I guess it is time for me to get off of my duff and continue w/ my New Moon blogging.
I think we last left our heroine w/ a fatal paper cut? Right?
After the near miss death scene Carlisle has to repair Bella’s glass embedded and lacerated arm, while she watches in horror and self imposed embarrassment as her near family races from the room in fear, b/c they don’t have Carlisle’s self control when it comes to the scent of human blood. Something that drives me absolutely buggy about the way that Bella is written is her constant self flagellation when it comes to the behaviors of those around her. There is a lot more to be said on this later in New Moon when we explore her relationship w/ Jacob Black, who is just as bad as Edward at this point w/ the victim blaming and emotional abuse. But for now, I can’t seem to fathom a world where after someone tries to kill you for having human blood you would apologize so profusely for that exact state. Bella’s willingness to accept blame for someone else’s wrong doing and weakness says more about Smeyer than anything else. It seems that Smeyer views teenage girls as some mysterious gatekeeper of morality, simultaneously responsible for being reasonable and level headed against natural instincts (or hormones!) and needing the gentle hand of a wiser man to tell her how life is supposed to be. It is these moments of flaw in Bella that leads me to believe that these books should not be read by young girls if their responsible parties are not willing to follow along and discuss them. Young girls are not responsible for the wrong doings of other people. In the same way that I would argue that there is never an excuse for violence against a woman, no matter what, I argue that Bella is not responsible for the attack launched against her by Jasper, despite it being his “natural” nature to do just that. See? He can’t help it, b/c he is just a weak vampire and Bella is all too appetizing. A woman who is raped is no more responsible for that rape b/c of her choice to wear a certain skirt or drink that beer than Bella is responsible for her attack due to having human blood. Smeyer needs to be taken to task a little more for not showing Bella as realizing this, and for concentrating so heavily on the implicit victim blaming.
During the makeshift surgery Bella and Carlisle have a conversation about why Edward is so against her becoming a vampire. Carlisle goes on to give a long explanation about how Edward is convinced that vampires do not retain their souls after changing, and therefore unwilling to allow Bella to give hers up so easily. He and Carlisle seem to disagree on this point, and seeing as Vampirism seems to be a loose metaphor for Mormonism, I am inclined to agree w/ Carlisle’s logic on this point. However, as I have said before, whether this is truly a parallel for converting to a major religion or simply a girl wanting to make a choice regarding her own body, the choice to become a vampire, soul or not, lies strictly w/ Bella. There is time to expound upon how Smeyer misses that point later, trust me. I also have a lot of metaphysical theories about vampires, souls, and such, seeing as the individuals in Smeyer’s universe retain their fundamental personalities, memories, and ability to reason out right and wrong. Yup, I strongly agree w/ Carlisle on this one. I find this as another one of Edward’s attempts to control Bella, thinking he knows what is best for her and therefore removing her agency on matters that are hers to properly weigh and decide. But Carlisle asks her if she could willingly sacrifice Edward’s soul…something she admits she would be unwilling to do…and then Esme returns to bleach up the scene.
After this birthday incident things b/t Bella and Edward become strained. Edward becomes distant, sulky, and cold (more so than just stony vampire skin). Over the course of a few days he goes through the motions of being w/ Bella, coming to her house as normal, sneaking in to her room at night as normal at first, holding her hand at school…
He even engages in watching TV w/ Charlie. Odd.
He also begins to withdraw from Bella, seldom talking to her unprovoked, and basically freaking her out. In the Navy we are trained that this “Silent Treatment” is a severe form of emotional abuse. Making yourself emotionally unavailable for long periods of time to someone you have an intimate relationship causes emotional strain to the other person, and adds a feeling of isolation (particularly true as Bella has almost isolated herself from her other friends as a bi-product of her relationship w/ Edward, leaving virtually no emotional support system). The dismissive way that Edward is silent around Bella and leaves her drawing ridiculous conclusions is painful to read. It kind of reminds me of those PSAs by the Ad Council about how if you don’t tell someone that you care you leave them to wonder if you really do, imagining the worst case scenario. There is a lot of real life truth in that, and I am reminded of familial relationships in my own life, as well as I can see this unfolding in Bella herself. Her internal monologue turns into a fantasy land mix of Edward not really loving her or them needing to run away together. Edward’s refusal to have a mature discussion w/ Bella over what is eventually revealed as decisions affecting her life lead her to some pretty ridiculous, not well thought out plans.
