Twilight Recap: Bella accepted a ride home from Edward with the understanding that Alice will bring her truck by later. Edward has stated that he will not be in school tomorrow (Friday) and cannot join the beach outing on Saturday.
Twilight, Chapter 6: Scary Stories
Every so often I like to check in with my readers. How are you, dear readers? Are you enjoying these deconstructions? You can't actually answer that while I'm typing this post, of course, though you can answer in the comments and I hope that you will. But since I'm typing right now and you can't answer at the moment, I will come up with imaginary answers for you.
Ana, you are saying to me in my head, we like these Twilight deconstructions very much. It's very pleasing to see you call out Edward and Mike and Tyler and Eric for their creepy, abusive, territorial behavior. And we are very much looking forward to seeing you do the same for Jacob. But, Ana, you continue, making sad frowny faces in my head, it's disappointing to us that we've not seen many counter-examples of every single girl in Forks also being creepy, abusive, and territorial in their behavior.
Well, dear readers, today is your lucky day! Because this is the chapter in which every single girl in Forks is portrayed as a terrible human being! Yay!
But wait! Pause that Happy Dance. Here is the problem. All that creepy-abusive-territorial behavior by Edward-Mike-Tyler-Eric was behavior that I think -- and you really must suspend your skepticism for a moment and bear with me here -- was meant to be romantic. I know, I know, the behavior was not romantic and it was in fact creepy-abusive-and-territorial. But I think it wasn't meant to be.
And so now here is a problem with the Girls of Forks. Their behavior may be creepy-abusive-and-territorial. Or it may be confused-concerned-and-frustrated. I'm not entirely sure! I mean, I'm pretty sure that I'm supposed to hate the girls of Forks, but I'm not at all sure that I do! Even a little bit! So that's going to make this chapter a little tricky to deconstruct! But we're going to do our best.
But, I'm going to be honest with you, dear reader: I have a lot of questions I need your help with in this chapter.
AS I SAT IN MY ROOM, TRYING TO CONCENTRATE ON THE third act of Macbeth, I was really listening for my truck. I would have thought, even over the pounding rain, I could have heard the engine's roar. But when I went to peek out the curtain -- again -- it was suddenly there.
Ana's Question 1: When is it? Now don't laugh, but I honestly don't know. When Bella first started school, I believe we decided it was January and I believe she mentioned reading one of the Bronte sisters in English class. Now we've had an indeterminate number of days while Edward gave her the silent treatment (between The Parking Lot Incident and The Fainting From Blood Typing) and Bella is apparently reading Shakespeare's Macbeth and the weather in Forks is nearly sixty degrees Fahrenheit. Is it February? March? April? I couldn't begin to guess and that makes me sad.
Ana's Question 2: Why Macbeth, and why Act 3? A quick glance at SparkNotes -- yes, Ana has an English degree but doesn't have the Shakespearean acts memorized for each play, feel free to gently mock her in the comments for her eroding memory -- tells me that Act 3 is the act where Macbeth and Lady Macbeth start to express a certain weariness with the whole murder thing and "seem shocked and dismayed that possessing the crown has not rid them of trouble or brought them happiness." Is it too much to hope that this is some sort of character allusion in Twilight, that possessing vampire blood has not rid the Cullens of trouble or brought them happiness?
Ana's Question 3: Why the silent truck? Is this meant to convey that Edward and/or Alice actually carried Bella's truck to her house, or is it meant to convey that rain in Forks is just that loud, or is it meant to convey that Bella's habit of listening to music in her headphones painfully loud (stay tuned!) is permanently damaging her hearing, or is it just a quick narrative conveyance to get back on track with the plot?
Anyway. Bella goes to school the next day.
I wasn't looking forward to Friday, and it more than lived up to my non-expectations. Of course there were the fainting comments. Jessica especially seemed to get a kick out of that story. Luckily Mike had kept his mouth shut, and no one seemed to know about Edward’s involvement. She did have a lot of questions about lunch, though.
"So what did Edward Cullen want yesterday?" Jessica asked in Trig.
"I don't know," I answered truthfully. "He never really got to the point."
"You looked kind of mad," she fished.
"Did I?" I kept my expression blank.
"You know, I've never seen him sit with anyone but his family before. That was weird."
"Weird," I agreed. She seemed annoyed; she flipped her dark curls impatiently -- I guessed she'd been hoping to hear something that would make a good story for her to pass on.
Ana's Question 4: Jessica, Interested or Nosy? Jessica is, I suppose, the closest thing Bella has to a friend in Forks, but we're never really clear on the nature of their relationship. The book introduces Jessica as a nice, talkative girl who wants to be friends; the movie portrays her as the reigning Queen Bee who likes to keep her friends close and her potential rivals closer. She's interested in Mike and clearly hopes to get his leftover attention by being near Bella, but she also seems to be making an attempt to be friends with Bella regardless of the Mike-stuff, as seen with her inviting Bella to go clothes-shopping with her.
