Twilight: The Chapter 7 Wrap-Up

Content Note: Ableist References

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.


   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.


Patrick said...

Interestingly, when Jessica doesn't have time, the girls reschedule. When Lauren can't make it: tough luck

Loquat said...

I'm confused and amused by Charlie's insistence that he can feed himself.

I'm reminded of the Calvin and Hobbes storyline where the mom is sick and the dad announces that he will step up and cook, since he totally fed himself when he was in college.

Calvin: "Mom says you lived on canned soup and frozen waffles."

Dad (holding a soup can): "Har har. Now help me find the maple syrup."

Rainicorn said...

Actually, I have every sympathy for Charlie and his lack of kitchen skills. I fended for myself, food-wise, for two years (and will have to do so again over the summer when my meal plan is inactive, wail sob gnash), and I'm still inclined to screw up spaghetti as often as not. It's amazing how far you can get on the kindness of friends, microwaveable meals, and church events. Not that I can exactly picture Charlie at a Bible study - though it could've added an interesting new depth to the series if Bella, while not a believer herself, knew that one of her parents had quite a strong religious faith, and some actual tension could've stemmed from those pointless mentions of Bella's soul...

Jen said...

"I’ll leave some things for cold-cut sandwiches in the fridge, okay? Right on top."
Wait, "right on top"?

Does she think her dad is unable to find sandwich fixings in a fridge? (Well, this is Bella, after all - she doesn't think too much of anybody.)

Or is this fridge so over-stocked (for TWO PEOPLE) that it's reasonable he wouldn't be able to find and dig out the sandwich fixings for himself?

Or is Bella *so possessive* of the fridge that she doesn't want her dad going in and picking out what he wants, because he might use something she didn't want him to?

Ana Mardoll said...

Any ideas on what Ben, Angel, and Jesse would go to Port Angeles to do?

Tuxedo rental?

depizan said...

"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."

There is so much here that makes no sense at all to me. Not only is it based on some pretty icky gender role stuff, and implies that Charlie never does things with his friends, but it's one of those "Was this written by an alien?" passages.

While I don't in fact have the vaguest idea what Bella is talking about here - I didn't really think that constructive criticism was involved in group dress choosing so much as a great deal of giggling and having a good time. Maybe it's Bella who's the alien. There's something stilted and off about how she explains that almost excuses her dad's inexplicable confusion.

But why is Bella simultaneously engaging in this activity and putting it down? I mean, people do joke about being a girl when they engage in stereotypically "girlie" activities, but the sentence there doesn't read like that. It reads like Bella, too, thinks of this "girlie" thing as weird, a sentence after putting her dad down (in her head) for not getting it because he's a man. People are often sexist against everybody when they're sexist, but somehow this reads particularly weirdly.

Bificommander said...

So the name of the protagonist of her favorite book completely slipped Bella's mind? Yeah, that seems likely.

Also, I can't speak from experience on this, but is this a remotely accurate description of having a massive crush? I get that being apart because you're having a fight isn't fun. And I get that seeing your crush would make you happier. But a complete and crippling depression if he doesn't happen to be at your place for a day? I'm tempted to call B.S. here, but just because I can't imagine feeling like that doesn't make this impossible. So I ask you, rare-but-possible emotional state, unhealthy state of mind or terrible writing?

Ana Mardoll said...

Also, I can't speak from experience on this, but is this a remotely accurate description of having a massive crush?

To be honest, for me it would have been, were I in Bella's shoes. But that's partly because Edward has been so *erratic* in his behavior that I'd be on the verge of an anxiety attack. I don't like... dangling threads, if that makes any sense. At this point, I'd be completely anxious to see Edward again, just so we could nail down some kind of relationship for good and final. Enemies, Friends, Lovers, WHATEVER, anything, just so I have a little check mark next to that issue.

Still, that would be so much "this is an accurate depiction of a crush" and more like "this is an accurate depiction of Ana's anxiety when people are moody to her and she doesn't know where things stand". So take that for what you will. :)

chris the cynic said...

I can't say that I've had that exact experience, but if we're going with my oft repeated contention that Bella seems to be depressed, then I don't think it's unrealistic for her to have an emotional implosion when Edward wasn't there.

