Saturday, July 18, 2009

I read Twilight and Hate it: Chapter 5

    Bella moans and whines some more about being late to class, being invited on the road trip by Mike, and the fact that Edward isn't constantly following her around so she can look at him whenever she feels like it.  This puts her in a funk until, at lunch:

        "Edward Cullen is staring at you again," Jessica said, finally breaking through my abstraction with his name.1

    Abstraction is not the same thing as daydreaming, Meyer.  Edward is sitting at alone, away from his sibling-pack (I guess Forks High School has enough spare tables that you can just go grab on for yourself when you feel like it), and motions for Bella to come sit with him.  "As I watched in disbelief, he winked."1  He's kind of the Sarah Palin of vampires. 
    They talk, and over the course of some awkwardly-written dialogue set the record straight that yes, they are going to be friends.  Edward takes the time to reiterate that he is, in fact, bad for her, because (I'm guessing) he's afraid that talking to her straight-forward like this is taking away some of his mystique.  I don't think that personality matters too terribly much with Bella, though, because she's so pre-occupied with how her looks.  Here are some things she thinks during this conversation:

        "It was hard to believe that something so beautiful could be real.  I was afraid that he'd disappear in a puff of smoke and I would wake up.
        He was still smiling, but his ocher eyes were serious.
        That breathtaking crooked smile reappeared.
        I looked up into his deep gold eyes, became befuddled...
        He looked own, and then glanced up at me through his long black lashes, his ocher eyes scorching."1

    Even if Edward's appearance did turn out to be a major plot point down the line (like, if he were to end up becoming a male model or prostitute at some point), it hardly seems worth it to keep describing how he looks over and over.  There's really no literary reason to keep talking about this, except for that Stephanie Meyer is typing with one hand and she expects the readers to be reading it with one hand as well (if you catch my drift2). 
    Edward asks Bella what she thinks he is, and she says she’s been “vacillating during the past month between Bruce Wayne and Peter Parker.  Vacillating:  for when “oscillating” just isn’t pretentious enough.

    Bella decides that her previous statement was far to modest, and to say that she is, in fact, hard-to-read.  Either that, or she's just really open to suggestion; Edward just has to tell her something twice and she believes it.  "Was [Edward] a hypnotist, too?  Or was I just a hopeless pushover?"1 Definitely the latter.  Or rather, you're a shallow character with no roots, no set opinions, and no purpose other than for minor bad things to happen to you so you can become the damsel-in-trivial-distress and be rescued by the author's masturbation fantasies.
    Again, Edward seems to feel his mystique and bad-boy-appeal slipping, so he takes the not-so-subtle route of just telling Bella that he's more of bad guy than a hero.  And again, it doesn't matter because Bella would want to jump his bone, even if he had spoken nothing but gibberish to her since they met. 
    Lunch ends, and Edward informs Bella that he's skipping Biology and invites her to do the same.  Bella "hesitated, torn."1  I think I'll skip class because the boy I'm liking is skipping class.  Tee-hee!  She ultimately decides to attend, though.  In class, the teacher has them pricking their fingers and testing for blood type, because he wants them to attend an upcoming blood-drive in Port Angeles (which, incidentally, is an hour drive from Forks; kind of far to expect your students to drive).  Any teacher who did this in real-life would have angry phone calls from a dozen parents that night and a pink slip by the end of the week, especially if they grabbed one of the students hands and pricked his finger without warning or consent (as is the case in this story). 
    Bella, apparently, is one of those people who can faint at the sight of a little blood (Oh boy, what wacky situations will this lead to with her dating a vampire?) so she feels woozy and asks to be sent to the nurse.  Mike volunteers to escort her.
    He begins helping her to the nurse's office, but she makes him stop after a short while to take a nap or something.  Edward shows up (of course) and, to her protest, picks her up off her feet and begins carrying her to the nurse.  Mike yells after Edward as he walks off with Bella, but I guess that Edward can walk faster than Mike can run, because he never actually catches up to him.  Edward just ignores Mike's shouts, and Bella's shouts to put her down for that matter.  Let's take another look at how this novel is teaching young men to treat women. Mike is helping Bella move, but stops when she tells him to stop.  Edward, on the other hand starts moving her without her consent and refuses to stop when she tells him to.  And which one of them is going to get rewarded with her affection?
    Edward gets her to the nurse's station and sets him down, and the nurse lets him know he can return to class.  