Jessica's teasing of Bella about yesterday's fainting makes Bella uncomfortable, but we're not sure how clearly Bella conveys that to Jessica. Jessica's prying about Edward's beckoning at Bella over lunch causes Bella to shut down the conversation, but since we rarely see Bella speak to Jessica in a manner that isn't hedging and wary, it's hard to say if this is unusual. Bella's "guess" of Jessica's motives isn't a particularly charitable one, but I'm still on the fence about whether or not we should take Bella's pronouncements as gospel, considering how horribly wrong she is about, for example, Edward's All-Consuming Lustful Hunger For Her Specialness when she really thinks he hates and despises her. Although, now I say that, I kind of think Bella's explanations for Edward's abusive behavior make more sense because in my experience lust doesn't usually turn a man into a raging jackwagon, so maybe I should take her guesses as gospel. You can see why I'm confused.
So! Readers! Jessica? Genuinely interested and frustrated that Bella refuses to communicate with her in a non-stonewall-y fashion or nosy gossip queen miffed that Bella isn't baring her soul so that she can pluck juicy nuggets for the rumor mill? You decide!
As an aside, I have curly hair, and while I do flip it at times, I almost never do so out of impatience. Usually that particular gesture means I'm trying to clear my thoughts and look at something from another perspective. Take that for what you will.
The worst part about Friday was that, even though I knew he wasn't going to be there, I still hoped. When I walked into the cafeteria with Jessica and Mike, I couldn't keep from looking at his table, where Rosalie, Alice, and Jasper sat talking, heads close together. And I couldn't stop the gloom that engulfed me as I realized I didn't know how long I would have to wait before I saw him again.
Ana's Question 5: Buh. Why are only Edward and Emmett off hunting? Don't the Cullens hunt together as a group? What kind of excuses does Carlisle give the teachers at this school that half of them can show up and half of them can take off on a whim? And why the sudden heart-tearing realization that Bella doesn't know when she'll see him again? Monday is a pretty decent thing to hope for, and they have a standing date for him to drive her into town on Dance Weekend, which admittedly I have no feel for when that is.
I intercepted a few unfriendly glances from Lauren during lunch, which I didn't understand until we were all walking out of the room together. I was right behind her, just a foot from her slick, silver blond hair, and she was evidently unaware of that.
". . . don't know why Bella" -- she sneered my name -- "doesn't just sit with the Cullens from now on," I heard her muttering to Mike. I'd never noticed what an unpleasant, nasal voice she had, and I was surprised by the malice in it. I really didn't know her well at all, certainly not well enough for her to dislike me -- or so I'd thought.
Ana's Question 6: Lauren, Horrible Blonde Girl or Blonde Horrible Girl? Have we seen Lauren before this moment? A brief search through Twilight tells me that the only previous mention of Lauren was her description as "a standoffish girl who had always ignored me at the lunch table" and Bella's suggestion that Lauren should group up with Tyler for the dance. If only the previous description of Lauren had mentioned that she was blonde and then we could have known in advance she was a terrible horrible person! Just like Rosalie!
Because I'm determined to get my money's worth out of the Twilight Official Illustrated Guide book that I bought, I pulled up Lauren's profile, and... well, let me just quote the relevant bits here:
NAME: Lauren Mallory
HAIR COLOR: White-blond
EYE COLOR: Green
PHYSICAL DESCRIPTION: Lauren has silky, straight, silvery blond hair, which she initially wore long. Just before senior year, she cut her hair very short.
PERSONAL HISTORY: Before Bella Swan moved to Forks, Lauren Mallory was the most sought-after girl in school. She had dated Tyler Crowley and Mike Newton in her sophomore year. When Bella started attending Forks High, it was difficult for Lauren. Despite the fact that Lauren was in fact much prettier than Bella, many of the guys at school were intrigued by a new face.
Sometime during the summer following her junior year, Lauren was approached by an alleged modeling agent in a mall in Victoria, British Columbia, Canada. He told her she was a natural model, and Lauren agreed with him. The agent told her that if she cut her long hair into a shorter, edgier look and had some high-quality headshots taken, her future would be assured. Lauren followed his instructions -- spending three hundred dollars on a haircut and fifteen grand on pictures taken by the agent’s partner -- and never heard from the agent again.
I... honestly don't know what to say about that. Is that even mentioned in the books anywhere? A quick search through the collection tells me that Lauren's new hair style is mentioned in "New Moon", but I never could find an in-text explanation for it. So I guess this little comeuppance is included in the illustrated guide as a bone for the fans? But why would something that causes Bella confusion in-text -- she wonders why Lauren would cut her hair and speculates that the student body scalped her in retribution for being such a horrible person -- be hidden away forever in the special illustrated guide? Because when someone strikingly beautiful is abused and humiliated, it makes my day to hear all about it!
