Sunday, December 18, 2011

Eclipse Chapter 8 - Temper

1. “We ended up on the beach again, wandering aimlessly.” Boy that Jake sure knows how to party, dunnee? If Forks and the surrounding area are this boring, though, you really do have to wonder why the Cullens are so insistent on staying there (other than because if they left most of the story’s problems would be left behind). They could literally move anywhere, and even here, one of the best places around for a bunch of sparkly people to lay low, they play the part of a weirdo recluse family. I’d hardly say they’re taking advantage of the opportunities the weather affords them.

“Jacob was still full of himself for engineering my escape.” He took advantage of the fact that he’s invisible to her babysitter’s poorly-described precognition. You da man, Jake! How did this sneak past Alice, though? It’s been established already if Bella interacts with werewolves, even plans to, Alice will still see it in a way because Bella disappears from her visions. Remember when Edward sabotaged Bella’s truck? Did she stop watching for Bella during school when they’d have to split up? Did Alice think Bella would stop after trying to slip their authority to be with Jacob already (and more than once), and after voicing discontent with being kidnapped by her own future family besides?

“They’re going to be furious with me tonight, though,” Bella notes. You know, Bells (and Meyer), it can be done for the purest of reasons, but kidnapping is still kidnapping. And Bella’s still resentful, which would be nice if it went anywhere. That’s a good little prize pet, Bells.

We do get this amusing and probably truthful follow-up exchange.

Jacob: “Don’t go back, then.”
Bella: “Charlie would love that,” I said sarcastically.
Jacob: “I bet he wouldn’t mind.”

2. To that, “I didn’t answer. Jacob was probably right, and that made me grind my teeth together. Charlie’s blatant preference for my Quileute friends was so unfair.” Yeah, just imagine how much he’d prefer them if he had any idea how Bella really sliced her arm at her birthday party, and why she really hopped a plane to Italy. I’m sorry, but that’s such a monumentally stupid thing for somebody to think considering what Charlie sees and can’t know the real causes for it.

Frankly, knowing what happens beyond the veil makes the Cullens look even less preferable. Jacob might be kind of a crass dick since he got his fur, but he doesn’t spy on Bella or make major decisions for her, let alone get his supernatural compatriots in on doing so.

3. Jacob mentions that a third pack member’s imprinted, and then stares at Bella as if he’s trying to get it to happen between him and her (try the daycare center, buddy). As they start walking again, “I thought of how we must looking walking hand and hand down the beach -- like a couple, certainly -- wondered if I should object.” Pretty sure that’s hand IN hand, and really, maybe this kind of thinking indicates she and Jacob are a better match (not that I think Bella deserves to end up with anybody)? With him she actually thinks about how she depends on him, how they connect, how he’s such a great friend despite all the crap she puts him through in her pursuit of Edward. With Edward all she seems to think about is how beautiful he is and how unworthy she is of being with him. Doesn’t exactly sound like a solid foundation for everlasting love. Sure, love isn’t rational and blah blah blah but there still has to be something positive there. I’m sure Bella sees it, and Meyer may have even thought of it, but when we see Edward he’s either being a possessive dick or doing whatever Bella wants because he’s so in love with her. That’s not a personality.

Ya know, it occurs that if Meyer would get past this idea that people who kidnap and spy on their loved ones are people we should be supporting, we’d be left with a much more convincing couple. Bella and Jacob would get along better because she wouldn’t keep insisting that the Cullens are so great, and the baby he imprints on never would’ve been born. Instead the romance that drives these books is between two blank slates with no evident reason to be interested in each other besides hormones.

Hasn’t Meyer said she never intended Jacob to be such a major character?

4. Jacob’s partially upset with how often the imprinting’s taking place, but also at the fact that it exists at all. “It’s another one of those legend things. I wonder when we’re going to be stop being surprised that they’re all true.” Am I the only one who thinks the characters in these books are stupid for not questioning anything else when it turns out supernatural creatures really exist? Is that really not something that would change the whole way you look at the world?

Before explaining the latest imprinting further, Jacob asks Bella to “Try not to be judgmental.” Why? Because I wasn’t just talking about the next book when I made my daycare crack. The girl who was imprinted on is two years old. “I…don’t know what to say,” Bella replies. How about “ick,” or “child grooming is not romantic, Steph”? Oh sure, Jacob tries to explain it (“There’s nothing romantic about it at all”), but what’s at the core of everything that goes on in these books? Bella’s feelings for the various men in her life. And what exactly is the neat and tidy resolution for Bella and Jacob’s relationship that can never be? Imprinting on her newborn daughter.

