Twilight Recap: Bella has returned to school on Monday and is talking with Mike about their upcoming report on Macbeth.
Twilight, Chapter 7: Nightmare
Let's talk about all the things remaining in Chapter 7 that amuse and/or confuse me!
[Mike] stared at me like I’d just spoken in pig Latin.
"I guess I’ll have to get to work on that tonight," he said, deflated. "I was going to ask if you wanted to go out."
"Oh." I was taken off guard. Why couldn’t I ever have a pleasant conversation with Mike anymore without it getting awkward?
I am amused and confused by the presence of the word "anymore" in that last sentence. Has Bella ever had a (documented) conversation with Mike that wasn't awkward? The only one I can immediately think of is their opening salvo in which Mike confirmed that Edward Cullen was acting weird to keep scooting away from Bella in Biology class and in which he assured her that he wouldn't act that way were he her lucky lab partner. Everything since then has been tinged with Mike's increasing interest in Bella and Bella's increasing discomfort with his interest.
Clearly there have been pleasant, non-awkward conversations with Mike in the past and we just haven't been privy to them. I feel a little disappointed about that.
"I think . . . and if you ever repeat what I’m saying right now I will cheerfully beat you to death," I threatened, "but I think that would hurt Jessica’s feelings."
He was bewildered, obviously not thinking in that direction at all. "Jessica?"
"Really, Mike, are you blind?"
I am amused and confused that the Twilight Official Illustrated Guide decided that consistency was optional and chose to retroactively pair Mike and Jessica as on-again-off-again high school sweethearts:
He was very popular at school, and he dated the most popular girls, including Lauren and, later, Jessica.
~ Mike Newton biography
She dated Mike briefly during their sophomore year, and always wanted to get back together with him. She was happy when that wish was later fulfilled, though their relationship was sporadic.
~ Jessica Stanley biography
For that matter, I'm a little confused and amused by the fact that Mike has managed to be so popular and so good with the ladies up until now, but he's so oblivious that he simply cannot or will not accept that Bella is (a) just not into him and (b) pretty clearly coupled with Edward Cullen at this point, given that Mr. I Speak Only To My Family has been beckoning at her and saving her from runaway vans and carrying her around like a messenger bag between Biology and the nurse's office. I get that Popular does not automatically equal Smart or Good People Skills, but this is a level of obtuseness that, well, confuses and amuses me.
We walked in silence to building three, and his expression was distracted. I hoped whatever thoughts he was immersed in were leading him in the right direction.
I'm a little confused and amused that Bella has decided to take her passive-aggressive method here and dial it up to eleven. The passivity of her denials made more sense when she was still new to Forks and was understandably concerned about her reputation and her friendship with the other kids: a firm denial to Mike could lead to her being shunned from Mike's large circle of friends and/or could pose a seriously violent threat to her, if Mike or his friends decided to retaliate.
But now Bella is, however teasingly, calling Mike "blind" and it seems remarkably more aggressive for her to do so than if she just came out and said, "Mike, I'm sorry, but no." And, frankly, I think that would be a good deal more effective than blaming it all on Jessica, which would seem to indicate that there's still a chance for Mike to get with Bella, if only Jessica were not evaluated for consideration of her feelings.
When I saw Jessica in Trig, she was bubbling with enthusiasm. She, Angela, and Lauren were going to Port Angeles tonight to go dress shopping for the dance, and she wanted me to come, too, even though I didn’t need one. I was indecisive. It would be nice to get out of town with some girlfriends, but Lauren would be there. And who knew what I could be doing tonight. . . . But that was definitely the wrong path to let my mind wander down. Of course I was happy about the sunlight. But that wasn’t completely responsible for the euphoric mood I was in, not even close.
(Pedantry: I find the wording distracting here. Should it not be "She, Angela, and Lauren were going to Port Angeles that night to go..."?)
I'm confused and amused that Bella is anticipating seeing the Cullens during lunch hour, and is so hopeful of a possible date -- for that very night! -- with the previously kind-of cold and standoffish Edward that she's keeping the Jessica-Port-Angeles plan on the back burner until she can talk to Edward at lunch.
Only... she seriously thinks Edward is a vampire. She genuinely believes that he's a mythological creature of the night. She reiterates, in this very paragraph, that it is very sunny outside. And she has already been told (Hasn't she? Jessica tells her in the movies, but I can't find the reference in the book now.) and/or observed that the Cullens never show up on sunny days. So it should not be a MEGA SURPRISE that Edward is not at school on this very sunny day. Except that it is.
