Twilight: Pride and Prejudice

Content Note: Marginalization, "Reverse Racism"

Twilight Summary: In Chapter 12, Bella and Edward's relationship is observed by Billy Black and Bella worries that Billy may inform her father Charlie. Later, Edward and Bella spend the weekend alone together in the woods.

Twilight, Chapter 12: Balancing

Disclosure: I'm skipping over the remainder of Chapter 11 and diving into Chapter 12. Partly because the remainder of Chapter 11 has already pretty much been covered; after Edward picks up Bella and observes that Mike Newton is getting on his nerves, there are more questions-and-answers as Bella attempts to describe her love for the desert. And there is actually some good writing here, no snark intended, but nothing that I feel deeply called to deconstruct. Also, there's the money quote from Edward regarding Twilight being the safest time of day, which you should all incorporate into any Twilight tattoos you may be planning for yourself. And then this happens:

   He reached across to open my door for me, and his sudden proximity sent my heart into frenzied palpitations.
   But his hand froze on the handle.
   “Not good,” he muttered.
   “What is it?” I was surprised to see that his jaw was clenched, his eyes disturbed.
   He glanced at me for a brief second. “Another complication,” he said glumly. [...]
   [...] Jacob’s father, Billy Black. I knew him immediately, though in the more than five years since I’d seen him last I’d managed to forget his name when Charlie had spoken of him my first day here. He was staring at me, scrutinizing my face, so I smiled tentatively at him. His eyes were wide, as if in shock or fear, his nostrils flared. My smile faded. 
   Another complication, Edward had said.
   Billy still stared at me with intense, anxious eyes. I groaned internally. Had Billy recognized Edward so easily? Could he really believe the impossible legends his son had scoffed at?
   The answer was clear in Billy’s eyes. Yes. Yes, he could.

Edward and Bella are caught in the driveway by Billy Black, who has just been driven up to the house by Jacob. Charlie isn't far behind in his cruiser, but is far enough back that he manages to not notice the silver Volvo through the rain. However Billy most certainly does notice, and Bella instantly worries that Billy may tell Charlie who -- or what -- Bella is involved with. So ends Chapter 11 and begins Chapter 12.



Come this December, I will have been deconstructing Twilight for a little over two years. We've been through a lot of ups and downs in that time, and we've explored a lot of different avenues for deconstruction. We've created elaborate fan-explanations and plot-spackle to cover the many plot holes, and we've whiled away many happy hours attempting to match justifications in-text with possible personality quirks and idiosyncrasies in order to make everything fit just so. We've consulted interviews with S. Meyer, and delved through guide books to the book series and the movie adaptations. Most of us aren't self-identified Twi-hards, but I venture that more than a few of us could do well at the Twilight Trivial Pursuit game that I would have sworn existed, but apparently does not. (The reviews are quite searing.)

Today I'm going to tale a step back from all that knowledge as much as I can. Not because I think all that is unimportant (because I so very much do not think that), but because I think there's value today in reading this chapter like a regular reader picking up Twilight for the first time. So let's pretend for a moment that the only thing you know about Twilight is the past eleven chapters and nothing more -- no movies, no sequels, no retcons, no interviews, no fanfics. Just you, me, and Twilight chapters one through twelve.

   “BILLY!” CHARLIE CALLED AS SOON AS HE GOT OUT OF the car.
   I turned toward the house, beckoning to Jacob as I ducked under the porch. I heard Charlie greeting them loudly behind me.
   “I’m going to pretend I didn’t see you behind the wheel, Jake,” he said disapprovingly.
   “We get permits early on the rez,” Jacob said while I unlocked the door and flicked on the porch light.
   “Sure you do,” Charlie laughed.
   “I have to get around somehow.” I recognized Billy’s resonant voice easily, despite the years. The sound of it made me feel suddenly younger, a child.

Here is what we know, without any of that all-purpose plot-spackling "what we think we know".

Billy and Charlie have been friends for years, since Bella was a little girl and young enough to know Billy before she stopped visiting Forks entirely. As far as we can tell from the text, Billy and Charlie spend a tremendous amount of time together, with Charlie driving up to the reservation most weekends in order to fish and relax with his buddy. Probably Billy filled a void when Renee and Bella left and became someone for Charlie to spend time with and confide in. He seems, for all intents and purposes, like an upstanding guy and a really good, dependable friend. Charlie is lucky to have him, in my opinion.

