Summary: A look at Leah Clearwater and the troubles that mark her.
Warnings: Many things will probably make you want to head desk. You have been warned.
Author’s Notes: Oh lord, I had to restrain myself. I really had to. Anyway, commentary and criticism is highly encouraged. Also, this is the first on a series of essays regarding the issues on everything that’s wrong with Twilight.
Ah Leah, poor old, spinster, resentful, reckless and spiteful Leah. Leah, the Bitch. Leah, the one we aren’t meant to like and yet, quite accidentally, we do. Leah, the holder of grudges, Leah the ‘one who ruins things’. Poor thing.
More than any other character, Stephenie gives us an insight at the backwards thought that women need men to be strong. Or to be complete. Because unlike many female characters in her series, who end up paired up and happily in love; Leah is the one who by the end of the series is still nursing a broken heart and the hurt that came from the betrayal of a family member.
Leah’s story starts easily enough; she’s the elder sister to Seth Clearwater, one of Jacob Black’s friends. She was in a relationship heading towards marriage with her high school sweetheart, Sam Uley. But as things usually do when all kinds of hell break out (or plot demands it), Sam turns into a shifter, a man who can turn into a gigantic wolf and due to his lack of understanding, he goes away and is unable to tell Leah of the “big secret” because it’s only a “stuff of legends”. And then, of course, when things could not turn worst, they do.
Emily Young comes to visit. Emily is Leah’s cousin and it set as if they are close as sisters, even if they live in different reservations; Leah as most female do, confides to Emily how great Sam is and how happy she is that she’ll marry him. Once Emily actually gets to La Push, Sam imprints on Emily. Which according to the Meyer herself, it’s a sign of true love (also supposed to have better genetics for the next generation of wolves), so an already confused Sam, declares “his love” for Emily. And true to form, she turns him down, which enrages him so badly that he shifts near her and scars her for life:
“The right side of her face was scarred from hairline to chin by three thick, red lines, livid in color though they were long healed. One line pulled down the corner of her dark, almond-shaped right eye, another twisted the right side of her mouth into a permanent grimace.”
New Moon, chapter 14: Family.
Of course, one’s first impulse is to believe that Emily turn down Sam out of loyalty to her cousin… well, no. According to Meyer, she was “playing hard to get” because apparently, she had fallen in love with Sam just because of what Leah had told her. Excuse me, but can Meyer sink any lower already? Yes she can.
“She was real angry, in the beginning. But it’s hard to resist that level of commitment and adoration.” Jacob sighed.
Eclipse, chapter 5: Imprint.
Jacob’s talking about Emily here, that she was angry at Sam and that Sam hates himself for breaking every promise he made to Leah. But of course, it gets worst:
“Well, weirdly enough, that was sort of how they resolved things. Sam was so horrified, so sickened by himself, so full of hate for what he’d done. . . . He would have thrown himself under a bus if it would have made her feel better. He might have anyway, just to escape what he’d done. He was shattered. . . . Then, somehow, she was the one comforting him, and after that. . . .”
Eclipse, chapter 5: Imprint.
And here we have it, Meyer romanticizing suicide again (and I say again, because hello New Moon. More on that at a later essay). And of course it flies in the face of what we have been told less than 3 minutes before. Where is Emily’s anger? I only know of Sam’s self hatred, but no word on Emily’s so called anger. It’s no wonder she went into comforting mode, if someone had hurt me the way Sam did and then promised that if I wanted he’d kill himself, what kind of person would I be? How would anyone who is capable of feeling pity and has some sense of morality, send someone into their deaths just because you’re angry at him?
What disturbs me more is the unspoken possibility (and a very real one too) that Emily thought that people would blame her for both incidents and holding someone’s death over one’s head is something I’m sure no one would want.
Now it might look like I derailed it, but it’s important to see this to understand Leah’s character. In her eyes, her family was hurt and the one who did the hurting was the man she was in love with and only then she has to suffer the thought of them marrying. She’s rightly both confused and angry. I think Jacob is the only one who truly understood what Leah was going through, mostly due to his nonreciprocating love for Bella.
“Yeah, Leah got the worst end of the stick,” he agreed.
Eclipse, chapter 5: Imprint.
Yes she did. And as if that weren’t enough, things get out of hand very quickly, Leah herself turns into a shifter and while she’s mid transformation, her father suffers a lethal heart attack. Yeah, let’s kick the puppy shall we Steph?