Bella has two things and two things only that produce positive feelings in her:
1) Sunlight
2) Edward

Of the two, Edward seems to be the one that does it better. Now I'm tempted to start some kind of rant about how this makes no sense because Edward is a massive ass who never does anything but be mean to her, but that's not important right now. People are not rational. Also, sometimes people have a habit of ending up in a relationship with their idea of a person, rather than the person zirself. If Bella is in love with her idea of Edward, that could explain why her love for him continues unabated even though her interactions with him always seem to suck.

She's found someone she loves, and hasn't yet realized that that person is an imaginary version of the person in front of her instead of the person himself.

Now then, she's gotten her dose of sunlight, but it's not enough to sustain her through the day which means that her only hope of having any additional good feelings is if Edward is there, her emotional well-being for the day depends entirely on Edward. More than that, it's been a while since her last Edward fix.

So she goes forward expecting sunshine and lollipops, already hoping that she can expand the lunch meeting into going out with him that night and trying to plan ahead how she will expand her daily dose of good feelings into an infinitely more awesome thing, her hopes are launching upward, and then everything comes crashing back down to earth when he's not even fucking there.

If she's unstable and tending toward bad, I can believe that she'd be shattered. I've had lesser things make me crash.

Jadagul said...

I agree with Chris. Actually, I'm starting to wonder if I'm the alien, since a lot of the behaviors Ana flags as being unusual seem perfectly normal to me. Her behavior is exactly what I do when I have a new crush that may-or-may-not be developing into something else. And I also do totally describe that let-down feeling in my head as moping, because I think it's silly. (Partly because if I think it's silly then I feel it less, which is useful).

And I totally trash books that I read a lot, because the physical object isn't important and I don't care about it much, but the book is awesome so I read it over and over; I have several books that are on the verge of total disintegration. And I tend to assume that the top student at a high school is just phoning it in, because most of my friends weren't challenged at all by their high school curricula. And if a student who gets good grades by working hard needs to ask someone questions, whom do they go to except one of the ones who's phoning it in and just smarter than everyone else?

Ana Mardoll said...

Chris, I'm not sure what it says about me that I cry happy-laughy tears when I read this, but I do and I wanted to share. Thank you. :D

Omskivar said...

Renting tuxes strikes me as something more suited to a formal dance, like Homecoming or prom. Granted, the girls are going to buy dresses, but we don't know if those are prom dresses or, well, not-prom dresses. I don't think it's supposed to be a formal, though, given that it's a Sadie Hawkins dance and if it were one of the big two, there'd probably be more of a fuss around school (and likely people would make a bigger deal out of Bella not going - at least they would have at the schools I attended).

TheDarkArtist said...

You know, the comment about becoming a vampire and then being away from her family for eternity got me thinking that it would be interesting to see what's happening to the whole gang at the End of Time. Like, do they all get swallowed by the sun as it expands? Do they become space vampires? Does Left Behind Robo-Jesus come and throw them into the lake of fire with Satan and his crew?

Also, I think that vampires are a real waste in the Twilightverse. Take the idea of Vampstronauts, for instance. Why would they need space suits? They could travel to far away galaxies and easily live to tell about it. Or what about exploring the deep ocean? Think about how easily an army of vampgeneers could clean up the Fukushima disaster, or the Chernobyl disaster, for that matter.

Doesn't Edward get mad when Bella asks him why he doesn't eat people? It's not like he's standing on much more solid ethical ground, since he's pissing away eternity and several doctoral degrees by repeating high school over and over instead of going out and being a superhero. The same goes for the other vampires, besides Carlisle (as far as I know, I don't remember if SM actually ever says what the other host of vamps does all day when they're not being supporting characters. I picture Alice running through a field. listening to Ani DiFranco and chasing butterflies, but that's neither here nor there).

Rikalous said...

There superheroic options are rather limited by the necessity of not breaking the masquerade lest they face an army of Vampire Joe Pescis. So they can't out themselves to NASA and they might be able to check out the deep ocean if they can feed on blood from the critters down there, but nobody will believe their insights. Helping clean up after nuclear disasters is a possibility if they stay circumspect about it. Heh. The Cullens. Circumspect.

I recall that Edward did have a brief-by-vampire-standards career as a vigilante, but he was more Punisher than Spider-Man and eventually gave it up entirely.

Bificommander said...

Bella has two things and two things only that produce positive feelings in her:
1) Sunlight
2) Edward

And she can never have both at the same time. If she wants to stay with Edward (not to mention become a vampire) she'll have to give up the only other thing that brings her joy. Even when Edward can't actually help it, he has all the hallmarks of an abuser.

chris the cynic said...