Bella begins going through motions of preparing for leaving her life in Forks behind, using her new (film loaded? Do people still buy those new?) camera to catalogue everything from her current life.
Soon enough (but really not soon enough, this goes on for about two chapters) we find that during all of his brooding Edward (and the rest of the Cullens) have decided that all would be for the best if they left Forks indefinitely so that Bella can continue on w/ her life as if they never existed, and begin pretending that they never existed. For someone who is almost a century old, and also for Carlisle, who is supposedly about 500 or more years old, I find this notion a little ridiculous. Being almost thirty I still remember the people who formed my life and shaped my existence at 17-18. No amount of absence of them from my life has managed to erase those memories, not even those of my best friend, Amber, from high school, who tragically died our Freshman year of college. Nothing could erase her from my memory, nor the way in which that relationship molded part of my life, so why would a vampire who has existed among humans for so long believe that he could erase himself from someone who has built her whole life around him?
Which is what brings us to the point where Edward, in a sudden burst of talkativeness asks Bella if they can be alone and talk. He walks her far into the woods (during which time we discover that someone from his family has removed and hidden all things related to them from Bella’s house, including photographs, a CD, and a variety of other treasures) to not only break up w/ her, but to tell her that he is going away forever and that she should continue on as if she never knew him. These two chapters were so predictable and emotionally devoid of any character development that I commend myself for plowing through them. Bella, not being the most capable hiker or nature enthusiast gets lost after Edward disappears, and collapses in an emotional heap on the forest floor. Apparently she is in a bit of a catatonic state, and doesn’t even come around until she is rescued by a man from the local tribe (b/c he’s Native, and obviously knows the woods better, duh!).
It is barely the beginning of book two in the “Saga”, and already I am tired of this trope that Bella is weak and fragile. She spends a majority of her time whimpering and clinging to whatever man character is available for protection. As developmentally void as the character of Bella is, an empty slate, the only traits she seems to possess are being a klutz and being so weak that she nearly withers and dies if she doesn’t have a supernatural man’s arm to cling to. It’s sad and unoriginal. Bella is not interesting on her own, and for as much as we are to believe that this is “Bella’s story”, it is only told as the way that Bella exists in relationship to the supernaturally incredible men in her life. Once again, it is the old scenario of the Extraordinary Man w/ the Ordinary Woman by his side to accentuate his greatness through her mediocrity. It’s tired and it’s boring and Smeyer is in no way creating anything new or original here. Just more of the same shit in a sparkling vampire love story package. To give Bella some kind of unique quality of her own, something to balance the power differential slightly would have helped, even in the flagrant absence of an actual plot or any semblance of character development. Collapsing and almost falling unconscious every time something dramatic attempts to happen is not character development. Showing Bella as having strength based on the brain she is apparently possessing would be a better story. But Smeyer couldn’t throw Bella into the arms of another Supernaturally Extraordinary Man if she wasn’t weak and devastated by this turn of events. Smeyer couldn’t place her in another emotionally and physically dependent relationship w/ o this flaw, b/c she isn’t that talented at writing. She is no Rowling, no Carey, no Snyder, all whom are able to write women who are both capable of falling in love (w/ men or women, as it is shown that Phédre falls a little in love w/ at least two women), as well as first being able to take care of themselves and grow in their own ways. That is called depth of character, and is what character development is all about.
Tune in next time to find out why Smeyer owes me a refund, and why environmentalists every where should know her name.
Previous New Moon blogging here, w/ links to previous Twilight blogging.