Previous entries can be found in the directory.
Chapter 4 (cont'd): Nature
Bella goes to work at Newton's and for some reason we get a lengthy introduction to Mike's mom. She's “the last person I'd think to ask for help in a sports equipment store,” Bella says, because she has, for instance, fingernails “polished by professionals.” She's in the middle of a conversation with Mike, telling him he can't go to Seattle with Tyler (strip club trip, probably) because of the murder spree going on up there. So where does she go to get her nails done? But the whole page and a half ends up feeling like a distraction because Bella is immediately informed that business is slow today so she can go home. Is business ever not slow? Why do I find it hard to believe that Newton's makes a lot of money? A lot of hikers come to Forks, you say – I'm sure that brings in lots, knowing as we do how hikers are such avid consumers.
As Bella leaves, Mrs. Newton asks her to throw a stack of flyers in the dumpster for her. On her way back out to the truck, the image on the front of the flyer catches Bella's eye. It's a campaign to “Save The Olympic Wolf,” and Bella over-identifies with what sounds like a goofy sketch of a sad wolf, “howling in grief.” (Now I'm howling in grief.) That Three Wolf Moon shirt would totally work on Bella. She makes a snap decision to visit Jacob - recall that Edward is away on a hunting trip. Somewhere, too far away, Alice just looked up and went “FUCK!” Bella realizes that if she moves fast enough, the Cullens won't be able to stop her. A couple of lively paragraphs evoke the urgency of the trip rather well; I found my eyes moving across the page very quickly, which is one of those things that's so tricky it's probably more luck than anything else. Short words and iambic pentameter probably help, but the rest of it is voodoo. But S. Meyer ruins the goodwill she just earned by slipping into present tense YET AGAIN, TWICE ON ONE PAGE. “As long as I moved fast enough, I should be able to capitalize on it,” Bella says. A few lines later, she concludes, “This must be beyond where Alice was allowed to follow.” Set that off in italics or something, at least, S. Meyer!
She pulls into Jacob's driveway and he's out the front door before she's out of the car. Somewhat appealingly, he greets her with unreserved enthusiasm. It's nice to see Jacob behaving like he did before he got all grim and rape-y, even if it doesn't totally make sense he would suddenly be this way again. Bella's circumstances are obviously totally different now, too. S. Meyer is sort of suggesting to us that around Jacob, Bella reverts back a few years in maturity level. (That is basically exactly what happened in my freshman dorm room. Instead of going out and trying to meet girls, my three roommates and I played a lot of Goldeneye on the Nintendo 64, which eventually expanded into playing “Goldeneye” in AOL chat when we should have been studying at the library - “Zac entered the chat.” “Sam: No you didn't because I left a proximity mine in the doorway of the chatroom and blew you up.” - which itself expanded into a real-world Goldeneye game we would play on the fifth floor of the library, where we'd crouch behind bookshelves and shoot at each other with imaginary guns or wait until someone went to the bathroom and then we'd leave a paper proximity mine on the floor on the way out. I was nineteen. We also used to play a great game called “cliffhanger” where one of us would hang off of a lofted bed by one arm and everyone else would try to pull that person up. It sounds stupid, but seriously, it was so much fun.) Bella doesn't strike me as the kind of girl who ever went through a “burning ants with a magnifying glass” phase – old soul, remember? – but maybe Jacob brings out the inner-child Bella never had or something. I don't know, why am I writing this book for S. Meyer? But Bella feels like someone who might “do something really stupid for no good reason.” I'll take that over someone who does really stupid things for the purpose of doing seeming intentional damage to her personal-and-inner life.
They catch up and it's kind of nice, but Jacob eventually brings up Edward, and the fact that they are together again. “You forgave him for all of that?” Jacob asks.
I took a deep breath. “There was nothing to forgive.”
I know that's supposed to be like, a Great Romances kind of a line, but it's a little more Great Co-Dependent Abusive Relationships kind of a line, you know? Why was there nothing to forgive? Jacob brings up the way Bella looked that first night Sam Uley dragged her ass out of the woods. “It would be exhibit A.”
“Nobody's on trial.”
“Maybe somebody should be.”
Atta boy, Jacob! Regretably, they don't keep up the court rhetoric any longer (“Objection!” I shouted.) But Bella tells Jacob Edward's real reason for leaving – he wanted her to stay away from the vampires – and Jacob is taken a bit aback. I like that S. Meyer keeps giving us these moments where Jacob or Edward realize that the other guy is not necessarily the worst guy in the world. I mean, they are two of the worst guys in the world, don't get me wrong. But relative to each other, they're not. Think of this as like, when two super-villains are thinking about joining forces. “Maybe this other guy is good at trying to kill Batman, too!”
