Beneath the Surface: Continued Conversation on Bree Tanner

Well, our so-called surface level thread on the new Bree Tanner novella quickly went far beneath the surface, not a surprising development for our readers here! To make sure some of the great conversation, which went quickly into deep waters of the novella as an allegory or defense of Meyer’s faith, didn’t get lost in the pile of comments, we’re pulling them up here to continue the excellent discussion . Feel free to chime in with your thoughts on the deeper aspects of the text, with other posts along those lines to come soon!

   James on June 15, 2010 at 3:40 am

There are many insights into the vampire world, to be sure, as Stephenie promised. I realized that the Nomad vampires are actually homeless. Don’t know why I didn’t realize that before. Other than the Volturi and Cullens, all appear to be wanderers. Bummer.

I hope to talk on this with John and Steve Walker in another upcoming podcast, but I also noticed the great deal of hellish imagery associated with Riley’s coven/congregation. This led me to see that Riley is a misleading priest figure, lying to his congregants to keep them under his control, spreading superstition and lies so that they won’t realize they have the potential to live as beings of light (with love again as a potential path to glory/divinization).

So the questions arise, “Does the Creator know the truth? Is the Creator… wrong? Does the Creator assent to her priest/spokesman’s controlling lies and abuse?” And, of course, in any case, “what can/should be done about it?” How can you exercise your “free agency”/autonomy when you realize how ignorant and misled your religion truly is? I think with “Bree Tanner,” Meyer posits a remarkable allegory about what (not) to do when you realize your faith — or other beliefs — are untrue, in contrast with Bella’s finding a true path following the prophetic and godlike Carlisle. Remarkable.

In this allegory, I believe that Freaky Fred reveals the repulsion the damned would feel in the presence of God (or more literally, the godly).

I noticed further that, like the (LDS conception of the) devils themselves, the vampires resent human’s humanity, and their happy, mortal lives, which they have lost the opportunity to experience. Unlike Rosalie and Leah, however, they decide to lash out at as many humans as possible. So, the vampires thirst for human’s life-blood is revealed to be not nearly as benign as it was when seen from Bella’s point of view.

Anyway, a few thoughts, fwiw.

Elizabeth on June 15, 2010 at 3:12 pm

I really like your comments, James! I was planning on posting some of my thoughts on the religious elements in BT on the other thread, but since we’re going there already, I’ll just jump in here. To me, the newborn army seemed very much like a cult, particularly the ones that prey on young people (there was one on the loose on my college campus in the early 1990s until the local news did an expose on them). This is very interesting, as many members of the general public see the LDS as a cult. In some ways, BT seems to be Meyer saying, “The Cullens/Mormons aren’t a cult; this is what a cult looks like!” Cults often follow several of the same patterns as the Riley/ Victoria army:
1) Separation from loved ones. None of this bunch is able to achieve what Bella does, on-going communication with her human family after her transformation/conversion. Cults generally cut off members from their family and friends. While on the surface, this charge might be leveled at the Cullens, there is a fine difference between what Meyer presents as a real faith and its false duplicate. Though the Cullens with living family members at the time of their change (Rosalie and Emmett) never saw those families again, they already believed Rosalie and Emmett to be dead, or they may have had the chance, since Rosalie’s vigilante spree shows her capable of control fairly soon after her change.
2) Absolute adherence to “truths” that are actually lies. (Like the great points about the misleading/misled priest.) The army is completely convinced that they will be fried to a crisp if they go out in the sun, but of course, this is not true. The Cullens are open, even joking, about the misconceptions about vampires, while the “cult” clings with desperation to its false teachings.
3) No room for dissention. While the Cullens sometimes disagree with each other, and are amiable with others who do not share their outlook, the newborn army has no room for difference of opinion, much less the truth, leading to Riley’s murder of the truth-teller, Diego. Cult leaders never tolerate truth-tellers; even though Riley thinks highly of Diego, he must destroy him because he conflicts with the “creator” or cult leader, Victoria.
4) Xenophobia. All cults operate from the “we’re all right and everyone else is out to get us, so they must be destroyed” assumption, just as Riley indoctrinates the army into believing that they are at risk from the Cullens. The Cullens, by contrast, only respond with violence when they are undoubtedly being attacked.
5) Self destruction. Like so many dangerous cults, the newborn army is doomed. Its leader selfishly leads her followers, including the besotted Riley, to their doom without much thought for them as individuals. They are her tools, to lead or destroy as she will. How many accounts are there of such leaders who led their misguided groups to mass suicide or hopeless last stands against law enforcement?
I do not claim to be an expert on cults, but, from general observation, Bree is just as much a victim as any young person lured in by a charismatic leader who promises great power, has the need to destroy unbelievers, and feeds on lies. Unfortunately, just when Bree is being de-programmed, she loses her chance at the “true” faith in Meyer’s world. Does Meyer use the cult model because it works narratively, or is it an implicit defense of her own faith that has sometimes been labeled a cult? Either or both possibilities are likely! (Boy, this is long! To quote Col Chamberlin in Gettysburg, “I didn’t mean to preach”!)

