Friday, July 18, 2008

Question of the Day

This question was inspired (if not closely paraphrased) by a question from the Lex and I thought it was interesting.

Obviously SM focuses heavily on love and extreme commitments to [eternal] life partners. But realistically, Bella is 18 and already set to marry a vampire and change her life forever. Jacob is even younger and running away from his family all because his heart was broken by the girl he also wanted to spend the rest of his life with (at 16, none-the-less). The question is this, at 16 or 18 can we really trust that these kids are ready to make more than life long commitments to love? Do they really know what they are doing or is it a naive mistake they could regret?

24 enjoyed the bouquet.:

heatheryruth said...

hmmm Deep one today! I thin I'm gonna have to mull this one over for awhile! I'll get back to ya! Good question Corrine!!

alison said...

I already know my answer to this; I've been saying it for a while now. Bella is definitely too young/naive to get married at this time. Jacob had to run away because he is too young to know how to deal with his problems; when you are a teen, everything is so big and overwhelming. The smallest thing seems like a huge deal.

I do believe in love, and believe that you can love someone at that age with all of the understanding of love that they have aquired, but I don't think that strong feelings are justification for making huge life decisions. I've seen them fail so many times; I just can't believe in that, and I can't support it.

I will officially be over Bella if she marries edward in this book.

Kari said...

Reality: I agree with Alison. Except for the last line.

Fiction: Since this book is NOT real, I am willing to let go of the fact that Bella is too young to get married. I don't care that she's 18! I don't care that she is giving up her family to become immortal! I just want it to happen! ROMANCEEEEEE.

Kira said...

I think the main issue here is that people do not take the specifics of the story into consideration. Bella is not your average 18-year old, she is mature beyond her age and I don't believe that numerical age makes a very big difference in life. She has experienced life without Edward and knows she wants to be with him forever. The love they share is not a normal highschool romance, they share a deeper love than most people ever have the chance to experience. Once she understands this there is no reason to date forever and then get married, especially because of the time constraints imposed since she is aging and he is not. Why delay the inevitable?
In Jacobs case while running away may not have been the wisest choice he could make, he is faced with the girl he loves not only choosing his mortal enemy over him, but also choosing to give up her mortality. Jacob at 16 is not mature enough to deal with this and is mostly trying to avoid his own feelings. Jacob has alot of growing up to do, which is shown in many places in the story. Hopefully his time on his own will help him to do that and he will come back a more mature and responsible person, able to accept that he and Bella are not meant to be with each other.

Erin said...

Excellent question.

I tend to agree with everyone, on some level. Mostly Kari, though. I do see it as fiction. If Bella was a real person/one of my students etc and I were to give advice and vampires were real, I would be very clear with her that 18 is entirely too young to make that kind of commitment.

Although, I wonder how fair that is, even on the level of reality. I met Matt at 18, and while I never would have married him then, I knew that I wanted to. We definitely needed the five-ish years we had before we walked down the aisle, and I still felt young getting married at 23, but I don't really think our level of commitment ever changed from 18 to now. ? We definitely matured, but I don't think the commitment changed...and to be honest, I don't think a whole lot changed when we got married. My name. Our bank account. A lot more is going to change when we have kids.

That said, looking at it from a fiction perspective, Bella's already sacrificing so much to be with him that marriage almost seems trivial in comparison. Even if you're someone who thinks she shouldn't "be bitten," which is the ultimate, eternal commitment, she risks her life all the time every time she's around him. And all the time when she's around his family. And, looking at it another way, all the time when she's around the pack, too. So...I don't know. When I see it that way, an accidental death seems a lot more regretable than a marriage.

The last thing I'll say - this is getting way too long - is that hopefully after she's through her newborn stage, she'll still get a lot of "human" experiences - college, a career of sorts, etc. Even the fiction-loving part of me regrets that she can't someday have a family if she changes. But that's not everyone's choice! That to me seems more regretable than the marriage thing.

Sorry to ramble!

alison said...

I think that the fact that this is fiction is irrelevant. I have often said that I think that SM's characterization of Bella is a huge disservice to teenage women. I think that she is a poor role model, and that her relationship with Edward is also not one that we should try to model our own relationships after. I think that making this big happy ending wedding for an 18 year old is irresponsible.

And I don't think that bella beign with Edward is inevitable, hence my position on teenage marriage. I think that if Bella grew up, she wouldn't necessarily stay with Edward. he might now really be the "love of her life." And if he is, great, But they don't have to get married now. Who gives a shit if she turns nineteen? that just shows how immature she is that she can't look older than her boyfriend. And frankly, also the fact that she is willing to become a vampire and carelessly and cavalierly throw away her humanity is also a testament to the fact that she is following her raging teenage emotions. I just think that the whole thing is idiotic and makes me not happy about the direction these books have taken.

