Saturday, August 16, 2008

Going there just one more time...

Renay posted about my lack of (good) logic in my initial post on if people are taking Breaking Dawn too seriously. And she is right. Mostly.

I did skip over the details of Bella's pregnancy because well they're uncomfortable and squirmy and illogical in and of themselves. I mean the baby does develop within her womb in a matter of weeks, not even a full month. And that itself takes it out of the realm of possibility. There can be no human parallels. Also, the fact that it's half-vampire. That's a problem. Human babies take their nourishment from their mother, from the food the mother eats. But since this is half-vampire, all the baby wants is blood. Lots and lots of blood. Until someone thinks of that possibility, the baby is in fact killing Bella.

Bella's situation can't be cut and pasted into real life. It's impossible. It's mostly stupid. There will never in a million years be a situation like Bella's. Where there is a half-vampire baby thirsting for blood, developing too quickly, and needing to be delivered a bit prematurely--before it can eat its way out.

Yes, there are certain situations that you can maybe see parallels. There are pregnant women whose lives are at risk by their pregnancy for various medical reasons. These women (or these couples) are asked to decide in most cases--or encouraged strongly in others--to end the pregnancy to save the mother's life. In some cases, the pregnancy could not make it to full term, the fetus would not be viable outside the mother's body, and the decision seems to be more cut and dry. In other cases, there might be a chance, a percentage be it small or large where the baby might in fact survive even if the mother's chances lessen if the pregnancy continues. And the argument here seems to be that Meyer was clearly and without any subtlety making a political statement about these very real-life cases when she placed Bella in that situation. That Meyer was trying to insert pro-life propaganda into this situation by having Bella consider the life of her unborn baby to be equally important to her own life.

I guess my stance would be that although Bella is dying from this pregnancy (and I did address the super-sperm issue on my review itself the day before--called it miracle gro vampire sperm) it is still her choice, her body.

Bella and Rose are the only two people (I believe) that think this is a good decision, a wise decision. These are really the only two that see it as a baby, a precious and unique life. Everyone else thinks Bella is absolutely crazy, completely bonkers. They think she's being an idiot to even consider going on with this pregnancy. Edward doesn't see it as "his precious" baby. He sees it dangerous. He sees it as replaceable. Why else would he suggest to Jacob that he convince Bella to end this pregnancy? Why else would he suggest to Jacob that if the loss of this baby--his baby--makes Bella too sad that he (Jacob) should have sex with her and give her some pups. Jacob doesn't really see it as a baby either. He sees it as a potential monster. All of them see it as a monster. Something dangerous. Something that might be vicious. Something uncontrollably wild.

But they respect (albeit begrudgingly) that it's her decision, her choice, her body. They stand by her decision even when they don't like it. Bella is at least partly aware, and everyone else in the Cullen household (including Jacob and his two werewolf friends that have defected from the other pack) is aware that most people would disagree with Bella in this situation. That the majority opinion is that she should consider her life to be more important always.

Here is where it gets tricky. I don't think there is a right and wrong answer. Bella is the only one who knows what she can live with. And Edward is making it easy for her. She's not choosing between life and death. Not really. She's choosing between continued human life where she'd have to live with her own guilt and regrets (guilt and regrets that she and she alone would place on herself). And becoming a vampire. The thing that she's always wanted. She knows beyond a shadow of a doubt that Edward (and the other vampires) will do everything--go to all costs--to save her. Sure there's a bit of risk that Edward couldn't turn her in time, but she's willing because she has faith in Edward to see her through. She wants it all. She wants to be a vampire; she wants to be a mother. She sees her pregnancy as getting to that goal a bit quicker than Edward might have allowed it to happen.

So what it comes down to is one of choice. One woman's choice as to what happens to her own body. If ethics is by majority vote, then Bella would have been outvoted. Bella was without a doubt making the "wrong" decision, the stupid decision, the decision that would ultimately cost her her life if this wasn't a fiction monstrosity of a book. But it would still be her decision to make. Unless someone close to her possibly went over her head and declared her incompetent and unable to make her own decisions.

This dilemma Bella faces is a quicksand type issue. It's not a pretty one to advertise by any means. It was squirmy to read about. I don't think most people would make the same decision Bella made, but just because we may not agree with her doesn't mean that she shouldn't have the option to choose. Allowing someone the right to choose means allowing them to choose. Sometimes we agree with their choice, sometimes we won't. In fact, there may be cases where we strongly, strongly disagree. But the right to choose isn't limited to being allowed to choose only what we agree with and nothing else. That isn't choice.