“And nothing matters more than her. And you would do anything for her, be anything for her…You become whatever she needs to be, whether it’s a protector, or a lover, or a friend, or a brother. Quil will be the best, kindest big brother any kid ever had. This isn’t a toddler on the planet that will be more carefully looked after than that little girl will be. And then, when she’s older and needs a friend, he’ll be more understanding, trustworthy, and reliable then anyone else she knows. And then, when she’s grown up, they’ll be as happy as Emily and Sam.” I don’t see how that’s better (or in fact “not romantic at all” with that last part). And since this was made up by a human being and not nature, I feel just fine judging it.

I don’t really have opinions on some big issues, but my big thing is on the right to make one’s own choices. On those grounds I find this imprinting business of Meyer’s rather disgusting. The wolf’s basically brainwashed into becoming obsessed with a girl and grooming her to be his wife, from infancy until adulthood. And this is portrayed as heart-warming. Yeah, it is. Or at least, as something positive. After all, that level of attention and devotion’s hard to resist. I mean, look at Sam and Emily. And Jacob and the demonspawn. Oops, spoilers. I don’t know if I find that more disgusting, or the idea that the woman’s supposed to grow up to want to breed with this fawning monomaniac. She can refuse, but “Why wouldn’t she choose him, in the end? He’ll be her perfect match. Like he was designed for her alone.” Good point, Jake. I forgot obsessive devotion’s charming in this universe. Then again, this is also a universe where not one relationship seems to be based on more than good looks and a gut feeling that this is the one.

5. They have lunch and Jacob reminisces some about the time when it was just them and no sparkly shitheads. “Another era. A happier one.” Bella, though, “couldn’t agree with him. This was my happy era now.” Oh, you mean where Edward decides who you can and can’t be friends with and gets his sister to help enforce his edicts? And what’s so great about her time with him that makes up for this kind of treatment?

In a one-off story that ends just as the two couple up, you can usually forgo asking what they do together. Twilight goes on for several gigantic books and thinks it has drama and heightening danger in each one. If the story’s going to last this long and Bella’s going to insist Edward’s the only one for her in the face of a ton of shitty treatment, I’d like to have some idea of what their relationship consists of. Watching Edward and Alice not play chess?

Bella notes it’s been a long time since it seemed like he ever had a chance, too. “Charlie used to like me,” she moans. I never did, and the only way these books would have a truly happy ending is if the Volturi really did come to town and pulled off Bella’s head and the heads of everyone lame enough to think she’s worth fighting for. And Charlie gets all the Cullens’ money as a reward for putting up with her and all her unreasonable bullshit. Can I go? Have I made my point yet?

I love how stupid these books are that they try to portray Charlie as being overly reactive. When Bella voices her worry that Jacob’s dad might report that she and Jake went for a ride on their motorcycles, Jacob assures her “He won’t. He doesn’t get worked up about things the way Charlie does.” See the above link.

6. Their conversation turns to Bella becoming a vampire and how that would invalidate their agreement with the Quileutes, and how the treaty doesn’t actually mention any limits on territory. Meaning they’d be free to pursue the Cullens all over the world to punish them for breaking the agreement. That sounds kind of like an attempt to justify the Cullens staying in Forks even with the various unfriendly/watchful parties knowing that’s where they live, but if they moved to someplace like say, Europe or Africa, am I supposed to think a couple guys from a backwoods reservation would really pursue them there? Especially with all the other vampires around who aren’t out in the open, the Quileutes don't think worthy of having peace with, and don’t have any scruples about using innocent people as feeding stock?

Besides, I think the closest thing we get to a real explanation for the Cullens not leaving is it would hurt Bella's feelings to just disappear on Charlie like that, and because she's so darn special, that's the end of the discussion.

7. The conversation turns nasty again when Bella says she plans to become a vampire anyway. Why is she telling him this even though he just said if the Cullens turned her, his pack would hunt them across the globe? Predictably Jacob starts to get mad when she mentions it’s probably just a matter of weeks.

Why is she willing to turn two groups she has friends among against each other in open warfare? “He’s seventeen, Jacob. And I get closer to nineteen every day. Besides, what’s the point in waiting? He’s all I want. What else can I do?” Oh, I see. Yeah, that sounds like the reasoning of somebody wise beyond their tender years, who’s put a lot of thought up against this. And who, sarcasm aside, has been in two whole relationships in her entire life.