In Chapter 1, Billy was introduced to us as a vehicle for bringing a cheap car into Bella's possession: Charlie relayed the information that Billy was "in a wheelchair now" and "can't drive anymore" and therefore had sold his truck cheaply to his friend Charlie. I don't know why Billy is in a wheelchair. (The Twilight wiki tells me that it's due to his diabetes, but there's no search result for "diabetes" in Twilight so I feel confident in saying that this hasn't been disclosed to the reader just yet.) I don't know why Billy chose to sell his truck cheaply to Charlie rather than sell or gift it to one of his children (Jacob, or the two girls -- Rachel and Rebecca -- that Bella remembers playing with during her childhood). I don't know why Billy decided to sell his truck to Charlie when Charlie doesn't seem to need a car and, presumably, there are numerous young people on the reservation who could use a decent truck.

As a reader, I assume that Billy sold the truck to Charlie because the two men are friends, and because Billy knew -- or Charlie mentioned -- that Bella was moving to Forks. I imagine that Billy probably knew, or gathered from hints dropped by Charlie, that his friend wanted to do something magnanimous and "fatherly" to endear himself to his distant daughter, and Billy chose to help his friend procure an affordable car so that Charlie would have something meaningful to gift to his daughter. And I additionally assume all this rather quickly, because I'm trying to stay in the "fresh reader" mindset rather than the "deeply deconstructive" one.

I do know, however, that Charlie knows that Billy can't drive anymore -- I know he knows that because he was the one who told Bella in Chapter 1. So I'm not 100% certain why Charlie is getting all irksome about fifteen-year-old Jacob driving; Jacob is old enough for a learner's permit (at least in my state) and to drive with the accompaniment of an older licensed driver, and they live in a deeply rural area, where residents stereotypically are less likely to be overly bothered by young people driving as long as they're careful about it. (Just this week I was informed by a rural friend that there is apparently no age minimum in our state for driving a tractor, and that his school used to sponsor "drive your tractor to school" days for fun.)

I'm not one to automatically criticize Charlie for his decision to chastise Jacob. As a police officer, Charlie has sworn to uphold the law, presumably regardless of his feelings about it. As such, he's in something of an awkward position here: he's observed an illegal action (assuming that Jacob doesn't have a valid permit), but doesn't want to report his friend or his friend's son for doing their best to live and work around a deeply inconvenient disability.

On the other hand, however, Charlie does know about Billy's disability -- that knowledge was established eleven chapters ago, and was even the excuse used for Billy to do a significant favor for Charlie. Charlie's response to it here seems... inconsiderate to me. Unfriendly, even. He must know why Jacob is driving instead of Billy, but his words and actions force Billy to speak up and remind everyone that, yes, he is disabled. Thanks for noticing. I'm reminded of Charlie forcing Bella to repeatedly inform her about her disability -- a trait that Charlie will evince again in this very chapter when he interrogates Bella as to why, precisely, again, is she not going to that whole dance thing? Bella would be well within her rights to say Dad, I continue to be as disabled as I was the LAST time you asked that question, though she doesn't.

I can't help but wonder if Charlie is doing the same thing to Billy that he keeps doing to Bella -- blithely ignoring obvious disabilities and forcing everyone to remind him of them over and over again -- and that does not strike me as friendly behavior in the least. It strikes me as deeply privileged and inconsiderate behavior.

Jumping ahead a bit, we find Bella in the kitchen with Jacob, as Jacob quizzes her about the silver Volvo that he saw outside and Bella frets over whether or not to spill the beans as to who was the driver:

   “Nice ride.” Jacob’s voice was admiring. “I didn’t recognize the driver, though. I thought I knew most of the kids around here.” [...] “My dad seemed to know him from somewhere.” [...] “So who was it?” he asked, setting two plates on the counter next to me.
   I sighed in defeat. “Edward Cullen.”
   To my surprise, he laughed. I glanced up at him. He looked a little embarrassed.
   “Guess that explains it, then,” he said. “I wondered why my dad was acting so strange.”
   “That’s right.” I faked an innocent expression. “He doesn’t like the Cullens.”
   “Superstitious old man,” Jacob muttered under his breath.

