Twilight
Stephenie Meyer
Contributed by Sung Miele
Chapter 18
Summary

As Edward drives up to Charlie’s house, he and Bella saw Jacob and Billy Black waiting in the driveway. Bella says she’ll take care of Billy and Edward agrees, reminding her that she has to break the news to Charlie about meeting her new boyfriend. He kisses Bella and she sees Billy Black reacting badly to this. Bella greets the Blacks by herself; Billy brought some of Harry Clearwater’s homemade fish fry - Charlie’s favorite. She puts it in the fridge at his suggestion and Billy sends Jacob back to the car on a ruse to find a photo of Rebecca. When Billy and Bella are alone, they discuss the Cullens and Billy is surprised at how much Bella already knows, including the agreement with the Quileute. He tries to warn Bella away from the Cullens but she holds her ground. Jacob returns, not finding the photo, and Billy says it’s time for them to leave.

Alone in the house, Bella tries to find something to wear that evening and decides on something casual, then gets a phone call from Jessica about the dance last night, including the news that Mike kissed her. Charlie arrives home while she’s talking, and she tells him that she’d been at the Cullens all morning and has a date with Edward Cullen that night. Charlie is alarmed at first, but it turns out he’s mistaking Emmett for Edward - and getting Edward’s name wrong in the bargain. While he thinks Emmett looks too mature, he has no problem with Edward and is even impressed that she’ll be playing baseball with his family, given her antipathy to sports. Edward soon arrives and is invited in to sit for a minute: he and Charlie hit things off, but Bella rushes off with her date anyway. Charlie asks Edward to take care of Bella and Edward sincerely promises that she’ll be safe with him. Outside, both Swans are shocked by the monster Jeep Edwards drove there; as they leave, Edward explains it’s Emmett’s and that he brought it because he didn’t think Bella wanted to run the whole way. Bella is alarmed at the thought of riding on Edward’s back for another of his runs through the forest, but closes her eyes and does so. Before they go, however, he kisses her again and she reacts the same way she did last time, again forcing him to break it off.

Soon they arrive at their destination - and Bella is mad at him when he starts laughing at her bewildered reaction, but also in part for his anger earlier at the kiss. He explains he wasn’t mad at her but at himself and how he puts her at risk. As it turns out, the game is being played in an enormous field hidden among the Olympic Mountains, and is twice the size of a standard baseball field. The Cullens split into teams of three - as Esme plays referee and keeps Bella company. It then becomes clear to Bella why they have to play during a storm - the crack of the bat hitting the ball and of the players running into each other were thunderous events, and could only be hidden by actual thunder.

Alice suddenly reacts strangely and says that their game is attracting the travelers that she had foreseen arriving later and they would be there in less than five minutes. Alice says they want to play and that there are three of them; Carlisle says they should continue the game but Edward switches places with Esme in order to guard Bella. The game continues halfheartedly until the Cullens sense the immediate arrival of the visitors.

Analysis

Bella breaking the news about her boyfriend Edward is played for comedic effect, showing how her worries are so esoteric - disapproval that she’s involved with a vampire - that she doesn’t take into account the more everyday concerns a father would have about any boy interested in his daughter. The fact that he gets Emmett and Edward mixed up and cannot even get Edward’s name right at first again shows how little humans pay attention. The notion of vampires playing baseball is unusual - but again, not completely unheard-of - and the joke at the end of last chapter is that it’s the "American pastime", as if the Cullens are a typical American family. The description of the actual game bears out something different, however, but still very much a part of pop culture Americana: the game is so outsized by the vampires’ abilities that it approaches the stature of a tall tale, such as Paul Bunyan or Johny Henry. Further, the use of thunder to hide the sound of their hits and body collisions calls to mind the story of Rip Van Winkle where games of ninepins sound like thunder. It is a deeply witty manner to re-imagine both the nature of tall tales as well as the role of vampires as pop cultural figures.

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