|Written by Douglas Wilson|
|Monday, 01 March 2010 11:31|
One of the reasons that Twilight is popular with some evangelicals is, as I hear, the fact that there is an abstinence message. Edward and Bella don’t have sex until marriage, and we are so starved for the slightest hint of good cultural news that we greet this refrainage, let us call it, with loud whoops of joy. Edward and Bella don’t have sex until marriage. But they do sleep together, which happens in this chapter. Let us just call the flip side of what we are encouraging. Just as evangelicals want to discourage premarital sex, and use the message of this book to do it, so they must want to encourage the practice of . . . what to call it? . . . let us call it bundling with vampires.
That’s a problem, but the real problem with this chapter is that something which has been implicit so far in the book becomes explicit. And no, I don’t mean the “ruby-tinged sparkles” on Edward’s skin (p. 287). My concerns lie elsewhere.
When Bella and Edward make it back to her house, he asks if he can come in. Bella’s reaction is to compare him with the current owner of the house, her father. “I couldn’t picture it, this godlike creature sitting in my father’s shabby kitchen chair” (p. 292). But Edward does come in, and he does sit there. “He sat in the very chair I’d tried to picture him in. His beauty lit up the kitchen” (p. 293).
Her father, a decent man who doesn’t want to kill Bella, is insultingly contrasted with Edward the Beautiful, who does. When her father comes in a bit later, he “stepped on the heels of his boots to take them off, holding the back of Edward’s chair for support” (p. 295). Edward’s chair, is it? All Edward had to do to take Charlie’s chair from him is sit in it once. He gets the chair fair and square, because when he sat in it his beauty filled the kitchen. “Charlie sat in the chair, and the contrast between him and its former occupant was comical” (p. 295).
When Edward shows up in her bedroom later, Bella knows “I thought about having Edward in my room, with my father in the house” (p. 297).
Edward’s conversion to vampirism is described as salvation. “How did he . . . save you?” (p. 288). In Bella’s case, the salvation that beckons her is a salvation driven by despising her father. Just as Adam and Eve despised their Father in the garden, so she is being invited to do the same. Dishonor your father and mother, that your life may be snuffed and what’s left of you be ushered into the nether land which no one in particular is giving you. And the reward? You will be uncannily beautiful, just like Edward. When you get ruby-tinged sparkles in the skin, that is what I would call an extreme make-over.
Though the book makes it clear, it is plain that Bella does not know what is driving her. She thinks it is attraction to Edward, but more is happening than Edward drawing her. She is being repulsed by something . . . something that God tells us not to be repulsed by.