Twilight, pp. 11-18
This week, we'll cover the last bit of boring introductory stuff before the real meat of the story. Next week, the vampire imposters (or vamposters, as I like to call them) will make their first appearance, and then things really get bad.
Until then, though, we're stuck with Bella's first day at school, which means it's still tolerable. Nevertheless, there are a few hints of things to come.
Bella is looking around the house after her father has left for work, police work being "his wife and family". There's so much policing to do in Forks that it consumes his life, eh? It's true that he must be married to his job, since a lover is nowhere in evidence--but I'm getting ahead of myself.
Over the small fireplace in the adjoining handkerchief-sized family room was a row of pictures. First a wedding picture of Charlie and my mom in Las Vegas, then one of the three of us in the hospital after I was born...It was impossible, being in this house, not to realize that Charlie had never gotten over my mom. It made me uncomfortable.
It would make me a bit more than that. It would, in fact, make me check to make sure ol' Charlie doesn't have Mom's phone number or address. This is creepy, folks. Remember that Bella's parents divorced almost fifteen years ago. I think the time to move on went by a long time ago. It's one thing to still carry a torch for someone in a way that peeks out now and again (like, say when a special song comes on the radio or you pass a place that held significance), but it's quite another to still have pictures of your ex-wife on the mantle. The photo that also has Bella in it is understandable. The wedding photo is not. Charlie doesn't appear to have anyone in his life, nor is there any indication that he ever has. (And really, how could it be otherwise with his house like that? Imagine any woman entering a house full of pictures of an ex-wife not quickly turning around and never coming back.)
No, he has lived alone in the marital home surrounded by wedding photos of the woman who took his daughter and walked out on him fifteen years ago.
Five. Star. Creepy. Bella's actions later in the book are starting to make more sense, since mental illness seems to run in the family. (As we'll see, Mom isn't exactly wrapped too tightly, either.) At least Bella isn't the only one with abandonment issues.
Bella gets to school and immediately takes stock of the monetary value of the other students' cars. She's relieved to find that "[t]he nicest car here was a shiny new Volvo", so she will be safely ensconced in a school environment bereft of class conflict. Whew, I know that's what I was worried about on my first day at a new high school, let me tell you.
However, her knowledge that she won't be looked down on by yuppies isn't enough to assuage Bella's fears, since she then has to deal with people being friendly to her. Oh, the horror, the horror. A boy seated near her introduces himself.
"Where's your next class?" he asked.
I had to check my bag. "Um, Government, with Jefferson, in building six."
"I'm headed toward building four, I could show you the way..." Definitely over-helpful [sic]. "I'm Eric," he added.
The nerve of some people, trying to "help" a stranger by going out of his way to make a difficult transition easier. Bella should talk to school administration about this inhumane treatment.
Bella responds with sarcasm, which her oppressor doesn't get because he's a hick country boy and totally not because her remark was so full of unfunny it sold out a Dane Cook show.
"So this is a lot different than Phoenix, huh?" he asked.
"It doesn't rain much there, does it?"
"Three or four times a year."
"Wow, what must that be like?" he wondered.
"You don't look very tan."
"My mother is part albino."
He studied my face apprehensively, and I sighed. It looked like clouds and a sense of humor didn't mix. A few months of this and I'd forget how to use sarcasm.
Ha, small-town rubes can't use sarcasm! Oh wait, no, Bella's just a bitch. Sure, the boy's attempts at conversation are inane, but what's he supposed to ask her about? She doesn't give him anything to work with. She answers his questions with flat declarations, not bothering to elaborate even when given an obvious opening (Eric's hilariously unnatural "What must that be like?") Look, if you don't want to talk to Mr. Over[ly]-helpful, say so. Watch, I can think of how to do it off the top of my head.
"I'm headed toward building four, I could show you the way..."
"Oh no, you don't have to do that. I'm trying to find my own way around, you know, to get used to it."
That took me all of one second to think of, and I'm not exactly socially adept. But Bella says, "Thanks" and accepts the help, only she doesn't want to give anything back, even the courtesy of conversation. She does it, but she doesn't conceal her resentment at having to so. She responds with either the minimum required response ("Very", "Three or four times per year") or inappropriate sarcasm. Oh, and a mocking sigh when her sarcasm isn't appreciated.
Hey, Bella. Maybe he did get your sarcasm and looked at you like that because it was rude.
Anyhow, let's wrap this up. Bella goes through two more classes in which "mostly I just lied a lot" and then meets the girl who will soon become her best galpal in Forks, Jessica. After a brief physical description of Jessica, she talks to Bella.
I couldn't remember her name, so I smiled and nodded as she prattled about teachers and classes. I didn't try to keep up.
We sat at the end of a full table with several of her friends, who [sic] she introduced to me. I forgot all their names as soon as she spoke them.
That's our Bella. She pretends to listen when she isn't and doesn't remember the names of any of the people she's talking to. Jessica is so special that Bella will forget her name again on the next page.
I really don't know what Meyer is trying to accomplish here. There was a time, reading this book, that I thought Twilight was a brave and unflinching look into the mind of the victim of an emotionally abusive relationship. (No, really. It can be read that way, and taken that way it's a disturbing piece of writing that gets under your skin.) But once I got to about the midway point, I realized Meyer is apparently unaware of how thoroughly unlikable her characters are--self-absorbed and emotionally stunted or manipulative. It's a truly amazing feat of ignorance, considering how obvious it is in this section here. Bella reacts to a simple act of kindness by taking advantage of it and then putting down the person who offered it, ignores another person who attempts to help her integrate into the school's community, and can't be bothered to learn anyone's name.
Excuse me, sir, my protagonist seems to be broken. I'd like to exchange her for a new one.
We're soon to get a new protagonist, Oh My Brothers, and he'll sharpen you up and make you ready for a bit of the old Ultra-Violence.