The Cullens might not be able to be open super heroes, but Edward and Jasper are practically designed to diagnose and treat mental illnesses and Alice can see the future. If they weren't too busy being snotty bastards they could be doing a lot of good for the world.

Edward and Alice both have it in them to stop tragedies before they happen, Edward and Jasper have the power to do a lot of good on a more personal level.


Or, for that matter, they live in a world with supervillains (notably: all of the other reindeer) maybe they should be opposing them instead of accepting that human beings are in fact a good source of essential vitamins and minerals for their colleagues. They didn't even bother opening a blood bank and saying, "Fine, you can't do without human blood, here's a way to get it without killing people," they just rub elbows with mass murderers and are sort of fine with that.


To mix threads, think about it like the response of actual witches* to the witch trials. Was it, "People are dying because they're being mistaken for us, we have to save them?" No. No, it was not. It was instead, "Well they're not hurting us so it's actually kind of neat." With some individuals getting intentionally caught and set on fire because if you know the right spell getting set on fire isn't painful but instead is kind of neat.

(Or, at least, that's what I remember from what Harry read in one of his textbooks.)

The Cullens are like that. "People are being slaughtered, they have no way to stop it but we might... who cares?"


*No "and wizards" because I refuse to believe that, even in the non-muggle world, the word was gendered at that point in history.

MaryKaye said...

I think the bit about book protagonist's names is spot-on for depression and obsession. I have had moments like that. I spent about two years in high school in love with something which, unlike Bella, I *knew* was imaginary (actually I think that's better than what she's doing, but it wasn't good) and I was known to burst into tears if TV shows or books reminded me of it.

This kind of depression is like having a big hole in your emotional bucket. Good feelings leak out quickly. Very few things can add meaningful liquid to the bucket, so you become obsessive about those that can. But none of them last due to the hole. At its worst you get what my (also depressive) spouse and I call the "horizon effect" where no pleasure delayed by more than a few hours to a day has any meaning--you simply can't see that far ahead.

But damn it, someone in this state needs therapy or meds, not an abusive boyfriend.

Peter said...

But that's even better then. Because they do things like go to space and the bottom of the ocean and write up their findings in scientific journals that only other vampires get to read. They've been doing this for centuries and thus are advance . You've got the basis of a decent steam punk backstory and cool schizo tech vampires in the present

bekabot said...


I think Bella's uncertainty about to the passage of time (which shows up sharply in connection with her account of the Port Angeles shopping expedition but which appears in other places in the Twilight books too) could be explained if the Twilight books were regarded as belonging a series of memoirs. In other words, what's happening in them is that Bella, as a new vampire, is gathering up her reminiscences of her last couple of years of human life and of the events surrounding her vampirization, in order to leave a record for Ness and (possibly) for Jacob. Maybe even for Charlie, should Charlie enter a wondering-out-loud phase after Bella's lasting youthfulness forces her to head north to Denali.

If this is true, it makes sense that Bella might be writing in haste, since "human memories fade" and since Bella, ironically, doesn't have much time before hers begin to phase out or to alter so much that they become unrecognizable. The gaps and omissions which fill the books would then be explained, partly because of that haste and also because Bella, in her changed state, has gotten hinky about what actually happened: to some extent she doesn't even know (which is why she ropes in Jacob in Book IV to provide an account of the part of her life which she doesn't remember at all), and, also to some extent, she "retouches" her memories — while she still has the chance — in such a way as to make herself and Edward look better. (As a new vampire, she no longer has many scruples about doing that.)

More important, Bella The Vampire experiences time much differently from Bella The Human. The Bella who is putting together the Twilight chronology is a new vampire who has not yet accustomed herself to the vampiric way of appreciating time and who has lost her grip on the human version of the same thing. So naturally she might get confused about what seem to unaltered humans like fairly basic concepts (like "today", "tomorrow", and "next evening"). I mean, Bella The Vampire no longer sleeps. Her circadian rhythm isn't just broken, it's absent. Yet Bella, as a recently turned semi-fledgling, might still be used to classifying things (including days, nights, weeks, and months) according to the categories into which they fit during her human life. The problem is that as a vampire she no longer can do it very well. (Maybe vampires retain a "feel" for the passage of time and maybe the don't; maybe they have to be taught to simulate such a "feel" as part of the Masquerade. Maybe the Twilight record is homework which Carlisle assigned to Bella.)