James on June 15, 2010 at 3:51 pm

Delighted to read your insightful and perceptive comments, Elizabeth!

I agree that there is a definite cult vs. religion comparison going on, which for many readers, will most certainly work on the “we’re not a cult” level. I think yours is the dominant point re: Riley’s “kids.”

I wonder though if Meyer is also reaching out to people in other — and from her POV, incorrect — faiths. How can they leave it (and thus, become available to join the LDS faith)? A key message: “Just leave, and hurry. Once you believe it to be untrustworthy, what are you waiting for?” I don’t think Meyer has left her faith, but if she has, that would be illuminating.

One other point that I didn’t make above: Maybe my counting is off, yet Bree is very confused about how many vampires there are left (and vamps don’t confuse easily). Why? Because — I believe — that Diego did make it to the clearing. There is a line Bree says that underscores this. I’ll let you all figure that out for yourselves. It is perhaps the most tragic element of the book.

Also, in trying to keep up with the many interviews available this week (at Twilight News Site, “news” is our middle name), I noticed this that relates to what drives vampires to become mass murderers versus vegetarian town doctors. This is a comment from Xavier Samuels,

“Q: Xavier, what did you do to establish your presence in the film?

“Xavier: There’s a lot of competition for who’s the most evil. I had a lot of conversations with David Slade about how to approach Riley and not delve into the clichés of the stereotypical vampire thing. We touched upon that he’s still got human blood pumping through his veins and he’s a tragic figure, in a way. He’s been manipulated, to a certain extent. That was coupled in. Also, he has this extreme hatred for humanity because that’s what he’s been deprived of. He’s extremely jealous, but he also has a heart. I just wanted to do justice to the complexity that Stephenie Meyer has created.”

Arabella Figg on June 15, 2010 at 8:36 pm

James and Elizabeth, I’ve really liked your insights. Another cult tactic is to control people through their bodies. In the 70’s, one blasphemous “Christian” cult drugged those they lured in (I knew someone who was rescued out). Another secular “training seminar” would deny meeting bodily needs–food, sleep, bathroom breaks (the group was the subject of much ridicule). Riley uses such tactics, using thirst and satiation to control his group.

Not only does Riley isolate his cult in Plato’s cave, with no outside contact, he preys upon those who are “cast-off” and alone to begin with, who have serious trust issues which he exploits with paranoia.



