As far as: Page 84
You know what’s hard? Trying to hide what you’re reading in a very public place (i.e., an airport). Will I ever see these people again? Doubtful. Do I want their only impression of me to be me reading Twilight? Well…frankly, no. But my hair is a mess and I forgot to put on my deodorant this morning, so frankly, I’m not going to make a good impression on anybody. But I take pride in what books I’m reading at the airport. I often pull out my prized Norton critical editions. This time I was SO pretentious I packed L’Étranger–THAT’S RIGHT. The Stranger in the ORIGINAL FRENCH. Beat that.
OH MY GOD. I literally JUST heard an announcement over the intercom: “Mr. So-and-So, you left your book at your seat, The Adventures of Huck Finn. Please come and get it.” The horror, the horror… “Esther Summerson, you left your book Twilight in your seat. Please come and collect your vampires.” If only they could see the pretentious Cave of Wonders that is my carry-on…but alas.
I’ve finally met the cold-blooded Cullen himself. Edward is a powerful creature, but his allure up until at least about page seventy is simply that he’s a huge jerk. He saves Bella from getting killed and when she asks him why he did so, he says he doesn’t know why. Classy. And by “classy,” I mean “quasi-abusive.” Seriously. I read a lot of advice columns as a child, and my Dear Abby sense is tingling: “Dear Abby, My boyfriend regularly hits me and says I don’t deserve to live, but then he apologizes and says he loves me. But then he hits me again the next time he gets mad.” I swear as soon as Edward sparkles onto the scene, our Bella becomes a lot more self-deprecating. Also, knowing what I know about Twilight, Edward is hella old—there’s no way he doesn’t realize that his coldness is like catnip to the emotionally vulnerable. Hard to get is the oldest game around—and he’s one of the oldest teenagers around, so he should know.
As awful as I found Bella’s bizarre bragging at the beginning, this shift to her calling herself “pitiful” and “pathetic” is really tiring—and in fact, takes all the fun out of thinking these things about her myself. Trust me, as a young woman I have had more than my fair share of self-esteem issues, many of which I have pretended to solve by tearing other people down. Actually, I used to use self-deprecation to neutralize personal attacks made upon me, so I can sort of understand what Bella is doing, but at this point in my life I recognize it as incredibly unhealthy. “Dear Diary, Today I thought about Edward all the time even though I’m stupid and my thoughts are stupid and my feelings are stupid, too, and I don’t deserve him.”
It is really hard to see (note I didn’t write “experience”–someone needs to take a creative writing class) this character doing damage to herself—and so innocuously with a flippant “I know it’s stupid”—over a someone who treats her so poorly. Does he always treat her poorly? For many of their initial interactions, yes; in the future, presumably not as much. (First impressions are important—remember Pride & Prejudice?) I guess I will always compare their future together to this frigid introduction, painting Edward thus far as someone not to be trusted, someone for whom goodness occurs on a whim. And frankly, I think her self-deprecation will make it much harder for me to buy this apparent “true love” business I keep hearing about between Bella and Edward. I will totes rethink this assessment if he apologizes for being such a dick.
….Okay, like two pages after I wrote that, I got something like an apology. “I’m sorry for being rude—but stay away from me. I’m dangerous. You should stay away. Let’s go on a road-trip date.” Catnip.
But I have to say, since he is perfect and intelligent, Bella’s conversation with him actually reveals her sense of sarcasm and some degree of intelligence, I guess. She can banter with Ed-wizzle, or hold her own against his super-intelligence, although their banter reads like some sort of middle schooler’s short story. (On a side note, is his intelligence any different from hers? In other words, if you’ve been a junior in high school for decades, how much did you really learn vs. how much you just keep repeating?)
Additional note: It took me more than one reading to figure out what exactly happened when the van nearly killed Bella—poor writing or poor visualization skills?
“‘[The bio lab] was awful,’ [Mike] groaned. ‘They all looked exactly the same. You’re lucky you had Cullen for a partner.’ […] ‘I didn’t have any trouble with it,’ I said, stung by his assumption. I regretted the snub instantly. ‘I’ve done the lab before, though,’ I added before he could get his feelings hurt” (51). Smarter than a BOY?! You were right to redact it! Oh, wait…this just means you have a good memory, not that you’re good at science. Dodged a bullet there! Wouldn’t want to be smarter than a boy.
“I should be avoiding [Edward Cullen] entirely after my brainless and embarrassing babbling yesterday. And I was suspicious of him; why should he lie about his eyes? I was still frightened of the hostility I sometimes felt emanating from his perfect face. I was well aware that my league and his league were spheres that did not touch. So I shouldn’t be at all anxious to see him today” (53). Reach for the stars, Bella! Let’s see…He makes you (in this order) feel bad about yourself, he makes you distrust him, he frightens you, he makes you feel like you’re a second class human being…and YOU STILL WANT TO CLIMB INTO THE BACKSEAT OF THAT VOLVO DON’T YOU FEEL REALLY BAD NOW IT IS A FOREIGN CAR LIKE JERKS DRIVE.