Bitten: Meet (Chapter 5)

Content note: rape culture

Elena decides that since she can’t win a fight with Jeremy, and since it’d be impossible to get a flight home now anyway, let alone a cab to the airport, she might as well sleep. She calls home to let Phil know she arrived safe first:

With each unanswered ring, I felt a stab of disappointment. He was probably in bed already. When the machine clicked on, I thought of hanging up, calling back and hoping the additional ringing would wake him, but I knew I was being selfish.

This rings strangely true to me; after all the fuckery Jeremy pulled on her, she wants to connect with someone who treats her well and doesn’t manipulate her or make insane demands, and it’s a minor, irrational, yet very real feeling of betrayal when he happens to be asleep at 3am instead of answering the phone.

Waking up in my room at Stonehaven was like awakening into a Victorian nightmare. The canopied bed alone was bad enough, something straight out of “The Princess and the Pea”, and it only got worse. A Hepplewhite ceder chest at the foot of my bed held wood-scented down comforters, just in case the two Egyptian cotton duvets on my bed weren’t enough. Layers of opulent lace billowed around the window, streaming over a satin-covered window seat.

The room actually sounds quite lovely, but I can see why she hates it; this place holds enough terrible memories to make it forever tainted in her mind.

(Unless this is another Mary Sue Trait: she’s Not Like Other Girls and hates anything feminine. But I’m not going to make that assumption just yet.)

More rape culture:

A werewolf’s only reason for delving into the mind of a woman is to find the best way to get her into bed. Most of them can’t even be bothered learning that. If you’re ten times stronger than the gorgeous redhead standing at the bar, why waste your money buying her a drink?

Excuse me while I vomit. In case you’re confused, that is Not. Okay.

More tragic backstory:

The person who bit me had betrayed me in the worst possible way. I’d loved him, trusted him, and he’d turned me into a monster and then left me with Jeremy. To say I reacted badly was an understatement. […] Within a week, Jeremy had to lock me in the cage. My Changes became as uncontrolled as my rages, and nothing Jeremy could say would make me listen. I despised him. He was my captor, the only one around upon whom I could heap the blame for every torment, physical and emotional, I was undergoing. If the cage was my hell, Jeremy was my Satan.

I have absolutely no problem with this reaction, by the way. It seems appropriate. She’s had her free will violated and become a prisoner, regularly tortured (not by Jeremy but by the changes in her own body as a result of the bite) and denied freedom. It makes total sense to react with uncontrolled rage, just as much as it would reacting with uncontrolled tears or a hunger strike or adapting nicely.

Anyway, so she ran away, but realized that not having the cage was worse because she was killing people now to feed her wolf hunger. So she “never tried to escape again” — until she up and left 14 months ago, but I guess that doesn’t count?

Another verbal altercation with Clay, and then there’s breakfast, again surprising her because Jeremy doesn’t cook.

I knew I spent too much time dwelling on this, struggling to interpret his every gesture, far too eager to see some sign of approval. Maybe I was still stuck in the old patterns of childhood, wanting a father more than I’d admit.

And that’s probably why he keeps almost-but-not-quite saying he missed her and wants her to come home; emotional manipulation meant to keep her in line with the Pack policies.

We finally get to the reason she left; she’d been the second pack enforcer, the one who Jeremy sends when there’s need for finesse and caution. She’d had a case just before she left, and she’d had to kill the guy. Realizing that she was acting just like Clay scared her enough to send her packing. Again, fair enough, that’s reasonable.

And we meet the rest of the Pack! There’s Nick, who is tall and dark haired and calls her “little sister” but kisses her like a girlfriend; Antonio, Nick’s father who shares his “wavy dark hair and heart-stopping brown eyes”, and Peter, who is “short and wiry with an easy grin and wild red hair”. Logan, another wolf who Elena counts as a real friend, won’t be coming.

Finally we get Clay’s backstory! Born werewolves don’t change until puberty, but Clay had been bitten as a small child and was found living feral in the swamps of Louisiana at age 7 or 8.

Jeremy had brought the boy home and tried to civilize him. As it turned out, the task was as impossible as civilizing a wild animal. The best you can hope for is to tame it. Clay had lived on his own as a werewolf for so long that he no longer remembered being human.

Apparently you can’t civilize Clay, just “tame” him so well he earns a Ph.D. Okay. Whatever.

Clay was introduced to Nick, who he bullied into submission for years.

No matter how smart he was — his IQ was once measured at 160 — he couldn’t control his instincts.

And then some victim blaming from Elena:

Sometimes I thought this made it harder, having the brains to know he was screwing up and being unable to stop himself. Other times I figured if he was so smart, he should be able to control it. Maybe he just didn’t try hard enough. I liked that explanation better.

The reason Jeremy’s called the meet is that there’s a “mutt” in their territory killing people. This is bad because since they don’t interact with the humans in town often, they’re likely to get torch-and-pitchforked, or some crap like that, so they have to go kill the mutt right away. Elena announces that she’s not staying, she called and called and was worried there might be an emergency but now that she knows what’s up she’s leaving, and Jeremy yanks her aside. End of chapter!

So far we’re confused, contradicting ourselves, and rape-tastic. We’re only 17% of the way through this ride, folks, so hang in there.

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2 Responses to Bitten: Meet (Chapter 5)

  1. Firedrake says:

    I’m having a mixed reaction to this setup. On one side it sounds like a classic abusive situation with a strong dose of Stockholm Syndrome (all that careful observation and approval-seeking) and unreliable narrator; on the other side it sounds as though the author is deliberately writing the rules of her universe so that the woman has to be controlled and restrained “for her own good”. I don’t currently trust the author not to drop this ball.

    Funny how quite a lot of strong men don’t end up being casual rapists. Anyone might think that sapient creatures had some measure of control over their actions.

    Ah, the Magic of IQ. Bit of a hot button for me, actually, given how culturally based it is. As with the PhD, this isn’t something that someone who’s not raised in western civilisation is likely to do well at. Suggesting that Clay is really very smart, which doesn’t seem to match his behaviour.

    The feeling I’m getting here is the world’s most overgrown frat house. “Of course we behave like beasts, we’re werewolves” has become an article of faith because it provides a convenient excuse for the men to do what they want.

  2. Pingback: Deconstruction Round Up, June 16th, 2013 | The Slacktiverse

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