Through a series of unfortunately stupid events, Jacob, Edward, and Bella are now stuck in a tent on some godforsaken rock in a storm. So here we are, then. No joke, this chapter is kind of a blast. It's also the closest S. Meyer will ever get to a No Exit homage: Hell is other werewolves. Previous entries can be found in the directory.
Chapter 22: Fire and Ice
So we're on the mountain, in the tent, and the storm is getting worse and worse. Bella's shivering in her sleeping bag, Edward's watching helplessly from the corner. He's so cold, see? He can't warm her up, he'd only make it worse. It's a pretty clever conceit until you think about how utterly contrived the circumstances were that got us here: A freak snowstorm (in June!) and an incredibly ill advised and poorly justified camping trip. But oh well! (I knew this chapter was coming so I've already cleared the suspension-of-disbelief hurdles necessary for it. If you haven't yet, you need to A. forget any inclinations toward rape Jacob might have once had, B. ignore the nonsensical plot contrivances as best you can, and C. try to actually care about whether or not Bella freezes to death. Okay? Okay!) Meanwhile, warm ol' Jacob-wolf is outside, enduring the elements. You can start to see where this is going, which is why you are smiling. Jacob has always argued that he is better for Bella than Edward, and no matter how wrong he and Charlie have been about that in the past, they are emphatically correct at the moment. And I mean that more literally than you can imagine, as Jasper would say.
(There's a weird extraneous moment where Bella wonders about why Jacob's wolf-fur is so shaggy. Later on in the chapter she asks him about it, and he explains that it's because his human hair is so long. Huh. Well, I'm glad that was a part of this chapter's arc structure. As Chekov once said, if someone asks about someone's hair in the first act, someone should talk about the hair again later.)
In the tent, Bella's teeth are chattering so hard she can barely talk, and Edward seems to be losing his mind with stress. Bella has rejected Edward's suggestion that they make a run for it because she doesn't want to lose the work they did on the trail. Mind you, Edward has assured Bella that the wind and snow will not ruin the trail in the first place. Well, that's lucky (“Newborns have a very particular sense of smell. They will latch on to your scent, and ignore the parallel scent trail of a vampire twenty yards away. Also, comically Biblical storms will do nothing to screw up the trail you left using strands of your hair and the oil from your fingertips. We're really lucked out in that every idiosyncrasy in the behavior of newborns is playing out in our favor.”-Edward)!
Outside, Jacob-wolf is LITERALLY howling in protest to everything Bella and Edward say. Edward tells Jacob to “go fetch a space heater,” and Jacob can't resist the urge to trade tepid, schoolboys-on-TV-shows-in-the-fifties style insults with Edward, so he changes into human form and enters the tent. Bella notes that he's only wearing the “bare essentials – just a pair of sweats, no shirt, no shoes.” And no boxers, ladiezzzz! Jacob spreads his arms and brags about his high body temperature. “You said she needed a space heater, and here I am.” Hey, Edward's foot: meet Edward's mouth! Jacob starts to unzip Bella's sleeping bag. Such a rich image, right there. Edward protests, physically holding Jacob back for a moment; things are tense. GET IT? TENTS! Bella tries to protest but she's too cold, and that kind of takes the force out of Edward's opposition, or the pitch out of his tent, or whatever. There's not really enough room for Jacob but he forces himself in (you are all welcome) and Bella says “then I couldn't object.” It just feels too good with him inside there! He's so warm that Bella starts involuntarily groping him, digging her cold hands into his skin. Jacob cringes, but rallies enough to point out that it would be easier if she took her clothes off. I have to side with Jacob here (that hurdle is way behind me now, you guys, but I'm so far around the track, or around a bend of some kind, that I feel like I'm going to have to jump over it again soon). That's just good science and good science is in short supply these days; we should embrace it, with our clothes off. But Bella does not. It's no big deal; this tent is already full of pansexual tension, and it's incredibly hard to shake the feeling that one of the following things is going to happen:
- Edward and Jacob are going to pull their cocks out and measure them
- Edward and Jacob are going to pull their cocks out and start tag-teaming Bella
- Edward and Jacob are going to pull their cocks out and start fucking each other, while Bella watches and masturbates miserably, Little Ashes-style.
But for a long while option three REALLY seems likely, as Jacob and Edward unexpectedly have a heart-to-heart. Yes, they reach a detente in the tent. GET IT? That is what happens. Bella starts to doze off, buried in Jacob's warm chest, and she somewhat ridiculously interprets the next five or six pages of dialogue between Edward and Jacob as a dream. She's still our narrator, after all, but Edward and Jacob have to be able to talk as though she is not around. So every few paragraphs we cut back to Bella remarking about what a strange dream this is. Shut up, Magdelena! Let the men talk (and/or have sex).
Can we talk about how Jacob almost definitely has a gigantic erection right now? The boys' talk kicks off when Edward hisses at Jacob to turn his sexual fantasies down a notch, and Jacob tells him to stay out of his head. Edward says Jacob's thoughts are shouting at him (“Yeah Bella, ride the wolf, Bella! Make me howl at the moon, baby!”-Jacob's thoughts, I imagine).There's a brief bit of silence and Edward starts answering an unspoken question. One of the things that is ostensibly supposed to complicate this exchange is the fact that Jacob doesn't always speak his questions aloud. Of course Edward proceeds to answer like he's taking a standardized test – “The hardest thing about my time away from Bella was...”– so Jacob's queries are always fairly obvious. And then Jacob turns the tables on Edward, asking him to open up his thoughts for the night, out of fairness or something. So Edward does most of the talking. It's an interesting turn of events, but of course it leaves the boner question unanswered. Wouldn't Bella notice, at least? Through those SWEATPANTS? Or does Jacob usually sport a hard-on in her dreams?
