Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Twi-Theories Tuesday: Jasper's Bloodlust

Warning: This post will contain book spoilers for the whole series. And picture spoilers for the New Moon movie.

A group of Twi-buddies and I were discussing Jasper the other day, and one of them posed a question. Why did Jasper react so strongly to that small amount of Bella's blood at the birthday party? After all, he'd been in the ballet studio too, Bella had been spurting arterial blood, and he didn't attack her then.

I think the answer lies in the inherent humanity in Stephenie Meyer's vampires. We all know the differences between the Twilight vamps and the "traditional" vampire, but I think a less-obvious difference is the humanity factor. Despite the monstrous tendencies, the Twilight vamps are very human, susceptible to the psychological tricks we are, they get jealous, they hurt, they feel love and loyalty, and they can use their strengths and weaknesses to impact their actions.

The point is made very clearly throughout the series that Jasper struggles with his bloodlust. His past as the trainer of the newborn armies, and the thorough disregard to human life of that time led to habits that he still struggles to control. There was also the thought that newborns are always out of control. Remember in Breaking Dawn, when Bella is amazing everyone with her control, Jasper begins to wonder how much of his issues are just...psychological. I believe that's right, both with the moments he has control, as well as the moment he doesn't.

Jasper is a soldier. If you know anyone who has a military history, you know how much the military mindset affects their personality. The discipline, the dedication to a cause, and the focus to the mission at hand.

In the ballet studio, Jasper was on a mission. He had a job to do. Get in, take care of James. Like the good soldier he is, that is exactly what he does. Of course, we don't get much of the fight from the book, as Bella is a little preoccupied with pain at the moment, but we hear from Edward later.
"After I pulled him off you, Emmett and Jasper took care of him." But then, "They had to leave the room...there was a lot of blood."

So, Jasper DIDN'T handle it well then, but first he had a job to do, and he did it, and then got out of there as soon as his focus was off of James. It probably helped that Emmett was right there with him, to help him focus on the next task. "Get out". After all, a strategic retreat is something a military man can understand.

This brings us to the birthday party. The situation is different. The atmosphere in the Cullen house would have been different that day. Happy, excited Alice as she flits around decorating and preparing. The excitement from the rest of the family as they prepare to celebrate a real birthday. Even Emmett and Rosalie are looking forward to it. So all those emotions are making Jasper, in his empathetic self, very relaxed. He's always kept his distance from Bella, as a precaution, but he's excited too. Now, throw in a little confusion, Bella isn't very happy about the occasion, and maybe Edward's a little stressed about that, too. Now Jasper is a little conflicted, but he's dealing with it.

Everything is going well, until that cut. It's unexpected, they'd probably never even considered the possibility of a paper cut, of all things. The reaction is sudden and intense, and he feels Edward's thirst as well as his own when the blood starts flowing. All of this, and there is no mission. No job to do. Nothing to focus on. And the Monster wins.

It is not about the quantity of the blood spilled, it's about the mindset of the moment. The human angle. The getting complacent, and then being surprised. The split second when you're not paying attention and you're blindsided by a choice, and reflexively give in to your addiction.

Every aspect of the Twilight novels are about being human, no matter the character involved. This one is no different. Part of being human is those little moments, and sometimes those little moments affect us in a surprising way, even when we deal with the big crisis with calm.

Tell me what you think in the comments. I'd like to hear other theories as well.

And 23 days to New Moon!


Mrs. Vanquish said...

Hey what an awesome post! Thanks so much for this, In the beginning of New Moon I just thought this doesn't make sense at all, that it was just a way to get Edward leave. But the more I thought about it the more I start thinking that he was just taken by pure surprise and couldn't handle that.

Love your post!

Fire Crotch said...

This post is really awesome. I never really thought about it. I know I was reading really fast because I just wanted to get to some kissing and such and just took the whole episode for granted. Of course Jasper would freak out over a little drop of blood. But you're absolutely right about the James situation...blood was spurting and he took care of business and then got out. And then thinking about the party, and how one little drop could make him go into such a frenzy when he had already been around her blood before...really doesn't make much sense. But, it totally does. I think you are right about the emotions of the situation and how he was just caught off guard. And then when Edward threw her back into the table there was even more blood. Poor Jasper. I'm afraid I don't really have anything to add, but this was a really insightful post.

Jazzled said...

I think you've got a very well put together theory on the why of the situation, especially taking into consideration Jasper's empathic nature. And if memory serves, it was not only Edward who was having a hard time when Bella lost blood- I specifically remember her comment in the book about looking into the eyes of six suddenly ravenous vampires, or something to that effect. So, it wouldnt really just be his own inclinations and Edward's influencing his willpower- that would be a virtual flood of thirst flowing through him, and no way to restrain it. Poor Jasper.

Unfortunately, I'm not certain I'm able to give Ms. Meyer 100% credit for coming up with something so complex and profound. Seems more likely to me that it was a small detail that was overlooked in the hasty writing of the series, a necessary catalyst to serve a greater purpose (driving Edward away), and we're just over-analzying and attributing all these fabulous ideas and theories for a deeper meaning that probably was never meant to exist.

Wow, I'm kind of a downer, aren't I? LOL Srsly, great post!

Jerri said...

Wonderful thought-provoking post!

I have to agree with Jazzled on the whole Jasper-detail being a vessel that lets Edward leave Bella. Meyer uses that kind of thing in her books a lot, but I digress.

For the sake of argument, however, I was not surprised by Jasper's reaction to Bella's papercut. Even when I remembered back to Twilight with James having broken her leg and biting her arm- Jasper was away from her, helping kill James and then he was out of the room.

The thing to remember is that at that point in the game, we didn't know much about Jasper at all. We knew that him and Alice were came together later on with the family and that he struggled the most with his thirst.

Can't wait until next week's theory!

Loren and Shaun said...

For once...I am really not sure I have much to say! LOL. This is honestly not something I'd thought about before. Your points are all great though and very valid, especially with the others' thirst affecting Jasper as well as his own, and the whole tone of the situation, and his "mission" in the ballet studio. My only other thought was that in the ballet studio, he probably had (no pun intended) an adrenaline rush going on, so that would have helped keep his focus on the task at hand (James) and allow him to leave when he was done.

Another awesome post. Loved it!


Amber (EyesofAmber) said...

I love this. You are SO on the mark here. The feelings of his own bloodlust amplified by the others' and adding Edward's extreme thirst in there too? Definitely makes sense.