        "I'm supposed to stay with her."  He said this with such assured authority that - even though she pursed her lips - the nurse didn't argue it further.1

    Protip: ladies, if he's good at lying to other people, it means he's good a lying to you, too.  The nurse leaves for a bit to give them a chance to share some pointless dialogue.  They use the time to make fun of how pissed off Mike was at Edward.  Speaking of Mike, he finally shows up, with another fainter in tow.  Edward tells Bella to leave the nurses office.  When they get out, he says it's because the kid who entered was bleeding.  Bella claims that she knew because she could smell the blood.  "'People can't smell blood,' he contradicted."1  Only vampires can, because we have super-smell!   Mike joins them outside the nurses office and gives Bella a superfluous reminder of the road-trip that they're going on, shooting glares at Edward as he does it, and making it clear that it wasn't an open invitation.  They don't say what expression Edward was shooting back at Mike, but I'm guessing it was smug, Ozymandias-smug3.
    Mike leaves, and Edward offers to use his superior lying ability to get her out of P.E., so she can go home early, which she accepts.  He also insists that he's the one who drives her home.  When she refuses, he makes it clear that he doesn't understand that "no means no," by threatening to physically force her into his car if she doesn't get in. Yeah. Remember, when someone gives you the romantic advice to "be more like Edward," they mean "act like a rapist."
    Anyways, in the car, Bella discovers that Edward had been listening to "Clair de Lune," by Debussy, and they talk about how they both like the song.  Now, I almost can't fault Meyer for picking Clair de Lune, because it is a really great song.  The implication that they both like means that they have something meaningful in common is bogus, though.  Despite what most high-schoolers like to think, liking classical music does not set them apart from their peers; it's actually a pretty common preference.   And Claire de Lune is quite popular as far as classical pieces go.  As far as music goes, it's just so safe.  If Edward has been listening to Insane Clown Posse, instead, then sure it would have been crappy music, but at least it would have been someone more polarizing, less guaranteed to be liked by whomever entered his car.
    On the way, Bella mentions the road-trip she's taking with Mike and company that weekend, to which Edward says:

        "I don't really think I was invited."
        I sighed.  "I just invited you."
        "Let's not push poor Mike and further this week.  We don't want him to snap."  His eyes dance; he was enjoying the idea more than he should.
        "Mike-schmike," I muttered.1

    Jeez, they're just stepping on this poor guy every chance they get.  With the way they treat him, I wouldn't be surprised or really blame him if he goes Judas on them later in the book.  Actually, that probably will happen.  I could see Meyer making Mike do something semi-evil down the line to prevent readers from feeling sorry for him for him and retroactively justify how he's been treated up to this point.  I heard that the as-of-yet unreleased Stephanie Meyer novel Midnight Sun is a retelling of the events in Twilight, but from Edward's point of view, instead of Bella's.  What would be much more interesting, though, would be to see it from Mike's point of view. 
    Still driving, Edward asks Bella about her mother.  "'She looks a lot like me, but prettier,' I said."1  Wait, hold on.  I remember that she narrated a description of her mother in the first chapter: "My mom looks like me, except with short hair and laugh lines."4 So what we can read from these two descriptions is that (unless she considers short hair and laugh lines to be the defining qualities of prettiness) that Bella doesn't actually think her mom is prettier than her, but she will say that she thinks her mom is prettier than her, to other people.  So, when she gives that disparaging comment about her own looks, she doesn't really think it's true.  This is pretty much proof positive that (just as I've been saying) Bella is insincere about her self-judgments; her modesty is just an act.  Either that, or Meyer just isn't too big on inter-chapter continuity.  I prefer to think that it's the first one.
    Edward also talks briefly about his parents; that they both died long ago (because they were born hundreds of years ago, because Edward is a vampire), and their names were "Carlisle and Esme"1 (c'mon, Bella, you don't think that's odd at all?).  When he gets to her house, Edward, our of the blue, asks Edward how old she is.

        "I'm seventeen," I responded, a little confused.
        "You don't seem seventeen."1

    You're right about that, Eddy.  Maturity-wise, she seems fourteen, tops.  Still, Bella interprets his comment in a flattering way and goes on to brag about how mature she is.  Edward lets her out of the car, and makes a pointless and awkwardly-worded dig on Bella's clumsiness (curses! my one weakness!) before driving away.  So ends another chapter in the life of everyone's favourite Mary-Sue.  Stay tuned for chapter 6.


1Meyer, Stephanie Twilight. “Chapter 5: Blood Type” Little, Brown and Co., 2005



4Meyer, Stephanie Twilight. “Chapter 1” Little, Brown and Co., 2005

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