Study Guide: Twilight by Stephenie Meyer - BookNotes

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TWILIGHT BY STEPHENIE MEYER: LITERARY ANALYSIS

QUOTES - IMPORTANT QUOTATIONS AND ANALYSIS

7.) The two Cullens she singles out in this first encounter are Rosalie, who comes to resent her, and Edward, who she encounters next in Biology class.

I couldn't stop myself from peeking occasionally through the screen of my hair at the strange boy next to me. During the whole class, he never relaxed his stiff position on the edge of his chair, sitting as far from me as possible. I could see his hand on his left leg was clenched into a fest, tendons standing out under his pale skin. This, too, he never relaxed. He had the long sleeves of his white shirt pushed up to his elbows, and his forearm was surprisingly hard and muscular beneath his light skin. He wasn't nearly as slight as he'd looked next to his burly brother. (24)

There is a mix of both admiration and fear in Bella's description of Edward: on the one hand she sees the aggression which should instill fear in her, but she also cannot help but admire his physicality and strength. Later, readers will realize that what Edward is feeling is not anger but the temptation he feels as a vampire situated next to his perfect prey, Bella. She does not want to believe she is responsible for this behavior, but the fact that she is actually proves how important she is to Edward.

8.) The different world she inhabits from the Cullens is highlighted in the parking lot when she sees what car they drive:

As I waited, trying to pretend that the earsplitting rumble was coming from someone else's car, I saw the two Cullens and the Hale twins getting into their car. It was the shiny new Volvo. Of course. I hadn't noticed their clothes before --I'd been too mesmerized by their faces. Now that I looked, it was obvious that they were all dressed exceptionally well; simply, but in clothes that subtly hinted at designer origins. With their remarkable good looks, the style with which they carried themselves, they could have worn dishrags and pulled it off. It seemed excessive for them to have both looks and money. But as far as I could tell, life worked that way most of the time. (32)

The Volvo is symbolic of the heightened class status of the Cullen family, as it stands out compared to all the other cars in the parking lot. In comparison, the meager class standing of Bella is highlighted by her ancient truck. There's also the speed that the Volvo can achieve, which will be shown in later scenes and be comparable to the inhuman speed of vampires; humans are like the old red truck, which is painfully slow in comparison. Bella keeps an eye on how stylish the Cullens are, but notes that even fashionable clothes are mere adornments - like the wealth - when the Cullens possess such beauty, declaring any added gifts "excessive". This notion of excessive gifts is repeated when Edward and then Alice discuss the full range of abilities that vampires possess, all to overwhelm their prey.

9.) On a fateful morning, Bella considers the different Forks boys she must handle:

Driving to school, I distracted myself from my fear of falling and my unwanted speculations about Edward Cullen by thinking about Mike and Eric, and the obvious difference in how teenage boys responded to me here. I was sure I looked exactly the same as I had in Phoenix. Maybe it was just that the boys back home had watched me pass slowly through all the awkward phases of adolescence and still thought of me that way. Perhaps it was because I was a novelty here, where novelties were few and far between. Possibly my crippling clumsiness was seen as endearing rather than pathetic, casting me as a damsel in distress. Whatever the reason, Mike's puppy dog behavior and Eric's apparent rivalry with him were disconcerting. I wasn't sure if I didn't prefer being ignored. (54-55)

There is an unexpected difference at Forks as she attracts the attention of two boys, whereas she had no boyfriends in Phoenix. This highlights her innocence in romantic matters and inability to read the subtleties of such situations, never mind being able to use her feminine wiles (which she feels she does not possess, anyway). She attributes this sudden interest to the novelty she provides as the new girl appearing mid-school-year, but also the fact that her fellow students had not seen her grow up. Faced with the obligations that come with being popular, Bella misses her previous anonymity.

10.) Soon after, she has an abject lesson in how anonymity can work sometimes, as she is saved by Edward when Tyler Crowley's van almost runs into her. However, there is one discrepancy to the situation:

I wondered to myself why no one else had seen him standing so far away, before he was suddenly, impossibly saving my life. With chagrin, I realized the probable cause - no one else was as aware of Edward as I always was. No one else watched him the way I did. How pitiful. (69)

Without fully realizing it, Bella muses on how unobservant humans are, especially with the vampires in their midst. That said, she also understands the romantic impulses in her own close observation of Edward, as "No one else watched him the way I did." The fact that no one else can appreciate Edward as well as she can is then mourned in jest as "pitiful" - as if Edward is a work of art that deserves to be enjoyed by everyone.

11.) Edward later asks to drive her in the Volvo to San Francisco, arguing that driving in the truck would not be wise:

"The wasting of finite resources is everyone's business." (83) This shows an admirable environmental awareness on the part of Edward, but has added meaning for the Cullen family: as vampires, they are sharply aware of the ecosystem they inhabit, especially as they hunt wild animals to keep from preying on humans.

12.) The next day, when Edward asks Bella to sit with him for lunch, he gives an unusual answer:

"Well..." He paused, and then the rest of the words followed in a rush. "I decided as long as I was going to hell, I might as well do it thoroughly." (87)

That it "followed in a rush" indicates not only that Edward has been waiting to say this, but also that it has the ring of truth. The idea that Edward is "going to hell" for being with Bella may seem insulting to her at first, but as she later learns, it isn't meant as a slight on her but as a test of the temptation he was going through. His hell is desiring Bella not only romantically, but also as a victim for his vampire instinct. As for the overall sentiment, it reflects the aphorism of being "in for a penny, in for a pound" - that is, if one is going to take a risk, one might as well take full advantage of that risk and go all-in. Edward is willing to bet that being with Bella will be beneficial enough that the danger it poses for himself and his family is worth it.

13.) Bella muses on how time has passed since she arrived in Washington:

And I was thinking about how disjointedly time seemed to flow in Forks, passing in a blur at times, with single images standing out more clearly than others. And then, at other times, every second was significant, etched in my mind. I knew exactly what caused the difference, and it disturbed me. (118)

She contrasts the "blur" of time rushing quickly against the time when "every second was significant" - a kind of slow-motion. She knows the reason for it, without even stating why - Edward and his interaction with her - but is not completely comfortable about that. This again shows a reluctance to read the subtleties of her interaction with Edward, to see it for the conflicted love he is learning to feel.

14.) Part of this is because she does not fully understand her potential paramour; however, may questions are set aside when she meets and speaks with Jacob Black, who tells her the story of the Cullens being vampires:

"So you see," Jacob continued, "the cold ones are traditionally our enemies. But this pack that came to our territory during my great-grandfather's time was different. They didn't hunt the way others of their kind did - they weren't supposed to be dangerous to the tribe. So my great-grandfather made a truce with them. If they would promise to stay off our lands, we wouldn't expose them to the pale-faces." He winked at me. (125)

Jacob falls into the horror tradition of Native Americans who pass along legends of monsters which bear a greater amount of truth than is usually believed. However, he goes against that tradition in that he does not actually believe these legends themselves, but instead sees it as his tribe - and particularly his father - giving in to backwards superstition. This is what allows him to tell Bella, and even joke about how the Quileute "wouldn't expose them to the pale faces" - which is exactly what he does, but again seems insignificant to him since he does not believe the story, as the wink at the end of the paragraph indicates.


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