As we continue to examine The Twilight Saga in the light of the Gospel, it is worth noting the negative treatment given to marriage and family life in the series.
To begin, it is essential to know that Bella is the child of divorce, but has sought no healing for that wound. The ongoing ramifications of her parents’ divorce permeate the story, but Bella does not seem to be aware of the impact it has had in shaping, or in this case, deforming her character. Without healing, dysfunction breeds further dysfunction.
This is clear in Bella’s attitude toward both of her parents. She refers to her parents by their first names. They do not hold a position of authority over her. She treats them as somehow less than peers – almost as if they are her children. This is what she says about her mother:
“I’d spent most of my life taking care of Renee, patiently guiding her away from her craziest plans, good-naturedly enduring the ones I couldn’t talk her out of. I’d always been indulgent with my mom, amused by her, even a little condescending to her. I saw her cornucopia of mistakes and laughed privately to myself. Scatterbrained Renee. I was a different person from my mother. Someone thoughtful and cautious. The responsible one, the grown up. That’s how I saw myself. That was the person I knew.” (Eclipse, p.45)
Her mother, Renee, abandoned her father, Charlie, when Bella was only a few months old. Renee took Bella with her, but allowed her to spend a month with her father every summer. But her mother’s irresponsibility is one key to Bella’s problems: “I didn’t relate well to people my age. Maybe the truth was that I didn’t relate well to people, period.” (Twilight, p.10) When a child is forced to parent their own parent, the world is turned upside down and the ability to relate to others is damaged.
This lack of a father is equally problematic for Bella. She arrives at her dad’s house, greeted with “an awkward, one-armed hug” (Twilight, p. 5). She walks in to see “a wedding picture of Charlie and my mom in Las Vegas, then one of the three of us in the hospital after I was born, taken by a helpful nurse, followed by the procession of my school pictures up to last year’s. Those were embarrassing to look at… It was impossible, being in this house, not to realize that Charlie had never gotten over my mom. It made me uncomfortable. I didn’t want to be too early to school, but I couldn’t stay in the house anymore.” (Twilight, p. 12) When Bella’s father brings up a friend they would go fishing with during their summers together, she can’t remember the man, saying “I do a good job of blocking painful, unnecessary things from my memory.” (Twilight, p. 6) The memory of her parents’ marriage, the thought of her father’s vulnerability or pain, the lack of his presence growing up – this is all too much for Bella. So, she has become adept at blocking things out – a skill that contributes enormously to her willingness to enter into an unhealthy (deadly) relationship. In addition, we have this sentiment expressed by Bella when her father gets up early one morning to put snow chains on the tires of her truck: “My throat suddenly felt tight. I wasn’t used to being taken care of, and Charlie’s unspoken concern caught me by surprise.” (Twilight, p.55) A show of concern makes her throat feel tight. She has been so deprived of appropriate parental care that the experience of some causes a physical reaction. That is serious. However, the author never makes reference to Bella being abnormal or dysfunctional – but she is clearly both.
Is it any surprise, then, to witness Bella’s reaction to Edward’s desire to marry her: “So you can ask for any stupid, ridiculous thing you want – like getting married – but I’m not allowed to even discuss what I…” (Eclipse, p.443) She never quite overcomes this sentiment that marriage is stupid and ridiculous, but she does consent to it in order to get Edward to agree to engage in sexual relations with her and allow her to become a vampire. Shortly before the big day, we get some insight into her mind: “I briefly contemplated my issues with words like fiance, wedding, husband, etc. I just couldn’t put it together in my head. On the one hand, I had been raised to cringe at the very thought of poofy white dresses and bouquets. But more than that, I just couldn’t reconcile a staid, respectable, dull concept like husband with my concept ofEdward. It was like casting an archangel as an accountant; I couldn’t visualize him in any commonplace role.” (Breaking Dawn, p.6)
And Bella’s attitude to becoming a mother?
“I’d never imagined myself as a mother, never wanted that. It had been a piece of cake to promise Edward that I didn’t care about giving up children for him, because I truly didn’t. Children, in the abstract, had never appealed to me. They seemed to be loud creatures, often dripping some form of goo. I’d never had much to do with them. When I’d dreamed of Renee providing me with a brother, I’d always imagined anolder brother. Someone to take care of me, rather than the other way around.” (Breaking Dawn, p.132)
This is so, so very unnatural! But it is consistent with her upbringing. The girl spent her childhood parenting a parent. Why would she want to be a parent again? Nevertheless, she does seem to make an exception for Edward’s child, “This child, Edward’s child, was a whole different story. I wanted him like I wanted the air to breathe.” (Breaking Dawn, p.132) She uses the frightening term “wanted” – a common term used by pro-abortion forces – “Every child a WANTED child” – as if the value of a child can be determined by the fact that it is wanted by the mother.
So for Bella, marriage is stupid and ridiculous, a husband is dull, and babies are loud creatures dripping goo (unless, of course, the child is WANTED). Her painful, unhealed wounds left from her parents divorce shatter her concept of what is true, good and beautiful – and she is then held up as the heroine in the story in spite of life choices which amount to abject failure. So tell me again – WHY should we let our daughters read this?