Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Eclipse Discussion - Chapter 26. Ethics

This chapter discussion is written by the wonderful Krista, also known on twitter as @AccentOnLife. She did a wonderful job with chapter 22 and we're thrilled that she's agreed to write this one for us as well. She has her very own Rob story now and you can read her review of Eclipse at killerfilm.com on June 30.

Is it, as Alfred Lord Tennyson wrote in In Memoriam, better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all?

This question plagues Bella’s thoughts throughout Ethics, in relation to both the loves of her life. She wonders if would be better – and easier – for Jacob if she didn’t love him. And she contemplates whether or not the pain of lost love when Edward left was worth it. For Bella, the answer to both of those questions is undoubtedly yes.

As the chapter starts, Bella is with Alice, making their “sleepover” look like a real event before she returns home to Charlie. Alice offers her some words of wisdom that will continue to stay with her. “Play your role first, Bella, and then you can do what you want second. Part of being a Cullen is being meticulously responsible.” In other words, it is ethical to do what you need to do before what you want to do.
In this case, what Bella both wants to do and feels like she needs to do is be with Jacob when he regains consciousness. So, she returns home, answers a quick question about her shopping trip and cooks Charlie dinner before heading to the Black’s home.

Bella and Jacob have a long conversation, and it mostly centers on her choosing Edward over Jacob, despite loving both of them. At one point, Bella even wonders about Tennyson’s words aloud. Jacob says, “At least I made you see that you do love me. That’s worth something.” Bella responds, saying. “Is it? Is it really better than if I was still in the dark?” Jacob says, “Don’t you think you ought to know how you feel?”
What Bella actually meant was better for Jacob – not herself. Is Jacob better off knowing that she loves him, but he lost her to another man? Jacob tells her again that it is, because now he knows he did everything possible to try to win her.

She also ponders Tennyson’s observation in relation to Edward. Bella wonders if she “would have wavered, if I hadn’t lost Edward once. If I didn’t know what it was like to live without him. I wasn’t sure. That knowledge was so deep a part of me, I couldn’t imagine how I would feel without it.” She lost Edward at one point, but she never questioned whether or not her love for him was worth the pain she went through when he left. In her mind, it wasn’t even a choice.

Bella seems to question her own ethics throughout this chapter, perhaps going back to the name. There are several examples of her understanding and wanting to do the ethical thing. In fact, one instance happens during her conversation with Alice at the beginning of the chapter. Alice asks Bella if there is anything she’d like to talk about after the fight. Bella simply says, “Will I be like that? Like that girl Bree in the meadow?” Alice says, “Something like that, yes.” Bella wants to know how quickly the bloodlust of a newborn vampire will last for two reasons. First, she wants to know how long her passion for Edward will be trumped by a passion for blood. But more important, she is worried about hurting someone innocent in her bloodlust. Alice assures her that the whole Cullen clan will be there to make sure that doesn’t happen.
On a side note, perhaps the most interesting part of Bella and Alice’s discussion is about the vampires’ various powers and how they affect Bella. Specifically, Bella is curious about why some powers work on her and others don’t. Alice comes to the conclusion that powers that work outside the mind and on the physical body – such as Jasper’s mood-altering ability – affect her because they actually do change her body’s physical processes. Powers that work inside the mind – such as the abilities Edward, Aro and Jane have – are ineffective because they are simply an illusion and don’t have any physical implications.

Bella’s moral sense also can be seen clearly when she literally asks Jacob to haul her over the coals for the way she’s treated him. She knows she’s hurting him and wants to feel the consequences of her actions. And while she seems to think her sense of right and wrong is off, her guilt shows that she truly is an ethical person.
The idea of “two” also seems to permeate this chapter. Bella wishes that she would be struck by lightning and split in two – preferably painfully – leaving one of her for Jacob and one of her for Edward. This is the first time when she feels like giving up her human life is, in fact, a true sacrifice. She also talks about having two futures with two soulmates in two different worlds. Jacob is her soulmate in the “real” world. They would be together and have a comfortable, easy life at La Push. But Edward is her soulmate in the world where there are monsters and magic. They will marry, and he will change her into a vampire. Those futures and soulmates are compared to the Biblical story of King Solomon, who tests two women by suggesting they cut a child in half so they both have a piece of it. Jacob understands that fighting with Edward over her is cutting Bella in half and tells her he’ll “be good” and not cut her in half any more.

Despite her acceptance of the situation and the decision she has made, it will still take Bella a while to fully come to terms with it.

We're coming up into the home stretch of our discussion. Sorry for the late posting of this one, I somehow lost my brain last week. On Thursday we'll be posting chapter 27 and next Thursday will be the epilogue. It's time to stop lurking and start commenting! Let these wonderful guest posters know how much we appreciate their efforts.

1 comment:

RaShell said...

Wonderful chapter review! First time I read Eclipse I was constantly irritated by Bella's seemingly endless indecisiveness. For such stubborn and strong willed person, she was wavering way too much for my taste. Looking at it now from less emotional point of view, it does seem kinda natural though... Jacob is "real" in every sense, and Edward still is more of a mythical creature, future with whom is full of scary unknown. Jacob is comfort and familiarity, no wonder Bella is unconsciously craving some of that... Looking forward though, it still seems quite bizarre to me, that only real cure for Bella's attraction to the pup is his own imprinting on her newborn daughter.