  1. Elizabeth says

    Thanks, James, and thank you for your great points, including this nice quotation. As BT was used for the development of the actors playing Bree, Riley, and Victoria, their insights and connections with the text are valuable (though sometimes comments from actors don’t really add much to our thoughts!). And thank you for all the news you deliver! I appreciate your site and the super podcast with John and Steve Walker.
    John has made the point, and a good one, about the wolves and other vampires as representatives of different Christian denominations, some of which are opposed to the “true-faith” Cullens (the Roman Catholic Volturi) and others that co-exist with them in varying degrees of congeniality. This leads me to wonder, if the Cullens had been able to de-program and rescue Bree, or if she had broken off from the group sooner, where would she fit into this world? Would she join the Cullens, or just be a law-abiding but “traditional” vampire like Peter and Charlotte? What about Fred? It’s interesting that many people who were either raised in or sucked into a cult and later leave have no real faith at all later in life. Instead of finding a real faith, they have none, having been so damaged by the cult experience.
    To muddy the water further, I liked the point Sharon made about Bree’s name. Meyer’s use of names is often deliberate( Bella=Beauty or Spanish Elizabeth=Consecrated to God; Edward means “prosperous guardian”!), though I’ve not found much to go on with Diego(it’s a Spanish name for St. James, and his symbol is a shell; Diego and Bree bond hiding bodies under a barnacle-covered stone. It’s a stretch, no?), Bree is usually an abbreviation for Briana (I don’t think Meyer had in mind Bree the Horse from Narnia!), and, as I’ve been up to my neck in Faerie Queene lately prepping for Infinitus, I noticed some connections with Briana in Book VI. She is, initially, a negative figure, prompted by her love for Crudor( gotta love Spenser’s names) to cut off ladies’ hair and knights’ beards to make him a cloak. Calidore, the knight of courtesy, teaches them both some manners and reforms them. This is interesting, since plenty of other discourteous, dangerous, or just plain wrong people in the poem just get their heads whacked off. Briana and her sweetie get a second chance. More meaningful is the reason Spenser used the name. It’s party a swipe (one of many) at the Irish, but also because the meaning he knew of the name was “shrill-voiced”; with the high-pitched vampire voices, it’s a nice touch. Probably the longest of long-shots, of course, but fun to ponder, all the same.

  2. Thank you, Elizabeth. My site is down from over-use for the moment, and I am moving it to another server. Just waiting for the DNS servers to update. Unfortunate, but it offers me some time to comment here.

    This may be fairly obvious to you all, but I have been thinking about the vampire world and the Volturi.

    I don’t disagree with John that many would see their Italian location as he describes (Volterra = Rome). Yet for me, the non-Italian Aro (Following Elizath’s lead, it is a Finnish name for “Infertile ground, swampy area”) and the rest of the Volturi stationed themselves in Italy to invoke their false claims of authority over the vampire world. Italy was the dominant world power at the time of their establishing themselves somewhere near Rome or Venice.

    It’s the “near” that I think is important. A Mormon writer probably wouldn’t expect anyone to see any symbolism if the Volturi lived in, say, St. George, Utah (or the real anti-Utah, California). So the Volturi are up in Tuscany somewhere. Sort of a not-the-Vatican location. Close but no cigar.

    (On a side note, after living in rural Utah for seven years, I have been asked about my religion 4-5 times, and that mostly by non-LDS. They don’t care about my religion; they care about if I am a trustworthy person or not. I noticed in the SLC newspaper that the controversial book upon which John’s LDS’ anti-Catholic observations originated recently went out of print, which is apparently a relief to many LDS: . So I dunno about LDS living outside rural Utah, but here in the “Heart of Utah,” the Catholic parish prospers, and one of my best friends is LDS, married to a Catholic woman, and is about to win an election to county commissioner. The only LDS-Catholic issues I have seen are financial donations LDS headquarters makes to Catholic relief efforts, and to fix up the SLC cathedral. And, of course, Prop 8 stuff.)

    So I suppose that based on my experience, I assumed that the Volturi’s location in Volterra was meant to be more of a false Vatican, a counterfeit. And we certainly see the Volturi’s “false” influence in “Bree Tanner.”

    The Volturi’s religion — their “way of life” — is to be a mass murderer, to resent humanity, and to continue to exalt the Volturi’s assumed authority over everyone else. Their “one rule” is (usually) imposed upon all who are newborn, and they are encouraged to follow their carnal instincts for their “natural food source.”

    In contrast, Carlisle’s culture is more loving, closer, kinder, happier — and much more wealthy (close to $35 billion, according to Forbes Those who join their family must exhibit self-control. I suspect that Meyer intended to underscore this in future books, but that she has sort of written herself into a corner.

    Ah! My site is back online. Phew!

  3. James, this is a brilliant insight:
    “In this allegory, I believe that Freaky Fred reveals the repulsion the damned would feel in the presence of God (or more literally, the godly).”
    Of course! Why didn’t I see that before? And it fits very well with my previous note that we never actually see Fred eating, and he is believed to escape the “cult” in time, and thus to miss destruction at the hands of either the Cullens or Volturi.