Desolation hit me with crippling strength.
I shambled along behind Jessica, not bothering to pretend to listen anymore.
HAHAHAHA, ZOMBIE BELLA.
We were late enough that everyone was already at our table. I avoided the empty chair next to Mike in favor of one by Angela. I vaguely noticed that Mike held the chair out politely for Jessica, and that her face lit up in response.
Angela asked a few quiet questions about the Macbeth paper, which I answered as naturally as I could while spiraling downward in misery. She, too, invited me to go with them tonight, and I agreed now, grasping at anything to distract myself.
I'm confused and amused by the apparent fact that Bella is the best in her class at ALL THE THINGS given that even Angela (who is a "good all-round student", courtesy of the Twilight Guide) is quizzing her about the upcoming paper. This particularly stands out to me because Bella has been regularly contemptuous in-text of her studies and seems to really only attend to her work half-heartedly when there are painful, moping things she wants distraction from.
There's nothing wrong with that, but it astonishes me that Bella is consistently out-performing her entire grade in terms of being on top of her assignments and paying attention to deadlines as well as to what is being said in class. I don't care how naturally smart Bella is or isn't, she doesn't seem to be applying herself to her studies and that pretty much guarantees that someone else (who is applying themselves) is going to be doing better than she.
So I'm going to assume that Angela is asking Bella because she's noticed that Bella is looking really down, and Angela is trying to draw her out of her shell. Angela, you're a sweetheart.
I was glad to leave campus, so I would be free to pout and mope before I went out tonight with Jessica and company. But right after I walked in the door of Charlie’s house, Jessica called to cancel our plans. I tried to be happy that Mike had asked her out to dinner -- I really was relieved that he finally seemed to be catching on -- but my enthusiasm sounded false in my own ears. She rescheduled our shopping trip for tomorrow night.
(There's that funny wording again. Not "the next night", but "tomorrow night".)
I'm neither confused nor amused at Bella's continued choice to label her valid feelings of disappointment and frustration as pouting and moping. I am confused as to why S. Meyer continually made these stylistic decisions. Sometimes I really think 90% of my sympathy for Bella stems from the fact that her author doesn't seem to like her very much. That has to be kind of rough.
Which left me with little in the way of distractions. [...] I checked my e-mail, reading the backlog of letters from my mother, getting snippier as they progressed to the present. I sighed and typed a quick response. [...]
I'm confused and amused by the fact that Renee is getting terse with her daughter and showing her annoyance with Bella's emotional withdrawal through her communications. What did Renee expect? Bella has apparently made zero effort in her seventeen years of life to connect with her physically-distant father more than the bare minimum required whenever she was sent up to stay with him or sent out to California to vacation with him. It should perhaps not come as a great surprise, in retrospect, that Bella would be as uninterested in connecting with her mother, once she was physically distant as well. Whoops!
I'm also filled with ironic amusement that RENEE MISSES BELLA is a quick little plot point considered unworthy of any real attention in a novel that is about becoming a vampire and never seeing your family again. "Mother misses me after only a few weeks of absence and sparse communication on my part. Ho hum. Time to go fantasize about becoming a vampire and never seeing or speaking to her for the remainder of eternity!"
I decided to kill an hour with non-school-related reading. I had a small collection of books that came with me to Forks, the shabbiest volume being a compilation of the works of Jane Austen. I selected that one and headed to the backyard, grabbing a ragged old quilt from the linen cupboard at the top of the stairs on my way down. [...]
I lay on my stomach, crossing my ankles in the air, flipping through the different novels in the book, trying to decide which would occupy my mind the most thoroughly. My favorites were Pride and Prejudice and Sense and Sensibility. I’d read the first most recently, so I started into Sense and Sensibility, only to remember after I began chapter three that the hero of the story happened to be named Edward. Angrily, I turned to Mansfield Park, but the hero of that piece was named Edmund, and that was just too close. Weren’t there any other names available in the late eighteenth century? I snapped the book shut, annoyed, and rolled over onto my back.
I am confused by the description of Bella's compilation being 'shabby', which I presume is meant to indicate that it is disheveled from having been re-read so many times and yet instead makes me think that she's not very considerate with her books. Or is it just me? I know that the books I truly treasured and re-read extensively were "broken in" with a soft spine, but they were otherwise in beautiful condition, a far cry from shabby. Maybe she just got a really badly-bound edition at the used book store?
