|Written by Douglas Wilson|
|Wednesday, 17 February 2010 16:22|
In chapter 13, Bella and Edward have their heart to heart talk, and all the misunderstandings are resolved. They manage to navigate their first kiss without anybody getting killed, which is a plus, I suppose. They understand each other pretty well by the end of this chapter, and if the sick and twisted set-up of this book were not apparent before, it is most certainly apparent now. As before, Bella is constantly off-guard. “It was hard to keep up—his sudden mood changes left me always a step behind, dazed” (p. 266). As already mentioned, this is a classic technique with those men who give wife-beater tee-shirts their name.
But the real thing that happens in this chapter is that Meyer is very plain about the loveliness of death—not because of resurrection and future glory, but because the descent into hell is apparently to follow the ways of the really beautiful people. Wisdom says that those who hate her love death (Prov. 8:36). The love of death is strong in this chapter of Twilight—must be the voice of that other woman in Proverbs.
“He’d never been less human . . . or more beautiful. Face ashen, eyes wide, I sat like a bird locked in the eyes of a snake” (p. 264).
“Common sense told me I should be terrified. Instead, I was relieved to finally understand. And I was filled with compassion for his suffering, even now, as he confessed his craving to take my life” (p. 272).
The twisted nature of this is one step beyond what we have already considered. We have already noted that Bella is attracted to someone who is deadly. Here we see her attracted to someone who could easily kill her at any moment, and that attraction is described as something altogether lovely.
This is the moment where Edward almost takes her life. Close call. Nevertheless, this human shaped viper is still vastly superior to those plebes and bumpkins back at the high school who don’t want to drink Bella’s blood. Down is up. His breath is “sweet, delicious” (p. 263). His skin “literally sparkled” (p. 260). He had a “sculpted, incandescent chest” (p. 260). His eyelids were “glistening, pale, lavender” (p. 260). Lavender? The meadow, where they were, “paled next to his magnificence” (p. 261). He was “too beautiful to be real” (p. 261). His voice, even when harsh, was “still more beautiful than any human voice” (p. 266).
Under the blood metaphor, and not too far under it either, everything about this scene is sexual. The tension is sexual. The forbidden fruit is sexual. But the consummation that Edward desperately yearns for is to kill Bella, and he resists the temptation—in much the same way a young Christian couple might resist the temptation to take a tumble together. But when sexual temptation of that kind is resisted—and the resultant tension is palpable, as here—the whole point of resisting is that a time is coming when the red light turns to green, and God tells the happy couple to go to it. The same thing should not be said about killing somebody by drinking all the blood out of her neck. So the whole set up here is kind of like a vampire abstinence program. But abstinence only works when the deferred good is a good, and so the implication is that death is . . . lovely.
In Scripture, death doesn’t have a sparkly, incandescent chest.