long time from when it came about till when it was popularly used (more like 40 years than 30.) There are still trucks that are body on frame today, so absent a compelling evidence I see no reason to assume that a pickup truck would have been an early adopter of unibody.

So I think you're almost certainly right that it's built on a ridged frame.

Of course, then there's the question of the van. Some vans, like some trucks, continue to be body-on-frame to this day. I don't know how many vans or whether a van is more likely to be one way or the other. I just grabbed the name of a popular van and found out that it was body-on-frame rather than unibody. For all I know every other type of van is unibody.

Amaryllis said...

Izzy: I wonder if I can work some serious friendship stuff into romance novels in the future? Could be a fun challenge.
I don't think you'd find it that much of a stretch, if I may be permitted to say so. I thought that, in your last book, the relationship between your heroine and her future sister-in-law showed a lot of promise of developing into a serious female friendship.

chris the cynic said...

Second: This truck vs van thing should be an empirical question. Don't tell me nobody's pestered Mythbusters into doing a impossible-feats-in-books segment yet?

Depending on what you mean by that I might find that boring and uninteresting or extremely interesting. Simply smashing an antique truck with a spinning blue van doesn't sound very interesting to me. And given that the only think we know about the van is that it is dark blue, probably not very informative. (Because I'm sure there are all manner of dark blue van.)

On the other hand reconstructing exactly what would have to happen for the description in the book to be accurate is something that I would find very interesting, though that's something I'd expect to come more from a film crew trying to recreate the scene than a group like the Mythbusters because what it would involve would be more like turning description into storyboard into scene than any kind of experiment.

It is extremely disappointing to me that those who made the Twilight movie didn't even try to salvage any part of the van scene. The only thing I can think of that the van did that was completely impossible rather than extremely implausible was auditory rather than visual, so I think that with enough effort it should have been possible to make the scene work as written.

Of course that would draw attention to some of the odd things in the scene. (For example the sea of faces would have to have been parted to allow the van through, and it would have to do this without running and screaming on the part of the owners of the faces in the sea because they're all looking at Bella in silent shock.) But the interesting thing would be seeing it work.

leianajade said...

I just wanted to pop in and give my two cents on high school gym. As far as I can remember, we had sections on field hockey, basketball, gymnastics, soccer, volleyball, badminton, and aerobics. I'm not saying that this is typical or anything, since our entire school was about 225 my senior year, and we divided our gym classes by gender. But it *does* happen. :)

Izzy said...

Yay, thank you!

I'm hoping to do some more with that further down the road.

Makabit said...

I must say, that when I started reading this, I though the clutziness factor was being overanalyzed, but with every passing quote, it's starting to seem more and more frightening. She 'falls over a lot' taking people with her, in a basketball game where no one will pass to her? I am not graceful, nor much good at most sports, but the only time I ever recall falling over in gym class was when some girl shoved me.

This young woman has some serious balance issues, and and Ana's been pointing out, everyone seems OK with ignoring that.

Kit Whitfield said...

I must say, that when I started reading this, I though the clutziness factor was being overanalyzed, but with every passing quote, it's starting to seem more and more frightening.

wonder if it's like her 'depression' - comes off like bella making jokes about conditions, thinking she's well, when she actually has them?

bekabot said...

Sorry about the mangled post: I'm using a computer which is not my own. I can only hope that the intention come across even though the prose has ended up pretty badly fractured.

bekabot said...

"Comes across". Gaaaaahhh.

Nina said...

Late to the party as well, but yeah, my gym classes in middle school and high school always had us do organized sports. My impression was that we were supposed to be learning to play all of the different sports common to the United States. We did basketball, baseball/softball, soccer, flag football, hockey, volleyball, and tennis, as well as badminton, ping pong, dodge ball, kick ball, ultimate frisbee, gymnastics and various running and fitness drills. Oh, and in high school, we also did a swimming unit because there was a nearby pool. In fact, now that I think about it, we did pretty much nothing but organized sports. Of course, my middle school and high school were pretty well off, so we had access to fields, courts, nets, and various other equipment.

Also, I lived in Indiana recently, which is further south than Forks, and in the winter the sun set remarkably early. With cloud cover and being further north, I could definitely see it being pretty dark (or at least twilit, ha!) in the parking lot after school.

Jonathan Pelikan said...

I've got to say, this series has given me something to think about, if nothing else. Your perspective, obviously, is far different from mine, and that helps me think about things I hadn't considered much before. Such as reasons why Bella might be acting the way she is and what a real girl in her situation would be facing in terms of personal and social pressures, etc. It has softened my opinion of the material a bit.