Setting aside for a moment the "superstitious old man" remark, the conversation that Bella is pretending to only sort-of remember (presumably because she doesn't want to seem to have attached too much significance to it) is the conversation from Chapter 6, when Jacob disclosed to Bella the ancient mystical Quileute secret that the Cullens are really vampires. Jacob asked Bella not to tell anyone the story, but particularly to not say anything to Charlie because, "He was pretty mad at my dad when he heard that some of us weren’t going to the hospital since Dr. Cullen started working there."

Just that one sentence doesn't actually tell us a whole lot. Neither "some" nor "us" are defined in any specifics, so it's unclear whether Jacob means that some of the tribe members stopped going to the hospital or some of his immediate family, or both. And because we don't know who, precisely, has stopped visiting the hospital, we don't know if Charlie is blaming Billy for this state of affairs based on Billy's position as head of his family or his position as chief of the tribal council. And since the Twilight wiki tells me that we don't learn that Billy is chief of the tribal council until Eclipse, I feel pretty safe saying that the uninformed reader isn't in a place yet to diagnose why Charlie is angry.

But we do know that Charlie is angry at Billy. And we know that anger is based in the fact that some Quileute people -- probably including Billy himself -- have refused to go to the hospital once the Cullens moved into the area. And we know that it is Charlie who is carrying all of the anger in this disagreement that has nearly resulted in complete estrangement; Billy by contrast is doing whatever he can (shy of tolerating the Cullens) to mend the rift in their relationship.

   “You don’t think he’d say anything to Charlie?” I couldn’t help asking, the words coming out in a low rush.
   Jacob stared at me for a moment, and I couldn’t read the expression in his dark eyes. “I doubt it,” he finally answered. “I think Charlie chewed him out pretty good last time. They haven’t spoken much since — tonight is sort of a reunion, I think. I don’t think he’d bring it up again.”

There are a lot of possible explanations for Charlie's anger. Maybe Charlie isn't angry that the Quileute people aren't going to the hospital so much as he's angry that Billy -- his close and dear friend -- is refusing to tell him why the Quileute people aren't going to the hospital. Or possibly Charlie does know why (in which case Billy or someone else would have had to confide in Charlie), but disagrees with making a decision to avoid important healthcare in service to an old mythology. An alternative explanation (and one backed by the Twilight wiki) is that Charlie is less interested in the health of the Quileute people and more upset about the apparent prejudice they are holding against the Cullens -- we know from Chapter 2 that Charlie is prone to go off on "the longest speech" Bella has ever heard him making in vigorous defense of the Cullens, on no more provocation than Bella mildly pointing out that the Cullen children don't seem to "fit in very well" at school.

But ultimately we don't know why Charlie is angry, and so we're left having to guess.

In fiction, a reader doesn't always have to know precisely what is going on. Ambiguity and foreshadowing and misdirection are all valuable tools in a writer's arsenal. I'm not about to stand here and state that if every character's motivation isn't crystal clear to the reader at all times then there is fail there -- I don't believe that in the slightest.

But in the case of Twilight, we have here a very curious situation. We have the following facts at our disposal: Charlie Swan is a white man of relatively high privilege (as police chief) in a small town where over 80% of the residents are white. Billy Black is a Native American with a serious disability living in a town where only 5% of the residents are Native American, and most of those residents experience disproportionate poverty in comparison with their white neighbors. These two men, despite their differences, have enjoyed a deep and long friendship with one another -- possibly a life-long friendship, given that both Billy and Charlie seem to have been born in Forks. And yet the appearance of the Cullens -- a family of privileged white people -- has been the source of a deep and potentially unrepairable rift between the two men for reasons that we the reader do not yet get to know.

Within the text of Twilight, Billy Black is clearly presented as factually correct: the Cullens are vampires, and Edward seems to believe that they are potentially dangerous. (He certainly warns Bella away from him often enough; I can only imagine that he would expect the Quileute people to take the same precautions.) But also within the text of Twilight, Billy Black seems to be presented as morally wrong. Bella continually insists that the Cullens are essentially good people, and the long-standing disagreement she has with Edward -- whether vampires are inherently good or evil -- would seem to be settled at the end with the birth of the oh-so-good Reneesmee, a vampire-hybrid that is good to the bone.