I don't think it's dangerous for Meyer to have gone there. Because I don't think readers can read it without thinking about it. Without questioning this whole section. Without judging for themselves if Bella's choice was good or bad, smart or dumb. I don't think readers will blindly follow Bella on and say, "Bella did it, and so it must be right. If this ever happens to me, I'll do just as she did." I think most people can separate fiction from real life. And most aren't looking to be "persuaded" politically speaking by reading vampire fiction.

(On a complete side tangent, this issue has come up on soap operas before. All My Children. I remember when Kendall was dying; yes, dying, and in a coma. And there was extreme risk for Kendall. Many people wanted to end the pregnancy and have Kendall's life be saved. Her chances for surviving would go up if there wasn't the baby to consider. But her husband, Zack, (or is it Zach???) fought (both legally and quite illegally) to save the baby's life. He knew that is what Kendall would have wanted. I don't remember any commotion, any fuss, any arguments about how the soap opera was trying to brainwash the public. Trying to "persuade" people to believe one way or the other about human rights or pro-life or pro-choice. I think most people a) realized it was just a soap opera and therefore fiction b) realized it was a soap opera and therefore everything would work all right in the end--after all I don't think her acting contract was up c) realized that it was just one possible choice.)

I think there are two primary reasons Breaking Dawn is being picked on

a) It's a bit illogical. And there are gaping holes in Meyer's logic within the story itself.
b) Stephenie Meyer is Mormon. (Mormons are conservative. Mormons are different.) She's being accused of trying to spread "Mormon" religious beliefs AND of loading conservative propaganda into her fiction.

© Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews


Unknown said...
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Unknown said...

Well said Becky!
People are taking this way too seriously! There's even a YA author saying on her blog that Breaking Dawn is racist and linking it to Meyer being a Morman! There is so much wrong with her logic - I can't even begin to get started on it here! It's fiction people!

Anyway, thank for all of your hard work on this wonderful blog!

Anonymous said...

I couldn't agree more. Honestly, when I read Breaking Dawn, I never once thought Meyer was forcing her beliefs on us. It's fiction, it's not suppose to be real.

Although I do have one contention....when you say "Edward doesn't see it as "his precious" baby.", that doesn't stay true throughout the whole story. Once Edward hears the baby from within Bella, the baby became completely real to Edward and his entire stance changed. He was loving the idea of a child and once they figured out what it needed, they got it. Yeah, he was still concerned, but what husband/father isn't going to be concerned for their pregnant mate?

Honestly, people are just looking for ways to trample on Meyer's success. They did the same thing with Rowlings and her Harry Potter series.

Renay said...

You make excellent points! I am glad you built on your last post and I read your review; everything makes more sense now. I was serious! Usually when you post your opinion we like, always match. It's sort of cool but maybe sort of creepy, too, like we're sharing a brain.

We can't apply these situations to our reality, but we sure can extrapolate a lot for discussion (uhhh I like discussion, but I guess that is obvious?). I didn't read the book (ha ha, oops), so I didn't have a good knowledge of the arguments back and forth about Bella's health—it's good context, and sort of drives home my point that these issues are probably there, even if Meyer wasn't consciously thinking about them. It is a good ethical position for the book. Maybe it's good that they're there, so these kinds of dialogues can happen. But it's never the fact that Bella chooses for me personally. Her body, her choice to have the baby—YES. Her choice! Go, Bella, go! Exercise those rights.

It's the psychic baby. I would be able to let everything else go, if it wasn't for the pyschic baby. That changes every single dynamic about choice for me, and it makes me wonder why Meyer made that decision besides the baby being a miracle vampeal. That's all. It's just me going, "there's something we might want to examine a little closer...why did she do that?"

I'm sorry in advance; the folks saying people like me are imagining issues just so we can pick on Meyer (because we're meanies and we hate conservative family values!) and there's no way these things exist and people who see them should just stuff it and don't read the books if they're upsetting have driven me crazy. I admit I have a problem with the anti-criticism vibe I get from the Twilight fandom sometimes, like I'm lame and dumb for say, enjoying breaking down the Twilight Saga to see how it ticks, as if I have to have fan-cred to do so. It's not like there's a rule somewhere that says you have to enjoy 3/4 novels in a duology to have a critical opinion of it. I mean, Meyer sort of walked into this with BD; she broke the rules of the reality she invented, created illogical situations, and then had some sketchy issues on top of that. It happens when you publish anything, anywhere. Your work gets examined by a lot of people who will probably disagree with you. I'm a writer, man, that's what I do. People write; I critique. You can get degrees in this stuff! Crazy.