I know there's a long and time-honored tradition in YA media for the Popular Pretty Person to get their comeuppance, but (a) time-honoredness doesn't make certain traditions less odious and (b) if the popular pretty people of the series whose attitudes of grandiosity may very well need some fine-tuning once out of the small pond of high school and into the bigger ocean beyond are going to get narrative comeuppance for their sins, I would think that Ms. Beautiful Swan and her backup dancers The Sparkly Cold Ones should maybe not be throwing stones in that shiny glass house of theirs.
Also, if we're counting, Lauren is now on my List Of Twilight Character I Feel Sorry for, right up there with Leah. Which is odd because, best I can tell from my quick searches, Lauren is genuinely a really terrible person. But she's so blatantly a terrible person that my mind reels away in rebellion and I feel sorry for her being puppet-mastered into Libby Lauren. You see what I mean about this chapter being difficult for me to deconstruct.
That night at dinner, Charlie seemed enthusiastic about my trip to La Push in the morning. I think he felt guilty for leaving me home alone on the weekends, but he'd spent too many years building his habits to break them now. [...] He seemed to approve. I wondered if he would approve of my plan to ride to Seattle with Edward Cullen. Not that I was going to tell him.
"Dad, do you know a place called Goat Rocks or something like that? I think it's south of Mount Rainier," I asked casually.
"Yeah -- why?"
I shrugged. "Some kids were talking about camping there."
"It's not a very good place for camping." He sounded surprised. "Too many bears. Most people go there during the hunting season."
"Oh," I murmured. "Maybe I got the name wrong."
Ana's Question 7: Charlie, Understandably Absent or Absently Understandable? No, I don't know what that question means either, but now that I've brought it up, can we talk about Charlie? I would like to.
Now, you all know that I'm against parent-shaming, right? I'm not a parent, I'm never going to be, and I think parents need a little more support from random strangers like me and a little less policing of their every move. I feel that very strongly. But Charlie is not a real person. Charlie is a character in a novel, and -- more specifically -- he's a Father in a YA romance novel. This means that he is essentially going to be either dead or really, really absent all the time.
Viewed in that light, as a YA romance novel Father, Charlie is actually a pretty stand-up guy. He does not, for example, use his magical sea-trident to destroy Bella's computer where she keeps all her vampire research while bellowing through his wavy beard that no daughter of his will ever go to Italy or whatever. Nor does he foolishly stumble his way into an empty castle, make himself at home, and then get himself taken prisoner by an enchanted beast-prince so that his daughter then has to set out on an adventure to rescue him.
But even given all that, I'm not prepared to give Charlie the gold medal in parenting. I don't demand that he rearrange his work hours to be home in time to help Bella with dinner and be there every weekend to hang breathlessly at her elbow on the off-chance that she might put down Jane Austen and play Pictionary with him, but some middle ground would be nice. I'm fairly certain that the only Bella-Charlie interaction in the book has been (a) nearly-silent car rides and (b) nearly-silent dinners. There's room in every family for nearly-silent people, of course, and I don't expect the Swans to be chatterboxes on my account, but I'm just not feeling any attempt on either party's part to be... what? A family? Friendly? Something.
Am I being harsh? Is it perfectly normal and understandable for Bella and Charlie to treat each other like silent roommates? I don't know. But it seems... odd to me. Especially when Charlie will later turn around and suddenly intensely care about the state of Bella's hymen. WHY DO YOU CARE, CHARLIE?
I meant to sleep in, but an unusual brightness woke me. I opened my eyes to see a clear yellow light streaming through my window. I couldn't believe it. I hurried to the window to check, and sure enough, there was the sun. It was in the wrong place in the sky, too low, and it didn't seem to be as close as it should be, but it was definitely the sun. Clouds ringed the horizon, but a large patch of blue was visible in the middle. I lingered by the window as long as I could, afraid that if I left the blue would disappear again.
I wanted to blow by this as I do all scenery descriptions, but then it hit me that it was one of the few pieces of Bella-character-building that we get. So drink that in.
I actually do think this paragraph is pretty good. It conveys Bella's passion for sunlight, her yearning for home, and her hovering depression momentarily lifted. I kind of wish we had more of this.
The Newtons' Olympic Outfitters store was just north of town. [...] In the parking lot I recognized Mike's Suburban and Tyler's Sentra.
Ana's Question 8: Why does everyone in this universe have cars? When I was a teenager, we didn't all magically get cars after our sixteenth birthdays. And Tyler has a Sentra? His parents had to sell "their" van that Tyler was driving to school "for parts", that's how damaged it was. Bella told us that in chapter 4. Why would they buy him another car so soon and let him drive it?
