Twilight: Trustiness and Truthiness

[Content Note: Murder]

Twilight Summary: In Chapter 13, Edward and Bella spend the weekend alone together in the woods.

Twilight, Chapter 13: Confessions

You guys, seriously? Chapter 13 is officially the LONGEST CHAPTER EVER WRITTEN. Every time I sit down to write a Twilight post, I think, "Today is the day we escape from Chapter 13's clutches," and then I write and write and write and WE NEVER DO. So sod this. Today is the day we escape from Chapter 13's clutches. NO MATTER WHAT IT TAKES. Which means that there will be no unifying theme today, just snark and disdain and some occasional confusion.

Also, fair warning: I haven't slept for the past two nights in a row because of extreme back pain, so expect this post to be less coherent than usual and more littered with spelling errors. Fortunately I have caffeine and sugar and LOLcats so I'm sure that will fix everything.

So, anyway. When we last left our favorite vampire/human couple, Edward was continuing to provide his side of the story for all the things that have come before and with an air of the hilarious wacky reversal antics trope: Bella thought he was angry at her, but he was really in love with her! LOL!! Except that this doesn't quite work because Edward was genuinely angry through all this, he was just angry at himself, his family, the situation, Bella's existence, and her unintentional effect on his cozy life. Which is still a distinction, I guess, from "angry at her", but I don't know that it's a meaningful one. Anyway.

Dog Resting by George Hodan
Caption: Sure. Whatever.
   “All that next day I eavesdropped on the minds of everyone you spoke to, shocked that you kept your word. I didn’t understand you at all. But I knew that I couldn’t become more involved with you. I did my very best to stay as far from you as possible. And every day the perfume of your skin, your breath, your hair . . . it hit me as hard as the very first day.”

This passage irritates me, as a sort of perfect storm of narrative telling-instead-of-showing coupled with bald-faced assertions that fly in contradiction to basic human nature, all distilled into a single throw-away line that shouldn't bother me but does. It's funny to me how I get sort of inured to the overall banality and awful of this book -- from a literary perspective, anyway -- and then one little detail can bring it all back in a rush.

The whole passage, as I understand it, is meant to underline how trustworthy Bella is and how worthy she is to be indoctrinated further into the Cullen Club since she's proven she won't blab to the first person she sees. And the demonstration being offered up to the reader in Edward's awed hushed tones is that she preserved his super-speed secret after the van accident, despite the fact that she had no real reason to protect him and was in fact legitimately angry at him for lying to her (since he'd promised her an explanation and then tried to gaslight her into thinking she imagined it all instead). So woohoo, look at how trustworthy and secretive Bella is!! 

Cat by George Hodan
Caption: Okay, player.
Except that this interpretation of events is so skewed that I'd almost be inclined to give S. Meyer credit for writing Edward as hopelessly lovematized and determined to interpret all Bella's actions in the best light possible except that (1) historical data (as well as future data points) indicates that Edward isn't particularly prone to interpreting Bella's actions charitably, and (2) I'm pretty sure we're supposed to take this assertion here as Objective Truth, courtesy of the author. And that irks me to no end. So let's run this down:

One, Bella might not have told anyone what she saw in terms of Edward's before-and-after position, but she sure as heck didn't go out of her way to protect him, no matter what she, Edward, or S. Meyer seem to think. In Chapter 4, we were treated to this bizarre idea of 'protection' wherein Bella makes sure that everyone at school, including people who may or may not have inconveniently witnessed Edward's starting position and could put two-and-two together, know for sure that Edward was her savior and not anyone or anything else:
   No one seemed concerned about Edward, though I explained over and over that he was the hero -- how he had pulled me out of the way and had nearly been crushed, too. I tried to be convincing. Jessica, Mike, Eric, and everyone else always commented that they hadn't even seen him there till the van was pulled away.
That is not protection. It's not even "lying for [Edward]", which Bella claimed at the time she was doing and which everyone involved in the creation of this passage seems to think she did with verve and gusto. It's telling the exact truth about what happened, and in such a way that anyone at the scene could piece together the same conclusions that Bella came to (i.e., super-speed) as long as at least one person could be found to vouch for Edward's starting position.

