|Written by Douglas Wilson|
|Wednesday, 13 January 2010 10:54|
Chapter 11 of Twilight continues on with the smoldering eyes (p. 219) and silky voice (p. 227), and introduces a quasi-electrical current between Bella and Edward (p. 219). And the emotional hairpin turns (p. 223)—don’t forget the emotional hairpin turns. Different emotions jump from crag to crag like they were just so many agile mountain goats (p. 221). We could talk about all that some more, but let’s don’t.
Another theme in this book is the well-meaning and very nice impotence of fathers. Bella’s father is a guy named Charlie, a very nice chump and all-round placeholder. An upstream begetting instrument who was being, in the current crisis, a cipher. Bella says in this chapter, “it doesn’t help with the Charlie situation if an unexplained Volvo is left in the driveway” (p. 224). The Charlie situation. She actually has an Edward situation. She grimaces at Charlie’s questions about her plans for Saturday because she doesn’t want “to compose careful half-truths” (p. 226).
She muses, “It must be a hard thing, to be a father; living in fear that your daughter would meet a boy she liked, but also having to worry if she didn’t. How ghastly it would be, I thought, shuddering, if Charlie had even the slightest inkling of exactly what I did like” (p. 227). When Edward tells her that her father would be home soon, Bella responds, “‘Charlie!’ I suddenly recalled his existence, and sighed” (p. 232).
In sharp juxtaposition, Edward fills out this chapter by asking Bella intense and penetrating questions about her. He wants to know all about her, from the trivial to the profound. He wants to know everything, starting with her favorite color (p. 228). Because of his never-ending stream of questions,” Bella spilled it all. “I couldn’t remember the last time I’d talked so much” (p. 229).
She was on the periphery of Charlie’s existence, as he was on the periphery of hers. This is intolerable, because he is very kind to her. What is obviously needed is for her to be the center of Edward’s obsessions, even that central place will be her destruction. Edward tells her why it would be intolerable for her to be around when they were hunting, a time when these “animal-only” vampires “govern less with [their] minds” (p. 225). Edward says, “If you were anywhere near me when I lost control that way . . .” (p. 225).
So there you have it. A very nice father with no emotional energy at all. An ardent suitor, with emotional energy and to spare, but whose life exudes an ominous ticking. Gather round, young ladies, and learn how to make choices on the basis of false dichotomies.