It's debatable to me whether Charlie is depicted as wrong for shutting out his life-long friend when Billy refuses to accept the harmlessness of Charlie's brand-new friend. (A "friend" with whom Charlie is so close that Charlie does not even know the names and ages of Carlisle's children, so I think it's safe to say that Charlie and Carlisle are not bosom buddies.) I, personally, think Charlie's actions are pretty deplorable; it seems to me that Billy's obvious willingness to be friends with Charlie (and presumably other white people in the small town of Forks) coupled with their long-standing friendship has earned Billy if not a pass on this issue with a semi-automatic "agree to disagree" then at least the benefit of the doubt that he's not totes Reverse Racist. But I'm not so sure that the text agrees with me, or that the interpretation I'm coming away with is something that the casual reader is likely to latch onto when reading through Twilight.

Twilight as a series has a lot of racism parallels, which may or may not be deliberate. The Cullens are frequently portrayed as magnificently good people who have to live undercover lives because the people around them would not otherwise accept their company if they knew the Cullens' true nature. (Though the majority of their "good" behavior seems to be that most of the time they don't murder people in order to feed. This seems like a "have a cookie" situation if I ever saw one.) Bella and Edward have the aforementioned long-standing ideological war over whether vampires have souls and/or are essentially evil.

When the Quileute tribe decide to attack the Cullens in Breaking Dawn, there is a discussion about how the Cullens will still honor the treaty even though it's been broken by the werewolves. The crisis is only averted when Jacob imprints on vampire-hybrid Renee, thus marking the family as off limits to the tribe in a sort of werewolf Romeo-and-Juliet clause. One suspects that the two 'tribes' -- the Cullens and the Quileutes -- will never really cherish one another, but will at least learn to live and work in harmony for the sake of their children. As a storyline, it's a bit tired and cliche, but ultimately harmless, right?

But I'm hesitant to agree. If we look more closely at Twilight, I'm distressed by the implication that the white people are always the marginalized party, and the darker people are the ones who perpetuate the marginalization. That the Quileute have an eminently reasonable position -- several of the Cullens are murderers several times over, and their presence in the area attracts other vampires who are not "vegetarian" -- seems largely glossed over in favor of the overarching romance narrative that pushes for acceptance and forgiveness of the Cullens. Bella's position that Edward is essentially good and that vampires are not inherently evil never seems effectively challenged by the narrative. Even Charlie, who doesn't know the Cullens' true nature, latches on to their obvious goodness to the point of estranging his best and longest friend for refusing to accept them.

Within the admittedly limited cast of Twilight, I cannot think of a Quileute tribe member who accepts at face value the proposition that the Cullens are genuinely capable of good, nor one who disagrees with the tribal position that the Cullens are dangerous and not to be trusted. (Jacob briefly satisfies the latter, but seems to immediately change sides once he learns that the Cullens really are vampires after all.) I cannot think of a white cast member who dislikes or distrusts the Cullens while remaining a "good", narrative-favored character, nor can I think of one who believes that the Quileutes' position is reasonable. (This is possibly also because there are no major white characters who know about vampires besides Bella and the Cullens, which muddles the issue somewhat.)

If Twilight is a story about racism, there are certainly racist people on both sides of the divide -- Alice and Rosalie in particular are shown in the movies making disparaging statements about the werewolves as 'dogs'. But even so, it's a fundamentally lop-sided narrative, with a white woman falling in love with a white man, with them being opposed and literally attacked by animalistic dark people, and with those dark people needing to be brought to see -- ultimately by the sheer force of their werewolf gods, who are presumably in charge of the imprinting pairings -- that the white people they've been hating all their lives are actually mostly peachy folks.

It's a story where the racism on the side of the white people is largely confined to words, but where the racism as displayed by the darker people is manifested in violent and dangerous deeds. And it's a story where incidental white characters who stand firm against the prejudice of the darker people are portrayed as taking that stance not because of white privilege or white solidarity, but rather as a result of their good character and unbiased attitudes.

If we ignore our history, and the fact that darker people have almost always been on the receiving end of marginalization and that white people have almost always been on the dealing end, then perhaps the narrative becomes less problematic. If we discard our social science, and forget that darker people are still consistently marginalized today and that their lack of white privilege contributes in large part to their disproportionate poverty and disability rates, then perhaps this story becomes less packed with unfortunate implications. If we forget the actual real world repercussions of Twilight, and that white people have hugely profited from the exploitation of the Quileute people, property, and legends, then possibly all this becomes easier to swallow.