This would mean that the events related in the Twilight books took place at least a year or two earlier than everybody thinks they did. 2005 would be the year in which Bella The Vampire starts writing her account, not the year in which Bella The Human arrives in Forks. But since, again, "human memories fade", she'd have to be recounting the events of the comparatively recent past. Maybe Bella The Human shows up in Forks in the midwinter of 2003, is married, impregnated and turned during the fall/winter of 2004, and embarks on her project of memorializing the whole experience in 2005. (I know this conflicts with the official version of the Twilight chronology, but the answer to that is to regard the official version of the Twilight chronology as part of the Masquerade.)

depizan said...

This is a fascinating theory. It might even explain why human!Bella comes off as depressed yet the narrative doesn't realize it (assuming Vampire emotions are different) - either Vampire!Bella is reporting things accurately, but no longer understands the import of her responses or Vampire!Bella is no longer capable of accurately describing human emotions, making them either too extreme or too subdued.

BaseDeltaZero said...

To mix threads, think about it like the response of actual witches* to the witch trials. Was it, "People are dying because they're being mistaken for us, we have to save them?" No. No, it was not. It was instead, "Well they're not hurting us so it's actually kind of neat." With some individuals getting intentionally caught and set on fire because if you know the right spell getting set on fire isn't painful but instead is kind of neat.

I always got the impression that was more after-the-fact justification. In large part because often times (real) accused witches were not only burned, but crushed, beheaded, hanged, disembowled, or any combination of such unpleasant fates - in large part because it was believed that they might otherwise come back to life if appropriate measures were not taken. So I figured that yeah, a fair number of real wizards were killed - though not nearly as many, as a wizard would have a lot of priveledge (the real ones are more likely to be the rich alchemist/scholar who occasionally whips up miraculous solutions to dangerous problems than the old lady that lives by the river, gathering herbs and occasionally doing vaguely mystical stuff) and more importantly, they have power (if Apparation had been invented back then, escape would be pretty easy, for instance)... but still, when the Protestant Reformation occured and many countries suddenly became much more hardline against magic, that was around when the Seperation started looking like a good idea. Not so much because they were getting killed en-masse (though Wizards likely did die...) but more because they really couldn't go anywhere openly without getting assaulted, and they were getting more and more afraid of what the muggles could do to them...

(The timing of the Seperation may also have something to do with when Memory Charms were invented, as it just wasn't feasible before...)

either Vampire!Bella is reporting things accurately, but no longer understands the import of her responses when she was human (Bella was depressed) or Vampire!Bella is no longer capable of accurately describing human emotions

Or she understands, but doesn't particularly care. Or she's just a questionable writer.

Kit Whitfield said...

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?

Well, it's not me. Despite my good intentions, many of my favourite books have dog ears and bent covers. I'm just clumsy with them; I mean well, but they end up damaged. I read them and leave them places around the house and then they fall off things; I carry them with me and they get scuffed in my bag. The books I really want to preserve intact, I barely handle.

And in the case of Jane Austen, I think it's plausible that a clumsy girl would have damaged copies. Austen's books are, after all, easily replaceable: unless she's particularly bonded with a certain page layout in an obscure edition, she can replace them at a relatively low cost without having to special-order them.

So ... well, maybe I'm not very considerate with my books either. My husband certainly doesn't think I am. But being a book-knocker doesn't preclude being a book-lover.

Silver Adept said...

Yay for getting out of Chapter 7.

Re: "Awkward" - perhaps it is only now that Bella is realizing that Mike cannot take a hint, no matter how subtle, about how Not Interested she is in him, and she's now having to resort to active defense instead of passive? That she does so by basically redirecting his interest off her and onto Jessica, who may or may not want it, probably says plenty about how Bella isn't narratively allowed to say no. I still think Mike is looking for Bella as a conquest, because he's either gotten all the ones he wanted to. Jessica is somehow beneath his notice (not pretty enough for him?), which results in the confusion.

What I want to know is why Bells feels the need to threaten Mike about repeating the knowledge that Jessica might be interested in him? Is it because she doesn't want Jessica coming to her and saying, "Thanks a lot for dumping Mike on me, you [bleeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeep] and now he won't go away." If so, shouldn't that trigger some sort of scruples or conscience attack in Bella? (Or have we already conclusively established that Bella is amoral, at least by the standards of the society around her? Might also explain her complete lack of [distaff equivalent of] filial piety and desire to keep in contact with either of her parents.)

