“'He jumped from great heights,' Edward told me, his voice impassive. 'He tried to drown himself in the ocean…but he was young to the new life, and very strong. It is amazing that he was able to resist…feeding…while he was still so new. The instinct is more powerful then, it takes over everything. But he was so repelled by himself that he had the strength to try to kill himself with starvation.'”
This passage highlights the theme of self-control. Edward is describing Carlisle’s transformation into a vampire. He was so horrified by the monster he’d become that he tried to kill himself, over and over, rather than hunt and kill humans. This suicide is impossible, however, so Carlisle instead starves himself.
This, Edward makes clear, is virtually impossible, especially because Carlisle was a new vampire and had no one to help him. He realizes that he can hunt animals instead, however, and because of this, he never has to kill a human. Moreover, he never is truly tempted to do so, even when he lives among vampires who do it regularly, and they mock him for his abstinence. Carlisle is thus the epitome of self-control, of overcoming one’s most base desires through the power of one's mind.
“And I knew in that I had my answer. I didn’t know if there ever was a choice, really. I was already in too deep. Now that I knew—if I knew—I could do nothing about my frightening secret. Because when I thought of him, of his voice, his hypnotic eyes, the magnetic force of his personality, I wanted nothing more than to be with him right now.”
This passage shows the moment that Bella makes the decision that vampire or not, monster or not, she is not going to let the circumstances keep her from Edward. Unlike Carlisle, who can mentally overcome his strongest instincts, Bella cannot overcome her attraction to Edward, no matter how unnatural or dangerous.
The power of this attraction is clear in the way she describes him—she uses the words "hypnotic" and "magnetic" to describe his eyes, his personality, expressing that the power is strong enough for her self-control to become irrelevant. Notably, she suggests that there never was really a choice—she has given in so completely to her desires that she cannot even see an alternative.
“I glared at him. ‘I may not die now…but I’m going to die sometime. Every minute of the day, I get closer. And I’m going to get old.’
He frowned as what I was saying sunk in, pressing his long fingers to his temples and closing his eyes. ‘That’s how it’s supposed to happen. How it should happen. How it would have happened if I didn’t exist – and I shouldn’t exist.’”
This passage is the first time in the novel that Bella and Edward discuss the second of their two major issues. The first and most important is that Edward feels a profound desire to drink Bella’s blood, and even with that, he is so much stronger than she is that he could easily kill her, simply by accident.
The second issue, however, is that Edward is immortal; Bella will age and die while Edward remains physically seventeen. Edward does not want to deal with this issue because it would mean Bella sacrificing her humanity, her life, her family, although it would mean they could be together forever. Bella, on the other hand, feels the pressure of the future coming quickly. She knows that she is aging while Edward remains the same, and she cannot stand the idea of having only years with him when they could have forever.
“I sat without moving, more frightened of him than I had ever been. I’d never seen him so completely freed of that carefully cultivated façade. 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.”
This is one of the few passages where we see the true, natural relationship between Bella and Edward. Here, Edward is the most beautiful Bella has ever seen him, because he is not hiding any part of himself from her. But this “true” self is that of a predator—he is the snake, and she is the bird, his prey.
Bella is more frightened of him here than she ever has been, yet she makes no move to try to escape, and her love is not in any way diminished, although she sees him as the predator he truly is. Here, then, it is clear that Bella’s love for him does not rely on self-delusion or denial—she can see him in his true form and still love him enough to risk her life to be near him.
“It was foggy and dark outside my window, absolutely perfect.”
This short and seemingly simple sentence represents a transformation in Bella. From the first chapter, Bella defines herself by her love of the sun and her hatred for the cold and the rain—Forks is presented as a prison sentence, not because of its small size but because of its gloomy weather.
Yet in this sentence, Bella describes the “foggy” and “dark” weather, usually two of her least favorite conditions, as “absolutely perfect.” Her love for Edward has changed the way she sees the world—bad weather means he’ll be in school, so it has become perfect weather to her. This represents Bella’s perspective on Edward generally—although he would be considered by most, and even himself, as a kind of monster, Bella’s love makes this point irrelevant. He is perfect to her.
“I didn’t relate well to people my age. Maybe the truth was that I didn’t relate well to people, period. Even my mother, who I was closer to than anyone else on the planet, was never in harmony with me, never on exactly the same page. Sometimes I wondered if I was seeing the same things through my eyes that the rest of the world was seeing through theirs. Maybe there was a glitch in my brain.”
This passage emphasizes how disjointed from the world Bella feels until she meets Edward. He shows her that there is some kind of glitch in her brain that makes her different—this is how he explains not being able to read her mind. He also provides for her the comfort of feeling completely in sync with someone else. These are common feelings for people Bella's age, feeling clumsy and out of place, yet feeling deeply close to one or a few others who also seem or feel uniquely unsuited to the regular world.
