November 4, 2012

Twilight: Non-Appearance

Twilight, pp. 139-146.

Upon effectively acknowledging (if not openly admitting) that Edward eats people, Bella does what she does best: nothing. As we saw last week, she immediately ruled out communicating the knowledge that Edward is a vampire to others because they might think she's, like, crazy, and a girl's got to watch out for her image! Another option was to "go back to ignoring him...tell him to leave me alone--and mean it this time." But that would also require Bella to do something, so this option is out, too. The only choice for our Bella is to take no action at all. Passive female docility, thy name is Bella Swan!

I did get a laugh out of this passage:

I didn't know if there was ever a choice, really. I was already in too deep. Now that I knew--if I knew--I could do nothing about my frightening secret. Because when I thought of him, of his voice, his hypnotic eyes, the magnetic force of his personality, I wanted nothing more than to be with him right now.

Ah, those three or four conversations between Edward and Bella so far mean Bella is "in too deep". And I love the bit about the "magnetic force" of Edward's personality. Bella must have a deep and powerful attraction to "guys who are kind of a jerk", since that's the only "personality" Edward has displayed so far. That would explain a lot, actually.

Bella returns to her house, relieved that she's finally made a decision. That her decision essentially amounts to refusing to make a decision doesn't, of course, bother her in the least.

I should be afraid--I knew I should be, but I couldn't feel the right kind of fear.

The reason Bella isn't afraid is that she knows what Meyer knows, and Meyer knows Edward is a Good Vampire (*blech*). If Bella truly believed Edward was a vampire and had the experiences we readers have seen her have, she absolutely would be afraid. When she was struggling to "decide" what to do, she noted that Edward saved her life as a point in his favour. But he can't eat her if she dies in a car accident, so that really shouldn't be very reassuring. (I don't dare suggest that though he might have saved her life, he may very well be eating other people, because we all know that Bella's life is the only life that matters to her.)

It amazes me how this novel goes out of its way to avoid having any teeth. (Get it? Teeth? Vampires? Oh, write your own jokes.) The story is set up as an example of the venerable "nice girl reforms the bad boy" trope, except the bad boy isn't even bad. So of course Bella isn't afraid. There's nothing to be afraid of! Edward keeps going on and on about how dangerous he is, but since he's basically a poseur, it only gets more laughable every time he does it. I'm not buying it, and Bella's not buying it. This is how low vampires have fallen. They can't even scare high school girls anymore.

The next day, after noting that her mother married at 19 (oh those Mormons and their high school marriage!), Bella goes to school. Because there's no-one else at this school, she immediately runs into Mike.

He was so delighted to see me, I couldn't help but feel gratified.[sic]

"I never noticed before--your hair has red in it," he commented, catching between his fingers a strand that was fluttering in the breeze.

"Only in the sun."

I became just a little uncomfortable as he tucked the lock behind my ear.

Mixed message much?

I didn't edit anything out. Bella goes from feeling gratified at Mike's obvious interest in her to feeling "uncomfortable" when he expresses it. That's our Bella: Want me, and make it clear you want me, but don't, like, do anything. (And it only gets worse with Jacob in the later books, my little droogies.)

"I was going to ask if you wanted to go out."

"Oh." I was taken off guard [sic]. Why couldn't I ever have a pleasant conversation with Mike anymore without it getting awkward?

Because you're leading him on. Next question!

And really, taken [sic]* off-guard? You're shocked that the guy who has expressed obvious interest in you for almost two months is asking you out? Good lord, Rosebud must have knocked you on your ass.

Bella has to spell out to Mike that Jessica likes him, because Meyer can't get her characterisation right and Mike somehow hasn't figured this out. He proves to be a quick study, though, since Jessica is "bubbling with enthusiasm" in the very next class. Bella is "indecisive" (no shit!) about going dress shopping with the girls, despite being in a good mood (which is also why she didn't greet Mike "half-heartedly", as she implies she normally does). Why she's "in a euphoric mood" is a bit less clear. Is it because she's firmed up her commitment to doing nothing? That hardly seems like something to be euphoric about.

As was my routine, I glanced first toward the Cullens' table. A shiver of panic trembled in my stomach as I realised it was empty. With dwindling hope, my eyes scoured the rest of the cafeteria, hoping to find him alone, waiting for me. The place was nearly filled--Spanish had made us late--but there was no sign of Edward or any of his family. Desolation hit me with crippling strength.

Oh. That. Bella's "in a euphoric mood" because it's been, gosh, two whole days since she last saw Edward, but her long personal nightmare is about to end. Nearly forty-eight hours after she last saw him, she's going to see him again! Only, he's not there! Oh no!

I shambled along behind Jessica, not bothering to pretend to listen anymore.

Bella's so despondent she can't even pretend to listen! It must be True Love.

I'm sure there was a period in your life, my little droogies, when someone's two-day absence could be a cause of friend-ignoring despair. There certainly was in mine. A period around age fifteen. I don't mind teens and 'tweens going gaga over this tripe. (Well, at least not for this particular reason.) What I don't get is how anyone outside that bracket can read passages like this without burning the book to ashes and then doing a haka on the smoldering remains.

And there's more. So, so much more....

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 realised I'd been holding on to a last shred of hope when I entered Biology, saw his empty seat, and felt a new wave of disappointment.
I was glad to leave campus, so I would be free to pout and mope before I went out with Jessica and company. But right after I walked out the door of Charlie's house, Jessica called to cancel our plans. I tried to be happy that Mike had finally asked her to dinner--I really was relieved he finally seemed to be catching on--but my enthusiasm sounded false in my own ears.

He's probably "finally catching on" because you finally told him clearly that you aren't interested. I don't know, that might just have helped him get the message that you aren't interested.

Now, it's clear that, because Meyer likes Bella and wants us to like her, too, we're supposed to understand that her enthusiasm sounds "false" because she's depressed about going an entire day without seeing Edward. But because Meyer is a bad writer (and because Bella is a bad person), it's equally likely in this context that Bella's enthusiasm sounds false because, even though she straight up told Mike no thanks, she thought he would continue to pine for her. Hearing that he's now asked Jessica out, Bella tries to feign enthusiasm, when she's really disappointed that Mike will no longer be shutting Jessica out in order to fawn over her.

It's all because of that "I really was relieved he finally seemed to be catching on". (Well, that and the Bella-is-a-bad-person thing.) It's almost, almost a bit of self-awareness on Meyer's part, this extra effort to assure us that Bella's really really glad Mike won't be pursuing her anymore. No really, I'm so happy for you. Just so, like, happy. For you. Y'know? That's great. That's...that's really great.


 *Meyer's grasp of the English language is so bad I keep feeling like Sylvester Stallone's character in Demolition Man, constantly having to correct Sandra Bullock's malapropisms. "It's taken aback and caught, caught off-guard!"

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