But I don't think those things should be forgotten. And I find Charlie's anger at Billy to be frustrating in light of all this. I don't see Charlie as an open-minded person fighting the good fight, even against his best and closest friend, to save the world from racism in all its forms. I see Charlie as a privileged person who has enjoyed and will continue to enjoy privileges that Billy will never have, privileges of social standing, educational advancement, career opportunities, financial success, and health care -- privileges that may well have made the difference between Charlie being able-bodied and Billy needing to be driven around town by his fifteen-year-old son. I see Charlie who has never taken a step back to see these things and who does not bother to engage in serious introspection, and yet who has no problem blithely instructing his friend how he should respond to the world and the people around him. I see Charlie as a privileged person who feels comfortable in unilaterally deciding that the darker people are the real racists in his world, because they aren't accepting 'enough' of the white people, and for reasons that he deems insufficient.

In short, I see a privileged person who understands the concepts of racism, but not the practice of it. And I see a privileged person who ultimately perpetuates racism in his supposed fight for 'equality', because he doesn't believe that he needs to listen to marginalized people or understand their history or learn their reasons for their actions. He's too privileged and proud and important for that. Why should he invest time in understanding marginalization or examining his privilege? He has innocent white people to save; white people whose actual "innocence" need not be established or justified or looked at too closely, but rather are "innocent" by virtue of the fact that they seem nice and relatable to Charlie.

23 comments:

Amaryllis said...

I don't quite understand why Charlie would be so quick to assume "reverse racism" here. If the Quileute are a minority in Forks anyway, presumably the hospital staff was majority-white before the Cullens ever arrived? And Billy and the others had no problem with going there? So I don't see why he would blame racism or bigotry in general, rather than a specific objection to a specific doctor?

And what's it to Charlie, anyway? What's it to him what choices other people make for the own medical care? I suppose he might object to seeing friends damage their own health or their children's health over what he sees as a whim or a prejudice, but as you say, we have no idea what Charlie and Billy actually argued about, the last time they met.

And why would the Quileute boycott the entire hospital because of one doctor? No matter how much doctors may like to think of themselves as all-powerful, it takes a heck of a lot of other people to staff a hospital. Not to mention, one doctor wouldn't be enough even in Forks to do all the doctoring for a whole hospital. Do the Quileute turn into werewolves at the mere presence in the same building of one of the sparkly ones? If they do, do we know that yet, those of us who've only read these eleven chapters?

Is there another hospital within reasonable distance, so that those who feel as Billy does can avoid even the chance of being treated by the despised Dr. Cullen? Or are they really willing to let emergencies go untreated? Are they people who don't use the hospital for much anyway?

Is my "?" key worn out yet?

I hope not, because I'm still confused.

Ana Mardoll said...

Now that I can step away from my "fresh reader" and put on my fanfic goggles, here is my attempt to sync Billy's actions:

The tribe knows that the Cullens are vampires, and that they fear exposure. However, the tribe has figured out that the Cullens don't fear humans (who pose no threat to vampires), but rather the shadowy vampire cabal who will do anything to keep the existence of vampires a secret. The Quileutes decide that being treated by a Cullen is too risky, because the sight of blood might send Carlisle over the edge into an Obviously Vampiric Frenzy. If that happened, the vampire cabal would massacre everyone in Forks to cover up the incident. For the sake of the greater good, the tribe forgoes medical treatment rather than risk being the straw that breaks Carlisle's fast. They can't stop other people from going, of course, but they can choose to try to prevent it (best case) or segregate themselves from the town to avoid the fury of the cabal (worst case).

Maybe? Still doesn't explain why Charlie is a jerkface. Because Charlie, I guess.

Roger Cole said...

In a better world, I would hazard a guess that maybe Charlie's anger at Billy and the other Quileutes boycotting the hospital was out of concern for the Quileutes and especially Billy. Billy has diabetes that put him in a wheel chair, and now he's boycotting the hospital? What if something happened to him? What if there was a complication with his diabetes? Charlie could lose his life-long buddy because for some reason he may or may not know, Billy and the Quileutes dislike Carlisle. So Charlie's anger could be construed as, "You have to take care of yourself and refusing to go to the only nearby hospital because this new doctor started working could get you killed, Billy." You know, a measure of concern for his friend.

