September 23, 2012

Twilight: Paint It, Jake

Twilight, pp. 114-122.

Well well well, my little droogies, the time is finally upon us, to meet the third piece of our sad, sick love triangle. But first, the set-up:

At least Mike was happy to see me.

"You came!" he called, delighted. "And I said it would be sunny today, didn't I?"

"I told you I was coming," I reminded him.

"We're just waiting for Lee and Samantha...unless you invited someone," Mike added.

"Nope," I lied lightly, hoping I wouldn't get caught in the lie. But also wishing that a miracle would occur and Edward would appear.

Mike looked satisfied.

"Will you ride in my car? It's that or Lee's mom's minivan."


He smiled blissfully[!]. It was so easy to make Mike happy.

"You can have shotgun," he promised. I hid my chagrin. It wasn't as simple to make Mike and Jessica happy at the same time. I could see Jessica glowering at us now.

So much wrong in so few lines. Then again, you could take any group of lines from this book and likely find a dozen things wrong with them. Of course we need to be constantly reminded that Mike is interested in Bella, as if we'd forgotten, since that's the only reason he's in the story. Okay, that's not fair, he's also here to be not-Edward in this first book, since the real not-Edward non-rival is still to be introduced (and doesn't become an alleged rival until the sequel). I especially like that Mike smiles "blissfully" that Bella will be riding in his car. I guess he's already assuming she'll be sitting next to him--and brother, if that isn't bliss, I don't know what is--though he's blissful before she's actually done this. Bella, ever concerned about others' feelings, squeezes Jessica between herself and Mike to placate her. We're supposed to think Bella's such a great friend that she's putting her own happiness second to that her two friends', but she doesn't want to sit next to Mike anyway! (You may notice there's a lot of "we're supposed to think, but" while reading this novel.) She wants someone else to talk to Mike so that she won't be bothered.

Notice that Mike expresses surprise that Bella showed up. As I said last week, I, too, am surprised. In fact, it's almost as if there's a hidden, omnipotent power manipulating events behind the scenes so that things happen even if they're not consistent with anything we've seen before. What's laughable is Bella's reminder that, "I told you I was coming." Is Meyer really this blind to her fauxtagonist's actions? Bella's word isn't worth anything! She lies frequently and well. I wouldn't trust her to take my order at Denny's.

The funniest part is how easy Bella is to predict. Mike's "unless you invited someone" is the last sentence on the page. As I was turning the page, I knew Bella was going to lie, and sure enough, she does (lightly, whatever that means). Anybody remember way back on page 65?

"It matters to me," I insisted. "I don't like to lie--so there'd better be a good reason why I'm doing it."

Do a search on this blog for "lie" or "lying". Click the tag at the end of this post labelled "lying". You'll come up with a half-dozen times Bella has lied in the, what, three days that have passed in this story so far? (Yes, weeks have passed off-screen, but I'm pretty sure we've only spent three or four days in the company of the characters.) And that's only the times I've mentioned it. I'm sure I've skipped over a few of the more minor lies. For someone who doesn't like to lie, she certainly does it readily, easily, and often, so much so that when this opportunity to tell a lie came up, there wasn't a question in my mind that she would take it.

Oh, and if you remembered that Bella told her "I don't like to lie" lie in reference to something that wasn't even a lie, give yourself a cookie.

Once at the beach, a few of the kids (one of whom is Mike) decide to go hiking. Bella makes the decision to go based on who she most wants to avoid (in this case Lauren, Tyler and Eric, who've decided to stay on the beach), and she gets "a huge smile" from Mike, of course, for choosing his group. (Poor bastard.) She's completely enthralled during the hike by all the wonderful sights and sounds and "wonder[ing] what Edward was doing now, and trying to imagine what he would be saying if he were here with me". When they get back to the beach, some kids from the Indian reservation are there chatting up the ones who stayed behind. We know which one of them matters because he gets a name, Jacob Black. Jacob, being a male, is instantly smitten with Our Bella, "looking at me appreciatively in a way I was learning to recognise". Remember when I talked about how Bella is alternately too jaded and too naive to be 17? Here's an example of the naive part. "Learning to recognise"? This is something I imagine most girls in the Empire start to get a handle on around age 12. Bella grew up in Phoenix, not the backwoods of Appalachia. How could she possibly have reached 17 without recognising boys' interest in her? Answer: Because Meyer, despite having been a 17-year-old girl who grew up in Phoenix, is such a terrible writer that she's less able to write a convincing 17-year-old girl who grew up in Phoenix than I am.

Lauren, of course, notices this and is (wait for it) jealous of Bella. With her "pale, fishy eyes" and "insolent tone", she's really interested in this boy who "just turned fifteen", but of course, every boy only has eyes for Bella. One of the other boys--this one doesn't get a name--says "The Cullens don't come here" when Lauren mentions Edward for no reason. Now the film more or less leaves it at that. It simply has Jacob and Bella walk on the beach with Jake expositing that the Cullens aren't allowed on the reservation and in exchange the Indians aren't allowed to--uh, go to their house, I guess. The novel, however, has Jacob straight up tell Bella that the Indians are werewolves and the Cullens are vampires. Now the film's way of handling Bella's discovery that Edward is a vampire isn't exactly brilliant; she basically does a Google search and concludes vampirism is the only possible explanation for Edward's pale skin and avoidance of the sun. (I guess her search didn't turn up "emo kid".) But it still beats the novel's having Jacob flat out tell her. I mean, a Google search isn't overly exciting, but at least Bella found out on her own. Here, even that tiny sliver of agency is absent, because she doesn't have to do anything but listen to Jacob tell her.

Wait, no, that's not quite true. She does do something: She uses her sexuality to manipulate Jacob into doing something for her. Get used to it, as it won't be the last time she does this to him. Again, this isn't my analysis. She tells us that's what she's doing.

I was still turning over the brief comment on the Cullens, and I had a sudden inspiration. It was a stupid plan, but I didn't have any better ideas. I hoped that young Jacob was as yet inexperienced around girls, so that he couldn't see through my sure-to-be-pitiful attempts at flirting.

Again, Bella is allegedly a 17-year-old girl who went to public school in a major urban area, yet we're to believe she has no experience flirting with boys. I'm going to quote these "pitiful attempts" with Jacob's part removed. Here's some raw Bella action for you:

"So you're, what, sixteen?" I asked, trying not to look like an idiot as I fluttered my eyelids the way I'd seen girls do on TV[!].

"Really?" My face was full of false surprise. "I would have thought you were older."

"Do you come up to Forks much?" I asked archly, as if I was hoping for a yes. I sounded idiotic to myself, afraid he would turn on me with disgust and accuse me of my fraud, but he still seemed flattered.

I purposefully lumped myself in with the youngsters, trying to make it clear that I preferred Jacob.

"Oh, I won't tell anyone, I'm just curious." I tried to make my smile alluring...

"I love them," I enthused, making an effort to smolder at him.

I focused on keeping the vital interest I felt out of my eyes.

Our Bella, she doesn't like to lie. Nope. There'd better be a good reason why she's doing it.


  1. The way I see it, Bella was lying again when she said "learning to recognise" and the small minded writer, I mean author wanted to see if you caught that one. Yes, it's amazing how a girl can play so needy and stupid and boys fall all over it. I also would think boys would learn to recognise! But then what would the author have to say. bella was correct to search google for everyone KNOWS it has to be true if it's on the internet.

  2. That first conversation sounds like a typical, self-centered teenage girl to me... ;)