Thursday, March 29, 2012

Eclipse Chapter 19 - Selfish

1. Admitting it doesn’t make this an exception, Steph.

2. Open on Bella waking up, and finding out she’s slept through most of the day following the monster training session. Edward was with her the whole time, of course, noting “You had a long night. You’d earned a day in bed.” I’m sorry for being so anal, but when I say I’ve had a long day, I mean it was busy or I had to put up with a lot. As usual, Bella just hung around and observed. I could even accept it as Edward being charitable to his girlfriend if not for the times the books have been willing to flat-out lie to me.

He tries to tell her she should’ve stayed home, and she fires back with “Right! And missed everything.” I know I praised Bella’s inclusion, but at the same time I have to point out the play-fighting session wasn’t what I was complaining about when I brought up how Bella’s never around for anything worth reading. Because that was some vampires play-fighting while some wolves watched.

Edward inspects the charm Jacob got her. “For a fleeting moment, I was afraid. Just the slightest twist of his fingers could crush it into splinters. But of course Edward wouldn’t do that.” Do I know that? After some of the things he has done?

“I tried to read the expression in his eyes. All I could see was thoughtfulness; he kept everything else hidden, if there was anything else.” Leave the jerky commentary to me, if you would please.

3. Edward points out that “Jacob Black can give you presents,” referring back to the birthday where Bella was almost killed, but more specifically to how she hadn’t wanted any presents from the Cullens. May I just point out that as with many of the gifts exchanged between the Cullens, those were just flashy baubles? The only gift that was  the least bit heartfelt were the plane tix to visit Bella’s mom.

Besides, the Cullens are fabulously wealthy, remember? Them giving someone a car as a present is the rough equivalent of a normal person giving flowers. Both in terms of price point and the relative lifespan of the gift.

Keep in mind I’m not saying Bella’s deep for preferring Jacob’s gift to the Cullens’. Not when the gift she really wants from Edward is eternal youth and superpowers.

“ ‘This bracelet.’ His finger trace a circle around my wrist. ‘You’ll be wearing this a lot?’ I shrugged. ‘Because you wouldn’t want to hurt his feelings,’ he suggested shrewdly.” That’s shrewd? Then again, in this moronic universe it probably is.

Edward inquires about giving her some token to help her think of him, but “You’re in every thought I have. I don’t need reminders.” I’m sorry, this blazing hot love they share comes across as so lifeless…

They talk for most of a page about the inequality of their relationship, meaning Edward’s the only one not allowed to give her presents because it’d upset her, with Bella replying that he’s given her him, which is “already more than I deserve.” You people are both nuts and your love’s still an informed attribute.

4. Alice calls then, telling Edward something, but “whatever she said didn’t surprise him.” Bella thinks the message was concerning her idea to let herself be used as bait when the newborns show up. “I want to help. I have to do something.” That’s a nice sentiment, but the problem is the author doesn’t seem to agree. And in any case that’s probably not the way the author wants us to want Bella helping.

Edward refuses, of course, but Bella tries to counter, “Jasper thinks it would. This is his area of expertise.” It’s like she’s talking about the time he nearly chomped her.

“ ‘You can’t keep me away,’ I threatened. ‘I’m not going to hide out in the forest while you take all the risks for me.’ ” That’s rich, but actually involving her in what’s going on WOULD be a big step forward. I simply can’t understand why that’s such a problem for these books. Well, I can, but knowing the answer makes it less tolerable.

As usual Bella’s wrong, though. Not just about getting involved in this battle, but in this case in regards to what Alice saw. “Alice doesn’t see you in the clearing, Bella. She sees you stumbling around lost in the woods. You won’t be able to find us; you’ll just make it more time consuming for me to find you afterward.” What does he care? He’s immortal.

She replies that if she talked to Seth Clearwater, who wants to be in on the battle too, she’d be able to convince him to take her to the battlefield. Why would he agree to take a powerless muggle like her to the site of a battle between superbeings? The wolves’ job is to protect people from vampires, not throw food straight to them. This allows Edward to retort that he’ll ask Sam to tell the other wolves not to let Bella near the battle, which allows Bella to retort that what’ll Sam do if she suggests using herself as bait? “I’ll bet Sam would rather do me a favor than you.” What favor? Letting her commit suicide in the name of “helping”? Again, the wolves are the protectors of the land and its people. Am I missing something? Or is Bella just an idiot after all?

To which Edward replies he could just say the same thing to Jacob, because he’s the second in command of the pack, and if he tells the wolves to do something they have to do it too. Like not let the girl he wants to go out with kill herself. And yeah, establishing that Jacob’s the beta-alpha was the only point of that exchange. And as usual, Bella’s the last person to find this out.