Of course, this isn't a better world, this is Twilight. But still, I think I would prefer to pretend that Charlie is mad at Billy because he wants his friend around with him for a long time. Charlie Swan is no Rayford Steele or Buck Williams, I can spare him a bit of sympathy and give him better motivation in my head.

Silver Adept said...

One possible defense for Charlie, but that has no textual evidence whatsoever, is that Dr. Cullen is very good at what he does, understands the need for flexible pricing, and Charlie can't understand why Billy is stubbornly refusing to get great care at affordable pricing when they both know that tribal medical care is absolute crap. (I suspect this is so, considering how impoverished the reservation probably is.) We don't see them arguing in a "this us why you're in that chair, Billy. Cullen could have gotten you that insulin you needed on whatever you could pay!" way, though. The bigger refrain of white people being principled and dark people being racist or bigoted or superstitious continues on apace, though.

Also, in the state that I was born in, if I recall my laws correctly, a driving license for farm implements could be granted as early as ten. (I'm also a bit curious as to whether tribal laws on the reservation could grant driving earlier than fifteen or sixteen, and the states would be required to accept those licenses under treaties, because all of our First Nations are technically independent, at least, according to my memory.)

Beguine said...

Second Roger and Silver. Particularly if the Cullen's arrival happened to coincide with Billy getting sicker or even getting his initial diagnosis, I could buy a narrative where Charlie is firmly convinced that Billy doesn't like the Cullen's because Dr. Cullen 'must have told him the hard truth' about his condition and Billy's unexplained animosity towards Dr. Cullen and the whole hospital is interpreted by Charlie as denial about the state of his health and refusal to do what he needs to do to take care of himself. You could have Billy learn he is diabetic after he slips into a diabetic coma and wakes up in a hospital bed being sternly lectured by the 'doctor who saved his life', who only he knows is secretly a monster. A skilled writer could actually do a lot with that story line: have the frightened, well meaning but clueless Charlie yelling at Billy about eating 'sugary crap' and then subtly showing how hard it is for Billy to obtain diabetic-friendly food. If you made Billy and his family the heroes and the Cullens villains with maybe a touch of 'vegetarian' shades of grey moral ambiguity and with traditional vampire mind whammy powers, you could have the entire hospital staff basically being unknowing spies and thralls of the Cullen's which would be a very good reason for the Quileutes to steer clear of the hospital. You could have Dr. Cullen, presented as a ends-justify-the-means or everyone-is-better-with-me-in-charge type villain, shown as trying to pressure the tribe into renegotiating the contract, possibly dangling expensive treatment or even a magical vampire diabetes cure to sweeten the deal while doing the we're-not-so-different speech. You could show Billy fishing with his old friend the police chief, trying to figure out if Charlie is still Charlie, or how much of his well-meaning bullying is actually the result of the Cullens mentally controlling him.

...man, that sounds like a way more interesting point of view than boring self-involved high school kids, though it's a shame it eliminates the female point-of-view. Maybe that could work if you fleshed out Jacob's sisters more?

Thomas Keyton said...

I don't quite understand why Charlie would be so quick to assume "reverse racism" here. If the Quileute are a minority in Forks anyway, presumably the hospital staff was majority-white before the Cullens ever arrived? And Billy and the others had no problem with going there? So I don't see why he would blame racism or bigotry in general, rather than a specific objection to a specific doctor?

Because the Cullens are at the top of the kyriarchy and are the Platonic essence of whiteness?

Loquat said...

It's been suggested in previous threads that Charlie's protests-too-much defenses of the Cullens might indicate that he's been mind-whammied into thinking they're the greatest thing since sliced bread; this new revelation that he's fallen out with his closest friend on their account seems to be one more piece of evidence supporting that theory. It may also work with the bribery theory - if it was in fact Billy who started the fight because he found out Charlie was accepting hush money from the Cullens, and Charlie diverted the fight into they-don't-hurt-patients-so-you're-wrong-for-avoiding-them territory to avoid talking about the bribes, and Jacob only overheard that part of it.

Ana Mardoll said...

Chris, that was GORGEOUS. I think a lot of us -- or at least myself -- get really disconnected from the beauty of the night after a lifetime of generally not being out in it. It makes perfect sense that Edward should understand its beauty in the same way that Bella understands the beauty of the desert, and it's utterly striking that he DOESN'T, and yet I'd not have thought of that until you said something. Amazing.