Jess was there, flanked by Angela and Lauren. Three other girls stood with them, including one I remembered falling over in Gym on Friday. That one gave me a dirty look as I got out of the truck, and whispered something to Lauren. Lauren shook out her cornsilk hair and eyed me scornfully.
So it was going to be one of those days.
At least Mike was happy to see me.
"You came!" he called, delighted. "And I said it would be sunny today, didn't I?"
"I told you I was coming," I reminded him.
Ana's Question 9: Why is Bella here? Earlier I speculated that Bella pretty much had to come because she doesn't want to fall out with the one group of kids that sort of like her at school, but this chapter turns the tables on that and suddenly informs us that, no, the girls of the group pretty much all hate Bella for the uncontrollable lust she stirs in their men. So since Bella does not want to be here anyway and since her presence just riles the men up in ways she wants to avoid and riles the women up in ways she doesn't want, why is she here at all?
I want to stress I don't mean that in a judging way. I think Bella is probably navigating the social framework at school the best she knows how: by going along and not making waves. Telling Mike no to the beach invitation would have been hard and uncomfortable (as seen with the turning down of the dance invitation), and so Bella didn't. She'd rather suffer the hard uncomfortableness of coming (which she doesn't want to do) and being flirted with (which she doesn't want to happen) and being hated on by the girls (which she doesn't enjoy) than to have to assert herself directly to Mike. I get that, I do, and it's hard not to immediately blame her. Bella has already turned down three guys for the school dance; she probably is trying really hard to not get a reputation as stuck-up or inaccessible.
So I can actually see a lot of good reasons for Bella to come along to the beach, but I'm not sure those reasons are given in the text or if I'm just extrapolating. So I'd like to hear why you think she's here, subjecting herself to so much misery. Points off if anyone says she's here because the plot demands it. *stern look*
Anyway, moving on to actually address the quote above, apparently unnamed girls in the party are now being snotty about Bella because she keeps beaning them about the head and falling all over them in gym class. I think I'm supposed to want to chide the girl for being insensitive to Bella's disability, but since I cannot honestly imagine Bella offering a genuine apology for falling over said girl, I'm not sure whether I should give her a pass. What do you all think?
"We're just waiting for Lee and Samantha . . . unless you invited someone," Mike added.
"Nope," I lied lightly, hoping I wouldn't get caught in the lie. But also wishing that a miracle would occur, and Edward would appear.
Mike looked satisfied.
Oh, Lee. *sad trombone* The Twilight Illustrated Guide tells me that you're dating this Samantha person, and since you're not a Cullen I have to assume that means she's not just like a sister to you. My heart is broken, for yea verily you were the last shining hope for a decent love interest in this novel.
Ana's Question 10: Why has everyone in Forks High School pair-bonded? My first boyfriend was in college, unless you count That Guy I Held Hands With For A Week In Church My Sophomore Year And Then He Went And Held Hands With Another Girl Instead.
"Will you ride in my car? It's that or Lee's mom's minivan."
He smiled blissfully. It was so easy to make Mike happy.
"You can have shotgun," he promised. I hid my chagrin. It wasn't as simple to make Mike and Jessica happy at the same time. I could see Jessica glowering at us now.
Ana's Question 11: Jessica, who is she glowering at and does she have a point? I like to think Jessica is glowering at Mike, and with good reason. He's promised to go to the spring dance with her, which I like to think was extended and accepted as a romantic overture. As such, I do think Jessica has something of a good reason to sort of expect Mike to pay attention to her and not keep drooling on Bella's shoes. I mean, I don't think this dance is one that people just can't attend if they don't have a partner; if Mike really isn't into Jessica, it seems wrong for him to hedge his bets like this. He needs to have told her that it was sweet for her to ask, but he's planning to go stag. That's my opinion; I'm open to others.
I think, though, the narrative is supposed to mean that Jessica is glaring at Bella. And I'm not sure if that's justified. I mean, within the narrative Bella is totally innocent, but I do feel like she could be going an extra mile to clarify to Mike that she is not interested. "You can have shotgun," can be easily followed up with a cheery, "Oh, thank you, but I was planning to sit with Angela!" *flounce* I'm not going to sit here and say Bella is required to do so, but I do think her general practice of making faces in her head and being generally silent while the plot wheels her from place to place is not helping her achieve her goals.
The numbers worked out in my favor, though. Lee brought two extra people, and suddenly every seat was necessary. I managed to wedge Jess in between Mike and me in the front seat of the Suburban. Mike could have been more graceful about it, but at least Jess seemed appeased.
Ana's Question 12: Are we supposed to view Mike as a jerk? I really can't tell anymore.
Answer these things! Or don't! Life is short!