Monday, March 15, 2010

Eclipse Discussion: Chapter 13: Newborn

 What is it about Jasper that we all love so much? Is it his southern charm? Does his mood control extend out of the pages to us? Jackson's dimples?

Undoubtedly, a good portion of it is the dimples, but long before Jackson Rathbone was ever cast in the role of Jasper Whitlock, I think many had a soft spot in their hearts for the Major, including Stephenie Meyer. We get bare bones histories from Esme and Emmett. A bit more from Carlisle, Rosalie and Alice. Even Edward's history isn't all that detailed. Jasper's is so detailed and rich. Perhaps it is because the rest (even Alice, thanks to her visions) followed Carlisle's compassionate lifestyle for most of their life, and therefore it's just less exciting. (Though, I wouldn't mind hearing more about Edward's Avenging Angel days!)

As he shows his scars to Bella, his story takes us back in time to the American Civil War. Behind the scenes of the human war, was an even darker battle. Like the humans, the vampires were fighting for territory and assets and control. Only in their case, the assets were human lives. The ability to control a region, to have all that blood at their disposal, to use without attracting notice.

The powerful vampires began creating new vampires in the dozens. Huge numbers for the limited society. Newborn vampires were volitile and strong. They were easy to create and point in a direction and say, "Kill and the blood is yours," and no significant loss if they were destroyed.

From the beginning, Jasper was 'raised' to have no regard for human life. Humans were either food, or tools to create an army. There was no need for him to exercise much  control over his bloodlust, only enough to maintain the secret, and to fulfill his mission. Edward often comments on how permanent and unchanging vampires are, even psychologically. No wonder Jasper struggles so much with his control. Jasper is probably the finest example, even more so than Bella's stellar capabilities, of how a choice to hold yourself to a standard is more powerful, and more character defining than simply excusing behavior based on ignorance or poor examples.

There was a sliver of hope in Jasper though. He was dissatisfied with the bloodthirsty existence, even if he had no idea how to change that. He left his 'army' in the company of friends, but soon parted ways with them, as even then he hadn't found contentment. He wandered alone for a short time, until he found himself in a little diner in Philadelphia.

What a balm Alice must have been for him. With his abilities to sense emotions, how amazing must it have been to have been greeted by her. She was probably already radiating happiness and joy and love, since she knew he was for her already. How soothing that must have been to the years of hate and violence he had endured.

One of my favorite parts of the book:

" 'You've kept me waiting a long time,' she said."
I didn't realize Alice had come to stand behind me again. 
"And you ducked your head, like a good Southern gentleman, and said, 'I'm sorry, ma'am.' " Alice laughed at the memory..
Jasper smiled down at her. "You held out your hand, and I took it without stopping to make sense of what I was doing. For the first time in almost a century, I felt hope."

I think we all might have fallen for Jasper a little in that moment.

The story was told to Bella to impart to her the seriousness of what was happening in Seattle, and the consequences it could bring down on them all. She does understand. After all, Bella is terrified of the Volturi, she doesn't see them as the governing body of vampires that the Cullens do. However, she brings attention to the piece of happiness in that horrific story. That through all that, Jasper met the love of his existence.

Once the idea of an army is planted, Alice sees a bit more clearly into the future. They still don't know who is behind it all, but it becomes more clear that the army is a direct threat to the Cullens, after all, they are a fairly large coven. The Voluri are not above using whatever means necessary to deal with threats to their power, or to obtain things they want, so it seems a plausible option, especially with how they are side-stepping Alice's abilities.

The Cullens realize that they will need help, and they call their 'cousins' in Alaska, Tanya, Kate, Irina, Carmen and Eleazar. However, they are thwarted when it's discovered that Irina had a serious bond with the nomad vampire Laurent, and wants retribution on the werewolves in exchange for their help. Despite the natural animosity with the wolves, Carlisle and the rest would never agree to such a thing, more so because of Bella's bond with them..

Because of this, the Cullens are on their own. A prospect that will most likely cost the life of at least one of them.

Please leave your thoughts on Jasper in the comments. As always, I love getting feedback from our readers.

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