Ana Mardoll said...

Also:

Bella: I'm leaving this room in the only way a woman is permitted to leave. I'm going to the kitchen. And I'm doing it on the pretense that it is for someone else's benefit rather than my own. Are you hungry?

LOLSOB x Infinity

DarcyPennell said...

I think Edward also uses racist language about the Quileute -- if I recall correctly, Bella spends time with Jacob after Edward ordered her not to, and when Edward sees her afterwards he tells her she smells like a dog.

I hope I'm remembering that wrong because it's so awful.

Brin Bellway said...

On getting a learner's permit in the state of Washington.

Consulting fansites tells me Jacob is fifteen years and two months at this point. This means (assuming Quileute don't, for whatever reason, have different laws on the subject) that he is allowed a learner's permit if and only if he is enrolled in driver's ed.

Pqw said...

That was all very interesting, bekabot.

bekabot said...

If that's a compliment, I accept it, so...many thanks, Pqw.

Fluffy_goddess said...

I agree with the above commenters that Charlie may feel some pretty personal anger towards Billy over the whole not-going-to-the-hospital thing. If I were a first time reader with no outside knowledge and stopped reading here to think for a while (and for some reason fixated on this as the thing to think about), my logic would probably go:

Quilleutes and Cullens do not mix, so whenever the Cullens moved to town and Carlisle started working at the hospital, they'd have stopped going to that hospital. It probably could have gone largely unnoticed for a good long while, but when whatever happened to put Billy in a wheelchair happened, Charlie's first instinct would probably have been What Did They Say At The Hospital? Finding out his old friend is letting an (as far as he knows) irrational prejudice prevent him from seeking available emergency care could probably tick him off. If Billy told him *anything* of the old myth, he'd be entering the territory of This Supernatural Construct Says I Can't, So I Won't, adding another layer of frustration. (If Charlie's been police chief for a while, as the text implies, he's probably at least heard horror stories of people who are trapped in I Can't Do This Thing That Would Be Immensely Helpful To Me Because Of Religion, So You're Just Gonna Have To Let Me Suffer. Which is kind of a nightmare catch-22, for a friend/official who doesn't share that religion.) So he'd have been mad, and Billy would've been defensive, and neither of them strike me as particularly good at working through their emotions. So fighting and then not talking for a while would make loads of sense.

And then Bella comes to town. Charlie now has a justification to go look up his old friend -- he wants to buy that old truck Billy hasn't been able to use since he's been in a wheelchair, but which he hadn't gotten around to selling yet. And now Billy's got an excuse to open up the relationship from that side, by agreeing, and then by swinging by again. If I assume that Jacob's not *really* fully licensed yet, he's probably not legal to drive without a licensed driver who can take over for him at any moment in the car, but he's got the skills well enough, and Charlie would probably know that. So Billy can check that Charlie's not going to suddenly turn on him again by having Jacob drive him over, and Charlie can let them know he's seen Jacob but is willing to turn a blind eye to the technical illegality, explaining this little piece of dialogue. At this stage, the two men have basically agreed that Billy is going to do what he feels he has to do, and Charlie will argue over the big things and let the little things go (not ignore them, exactly, but let 'em go), and they're good enough friends to muddle through on that basis.

It's maybe not an ideal friendship, but it's a realistic one, and as an unspoiled reader I could believe that that was what was going on. As a spoiled one... Yeah. It *really* looks like Charlie's still a bit sore about unspecified anti-Cullen stuff, and taking cheap shots that his friend basically rolls his eyes at.

(I've been gone awhile; hopefully this comment doesn't run up against any of the new/revamped posting rules, but please let me know if I've misunderstood and am out of line, I don't want to offend anybody with this interpretation.)

Pqw said...

Yes, definitely a compliment. I could've been more clear. :)

Will Wildman said...

I feel like I'm missing something here - and indeed I suspect I am - but I'm not aware of it being established in-text that there's any implicit or explicit racial component to Billy Black's revulsion and repulsion from the Cullens. (At least not in the context of human 'races'. In the sense of human-race-vs-vampire-race, then yeah, totally.) So I think I'm having a bit of a tough time following the discussion because I'm not sure whether we're talking about Billy Black's dislike of the Cullens as a metaphorical microcosm of the whole series' race issues, or if folks are assuming/concluding that in-text Charlie believes that Billy is prejudiced against super-white people, or both.