    Meyer seems very determined to push us to see that agnosticism (or “I-care-not-ism”) is an unacceptable stance, one fit only for the “dregs”. It is not sufficient for Bree to remain a “nominal” follower of Riley, nor for her to remain if it is only fear that keeps her within the fold, nor for her to argue that she was “brainwashed”. She must struggle to find the truth, and then act upon it.
    It is also not enough to have questions, one must find the answers. And in this, perhaps Bree is a mirror for Meyer, rather than Bella. Maybe this is a reply to John’s claim in Spotlight that Meyer was acting as an apostate in exposing the problems within the LDS church. Meyer is, in this analysis, saying that it isn’t godly to identify problems and then say nothing. One must speak out. (As per Steven Walker’s comments in the podcast.)

    I agree with you about Meyer possibly arguing that those in other religions should get out of their “cults” and come to the true faith, that of the Cullen-LDS. But if this is the case, she seems to have trapped herself with her previously written end, from Eclipse. She did say (on her own site?) that as she got closer to the end of Short Second Life she wished she had written a different ending for Bree. But the reality is, she didn’t in the first run. And that tells us a lot about how she really feels about her own religion. I suspect Meyer didn’t “believe” in her own Carlisle Cullen’s ability to save Bree from punishment by the Volturi, (especially when the life of one who was a more established “seeker” – Bella – was at stake) when she first wrote Eclipse, and so didn’t write it in. She couldn’t see how that could be possible in the reality which the allegory speaks of.

    Perhaps Meyer even questions that the Cullen-LDS church can save people at all, and wonders if the Volturi-Catholic’s rule is the only true rule, no matter how much the Cullens-LDS might struggle to define themselves separately. After all, the Cullens only get to “keep” Bella because the Volturi have allowed it. Is Meyer afraid (even subconsciously) that the LDS church only have the ability to save in so far as they are allowed by the Catholic Church without an open war? Is that why the stand off end of Breaking Dawn was considered sufficient, or all that was possible?

    Also, I think Meyer is showing us that love is not enough to redeem oneself. (Yes, as we thought, Twilight wasn’t just a love story.) If one loves the wrong person (Diego, not Edward) then this will not be sufficient for us to find the true path. If we love the truly godly – Edward, Fred – then we will find the right path to salvation. You will notice that Bree falls for Diego rather than Fred, although it is Fred who offers her the real opportunity to be saved. And, after all, Bree does so much enjoy her “sin”, her Ferry Feast etc, even though she does briefly wonder at how her thirst increases even sooner after it is thoroughly satiated. Diego does nothing to keep her from this sin. With his own separate “cave”, Diego seems to be nothing more than another alternate cult leader, showing the problems of following someone who doesn’t know the truth, compared with the problems of following a liar (Riley).

    Elizabeth, I was wondering about names myself again yesterday. I was considering if Diego is better translated (for Meyer’s purposes) from it’s phonological similatiry to “Deo” or “Deity”, rather than its traditional definition? This would work with the hypothesis in my previous paragraph. But another James – that does muddy the waters! I still get a kick every time I think of Jacob as “supplanter” which he does try so hard to live up to. Though Diego is a supplanter of sorts – after all, if Bree had noticed Fred sooner, and fallen for him, rather than Diego, perhaps she would have been saved after all. She definitely wouldn’t have been induced to follow the newborn army into battle, and thus lost her life.

    On the Volturi and their judgement upon Bree: Bree is indeed guilty of mass murder (Meyer makes that clear at the beginning of the book and again, just before the battle but after Bree has begun to obtain her revelations. But this is not what the Volturi punish her for. They kill her because she has ostensibly been part of an undisciplined killing spree that risked revealing the existence of vampires to the world. And this is actually something of which Bree is innocent – she has always sought to cover up her kills, and indeed has hidden the remains of the kills of others. So from this, we see again that the Volturi are willing to condemn an innocent for their association with the guilty; they are not interested in finding the truth. Rumours of guilt are enough to condemn. This is an interesting analysis of the Catholic Church, perhaps Meyer sees them as the Pharisees of this age.

    Regarding Jasper: As the one Cullen with the least personal faith in the vegetarian lifestyle, the least attachment to the Cullen discipline, it is interesting to note that it was Jasper who chose to cover Bree’s eyes, blocking her from discovering the truth (of the werewolves, but also of which vampire it was that died last) for herself. Jasper was, in this instance, keeping Bree in the dark, putting her back in the “cave”.