There’s another shocking revelation that one of the new werewolves is actually a girl, Leah Clearwater. Think of how effective that’d be if we knew who that was besides the sister of another minor character. Or cared. Not to mention where Edward says he’s not sure Leah deserves Bella’s sympathy, what with how she’s constantly bitching and none of them can shut her out what with their shared telepathy. That isn’t character development, Steph.

Some blather about imprinting follows, along with Edward comparing it to how he feels about Bella. And heritage of Quileute characters we hardly know. I’m sure Meyer thought this was all positively gripping, but…who the hell are these people she’s talking about?

5. Edward pontificates a little more on how fascinating he, as a telepath, finds the Quileutes’ ability to speak mind-to-mind, but this line of thought is both potentially enlightening and has nothing to do with Bella, and subsequently must be silenced.

She asks again to be allowed to attend the battle, is denied, and realizes she doesn’t want to be at the battle so much as she just wants to be wherever Edward is. Bella reminds Edward that she went crazy without him, and asks him to be with her while everyone else is fighting Victoria’s army.

I’d like to point out something nobody in the book thinks of, which is that when Edward left her in New Moon, she thought he hated her was never coming back. Here, he’d be leaving because the exact opposite is true on both counts. And he agrees, because making sure Bella doesn’t get upset’s more important then lending his aid to his family as they fight a pack of vampires at the peak of their strength and lowest depths of their restraint. If anything Bella’s devolving as a character.

I’d also like to stop and make fun of the review quotes on the back cover, particularly the New York Times review that claims “Meyer’s trilogy seethes with the archetypal tumult of star-crossed passions,” emphasis theirs. To make sure we have an understanding, “star-crossed lovers” is a saying you might have heard. Some people think it means the lovers are destined to be together, but in fact it means the exact opposite. That basically the heavens themselves seem to be trying to keep them apart. I’m frankly a little worried for the quality of the New York Times if it employs book critics who don’t know what “star-crossed lovers” means. Whoever wrote that can’t, not if Edward gets to ditch the battle to be with Bella.

Here’s the complete review, just so you don’t think I’m taking this one line out of context.

Bella does think this is “Cruel. Selfish, selfish, selfish!” and that she was “wishing I could take the words back. But knowing I probably wouldn’t. Not if it worked.” That would be nice character building if it were acknowledged a little more than in Bella’s thoughts. As it is, this is it. She reproaches herself, but the story bends over backwards to give her what she wants with no effort on her part, so it doesn’t count for anything. In fact the book takes a lot of space for Alice and Edward to assure her that insisting Edward sit this out to be with her won’t be a big deal and she needs to mellow out.

6. We’re given cause to doubt Edward’s intelligence again when Edward tells Bella not to worry about her wanting him to pick her or his family to help in this struggle. “You gave me two alternatives that you could live with, and I chose the one that I could live with. That how compromise is supposed to work.” Uh, no it isn’t. Compromise is about meeting in the middle so all parties are satisfied, not picking one of two options. That’s a normal decision. A decision to accommodate someone else, yeah, but I’m still pretty sure agreeing to one of the options they give you is a concession, not a compromise.

7. Alice comes over for dinner and Charlie mentions the party. “ ‘I’ll bet you’ve got one heck of a clean-up job ahead of you.’ Alice shrugged. Knowing her, it was already done.” Huh? What’s the basis for that thinking?

Anyway, the boys are off hiking, and Alice is at home by herself ALL WEEKEND. She mashes Bella’s toes and “I could tell she thought that I was very slow tonight” when our protagonist doesn’t get the hint. Charlie suggests Bella stay at the Cullens’ place until the boys get back, pulling emotionally devastated expressions to make it happen. So they’re still basically kidnapping her. And they’d be not kidnapping her if they just took the time to ask her to come up to their house for a while.

“With one easy conversation, Alice had cleared my schedule for the battle.” I complain about how uninvolved Bella is in the plot, but it’s not just her fault. There’s crap like this where the other characters decide and do things for her. “Edward returned not much later. He accepted Charlie’s wishes for a nice trip without surprise.” Probably because the Cullens came up with this plan ahead of time and, as usual, Bella was the last one to be brought in on it. Yay Cullens.

8. On the other hand, maybe the plan was formulated without Bella’s input because Alice actually isn’t going to hang out with her; Alice is going hunting before the fight too. It’s Edward she’s going to be hanging out with. I wouldn’t trust our mature protagonist to keep up a deception knowing that either.

9. The pair of idiots go up into the woods where Jasper and Emmett are already there, showing some more play-fighting to some of the wolves. Only Jacob and two guys you might remember being mentioned as his friends are there, though. Because of that shared minds thing, the entire pack doesn’t have to be there to watch vampires fight. Which Bella needs spelled out for her, of course. You know, she could come up with the theories and have Edward validate them. Then she’d get to look fairly intelligent and we’d get confirmation. She can still do that without being a “slayer.”

Bella panics again because she recognizes which wolf is which. “Friends who didn’t look nearly as indestructible as Emmett and Jasper did.” That isn’t character development, Steph.