I really like the observation that Billy is presented as both 'factually correct' and 'morally wrong' - regardless of whether the Cullens themselves present a direct threat to humans in general or Quileute people specifically, their presence is going to bring down a parade of horrors on the residents of the area, and Billy has very few options in this case except to avoid the vamps as much as possible. Anything else would either spark hostilities or make them at target for Volturi langoliers.

Silver Adept said...

@Fluffy_Goddess -

That also suggests that Charlie and Billy aren't pig-headed enough to basically ignore opportunities to bury the hatchet and won't start arguing about the thing that caused the rift when they do get back together. Which would be a nice thought, and potentially doable by the unspoiled reader...if they ignore all the evidence that says Charlie resists change fiercely in the first few chapters so far. Maybe Jacob and Bella are also insurance to make sure the couple doesn't fight in front of the kids, at least until they have an excuse like the game to use to conveniently Not Talk About the elephant in the room.

Not to say that these tactics don't work, and Charlie and Billy can't make up, but even unspoiled Charlie reads as someone who gets set in his ways and refuses to change. It's going to take most of the season before their friendship can be repaired. And maybe an offer from Charlie to pull some strings and be the intermediary by which proper medicine and instructions are delivered. If the treaty prevents direct contact only, then Charlie can be the convenient vehicle of good care. Of course, that could backfire if Billy its the kind of man who won't accept help that easy...

Ana Mardoll said...

bekabot, I think this is a really insightful comment and I love all of it.

bekabot said...

Oh, Ana, thanks a bunch. I mean that. I was worried that you thought I'd ignored the rules by citing stuff that is not in evidence at the point at which Twilight, Chapter 12, takes place. I was getting ready to defend myself and everything. I was debating the advisability of defending myself. (My own opinion is that although I did cite material not in evidence [such as, Billy Black is the closest thing the Quileutes now have to a chief] I did not introduce any material for which the groundwork had not already been presented [in the Scary Stories chapter the reader is told that Jacob is directly descended from the treaty-maker, who would presumably have been the chief, so that Billy Black, Jacob's Dad, would be a male in the same line]). But, obviously, all of that is just my own opinion. Blah-dee-blah. Anyhow, I'm kind of aware that I get carried away, but heck, it was Sunday morning and I had no more pressing calls on my time, and I saw no reason not to pull some of the stops out.

If I get a chance I want to post another comment on this chapter, which would deal mainly with how racist Twilight is or is not. But as of right now, time constraints obtrude. So thanks once more for the ego-boost and have a cool day.

Ana Mardoll said...

Oh, gosh, no! That 'rule' was only confined to the post itself, as a "what if I were coming to this fresh" kind of thing. By all means. :)

Fairynanook said...

I have to agree with several other commenters. When I read Twilight for the first time, my assumption about this was that Charlie was mad at Billy because he was concerned for him. My dad has been sick with an issue that threatens his life and has been for quite some time. He refuses to get a surgery that could help him out of fear and instead lives a life where he feels ill and can't participate much in my son's life, etc. It makes me angry. Why? Because getting care most likely would give him a better life...it would most likely make him feel less sick and be able to participate in his life more fully. It is his refusal to take care of himself for reasons that I don't agree with that make me mad. Likewise, I think that Charlie was mad at Billy because he was refusing to get care he desperately needed based on something that Charlie found to be an invalid reason.

Ana Mardoll said...

Here is my story:

I just had a surgery that was "supposed" to make me better in every way and drastically improve the quality of my life. Instead, due to 'unforeseen' complications, I am now significantly worse off in a number of major ways and this has caused me to struggle with deep depression because I feel like I've ruined my health by making a bad choice.

And, for the record, this is the second major surgery that I've had in my life. The first one, when I was a minor at a children's hospital, *also* screwed up my health for the worse, and is a decision that my mother still deeply regrets years after the fact.

I don't know you or your father or anything about your situation other than your comment. But I do know, from experience that surgery is a serious thing, and has the potential to alter lives permanently for both good and ill. I know more people (in real life and on the internet) who regret surgical procedures than who feel they were a net gain.

I mention this because it's not something people talk about very often in public. "I regret my surgery" is a real conversation downer, I've found, so I keep it to myself in real life. But it happens, and it's something that the able-bodied should perhaps try to remember.

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