This helps to explain why she is willing to give up everyone and everything to become a vampire so that she can be with Edward forever. She does not feel fully connected to the rest of the world, only to Edward, so the sacrifice would, after all, not be as great as otherwise (or at least, so she believes).
“I knew that if I’d never gone to Forks, I wouldn’t be facing death now. But, terrified as I was, I couldn’t bring myself to regret the decision. When life offers you a dream so far beyond any of your expectations, it’s not reasonable to grieve when it comes to an end.”
This passage, like many others, underscores Bella’s complete commitment to Edward. Although in this scene she is sure she is going to die, she cannot regret the decision that ultimately led her here, because it is also what brought her to Edward. In fact, she seems more afraid of the prospect of her dream life with Edward coming to an end than she does of her actual death.
This passage seems to highlight a dichotomy between living normally and living passionately—Bella would rather live briefly and passionately than have a long life without the overwhelming emotions that Edward brings to her. (This theme in literature goes all the way back to Homer's Iliad in the figure of Achilles.) Although her love for him is always dangerous—not just as she faces death from James—the danger seems like a necessary corollary of the intensity of their emotions.
“I tried to describe impossible things like the scent of creosote – bitter, slightly resinous, but still pleasant – the high, keening sound of the cicadas in July, the feathery barrenness of the trees, the very size of the sky, extending white-blue from horizon to horizon, barely interrupted by the low mountains covered with purple volcanic rock. The hardest thing to explain was why it was so beautiful to me – to justify a beauty that didn’t depend on the sparse, spiny vegetation that often looked half dead, a beauty that had more to do with the exposed shape of the land, with the shallow bowls of valleys between the craggy hills, and the way they held on to the sun. I found myself using my hands as I tried to describe it to him.”
This passage describes Bella’s love of the desert—it isn’t just the heat, the sun, the dryness that she loves, but the sublime beauty of its immensity and its openness. We see here just how deep her love for the desert is, and thus how significant it is that she is willing to give this up forever to always be with Edward, who could never survive in a desert.
This passage also focuses on the limitations of words--of language--to fully express oneself. Bella needs to use physical gestures to get across what she truly means, and this emphasizes the need for physical communication in love. This is not, however, something that Bella and Edward can have normally because of his hunger for her and his overpowering strength, but this passage makes clear that without it, something is lacking.
“Well, where did you come from? Evolution? Creation? Couldn’t we have evolved in the same way as other species, predator and prey? Or, if you don’t believe that all this world could have just happened on its own, which is hard for me to accept myself, is it so hard to believe that the same force that created the delicate angelfish with the shark, the baby seal and the killer whale, could create both our kinds together?”
This passage is Edward’s response to Bella’s question of where vampires originally came from. He explains that although he doesn’t know the answer, it is not hard to imagine either their evolution, if you believe in evolution, or their creation, if you believe in creation, as predators alongside their human prey.
This passage raises the question of creationism versus evolution, although it does not play large role in the novel. It does show that although Edward may be a predator, he is not a demon, seeming to believe in some idea of God or divine intervention.
The passage also emphasizes again the great distinction between Edward and Bella as predator and prey. Although humans are usually seen as largely predatory, in fact the vampires are the highest predator in the food chain. Compared to vampires, people are like fragile angel fish or baby seals. Recall that in Genesis, humans are created to rule over all the animals. Where would the vampires fit into this account?
“That had always been my way, though. Making decisions was the painful part for me, the part I agonized over. But once the decision was made, I simply followed through – usually with relief that the choice was made. Sometimes the relief was tainted by despair, like my decision to come to Forks. But it was still better than wrestling with the alternatives.”
This passage highlights that Bella, when it comes down to it, does not like choices. Here we see that it is not following through with difficult things that is hard for her, but making the choice in itself; thus, were she without hard choices from the beginning, she would be able to handle almost anything.
This situation reflects her relationship with Edward. Though she describes it as a conscious decision to be with him whether or not he is a vampire, later she will describe how she never truly had a choice at all—his personality, his looks, exert too much of a magnetic force over her for her to resist. If given a path, she will follow it gladly, but it is often choosing the path itself that is difficult for her.
Twilight Questions and Answers
The Question and Answer section for Twilight is a great
resource to ask questions, find answers, and discuss the novel.
Though Jasper did serve in the Conferderate Army, he is never portrayed as a racist character. He was simply a southern boy, who participated in the war in the South.... where he lived. The novel is not about the Civil War, nor is Jasper's part in...