Edward isn’t worried about his family, but “Edward’s confidence only applied to one set of my fears.” Meaning she’s worried about wolves dying. It’s been a long, long time since Bella freaking out like this was sympathetic and became just plain aggravating. She may know Quil and Embry as people, but we’ve hardly seen them since they got their powers too, and they’re just more of these “oorah! Let’s kill us some vampires!” action-seeking teens that make up the entire group now. No, I don’t care about them. These books’ cast is too big for the percentage I’m supposed to care about, with the amount of effort it puts into establishing them to make it work. People die in violent conflict, and this books are just that much worse to have Bella subject us to her all her whining about something that never happens.

10. Jacob conveys via Edward that there’s nothing to be worried about. “There’s plenty to be worried about,” Bella replies. “Like a bunch of really stupid wolves getting themselves hurt.” Over a stupid teenage girl.

11. “Aren’t you worried about Saturday at all?” Bella presses. Boy it’s great to have such nice neat deadlines like that. And lazy writing.

And it could be excused, too. Right now, I’m reading Jim Butcher’s Turn Coat for pleasure. Harry Dresden has about 48-hours to solve the mystery. That’s fine, because it means he’s racing the clock to avert disaster. Eclipse is just treading water until it crosses a forecasted line and it’s time for the next plot event to kick in.

12. Bella notices that when Jacob’s in his wolf form, it’s easier for her to think of him as her beloved “old” Jacob. The one who she doesn’t know wants to take things to things to the next level and doesn’t hate Edward for getting something with no effort he may never achieve with all the work he’s put in. Because to Bella, it seems like love is all about getting.

She wants Jacob a certain way, not the way he is. She gets so much from Edward, ultimately including power and immortality, but never appears to give anything in return. Sure, she talks about how she’s a middle-class human, but what about support? Faith? Not throwing away the chance he’s given her to live without threat of being eaten by his family (which conveniently goes away as soon as he’s back)?

Also, the wording: “the easy, effortless friendship that was as natural as breathing in and out”. Which, as I recall, was something she sometimes had trouble remembering to do.

“Odd that I should find that again here, when I’d thought this wolf thing was the cause of its loss.” Dear, Bella. You’re an idiot. Sincerely, starofjustice. It couldn’t possibly have anything to do with her throwing him over for a person who’s nothing but a tabula rasa aside from his controlling tendencies.

You know, a spectating narrator could be interesting. Granted, not when the books are this long, so full of inconsequence, and when the spectating narrator’s the center of anything and everything going on (or doesn’t).

13. To close out, I remember reading on Reasoning With Vampires that Meyer supposedly based the Cullens on superheroes. It’s a quote I can’t seem to find but would like to so I can work it in to an analysis. Does anyone reading happen to know where I can find that? Leave a comment or send me an email. Address is in the “What is this??” in the right sidebar.

In the meantime, I think I’ll go be grateful for the results of Fred Perry’s attempts to raise morale during Desert Storm some more. Until we meet again.


  1. Why can't she give something to the boys? All the presents are always for her. Don't they have birthdays or doesn't she ever feel like getting something nice to them? Her relationships with them both are so unequal. Trying to create a female female character, Meyer created a bland, useless teenager. Well done (!). I'm reading 18th century novels now and most of the female protagonists are interesting and able to do something to influence their lives and their lovers'. Even Pamela, a girl who can't tell a cow from a bull, gets what she wanted by herself. So, yeah, even such a lame character is better than Bella.

  2. "Also, the wording: 'the easy, effortless friendship that was as natural as breathing in and out'. Which, as I recall, was something she sometimes had trouble remembering to do."

    Simply this.

    I recall the entire contrast between "my Jacob" and the "new Jacob" becoming a large and growing point of aggravation during the end of the series. It's not that it is the largest act of selfishness Bella displays but it is the clearest evidence of just how psychotic Bella truly is without MacGuffins like immortality, eternal beauty, limitless wealth, and membership with an exclusive society to justify her actions.

    I would be inclined to nominate Jacob as the only character who experiences any kind of growth during the story. When the static Bella is confronted by a growing character, she is unable to accept the change in him and creates two versions of Jacob with one personality implied to be morally
    superior to the other.

    Bella's use of the possessive adjective is worse than simply being unable to like or accept Jacobs growth. She has taken splinter of Jacob's personality, developed it into an idealized person who always meets her expectations, and whines when reality does not match her fantasy. She even acts as if she is miffed that Jacob didn't consult her before changing his personalty as if it was hers to begin with.

    You hit the nail on the head when you mention, "Bella notices that when Jacob’s in his wolf form, it’s easier for her to think of him as her beloved 'old' Jacob." She prefers a Jacob that cannot speak and, therefore, cannot contradict her idealized view of him.

    My apologies for that wall of text ;-)