Bella recounts the end of New Moon for Jacob, who was not around. The only kind of funny part is that Jacob refers to Alice as “the fortune-telling bloodsucker.” But after she's finished she gets Jacob to tell her about the incident involving Emmett that took place while she was in Florida. Jacob basically tells a longer version of the exact some story Edward did – and when Bella tells him as much he again seems surprised, like he has to keep re-adjusting his expectations of Edward. Welcome to the club, Jacob, we've been at this for three books!
Jacob says at one point the Cullens chased Victoria back to where the wolves had once been. “Would have been the perfect ambush if we'd known where to wait,” he says. So you're saying if the vampires and werewolves had learned to work together, they could have accomplished something? Well, I'm sure that's never going to happen. There's an irritating section where Jacob keeps trying to describe members of the Cullen family and Bella keeps interrupting him with their names, as if we don't know them already.
“Then their leader and the other blond male –”
“Carlisle and Jasper.”
He gave me an exasperated look. “You know I don't really care.”
THANK YOU, Jacob. But of course, nothing about this book can hold my goodwill for very long. Jacob starts in talking about how if Alice had never seen Bella's swan (get it?) dive off the cliff, none of the Cullens would have ever come back and he'd probably be getting BJs on the reg from Bella by now. Well, that's not exactly what he says. He also says Sam Uley is mad at her for getting back together with Edward.
Jacob's eyes flashed up to mine. “He thought you were the one person in the wold with as much reason to hate the Cullens as he does. Sam feels sort of... betrayed that you would let them back into your life like they never hurt you.”
So basically Sam is mad at Bella for doing exactly what Emily did. I'm willing to see this as a genuine character note and not S. Meyer's mistake. Like in Sam Uley's weird brain, staying with Edward is like Bella is repeating Sam's own mistakes, which, perversely, makes being with Jacob the right decision. I can see a coherent, sociopathic ideology forming in Sam Uley.
“A man's gotta have a code.”-Omar
Then Jacob, like Edward before him, gets philosophical. Oy gevalt.
“You see it everywhere,” Jacob said, his voice suddenly distant. “Nature taking its course – hunter and prey, the endless cycle of life and death.”
I'm already picking up weird echoes of Edward's Intelligent Design speech that sets up the Lion & Lamb, Smiths-song passage of Twilight. But Jacob takes it another way. They watch an eagle pull a fish about of the water.
“And yet, you don't see the fish trying to plant a kiss on the eagle. You never see that.” He grinned a mocking grin.
I can think of about a million things Bella could have said to shut Jacob up right then and there.
“But that eagle gives unbelievable oral.”
But instead she suggests that the fish was trying. “I mean, sometimes Edward has me tied up in the dungeon and I really want a kiss, but usually I'm blindfolded.” Jacob says he can't understand how they can love each other – he advises her instead to “look within your own species.” Oh boy. I like the arrogant portrait of Jacob painted here – he doesn't see this as the pot calling the kettle an unnatural freak. I'm reminded for some reason of that Dave Chappelle sketch about the black KKK member. (Is there a more compelling cultural figure of the aughts than D. Chappelle, by the way? He starts a wildly successful comedy show, and is so bothered by white frat guys shouting 'I'm Rick James, bitch' that he quite literally goes crazy and disappears. There's something both tragic and admirable about that. Dave Chappelle is a modern Brutus.) Again, it's still hard to know how much S. Meyer understands and how much is accidental moral ambiguity. Our author is still not Jenji Kohan or even Mattew Weiner, you know? But it feels like maybe she's starting to become self-aware. Not to give too much away, but how much S. Meyer understands about what she's writing is about to become really important again.
Anyway, Bella points out that he is as much a freak as the Cullens. (“Nobody is as much of a freak as me.”-Alice Cullen) He keeps maintaining that it's “not the same.” And then it gets really gay-parallel-y.
“They shouldn't exist. Their existence goes against nature.”
This coming from the werewolf, Twilight's own Ted Haggard all of the sudden. “What I am was born in me. It's a part of who I am, who my family is.” This kind of blindness is maddening and becoming more and more prevalent in real life – "with me it's different" - I don't need it invading Twilight, too. Bella doesn't harshly dismiss him like she really, really should. When he points out that he is still human and holds her hand to his chest to feel his heartbeat, she melts. If Bella was being courted by any guys with even a modicum of skill, she'd have fucked them a long time ago.
“Oh Jacob,” I whispered, reaching for his hand.
She says Jacob is in pain, and she doesn't know how to help him, “but I knew I had to try.”
Jacob had become a part of me, and there was no changing that now.
So she takes off her pants. Just kidding.