I'm afraid some of the above frustration might have come across in my initial entry, and it wasn't at all directed at you. It was a general frustration. The only point of yours I was addressing was the pro-life advocation, since a lot of the concern I've seen calling out the pro-life stance isn't because of Bella's choice, it's pro-life because the baby gets to be, well, a human being with consciousness, with the minor annoyance of not being officially born. I am trying to imagine the novel without that particular feature and how it would have altered the story; if anything fundamental would have changed. You can only take it so far, though. Nessie (forgive me for not having a clue how to spell the other name) is an important character, so her not being born was never an option. I honestly just wonder why the psychic powers were necessary besides proving that Nessie was like, Super Baby. Minus that particular and what do we get? I just think it's an interesting question!

It probably means I should give in and read the book.

Admittedly, I'm not a) conservative or b) religious, but I have tried from the very beginning to make sure I didn't discredit someone for their position because of b). I'm not out on Mormon/religion hunts, or to say that pro-life/pro-choice stances are wrong/right—there is no such thing. If I failed in this, I apologize!

Jennie said...

Have we come to a point where we are no longer allowed to have a young, pregnant character? If they have the baby, it's Pro-Life propaganda! (I mean, we saw this with Juno, too) and if they don't, it's Pro-Choice! (and will probably end up on the banned list)

Obviously, books should just start ignoring fertility all together.


But seriously... that birth scene? Very squicky--I had to put the book down for awhile and I've have seen the real thing.

I think ANYTHING with this level of popularity is going to be over analyzed from every angle, which is sad.

Renay said...

Why I am so frustrated Part #72517. Keys: the replies in this entry.

"If they have the baby, it's Pro-Life propaganda!...I think ANYTHING with this level of popularity is going to be over analyzed from every angle, which is sad."

What I and others doing is called literary analysis; it's analyzing, there is no over about it. If I wanted to over analyze something, I would point out that it's awfully fishy that in the Twilight saga, Quil imprints on a toddler named Claire and how that relates to the character in Lolita named Clare Quilty. That might be nitpicking and over analyzing. Analysis happens all the time, with all kinds of books. It doesn't mean those who analyze are taking it too seriously. There are college degrees for this and it's funny that this entire entry is doing the same thing we are, and yet no one is accusing Becky of over analyzing—she's raising excellent discussion points and I am thrilled because I like her discussions and thoughts! It's troubling to me that the only people over analyzing are those who have something negative to say.

I don't remember reading anything in any of Becky's entries or my entries about detractors talking about pro-life propaganda. I (and some others) have suggested Meyer was writing from a pro-life stance, one I personally think is neither negative nor positive—I just think the issue is there, whether she intended it or not. It's a little misleading to refer to our charges as propaganda. I'm not indicting pro-lifers; that would be silly.

Half my frustration with this series is the dismissal of my opinions about it as a reader from the fanbase, and it has happened over and over with these books and I absolutely do not understand why. It's insulting and hurtful to be called out for wanting to have an intelligent discussion about a book. Are we really to the point where intelligent discussion is worthy of derision?

Well, I'm officially depressed, if so.

Meanwhile, Becky, I am sorry for dragging a bunch of tl;dr into your comments! It wasn't my intention to start a bash-war against critics. Apologies. ♥

Becky said...

Renay, it's all good. Healthy discussion is welcome :)

Jennie said...

Renay, given that you quoted my comments, I'm assuming that you were responding to what I wrote and taking it rather personally.

I'm sorry but my comments were, in no way, directed at you. They were actually a response to the post that Becky wrote. A post that was a response to a post on whether people were taking Breaking Dawn too seriously. So, obviously, so people are over-analyzing the book IN GENERAL.

And you're right, you didn't refer to the book as pro-life propaganda, but Becky's post did! (It's in the bolded section.)

The point of my post, which I must not have made clear, is that I am sad it's being labeled as Pro-Life Propaganda, because I'm pretty sure that if she hadn't kept the baby, if would be labeled as Pro-Choice propaganda.

This makes me sad for many reasons, but the main reason is that I fear that we will never be able to have a very popular work feature a young, female character being pregnant without the work being labeled as being propaganda for one side of the abortion debate or the other, even if the text doesn't support such a claim.

Serena said...

I just want to say that as a writer whatever your experiences and beliefs may be, those things that make up who you are will definitely influence writing. Regardless of whether Meyer is mormon or not, the point should be and always be that the book is FICTION! MADE UP...Fantasy.

I enjoyed your analysis and reviews here on the blog and linked to your posts on my review. Thanks for posting these comments and analyses.