Dress shopping in Port Angeles! Which are quite expensive things. I thought Forks was supposed to be poor and rural. Where are these fistfuls of cash that the townspeople continue to come up with for all their luxury items, like new cars and such. Does everyone in town have a FOOD MONEY jar (which, incidentally, gets my vote as to how Charlie will feed himself in Bella's absence)?

And then awkwardness with Charlie. Who is apparently so happy that his daughter is close by that he will just soak in stony silence and watching something neither of them likes. And who is apparently more concerned about making sure that his daughter is in bed than in giving her the Safety Lecture about unaccompanied women in the big city and putting his likely-not-small knowledge of the bad places to avoid in Port Angeles, the proper deployment of pepper spray and or a stun gun, and possibly asking if he can make a call up to the chief there just to be sure that she's safe. For being a police chief, Charlie is remarkably unconcerned about his daughter's safety with strangers. It also seems like there's something he knows about the girls she's going with but chooses not to say, evidenced by his confusion. To me, that reads like "Is Bells getting in with the wrong crowd? Those two have a reputation for being crossovers from The Clique, and I'd rather not have her picking up bad social habits and a lust for overpriced brand names."

I think it would be neat to read a Ramblite-annotated Twilight, kind of like the winst0n project for Little Brother. Oh, the places we'll go...

Brin Bellway said...

kind of like the winst0n project for Little Brother.

The what?

Izzy said...

Yeah, my books are pretty beaten up too. Alas!

As far as the crush goes...oh, I definitely had the "no books with his name" thing going on a couple times in college. Being bummed out when he doesn't show up? Sort of, but it's not a whole day: it's meh, this is disappointing for an hour or two, now I'm gonna get some lunch.

Silver Adept said...

@Brin Bellway -

That should be w1n5t0n, and unfortunately, it appears to have vanish'd from the Interwebs. The premise was that the entire text of the novel Little Brother was available (since M. Doctorow Creative-Commons-licenses his books) and remixing was encouraged, so a fan put up a site with the text such that one could click upon a paragraph from the book and add an annotation that would display as a footnote to the paragraph. The script for placement didn't do all that well, as it liked to place comments a few paragraphs before or after the actual content being referred to, but that was the idea - to make it possible for fans of the work to apply their prodigious cultural,historical, and literary analysis techniques to the work in whatever way they could type. (I made a couple TVTropes references to the Noodle Incidents discussed in the book.)

Unfortunately, since Twilight is not similarly-licensed, putting up a similar website wouldn't work all that well. I'd still be interested in seeing it, though, if there ever were a way to make it happen.

brjun said...

I really like these excerpts from Charlie's perspective, because for a second he looks like a reasonable human being. After all, we only get Bella's perspective here. I know Charlie's defense that he can feed himself is supposed to be 'funny', but I almost want to read it differently -- maybe he is *right*. Bella is the one trying to assume that he needs help, like Renee did. What if she is wrong and Charlie is a normal, slightly confused human being (who burned spagetti this one time, whatever, I have too)? He asks her about her day sometimes, she never responds well and since he doesn't know her very well, he is just trying to give her space and earn some trust before applying parental pressure. Like turning the light off in her room (sign of caring!) but not waking her up (that would be intruding into her safe space).

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.

That almost fits right into that, too. Maybe Bella is reading him wrong -- instead of trying to be clueless, he is trying to figure out if there is something she wants to say, or something that he can figure out about her. Like, 'no, I am not going to the dance -- but I really wish I was'. Or, maybe, 'I am not going to the dance, but I really like dresses'. There are lots of reasons why Bella could be going to dress fittings for a dance that she isn't attending, and maybe some of them would tell Charlie about her personality.

Of course my reading is completely demolished by a lot of Charlie's other behavior. (Removing the engine? What?) But still! For once, his words and actions look reasonable. After all, we often apply parent criteria to Charlie's behavior, but he hasn't lived with his daughter for quite some time (ever, really). This is as bizarre and new to him, as it is to her.

chris the cynic said...

Unfortunately, since Twilight is not similarly-licensed, putting up a similar website wouldn't work all that well. I'd still be interested in seeing it, though, if there ever were a way to make it happen.

In theory it should be simple enough to do without violating copyright, in practice the lack of a standard version of Twilight would make it more complicated.