I'm also utterly amused at Bella's desperate plea for a late eighteenth century book that doesn't have an "Edmund" or an "Edward" in it. Hey, Bella, you know what was published in 1897 and has only Jonathans, and Minas, and Lucys, and Arthurs, and Johns, and Quinceys, and Abrahams? Bram Stoker's Dracula! Which you might actually want to read up on, just in case, you know? I think I'd like to know if the boy I was dating was planning to drain out all my blood, send an enraged wolf hurtling through my window at night, and cause my darling mother to drop dead of shock right on top of me. Just sayin'!
I watched TV with Charlie after dinner, for something to do. There wasn’t anything on I wanted to watch, but he knew I didn’t like baseball, so he turned it to some mindless sitcom that neither of us enjoyed. He seemed happy, though, to be doing something together. And it felt good, despite my depression, to make him happy.
I'm confused and saddened by the fact that there is apparently nothing Bella and Charlie enjoy doing together. What have they been doing all those summers spent together? Do they have nothing in common when it comes to TV shows, movies, hobbies, board games, political preferences, anything?? It's just so sad to me that they're locked in this miserable relationship with nothing, absolutely nothing, to do that pleases them both.
"Dad," I said during a commercial, "Jessica and Angela are going to look at dresses for the dance tomorrow night in Port Angeles, and they wanted me to help them choose . . . do you mind if I go with them?"
"Jessica Stanley?" he asked.
"And Angela Weber." I sighed as I gave him the details.
He was confused. "But you’re not going to the dance, right?"
"No, Dad, but I’m helping them find dresses -- you know, giving them constructive criticism." I wouldn’t have to explain this to a woman.
"Well, okay." He seemed to realize that he was out of his depth with the girlie stuff. "It’s a school night, though."
I'm confused and annoyed that Charlie and Bella have to reach for stock stereotypes and gender essentialism in order to communicate the point that there are some girls in town who would enjoy having Bella along for company on an outing. Does Charlie do everything alone with no male friends along for the enjoyment of their company? Does he do all his fishing alone, with no one along for conversation (on the way there and back) and silent companionship (when the actual fishing is going on)? I'm pretty sure Charlie is alone basically NONE OF THE TIME and is always either hanging with the fellas at the police station or hanging out with Billie Black on the reservation. So why do we have to reach for the gender stereotypes here to explain why Bella is keeping Jessica company?
Seriously: Why? This adds nothing to the story whatsoever except a reminder that fathers will micromanage your activities, given half a chance. Even if it doesn't fit with their otherwise-defined personality or the established boundaries of the given father/daughter relationship.
"We’ll leave right after school, so we can get back early. You’ll be okay for dinner, right?"
"Bells, I fed myself for seventeen years before you got here," he reminded me.
"I don’t know how you survived," I muttered, then added more clearly, "I’ll leave some things for cold-cut sandwiches in the fridge, okay? Right on top."
I'm confused and amused by Charlie's insistence that he can feed himself. I DEMAND EVIDENCE IN SUPPORT OF THIS ASSERTION. Especially since we already know that Charlie can't make Mexican food and relies on the women at the reservation (or Billie) to do all his fish-cookin'. And I'm pretty sure that he messes up spaghetti somewhere in the course of this series. Charlie, your cooking profile is not looking good at this moment.
It was the same as yesterday -- I just couldn’t keep little sprouts of hope from budding in my mind, only to have them squashed painfully as I searched the lunchroom in vain and sat at my empty Biology table.
The Port Angeles scheme was back on again for tonight and made all the more attractive by the fact that Lauren had other obligations. I was anxious to get out of town so I could stop glancing over my shoulder, hoping to see him appearing out of the blue the way he always did. [...] I refused to think that I might be shopping alone in Seattle this weekend, no longer interested in the earlier arrangement. Surely he wouldn’t cancel without at least telling me.
I'm thoroughly amused by Bella's belief that Edward Cullen's behavior will be guided by any semblance of social expectations, politeness, tact, or basic decency. Because he has certainly been nothing but a model gentleman, what with all the moodiness, the violent and pointed avoidance, the gaslighting, the argumentativeness, the physical manhandling, the repeated trampling of her consent, and all the other delightful behavior he has demonstrated thus far. But Edward Cullen surely would not cancel an appointment without telling them first! Because that would be rude!!
That's the end of Chapter 7! Next up: Chapter 8, or Why Young Ladies Should Not Go To Large Towns Unaccompanied By Strong Men.