    One final comment, on Bree herself: While Bree knew that Riley’s way was wrong, and she surrendered to Carlisle, she was asking for help, not necessarily to become an acolyte. Her lack of interest in Edward shows that she wasn’t captured by his innate beauty/holiness, so she was unlike Bella in that regard. And, perhaps unfortunately, she didn’t get to spend enough time with Carlisle to see in him anything other than immediate salvation. Perhaps that was her ultimate downfall. If she had approached him sooner, what different ending would we have?

  4. Arabella Figg says

    Wow, after all this fascinating analysis, I’m throwing in a few simple things while rereading the book.

    The name Fred means “peace-keeper; peaceful ruler; sage; wise.”

    Meyer’s description of vampires in the sun really struck me this time, that they are mirrors, or reflected glory. Their brilliance comes from that which outside themselves.

    Bree is ash, so who is narrating? I think it would read more logically and with more tension (especially the last sentence) if written in present tense. And I do wish even more that Bree had a more distinct voice.

    I don’t have the view of either/or with Diego and Fred. As I stated on the Surface thread, Diego illuminated Bree to truth; Fred was the salvific figure. Bree began on the correct path, I think, but lost her way through her choice to not go with Fred.

    Bree dismisses vampire beauty in the first pages as my parahrase) “big deal, we’re all pretty.” So is Edward more beautiful than the others (and if he is or isn’t, what does this signify)? Or is he the most beautiful to Bella only because of their love? In other words, is Edward a God or salvific figure to all, or just Bella?

    Plebian stuff, I know….

  5. Sharon, thanks very much. I don’t think was brought up in the podcast, and I may be off on this in my little study of my LDS neighbors, but perhaps one of the causes of doubts among LDS may be that, while they don’t veer so far off into an “all rivers lead to the same ocean” Hindu POV on religions, they do believe that everyone will be held to the beliefs they honestly hold, come Judgment Day.

    So despite their proselytizing and belief they are the one true church, membership doesn’t really matter for anyone else’s salvation. Just theirs (e.g., all the seemingly content-but-homeless vamps out there).

    So if LDS have access to the Truth, and fail to fully discover and internalize it, they fail. Hard. They have what they call the Standard Curriculum that’s taught in Sunday Schools, even though it is clearly incomplete, especially for such a complex and unique theology.

    So they are under pressure to learn as much as they can, on their own, as fast as they can, yet that knowledge immediately places greater responsibilities on their shoulder. And since they do not share the heaven/hell dichotomy, they feel they are in a particularly dire circumstance, since each person more or less gets their own individual level of salvation, based on their faith and conduct. So your observation that Bree “must struggle to find the truth, and then act upon it,” and so forth, is exactly spot on, I think. That’s exactly the key point in the story, in my reading, and it appears to be a Mormon-y point as well.

    And your comparison of Bree to Meyer may also be right on target, also, because they both face a (seemingly possible) close-but-no-cigar scenario come the Last Day. In any case, Meyer appears to present a good, hard look at that possibility for herself/others in Bree Tanner.

    Arabella, you may be right that I am wringing too much specificity out of the story. And I like your point about choice. I’m sure that John or Steve Walker could make many points on this as they did in the podcast, but your observation about the impact of Bree’s choices (or failure to make them) is placed front and center over and again. Before her first hunt, we see that she feels she doesn’t really have a choice. This position comes up repeatedly, including in the final scene, where she debates on running away, becomes preoccupied with thoughts of revenge, and loses her chance to choose.

    I agree that Bree more or less ignoring Edward until late in the final scene shows us that Bella is quite an unreliable narrator. Which is something many observers seem to miss. Including Melissa Rosenberg, in her long interview here. :

  6. Arabella Figg says

    Thanks for the link, James. I look forward to reading it later.

    Once again some more basic comments as I reread the book. But since the conversation has moved here….

    Sharon, you write: “And in this, perhaps Bree is a mirror for Meyer, rather than Bella.” The more I read, the more I’m convinced that Meyer is again writing herself for herself, and doing so with psychological richness. Both characters are fatalistic (feeling they have no choices) and are alike as two peas.