Lying in order to protect Edward would involve Bella either stating that he'd been there all along ("Thank god Edward had just then strolled over to ask me about the Biology homework!") or downplaying his presence entirely ("I don't even know what happened. I just remember the van coming at me and then a bunch of students and paramedics were pulling me out of the wreckage.") Lying in order to protect Edward does not entail Bella trumpeting loudly and longly that she owes 100% of her survival to Edward Cullen who had SOMEHOW ("...but probably not with super-speed!" *wink* *wink*) saved her life in ways that she cannot attempt to explain.

That's not protecting Edward: that's giving him credit. Which is really only a good thing if he's a self-absorbed glory-hound reveling in a narrative that wants to position him as a living god walking among puny insects as opposed to a shadowy member of a hundreds-year-old coven which desperately wants to avoid attention and inconvenient questions while their very existence hangs in the balance. Basically, if we are in the genre we're supposed to be in -- Vampire Masquerade -- Edward should have taken Bella's actions as the exact opposite of trustworthy and secretive. Especially since she topped off this round of credit-bestowal by running off to Jacob Black and pumping him for information on the Cullens in the most memorably suspicious way ever and then turning around and narcing out Jacob to Edward after she had promised him she wouldn't tell.

Basically: everything Bella Swan has ever said or done in this novel tells me that she is the LAST person I would trust with my Dangerous Vampire Secret. And S. Meyer is using Edward's awed hushed observances of her via telepathy of others to insist to us that, no really, Bella is the bestest and trustiest person to share secrets with. And that seriously irks me because it strikes me as really lazy writing: instead of making Bella genuinely trustworthy with shadowy secrets, the author just TELLS us that she is and we're supposed to accept that because Edward does and Edward is never wrong.

Kitten In Hood by Margaret Taylor
Caption: That totally was not sarcasm.
Two, even supposing that Bella had lied to protect Edward, that still wouldn't make her amazingly trustworthy. There are a lot of other potential reasons why Bella might not tell, including the fact that pretty much no one on earth would believe her -- a fact that Edward explicitly pointed out to her when he was trying to gaslight her in the hospital. And while I would probably consider that good enough for my secrets because I'm a pretty open and trusting person, I'm not sure that Edward should be calling that good enough given that the lives of his family hinges on this one person.

But wait! Okay? Set that aside for a moment, because I actually don't care if Edward trusts Bella a little too fast or a little too easily or whatever. You can handwave that any number of ways via Edward's telepathy or Alice's future-sight or blah-blah-blah-I-don't-care. I'm good with Edward being trusting. But! A lot of the authorial defense of Edward's abusive behavior to Bella, including stalking her and demanding that she have increasingly less mental privacy, is covered under the justification that Edward, being used to reading peoples' minds, is just having a really hard time adapting to this totally different non-mind-reading method of communication with Bella. So it's not his fault he's an abusive asshole because his gift of telepathy has saddled him with Trust Issues.

EXCEPT NOW THAT EXCUSE IS NO LONGER VALID BECAUSE CLEARLY HE IS WILLING TO TRUST BELLA ON THE FLIMSIEST OF EXCUSES WHEN HE WANTS TO. "Welp, she didn't tell anyone that thing that no one would believe! Must be safe to trust her!" -- Edward, apparently. So here: *flush* That is the sound of one more get-out-of-being-called-an-abusive-boyfriend-free card being flushed down the toilet.

   He met my eyes again, and they were surprisingly tender.
   “And for all that,” he continued, “I’d have fared better if I had exposed us all at that first moment, than if now, here — with no witnesses and nothing to stop me — I were to hurt you.”
   I was human enough to have to ask. “Why?”

Cat by George Hodan
Caption: Seriously?!
Seriously, Bella? You don't have to be "human" (or have low self-esteem or be unsure of one's romantic worth or etc.) to ask why exposing one's family as odd enough to have to go on the lam to Alaska for a decade or so (I really do not know whether the Deadly Volturi were supposed to exist at this point in the narrative; I kind of get the impression that they were summoned into existence at the beginning of New Moon.) isn't worse than murdering another person. Most of us already put "murder other people" pretty damn low on the bucket list, and you don't hear us crowing about ourselves being paragons of virtue who muchly deserve cookies.

And...ugh. *checks clock* I started writing this at 10 am and it is now nearly 6 pm and I've got to take another rest break for my back. We'll go ahead and schedule this post and continue this next week.



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