Friday, January 22, 2016

Life and Death: A Critical Analysis of Twilight, Reimagined, Chapters 6 and 7

Chapters 1-3

Chapters 4 and 5

Chapter 6: Scary Stories

Summary: Bella/Beau go with friends to La Push, the beach on the Quillayute Indian Reservation.  Bella/Beau meets Jacob/Jules, an old friend from childhood.  Jacob/Jules tells the story of the cold ones--vampires--who he/she says are the Cullens.  Jacob/Jules takes none of this seriously.

Analysis: This one starts out as a Find and Replace job.  It changes a bit when Bella/Beau get to La Push and meets with Jacob/Jules.  Bella is more manipulative (by her own admission) to get information out of Jacob, whereas Beau considers manipulation by flirting, but then just kind of asks like a normal person.  Bella flirts with Jacob, though she feels ridiculous doing it. Beau considers flirting with Jules, smoldering at her the way Edythe does to him, but realizes he might be a little out of his depth, and then just acts like himself instead. They both get the outcome they're looking for.  Meyer just lets Beau be more of a human being--more true to himself--than she allows Bella to be. For what it's worth, I think this has more to do with Meyer's own developing maturity as a writer than with the dichotomy between female and male.
Though this isn't a comparative difference, can we take a second to talk about why Bella/Beau are so clumsy?  I mean, I kind of get it--they're supposed to attract trouble or something like that.  And, also, clumsiness is a real easy way to make your character flawed, but not flawed in a way that would make them less attractive.  But Bella/Beau can't even make it on a small hike without falling repeatedly?  I don't want to be a buzzkill, but it might be time to make an appointment with a doctor to get that inner ear checked.

Chapter 7: Nightmare

Summary:  Bella/Beau is real upset about the vampire story Jacob/Jules tells, and has a nightmare where Jacob/Jules turns into a wolf (foreshadowing!) and Edward/Edythe appear as evil vampires.  Bella/Beau wakes up knowing what she/he has to do, but avoids the dreaded internet search as long as possible.  However, nothing can be put off forever, and then . . . there's a very tense google search.  Bella/Beau learns about vampire legends from around the world, then, feeling foolish for even searching, she/he takes off for a walk in the woods. This is where Bella realizes that whether or not Edward's a vampire, she's still pretty into him.  Beau realizes the same thing.  So, that's it, apparently.  Bella/Beau is cool with Edward/Edythe being a vampire.
The next day is sunny, and Edward/Edythe is not at school, much to Bella/Beau's dismay. Bella/Beau makes plans to go to Port Angeles with friends the following day.

Analysis: Actually, this chapter gets interesting pretty quick.  Okay, so, in Twilight, when Bella sees Edward emerging from the trees in her nightmare, she says that his skin glows and his eyes are "black and dangerous".  In Beau's nightmare, Edythe is apparently going to the Oscars:
She wore a black dress.  It hung all the way down to the the ground but exposed her arms to the shoulders (sleeveless?  does she mean sleeveless?) and had a deep-cut V for a neckline.  Her skin was faintly glowing, and her eyes were flat black. . . Her nails were filed into sharp points and painted a red so dark they were almost as black as her dress.  Her lips were the same color. (102)
So, why?  Why the big descriptions for Edythe, but nothing for Edward.  Would I, as the reader, have wondered how Edythe looked if only her eyes had been described?  Is this kind of dramatic dress more reasonable for a female.  Would it have just seemed silly to have Edward emerge from the darkness in a tux? (answer: yes).  I mean, the difference is there.  We have to acknowledge it.  Whether Meyer had something in mind or she was just having fun playing with the image, we have to acknowledge that it makes a statement--and leaves questions--about our expectations of a "dangerous" woman.
There's more.
Bella and Beau both get annoyed with the internet search, or, annoyed with themselves or whatever, and go for a walk in the woods.  Beau follows the path, and that's the end of it.  Bella, however, insists on mentioning how hopeless her sense of direction is, and how easily she can get lost.  She's forever reminding the reader how helpless she is.
Then, as Bella and Beau both consider their course of action is Edward/Edythe is, in fact, a vampire, Bella considers staying away from Edward.  She thinks that she'll " . . . tell him to leave me alone--and mean it" (my emphasis).  Because, though she's said it before, she didn't mean it that time.  But, if she says it again, Edward will somehow know that this time she does mean it (my shudder of horror).
Then, as Bella considers this option, she's " . . . gripped in a sudden agony of despair as I considered that alternative.  My mind rejected the pain, quickly skipping on the the next option."
Agony of despair?  Get a grip, Bella.
Beau--fortunate, fortunate Beau--also considers telling Edythe to leave him alone, "And it hurt--just the idea--more that it should.  More than I felt I could stand.  I switched gears, skipping on to the next option."
So, again, we have a more grounded Beau.  A protagonist less inclined to agonies of despair.  It hurts, and he says it hurts, but the language is more natural, and the character less hyperbolic.  Less ridiculous.  Less silly.  More human.  More relateable.
Lastly, Meyer appears intent portraying Bella as--what?  Poor, maybe?  Less fortunate?  I don't even know.  Maybe it's intended to throw Edward's economic privilege into sharp relief, but everything Bella owns is dust bowl-era threadbare, apparently: her shabby book, her ragged old quilt, her scruffy wallet.  What's the deal?
Anyway, Beau--though fictional--apparently benefits from Stephanie Meyer's post-Twilight affluence, because his belongings don't appear to have been handed down to him by a hobo passing through town.

Okay, next up . . . Port Angeles.  Someone almost gets assaulted!

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