    Meyer’s kids are inauthentic to me. They may act out, but they mostly speak like adults; the oddly and very limited amount of slang (like Diego’s “junkie ho”) practically screams quote marks. Some of Diego’s dialogue is downright odd or clunky for a ghetto kid: “I inferred,” “true, that” (p. 15–what kid would use such an antique phrase? I don’t know adults who do, but perhaps I run with the wrong vampires); “I am not a completely reckless person” instead of “I’m not completely reckless, ya know” or something like that. Is this Meyer’s exposure to mostly Mormon kids, or is she trying to communicate something with this odd kid-speak? And a “super-secret ninja club” sounds at least a decade ago.

    If the kids have laptops to listen to CDs, then they should have devices, because they’re wired. So why would they bother with these, when they could have iPods? I think Meyer may be making a statement about the plugged-in generation, and also in her mockery of text-speak like BFF. As John mentioned in the earlier post, the newbies have no cell phones (which could be seen as a controlling method, but still) as they play almost no part in her books.

    In light of Diego’s conjecture that the newbies are pawns on a chessboard, the whole story seems to be a chessboard, with each character a particular archetype piece (therefore not needing to be authentic. Which brings me back to John’s suggestion that the whole story is an allegory.

  7. Good points, Arabella. FWIW, Diego has something of a a Hispanic accent in the audiobook, as does Bree. The contract between them and Riley is fairly distinct. I figured the lack of cell phones, Internet access and MP3 players is because all of those require ID/credit checks/credit cards. Plus, they are staying in fairly remote locations. If everyone had been on their cell phones, the story would have turned out quite differently. How many wars and battles have been lost through history for want of a cell phone?

    The chessboard allegory is fascinating. I’ll be thinking about that one…

  8. Doh! I meant “contrast,” not “contract” above.

  9. Arabella Figg says

    Contract–written in blood. 😉

    I thought they might not have Internet services because they are nomads, James. Your reasons are better. Since they’re acquiring homes through murder, you’d think they’d have access to their victims’ devices and Internet. But as Riley is doing the acquiring, perhaps he removes them before the newbies come, to maintain control of information; he doesn’t want them thinking at all.

    I first thought of Victoria as the (red) queen; but as the Volturi are above her, perhaps they are, as the “fake” Catholic Church. Would Riley be a bishop? I don’t know enough about chess, so if you find this metaphor worthwhile, you can likely do more.

  10. Thanks, Arabella.

    I thought I’d better take a more careful look at the figures to see where Diego is at the end of the book:
    ___ ___ ___ ___

    At Victoria’s cottage: 22 plus Vic and Riley = 24

    Ashes on floor (-1 vamp): 21 plus Victoria and Riley = 23
    Confirmation: Bree’s headcount just before dawn: 20 plus Vic plus Riley plus absent Diego = 23

    Fred leaves on day of the battle (-1 vamp) = 22 (including Diego)

    Sara kills male blond she doesnt know name of (-1 vamp) (including Diego, Bree, Victoria and Riley): 21

    Victoria + Riley + Total at battle including Bree with Diego = 21

    (Carlisle says there were 18, including Bree, at first; Edward adds Victoria and Riley to the count, 20)

    Jane’s tally of the group defeated by the Cullens: 20
    ___ ___ ___ ___

    So, it appears that I was wrong, and that Diego didn’t survive the conversation with Riley. 🙁

  11. James Diego just might have survived the conversation but not been at the fight; he wasn’t there when Riley spilt the beans about where the fight would be, after all… though this does mean that the hidden vampire who fought Jacob could not have been Fred. So that is strange. Who else, other than Bree, Diego and Fred had the intelligence (or even a reason) to hide from the battle?

    And on the topic of cell phones etc, I just thought they were all too caught up in their blood lust to be able to head into a shop and buy one (all that warm blood to distract one from one’s intended purpose). Not to mention the problems with opening hours and sunlight. And I imagine they are too busy feeding and then cleaning up after themselves to steal one from all their victims. These would be limiting factors if Riley did indeed get rid of those devices laying around that might be used for communication.

    But then, when all you have to live for is blood glorious blood, what do you really need a cell phone for anyway? It’s not like any of them had such great friendships with each other that they couldn’t bear to be apart. Victoria had a short leash on Riley, it appeared, so she wasn’t so worried about ringing him to check up.