“You’d be better off dead. I’d rather you were,” he says. “I recoiled like he’d slapped me.” Somebody should. Dumb bimbo.

8. Bella drives off in a huff, hoping she splatters mud on him, and ends up back at the Cullens where Alice is morosely looking over the car Edward got her, afraid he’ll take it back because Alice hasn’t been kidnapping Bella well enough. “I’ll stay if it makes things easier for you,” Bella conscientiously offers. Ah…fnck this entire series.

No, seriously, when Edward comes back “I didn’t care that I was supposed to be angry with him. I didn’t care that I was supposed to be angry with everyone.” That’s not being forgiving, that’s being a damn doormat.

Speaking of Edward coming back, Bella’s still in bed when he does and they start cuddling. They stop before they can get carried away, though, because he’d break her because he’s super-strong remember. Bella remarks the bed’s unnecessary. “If we’re not going to get carried away, what’s the point?” Yeah that sure sounds like a wise old soul and not somebody caught in the grip of hormones and the rush of their first crush, boy howdy.

“You’re not the only one who gets carried away,” he tells her. “Yes, I am,” she fires back. And, well, yeah. Kind of still waiting to see any substantial evidence at all of Edward’s lack of control when it comes to his desires. He can overreact like any boy his age, but as I once said I never believed being a vampmeyer was as hard as he says. Whereas Bella gets so carried away by her teenagerly hormones the only reason I know she’s supposed to be as mature as a 35-year-old at all is other characters say so.

9. Edward apologizes for the kidnapping thing then and promises not to do it again. He may feel sorry for it, but he still did it, and Alice still helped him. Accepted payment for it, even. Bella’s already forgiven him, of course. Because hey, Edward. He’s not mad at her for slipping through Alice’s fingers, either. He’s not even planning to take back the car. It was a gift, he claims. “His voice sounded as if I’d insulted him.” I’d be glad they’re not insisting they’re in love amidst all their bickering, but Bella really should be annoyed with him for dictating who she is and isn’t allowed to associate with, and especially for putting her under house arrest to make sure it happens that way.

About changing his mind about the kidnapping thing, “I decided that you were right. My problem before was more about my…prejudice against werewolves than anything else. I’m going to try to be more reasonable and trust your judgment. If you say it’s safe, then I’ll believe you.” It’s nice to see somebody trying to use their head for once, but we are after all talking about BELLA’s judgment. Which has yet to be shown to exist. And I know, is there no pleasing this guy, but this is another example of what would seem to be a fairly sizable problem (Edward loving Bella so much he feels justified in restricting her freedom if he thinks it's for her safety) going away with no real work or difficulty. You can’t do that. You can’t have a dramatic story when every problem ends up being a false alarm.

And he's still not overthinking problems. Please. This is just "I'm going to do whatever Bella wants because my only character trait is wanting to keep her safe and happy." 

Things don’t get any more sophisticated when she relays that mean old Jacob said he’d rather she was dead than a vampire, and that she thought Edward would be glad. “Glad over something that’s hurt you? I don’t think so, Bella.” Damn dude, have an emotion. You don’t have to like everything and everyone your girlfriend likes. This is why this relationship fails, because it’s between two mannequins who only recite prerecorded soppy lines.

10. More pointless conversation. Rosalie’s chat with Bella. “She gave you quite a lot to consider, didn’t she?” Like I noted then, it ends up mattering for naught. More time and effort well-spent, Steph.

Bella turns the conversation toward what she heard about Edward hanging around that group of all-female vampires, and even though he didn’t show preference for any of them, asks if any of them showed preference for him. She wonders who her “immortal rival I’d never realized I had” could be, but for someone to be a rival for another affections, wouldn’t the person they’re both interested in have to be interested in both of them, too? Because Edward certainly has the means to go to Alaska whenever he wants, but he doesn’t, he goes to her bedroom. Although I can believe she doesn’t notice that. Bella hasn’t got a rival, as interesting as that might have been, and once again I fail to see how this relationship is really so solid when she gets insecure despite all the evidence he’s as interested as she is.

And that’s pretty much where we go out, with Edward assuring his nervous nancy girlfriend that yes, for the 1,000,975th time, she’ll be the only one to ever have a hold on his heart. For some reason.

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