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Wednesday, June 9, 2010

The Light in the Darkness – How Reading a Vampire Book Taught Me More about Faith - In Search of the Voice - part 1


Voice is important.

To hear someone’s voice is to know they are alive.

A person’s voice is evidence of their presence, a window to their character, and a mark of uniqueness. Voice is the essence of the inner being, the reflection of a life’s soul.

Why else would parents wait with bated breath for their child’s first words?

Or why do we, after loosing a loved one, save their voice on a voice mail recording?

What’s the first thing we say when calling someone we haven’t spoken to in a while? It’s so good to hear your voice.

Voice not only conveys an individual’s thoughts, but also the feelings behind those thoughts. Tone of voice adds a level of depth to the facts we hear.

Voice, though, is also subject to interpretation. Like beauty is in the eye of the beholder, so does meaning translate through the ears of the hearer. And the hearer is laden with beliefs filtering the voice and attaching meaning of its own. It’s the dance that governs effective communication.

To a writer, Voice delivers character, an essential building block of story.

In New Moon, the concept of Voice is essential. Hearing and knowing Edward’s voice is central to almost everything that happens to Bella. She’s had six months to absorb his essence, allow his presence to change her on a molecular level (even though the actual physical change is still far ahead in her future). At this point in their relatively stress-free relationship, they’ve grown to know each other – likes, dislikes, mood swings and tendencies, unspoken understandings and established affection. Bella’s had a constant dose of him for a good amount of time.

His sudden absence, then, punches a void through her life, like a massive black hole in outer space. After hearing his last spoken words, “Goodbye, Bella,” she goes months without any indication that he even exists, aside from the pain his leaving causes. To cope, she shuts down. She sits in darkness, shock having rendered her almost catatonic. She’s launched into her wilderness with traumatic and devastating force. And a frightening nothingness haunts her dreams, clinging to every part of her being.

Forced into the land of the living by her father, she learns to function in a way that fulfills the definition of normal while still protecting herself with the utmost caution. She’s stepped up from being a catatonic to being a zombie. Alive, but not really.

But in this semi-alive state, her senses awake. Another episode in Port Angeles puts her in a dangerous situation, and it is in this adrenaline-amped moment that his voice is able to break through.

Bella says that at the very moment she heard his voice, though as jolting as a defibrillator to an arrested heart, everything became clear (NM, p.111). She’s alive for the first time in months because she’s reminded of his existence. His voice has stayed inside her all this time, even when she couldn’t let herself hear it.

Funny thing is, she disobeys his voice immediately. He tells her to stop what she’s doing, and she blatantly refuses in order to hear him scold her again. According to what she believes, the voice is a gift, but a delusion at the same time because she thinks she only imagines the anger in his voice conveying concern, care and love. Comfort, nonetheless, comes from hearing it, and thus hearing his voice becomes her new pursuit.

She also believes that hearing him only comes through acting recklessly. Her new pursuit sends her into rebellion, then, as she breaks her promise to him not to be reckless as well as ignores his commands to stop what she’s doing when she does hear his voice.

At first, Edward’s voice tells her things she would have known he would say just from being with him so often beforehand. In Port Angeles, while riding motorcycles with Jacob, even in the meadow with Laurent, Edward’s warnings reflect the personality that she is acquainted with.

But then, his voice turns prophetic. When Bella confronts Jacob about why they can’t be friends any more, before she knows he’s a werewolf, Edward’s voice warns her to give him space, not to push him. How would Bella have known to think that? Even Bella is surprised to hear Edward’s voice at that moment because she doesn’t feel afraid, which she assumes is the prerequisite to hearing him. Knowledge of him reaches beyond her own understanding, although she only becomes aware of it in retrospect.

The event culminating her quest to hear his voice has her cliff jumping. Again his voice begs her not to, and again she argues and ultimately disobeys. Once she’s caught in the rip tide, the voice begs her to fight, not give up, to keep swimming. Again, she ignores him, embracing what she thinks is the happiest she’ll ever be.

A lot happens between cliff jumping and winding up in Edward’s arms again. But when she does, when her wilderness has come to an end and the light has returned, Bella still does not see truth right away. It takes much convincing for her to realize why all this happened, and to trust the future Edward promises her.

Doubts have attached like a cancer to every belief she has. Even with his actual voice whispering in her ear, she struggles to accept truth based on her own understanding stemming from her experiences.

Edward tries everything. Logic, words, kisses – she rebuts it all.

It’s the Voice that finally convinces her. That she heard him while he was not there opens her eyes to truth. Seeing it for the first time, she admits her doubt with these words:

But what if… What if you sincerely believed something was true, but you were dead wrong? What if you were so stubbornly sure that you were right, that you wouldn’t even consider the truth? Would the truth be silenced, or would it try to break through? Third option: Edward loved me. (NM, p527)

That’s Bella’s story. How does it relate to us hearing our Perfect Lover’s voice?

Tune in Friday for my thoughts. Thanks for stopping by today!

(click for next chapter: In Search of the Voice - part 2)

(photos by photobucket.com)

1 comments:

lynnrush said...

Another good one, Lori.
Funny how we hear a voice then immediately disobey it. LOL.

Nice insight.