    Sorry about all that bold in my last comment, by the way.

  12. Thanks, Sharon. I was wondering about the hiding vampire, too. Who was that?!?

    I thought of a reason why they wouldn’t steal their victim’s phones — they could be tracked (say, by police investigating the murder) via the cell phone’s location whenever they made a call. And I think you’re right. Riley & Victoria didn’t want them to survive, and they were too preoccupied with blood to think about anything otherwise. They hate each other, and are truly in hell.

    What I could never understand about the cell phones is how the vamps (namely the Cullens in the other books) appear to be unable to overhear conversations while someone else is speaking on the phone, say, while Bella is talking to James at the hotel in Phoenix.

  13. Arabella Figg says

    You’d think Jasper, the “sensitive” would have picked up on Bella’s stress, too.

    In her vision of newborns, Meyer strips them down to walking Ids…like the Immortal Children. Newborn tempestuous toddlers. Who think the height of fun is destroying each other, just because. Hell, all right.

    As for cells, who would these newborns call? And they’re destructive of what they have. Still, I think Meyer may be making a statement by her exclusion of the Internet and devices, even if it’s only that these newborns are stripped down to their most primitive level.

  14. Arabella Figg says

    The more I think about it, we’re being given a “sideways” look at the Immortal Children. Given the newborns’ extremely short attention spans, destructive tendencies, obstreperousness, lack of inhibition or independent thought, and blood obsession, imagine what the Children were like. How awful to say it, but no wonder they were destroyed. What were their “parents” thinking?

    Another thing. It seems that all vamps are made when they’re pretty young; have we seen mature adult vamps apart from Caius (or is it Marcus)? When Carlisle says he was attacked by an old vamp, he’s not talking about human age, but weakness of long years as a vamp ditto, I think, the one who turned Alice. Does this have anything to do with all vamps being so beautiful? Is there an age where being turned isn’t the best?

  15. Arabella Figg says

    Sorry for the triple posting. I just finished my re-read. On the surface, we learn the nature of Jane’s torture. It occurs to me that Bree’s lack of fear at the end may have been due to Jasper’s intervention. Also, Fred does feed, although we’re not given description.

  16. Elizabeth says

    Wow! What a great conversation! It seems there is significant use of perception shift and double meaning in BT, especially once she encounters the Cullens. Jasper’s blocking of her senses both serves to keep her in the dark about the wolves in case she is tortured (and she is) by the Volturi into spilling her guts, and protects her from knowing the wolves’ secret and making her a target if she escapes. While Jasper probably uses his ability to calm Bree before her inevitable death, I was particularly struck by the double meaning of Edward’s command, “Don’t watch”; when we read Eclipse, we assume he is talking to Bella, so she won’t see Bree finished off by the Volturi, but he is, it seems, also talking to Bree, or she thinks so, as she closes her eyes before she is dismembered.
    I’ve also really enjoyed all the chess connections, as it’s always fun to imagine what pieces literary characters will be, and, as Bella’s mirror, Bree is the pawn who doesn’t make it all the way across the board to be queen. Interestingly, I saw a real connection in this regard to the treatment of the mutant army in the third X-Men movie ( those films use chess often, and we know Meyer loves the X-men; they are all over the place. Incidentally, the film’s Colossus is the actor who now plays Felix). Magneto restrains Pyro, one of his “better pieces,” as the expendable horde rushes against the humans, saying, “In chess, the pawns go first”; when they are decimated, he shrugs, “That’s why the pawns go first.” It seems Victoria and Riley may have attended the Magneto Leadership Seminar!

    (On another movie side note, I had mentioned earlier the hat tip to I Am Legend with Bree moving through the alphabet on books like Robert Neville does through DVDs, but I had forgotten until now that the mannequin he stations outside the video store, and whom the “infected” move to trap him, is named “Fred”)

  17. Arabella Figg says

    I wrote above: “Bree is ash, so who is narrating? I think it would read more logically and with more tension (especially the last sentence) if written in present tense.”

    Howevever, I’ve been rethinking this view. One of the main issues of the Saga is whether vampires have souls, souls which can go to heaven. As Bree has made the choice for Cullen righteousness, and aiding them, and she speaks in past tense, does this make an argument for Bree’s salvation, for her telling her story as a soul in heaven?

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