(Jacob makes an allusion, by the way, to the fact that he could fuck Bella without killing her and Edward couldn't. First of all, wasn't the whole deal in New Moon that Jacob wouldn't have been able to handle it either? That Bella was surrounded by men who couldn't fuck her lest they fuck her to death? I get that Jacob has more of a grip on his wolfiness now, but Edward has more of a grip on his vampireness, too. The “fuck you to death” thing is mostly just cover for Edward's religious convictions, is it not? But whatever.)
Jacob asks Edward if the jealousy is eating him alive. Edward confesses that yes, watching Jacob cuddle with his girlfriend (nay, fiancee! But Jacob doesn't know that) while erect (probably) is killing him inside. Jacob wants to know if it boners- I mean bothers- him all the time, or at least when Bella is at La Push. (This is pretty much the tenor of Jacob's half of the conversation throughout: “And don't you hate it when I do this?”) Edward explains that vampire minds work differently, like, he can think about a lot of stuff all the time? I don't know. This is only the second or third cryptic allusion we're heard about vampire neuroscience. I guess if you are already going to believe that vampires' hearts don't beat but their vocal chords and sex organs still work, you can also believe that they are like, high functioning autistics or something.
Edward is painfully honest as Jacob continues to pester him, giving voice to thoughts we'd only assumed he had until now. It makes the “tortured” act easier to swallow when we have a window into his head like this; maybe Midnight Sun would radically shift my perspective on all of this shit. Then again, Edward doesn't mention God once, so maybe he's not being totally honest with Jacob/us. But they continue to talk through what Edward calls an “uncomfortable truce.” Jacob asks why Edward decided to be “the very patient good guy.” Edward says he saw how much it pained Bella to have to choose him over Jacob, so he didn't make her do it. (Hear that Bella? If you're ever interested in an “open” situation down the line I think Edward would allow it!) Jacob asks if he was ever afraid Bella would choose him instead. Edward is like “not really.”
What passes for humor in this chapter comes when Jacob and Edward periodically admit to wanting to kill each other. Edward says he would never want to hurt Bella that way, but then says “sometimes it's an intriguing idea.” I suppose this is all a part of S. Meyer's idea of What Women Want – sensitive men who are also LITERAL killing machines if need be, men who aren't jealous but nonetheless SAY jealous things if need be – it's one way to cover all the angles for your audience, I guess. All women don't want the same thing, but by emphasizing different stuff at different times you can try to catch 'em all, so to speak.
There's some really dumb stuff in here, too. Edward mentions that Jacob thinks of him as a rock. “That's true. We are set the way we are, and it is very rare for us to experience real change. When that happens, as when Bella entered my life, it is a permanent change.” Uh, okay. So vampires get like, ONE change, for their whole lives? So Edward will love Bella forever, it's part of his nature now, because he is a literally “living stone?” If it happened once how could it not happen some other time? Or is Edward not going to say that until he falls in love with someone else? (“Oh wow, I've changed twice. This is exceedingly rare for our kind.”) WHY DOES EVERYONE IN THIS BOOK NEED A PARANORMAL JUSTIFICATION FOR LIKING SOMEONE?
Edward goes through the possibilities he had with Bella when Jacob gets all weird about the coming vampire thing. He says the best case scenario would have been that she didn't love him like he loved her. But that didn't happen. His second choice was to live with Bella throughout her human life until she died, then kill himself. But the bitch was so accident prone he was worried she'd die before then (I'm paraphrasing). The third option was to leave, and we saw how that worked out. Which leaves him with vampire-dom. Jacob says option three would have worked out, that he had a plan. Yes, a plan to wear Bella down.
“I've walked two marathons.”-Jacob Bernard
Jacob tries to get another year to seduce Bella, and Edward says no. But when Jacob asks what he would do if Bella chose him (Jacob) anyway, Edward says he'd step aside. Then he makes an interesting point: “You see Jacob, you might leave her someday.” He might IMPRINT, and Edward says he'd be waiting in the wings until that happened. Check mate, motherfucker.
The most subtle (yet still probably intentional) purpose of this chapter is to show us that Edward is the more mature one, is the adult here. As much was more or less clear already (the guy does have 90ish years on Jacob), but where Jacob uses his time in the tent to antagonize Edward, Edward uses the time to be introspective. He allows himself to be antagonized. And at the end, he admits that he could be friends with Jacob, which Jacob still can't admit.
“You know, Jacob, if it weren't for the fact that we're natural enemies and that you're also trying to steal away the reason for my existence, I might actually like you.”
“Maybe... if you weren't a disgusting vampire who was planning to suck the life out of the girl I love... well, no, not even then.”
Ha ha ha, but also telling! Look at your man, Bella. Now look at Jacob. Now back to your man, now back to Jacob. Now back to your man. You made the right choice. Well, the right choice would have been staying awake and starting a threesome, but this is good too.