Ryah said...

Bella has expressed many times that she is too young to be getting married, and does not seem very happy about it in the first chapter of BD. So this gives me hope that she will "come to her senses," and hold off on the holy matrimony, for now.

I think that at 18 she can really love someone enough to make that commitment, but just because she can doesn't mean she should.

As far as Jacob goes, he really did have his heart broken, but running away is typical teenager. He'll come to his senses, I hope.

Jes said...

It is fiction and that does matter. This is about a super-natural love in many ways. Just like the wolves imprinting and that being a deep bond of love, SM has made the love that E&B feel to be stronger than that and as super-natural powerful as that. So this is very much a fictious love. (Edward talks of this when he is in the heads of the pack, he is intrigued by the imprinting and says that it is almost as strong as the conection between he and Bella)
SM's idea of love in Twilight actually reminds me alot of some Mormon ideas I have studied- Everlasting eternal love/bonds that continue into the different levels of heaven that the mormons believe.

I think that you can know true love at that age. (more than the majority of my friends are married to the guy they were with in high school/knew in high school)

Kari said...

I don't think the fact that the books are fiction is irrelevant. 90% of these teenage vampire / fantasy books that we're reading are all young girls (15 in some cases) making poor (but forgivable) choices. I get that you don't like Bella, but why not just let the age thing go for the sake of a good story? You think Bella is a poor role model for choosing to marry Edward so young? What about Clary? Or Zoey? Is it really the age thing that's bothering you?

Does every piece of YA fiction needs to be morally responsible to teenagers?

It makes me sad to hear you call the books idiotic. Maybe it makes me a tad defensive too ...because we've all fallen in love with these books.

alison said...

but thats my point, Kari. I don't think you can just brush aside the issues by saying that its fiction and a "supernatural romance." many of the readers Are teens, and I just don't feel comfortable with the message its selling.

Clary isn't getting married. Shes just a normal, confused teen. A completely different story. I'm not saying that everything has to be morally responsible, but I feel like the scope of this book and its popularity makes it morally irresponsible. Thats my opinion, and I am sticking to it.

heatheryruth said...

WOW! Quite the Debate this has caused! I think I finally have my answer!

I agree in most part with most of you! I think the book IS fantasy and we all WANT a fantasy romance! We all want a love that is so powerful even death itself can't tear it apart!

I believe you can find that love at a young age...do I think they should get married right away...well now I don't know! Being as it's a story and FANTASY yes I want them to...I want Edward to get what he finally wants after waiting for it for a hundred years! Would I want that for REAL life...hmmm...I didn't! I met my husband at the same age as Bella...I KNEW I wanted him and only him...but I DID want to get my HUMAN EXPERIENCES taken care of first! (College) I wanted to see more than just high school!

I think I agree with Kari, Alison, Not that you don't have a right to your own opinion. I'm surprised you want to continue to read them when you dislike the MAIN CHARACTER so much!

As for the Twilight Saga and Bella being role models...you can't blame its popularity on SM...she came up with a story one night and wrote it for fun! I don't feel she should deviate from her original storyline because all of a sudden it became HUGELY popular and now she has to be responsible for the morality of teenage girls! Honestly...she's writing a bit of fun fiction....it's not her job to keep Teenage girls Moral...it's up to parents to teach their kids that!

Ok I think I'm done...I hope no one is pissed at me...That wasn't my intent! Hope you all have a FAB Friday Night!

Corinne said...

Yay! Debate and discussion. I always love to read it when a question is posted.

To answer for myself:

I am a little miffed at Bella and the way she makes her decisions.

I CAN believe that she has fallen in love with Edward and she does not want to find anyone else. I also believe that she could have a good life with them and be happy for eternity. I think that can happen at 18, but I wish she would be open to maturing and growing as a person. Looking like your 22 is not the worst thing in the world. Not becoming a vampire or marrying Edward until you've had some more life experience would not be the worst thing ever. I mean, I wish she would listen to Edward. He has told Bella this several times. I am sure he isn't gonna drop her if she looks older than him anyway. He's proven he doesn't care and that he can be rational. Much more rational than her.

I think that Bella is approaching marriage in a very immature way. I don't think she wants to get married or is ready for marriage, but she is conceding to marriage just to become a vampire. It makes me feel like at this point in time marriage for her and Edward is foolish and stupid. When reading about the wedding I start to really dislike Bella's character. She gets on my nerves--I think she's being a baby about it and super whiny and I hate to hear about the wedding from her perspective. At this point, I hope the wedding doesn't take place. I don't want to read about a begrudging Bella walking down the isle to her death--literal or figurative. (not that I don't ever want them to get married).