Ana Mardoll said...

Thank you, Jonathan! I'm kind of in the same place -- these still aren't books I read for pleasure, but there's some interesting stuff to unpack here. :D

MaidenCreatrix said...

Hi... I've been reading for a few months now and enjoying the deconstructions here, but just now wanted to come out and say I appreciate the recent posts' exploration of just when it is or isn't out of bounds to be asking someone out, by people who have put more thought than I have into *why* certain scenarios come off as creepy. I don't know why but for years now I've been regularly asked out by men I don't know who are clearly much, much older than me (the first time was in a Target when I was 15, by a guy in who seemed to be in his 40's or 50's and knew from our small talk that I was in high school). The weird thing was, even though I knew on some level that they were the ones doing something inappropriate, I would always feel really awkward and guilty turning these men down, and would actually feel sorry for *them* when they would keep wheedling to turn my no into a yes. I figured, like a lot of people do I guess, that everyone has the right to try to pursue someone they're interested in... But a lot of posts and comments here gave words to a vague objection to that argument that was always in my head: there are just some scenarios where common sense can tell you that a person will not be open to a proposition, and if you know this and are banking on them being too caught off guard to reject you... yeah, that's not cool. Anyway, sorry for coming out of nowhere and leaving this long-winded post... This topic's been on my mind a lot since a similar scenario caused me to leave a job recently, and... well, I guess I'm just trying to thank Ana for facilitating such interesting discussions that there aren't always a niches for anywhere else :-)

Brin Bellway said...


(Is anyone else reminded of Thursday Next?)

Thomas Keyton said...

if you don't count Jasper's influencing her emotionally

Wait. What? He does that?

Is Jasper meant to be a sympathetic character, and if so, why? If your pre-vampire personality gives you borderline mind-control powers and as far as we can tell no significant personality change happens post-death, why is he even on Team Good?

chris the cynic said...

Who said anything about Team Good? Edward, the team Cullen Mascot, takes joy in Bella's pain (both physical and emotional.)

Ana Mardoll said...

I should note that I read this at 4:30 am (local time) and it made me laugh so long and hard. Thank you, Chris. :D

Will Wildman said...

Bella: I don't care what the author says, there has to be something humans can do to kill those things. There has to be.

I seem to recall that vampire venom is highly flammable, such that if you can get past their outermost stone layer, you can light them up like a roman candle. I recommend chlorine trifluoride.

To quote Joey Comeau: If it sparkles, we can kill it.

bekabot said...

"Wait. What? He does that?"

He makes her feel better about things from time to time; that's what I was talking about. Supposedly Bella's shielding ability doesn't kick in when she's being happyfied by Jasper, because that doesn't constitute an "attack",'but I can think of a couple of dozen sets of circumstances in which it might turn into one or be part of one.

For the record, I find Jasper less dislikable than Edward, though I have no idea why.

hapax said...

For the record, I find Jasper less dislikable than Edward, though I have no idea why.

He gets considerably less screentime? (Don't worry, BREAKING DAWN will fix that. Besides, once Alice-the-formerly-Awesome starts calling him "Jazz", you will be looking for railroad spikes for him as well)

bekabot said...

"Why is he even on Team Good?"

It's one of those Twilight conundrums. Jasper and Alice are on Team Good (which is Carlisle's team because it is) because Alice, in their unaffiliated days, foresaw that they would join Carlisle' s team, because they were destined to join Carlisle's team. So they did, because she did, and the rest is history, or prophecy, or whatever.

"(Don't worry, BREAKING DAWN will fix that. Besides, once Alice-the-formerly-Awesome starts calling him 'Jazz', you will be looking for railroad spikes for him as well)"

This gives me a wonderful picture of a posse of vampire-slayers starting off a raid by singing "I'm A-Workin' On The Railroad" in chorus to boost their pep. (Every cadre of vampire-slayers needs a good cheer section.)

Ana Mardoll said...

Re: Jazz.

Words cannot convey how deeply sad that revelation makes me, hapax. :(

chris the cynic said...

It seems to me that being able to control emotions is an incredibly potent power which could be used for good or ill. (The same can probably be said for mind reading. It doesn't have to be evil, it just can be.)

Both would be very useful in diagnosing mental difficulties. Imagine Jasper's power used thus:

"Here, let me try something."

"Oh my god, that's amazing. What are you doing to me?"