The text doesn't need to be there for people to make a database of notes to the text. A lot of time when I encounter notes they're endnotes, completely separate from the text. They work just fine.

The problem is how to link the notes to the text. They obviously can't simply be numbered because that would require magically inserting references to the notes in every existing copy of Twilight. It can't be by page number because different versions of Twilight have different page breaks (and presumably line breaks too, but most people probably don't care about that.)

The only standard that really would work is Chapter:Paragraph. That's all well and good for Chapter X:Paragraph 3, but it's a little more daunting when you consider that my very-quick probably-wrong count for the paragraphs in chapter 7 was 148.

What one might be able to do is have something to identify the paragraphs, so that one wouldn't have to count into the triple digits. Perhaps the first word. I don't think that would run afoul of copyright.

So you'd have something like:
- 1 I'd
- 2 I
- 3 Surely
- 4 I
- 5 The

(Except, as noted, for actual Chapters it would go on a lot longer.)

And by clicking on any of the entries you'd be taken to the notes, if any, for that paragraph, and be able to add additional ones. Presumably you'd want the notes to be grouped together so you wouldn't have to load a new page every time the paragraph changed.

Of course to be meaningfully adding notes you'd need to actually have a copy of Twilight, but that's sort of the purpose of copyright law in the first place.

chris the cynic said...

Edward removed the engine, Charlie merely disabled it.

J. Random Scribbler said...

Any ideas on what Ben, Angel, and Jesse would go to Port Angeles to do?

I admit I've not read enough of your Edith/Ben remix to know how the characters differ from the book, other than their plumbing, of course. But assuming you want something that allows for lots of conversation and the usual teen-guy one-upmanship, they could be at the local record store or video store, maybe? Back in 2005 a place like Forks might not've had broadband internet access yet, so CDs and DVDs could still be a big deal.

Or maybe they're looking for video games? (Huh, I just realized you can search Wikipedia for "2005 in video gaming" to get the dates of all the major game releases, among other trivia.) Or maybe Port Angeles still has an arcade, or something?

Silver Adept said...

Okay, that's a pretty good way of going about it - although I think we'd have to decide on the "significant phrase" or word for that paragraph, as I think rows upon rows of "I" would be disorienting to the annotator. Still, an interesting project.

chris the cynic said...

The important things about identification are that it has to be standard, and it has to be insignificant enough to not be violating copyright.

The second is because taking something from every paragraph is taking a lot from the book. The second is because you don't want it to be something people have to agree on or guess, you want it to be something that people can do without thinking. Looking for the 'I' between 'Surely' and 'The' is far from ideal, but it doesn't require you to try to figure out what the original annotator thought was most significant and it doesn't give enough content to be screwing with Meyer's copyright.

Also the preface is probably a really bad example to take, because it feels very 'I' and 'me' heavy. But sticking with it, another thought would be to take the first and the last word, thus:

Or, for much better ease of access, one could simply do something like take the first three words:
I'd never given/I stared without/Surely it was/I knew that/The hunter smiled

The only one of those that seems generic is "I knew that" but it is never used as a paragraph starter elsewhere. So it looks like with three words you get a reasonably unique identifier. I'm uneasy about giving much more than that, because the closer to meaningful information you get, the more it becomes copyright violation instead of a handy index.

LaylaV said...

I read the "threat" as "Don't let Jessica know I'm telling you this, because she'll be hurt and I don't want to hurt her - and I think you're so insensitive that I'm going to have to jump up and down and stand on my head to make this point." Because Jessica naturally wants to believe that Mike is choosing her over Bella (has already chosen her over Bella?), not trying yet again to get Bella to go out with him, ready to dump Jessica as soon as Bella says the word. I vastly prefer the idea that Jessica is secretly dreading being the focus of Mike's attentions yet again.

Silver Adept said...


Doesn't that seem more natural? Jessica's just sick of Mike using her as the rebound when he tries to get someone else, but Mike's...better?...than other Forksians, so she always lets him come back. And for a while, maybe it's okay, but then Mike's eye roves again, and it's problems all over again.

@chris the cynic -

That is the difficulty, isn't it? Enough useful information for someone to follow along, but not enough to constitute a copyright violation that brings on the hordes of the lawyer-bots and the power of DMCA. The first three words would be enough, I think, though - that's searchable enough and hopefully not so much that someone thinks we're reproducing the work without permission. It is for scholarly criticism, though, so hopefully some excerpting would be allowed...

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