I do think that Bella and Edward will be together and will share their lives together. I just want them to feel content and happy about their decisions, not like they are making concessions.



Oh,and Jacob. You're cute. I'm sorry you got your heart broken, but why did you run away? I'm sure there are plenty of hotties you'll meet past the age of 16. Come back! Bella is NOT the girl for you.

Ryah said...

No one should get mad at other's about sharing their opinions.

This is a work of fiction, and I love the romance, the tension, the everything. The books wouldn't be the same without them, or as good.

I know most people who read these books can separate fiction from reality, but some can't. Hopefully those who can't wont run away from home, or get married at a young age, but I don't think the books should be held responsible for that, or should they be written with those irresponsible few in mind.

I also don't think that Alison called the books themselves idiotic, maybe just some of the situations. I think her getting married is kinda idiotic. I don't know why, I just don't want her too. I think the romance and all that would be just as great without a wedding.

Whatever, just give me some vamp lovin', whether it be premarital or post. I don't care.

Jes said...

I just have to say that I think looking towards these books for moral guidance for teens is a bit odd...

alison said...

I'm not saying its what Should happen, but what does happen.

But also saying I think I'm taking a break from the site. Have a good week. Sorry to be so dissenting.

Jes said...

oh alison, this is good discussion. We need to hear from all sides!

Jes said...

I think your voice is what makes our web site interesting... dont stay away too long!

Ryah said...

Notice how it's always Corinne's questions that get us into heated debates?

She loves it!

Jes said...

so true.

heatheryruth said...

Wow! So sorry if I offended someone! I feel bad that someone is leaving the site for a bit because of something I said! I have enjoyed reading EVERYONES perspectives and thoughts! I think it's good to see things in a new light and give ya something to think about!

Again, sorry if something I said is what tipped the scale!

Jes said...

Heather- DO NOT TAKE THIS PERSONALLY!!!! Keep posting, and do not fear what you write!!! We love that you blog with us!! (I am 100 % sure that alison is NOT reacting to you!!) We love you!

Kari said...

Aw Alison -- debates are what make things interesting. Sorry if I came across harsh. Internet voice and real-life voice sound very different. I only mean love. Pure vampire love.

Erin said...

Oh, my lady-husbands, I missed a big-ass debate this weekend when I was in Birchwood, WI, population <200.

First and foremost, I hope you don't take a break from the site, Alison. Unless work and packing are making posting too impossible for you. Don't break b/c of dissention. That's what's fun.

I love that we all have such diverse opinions in this group. I've been part of other book clubs (though this is so so much more than just a book club) and it's so boring when everyone agrees. It doesn't make me think in new ways or consider new things at all, and I get bored with just my own thoughts.

And while I hope Breaking Dawn comes out and has Bella growing some balls (figuratively, of course) and a gratuitous (albeit underage, now that I think about it?) love scene with Jacob in it for you, Alison, and brings you back to loving the saga, I (gasp) don't think Twilight has to be your fave. You bring us so many awesome recommendations and I have to say, while Twilight was my gateway drug into the fantasy lit world, you are my dealer. I never read fantasy before this.

That said, I want to add my two cents to the debate, as a lot of what was brought up was touched on in my library grad program.

The way I see it, it comes down to this: what SHOULD we let kids read? Should all YA lit be full of good role models and good choices and a clear path to success? Because kids certainly learn by example. But I think back to what I loved to read as a teen, and that was anything that let me live and make mistakes (and be in loooove) vicariously. I would have f-ing LOVED Twilight. Possibly more than I do now, because now I have my husband.

Should we censor what kids read? Should authors be held responsible for the fiction they write as steering young, impressionable minds the wrong way? I don't know the answer. I learned in my classes that as a public librarian, I'd have to take an oath not to censor, but as a school librarian, that's totally different. Kids HAVE to go to school, therefore the school has to act in place of the parent, blah blah blah.

I think (besides that this is way too long) that teen readers just really want an escape, and while they might long for an Edward to marry, they aren't going to find one and they aren't going to marry one. For at least a while. I mean, some will, of course, but the majority won't.

I really don't think we can hold SM accountable. She's a writer, not a priest, not a counselor, and not these readers' parent. And while when you publish something, you have to own up what you put out there, I think what she's putting out there is pretty clean. Just like in so many of the other books I've read lately (Marked, Blue Bloods, COB, Wicked Lovely), the (rather strong and respectable) female leads are making crappy decisions - drinking, breaking rules, having sex, etc - none of which Bella is doing. She's entitled to her mistakes.

So that's just my opinion. I think the YA readers of Twilight just need good parents who won't allow them to marry when they're 18. And all that other stuff.

And now I'm going to publish this comment and then think of ten thousand other things I want to add, b/c I am freakin' long-winded.

Ryah said...

Well written Erin.