"I'm just-"

"Am I high? Is this what being high feels like?"

"No. This is normal. I'm hitting you with my strongest dose of normal."

"This can't be-"

"It is. This should be your baseline."

"There's no way..."

"Sometimes you should feel worse than this, sometimes you should feel better-"

"It's possible to feel better than this?"

"Yes. Much, much better. But the important thing for now-"

"I don't believe you." [Pulls away] "You're trying to trick me."

"No I'm-"

"I won't be manipulated!" [Runs away.]

"Damn it. Maybe I should have started with slightly less depressed."


And then comes the difficult process of convincing the person, "No, I wasn't trying to trick you, it's actually healthy to feel like that, you might want to look into seeking treatment."

hapax said...

chris the cynic, you just reminded me of one of my favorite moments in Lois Bujold's Vorkosigan books:


Jura gur fjrrg Qe. Rguna ernyvmrf gung gur ershtrr ur unf orra uvqvat unf *zvaq ernqvat cbjref*, qrirybcrq gb znxr uvz gur cresrpg nffnffva naq fcl, uvf erfcbafr vf "Ubj jbaqreshy! Lbh pbhyq uryc hf qvntabfr vasnagf naq crbcyr jvgu ncunfvn, ol fcrnxvat sbe gurz!"

The point being, no ability is good or evil in itself; one reveals one's character by how one thinks to use it.

(See how nice a person you just revealed yourself to be?)

Pthalo said...

@hapax: wow, cool. *notes that title down on her growing list of books to read*

bekabot said...

@ Izzy & Pthalo:

I think the Cullen clan is supposed to be Bella's support system: that's the reason for the early plot-point importance of Alice, who "can see Bella as part of the family". (I've been told that this is a function of S. Meyer's Mormon enculturation: in Mormon society it's important that a prospective spouse fit in with the entire tribe of to-be-inlaws, not just that they click specifically with their SO him/or/herself. But I can't vouch for the truthfulness of that since I'm not a Mormon.) It's also why, in the second book, Jasper's attack on Bella is so devastating. Bella has learn how to become a Cullen; it's not enough that she's just the beloved of Edward.

I, myself, don't like this. If your family is your only resource and your only standard of judgement, you have no recourse if they start jerking you around. (Fortunately no Cullen other than Edward makes it a practice to yank Bella's chain, if you don't count Jasper's influencing her emotionally. But it could happen, and, in fact, if you want to be ungenerous to the Cullens, you could interpret their cooperation with Edward's endless plans as to What To Do With Bella This Time in that light.) If your family is your world, and your family turns against you, you have nowhere else to go. The whole thing puts me in mind of the creepy ancient Greek dictum that says: Men have friends, women have family, and animals have the company of their own kind. But (to be fair) all the Cullens are in the same boat together; they can depend on nobody but each other and can get support from no other source.

she rejects all the boys in her school and doesn't do much to keep up good relations with the girls. (Either Jessica or Angela complains about this in the second book, in which Edward abandons Bella and in whicThe trouble is all in the "meanwhile". Bella is headed for better things but in the meantimeh Bella abandons everybody.) Her actions at various junctures, though they look completely justified to her, threaten to alienate her father. (In the end, of course, she effectually cuts him off, but by then she's got no other choice.) It's the way Bella acts while she does still have a choice that concerns me: the other kids at Forks High tolerate her and, though her father ignores her, he does that not out of dislike for her but b/c he's about as skilled interpersonally as she is. Bella could cultivate a support system if she wanted to (is what it looks like) but she doesn't have the energy because she's so hung up on Edward.* We know the end of the story and know that ultimately Bella is rewarded**, but, again, in the meantime she's rolling against long odds. What if her gamble hadn't paid off? That is but one of the many reasons why Bella makes a really bad role model. Her story is diverting, but "don't try this at home" should be printed in Surgeon-General's-warning type on the back of every last one of those books.

*Possibly, also, Bella is affected by a "glitch" in her consciousness which prevents her from getting close to other people but which allows her to identify vampires as vampires.

**I know that "I'm going to be turned into a vampire and spend hundreds of years attending human High School" is not everybody's vision of an "eternal reward", but those are the premises on which an "eternal reward" is presented in Twilight, and a reader can either quit reading or accept the terms.

Steve Morrison said...

That’s interesting! I have often noticed passages in fiction (not necessarily characters) which seemed like portrayals of depression; one example is the underground sequence at the end of The Silver Chair. (Which is, oddly enough, almost the only part of the Narnia books that I really like.)

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