Not only that, but she has to suffer the constant reminders of the “true love” of Emily and Sam, because as a member of Sam’s pack, they all share a mind and are able to communicate that way in wolf form. Of course, she gets sympathy from NO ONE. She’s the bitch, she’s unable to understand the “true love” and she’s the one who spoils the pack because when they shift, clothes get thorn and while shifting back, they are naked. And now, the boys club has a girl member in it and she’s ruining things. How dare she?!
And you know how I mentioned she gets no sympathy, well, not even her brother gives her that. Her own blood and kin treats her with contempt for something that wasn’t her doing. And when the fight with the newborns happens, we get note that Jacob is injured because Leah was “showing off”, of course, we don’t get a freaking clue as to how she was showing off. If anything, I can make a case that the one showing off was Jacob, after all he just had to go and rescue the woman (worth noting that Leah as a wolf, is smaller and faster than all of the boys).
And then we get to Breaking Dawn, were Bella is pregnant and of course, still using Jacob as a crutch. At this point Jacob has decided to break from Sam’s pack and create his own, he is followed by Leah and Seth and they stay at the Cullen’s house. Leah, in a fit of at this point righteous anger, confronts Bella and later Edward is annoyed that Leah made Bella upset. Well excuse me, but at this point, Bella has pretty much been using Jacob and strung him along and Leah is doing something anyone would do for a friend, call the other person on their crap. Of course, our special snowflake can’t take it.
And then later, Sam sends other of the wolves to talk and try to bring them back into the “pack” and this happens:
“Anyway, please, Leah. We want you back. Sam wants you back.”
Leah’s tail twitched.
“Sam told me to beg. He told me to literally get down on my knees if I have to. He wants you home, Lee-lee, where you belong.”
I saw Leah flinch when Jared used Sam’s old nickname for her. And then, when he added those last three words, her hackles rose and she was yowling a long stream of snarls through her teeth. I didn’t have to be in her head to hear the cussing-out she was giving him, and neither did he. You could almost hear the exact words she was using.
I waited till she was done. “I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that Leah belongs wherever she wants to be.”
Breaking Dawn, chapter 13: Good Thing I Have a Strong Stomach (yes, that’s the chapter title)
I mean, come the fuck on, seriously? The woman gets zero sympathy when she turns, her boyfriend leaves her for her cousin, her dad dies and everyone berates her for hating the whole “true love” and how dare she doubt those feelings and yet, here we have something incredibly callous of Sam to do, have them call her by an affectionate nickname he had for her. I don’t know about you guys, but someone does this to me I sucker punch the bastard in the eye.
But again, before this happens, Jacob has a bit of an illuminated moment regarding Leah: But I guess we’d blamed her for how she handled it (from the same chapter above). Of course, because it’s easier for them to blame the one who was actually guiltless and refusing to take a hard look at the whole thing instead. Under normal circumstances, I’m pretty sure Emily and Sam would be in their family’s shit lists.
You know why Sam thinks we imprint, she thought, calmer now.
Sure. To carry on the line.
Right. To make a bunch of new little werewolves. Survival of the species, genetic
override. You’re drawn to the person who gives you the best chance to pass on
the wolf gene.
I waited for her to tell me where she was going with this.
If I was any good for that, Sam would have been drawn to me.
Her pain was enough that I broke stride under it.
But I’m not. There’s something wrong with me. I don’t have the ability to pass on the gene, apparently, despite my stellar bloodlines. So I become a freak—the girlie-wolf—good for nothing else. I’m a genetic dead end and we both know it.
We do not, I argued with her. That’s just Sam’s theory. Imprinting happens, but we don’t know why. Billy thinks it’s something else.
Breaking Dawn, chapter 16: Too Much Information Alert (don’t you just LOVE the chapter names?!)
And as if I couldn’t feel sorry enough already for Leah, here we have a woman wanting to have children and with the man she loved. I personally don’t want to either marry or have children, but I couldn’t help but to feel sorry for Leah. To me, it’s very much a mystery why Leah gets so much ill treatment from everyone and why Meyer herself seems intent to pile on misery after misery on Leah; it just boggles my mind that you could see the Cullens as ‘good people’ and yet, here we have a woman who has never harmed anyone in her life get such awful treatment.
It’s no small wonder many of the Twilight Sucks crew (yours truly included) feel such sympathy towards this character. When you see it and you read all that she’s lost, you can’t help it and yet, she’s the one to blame. She’s the one who is awful in the eyes of everyone and their mother. So, in conclusion for me, this speaks more about Meyer herself* and her self insert self fulfillment fantasy than anything else, Leah’s the independent one in a world where everyone is paired up (because if you’re not, you’re akin to the plague, I guess), Leah remains alone. Leah is an anomaly in Meyer’s writing because she unintentionally created a character who actually had depth and could relate (if only in parts) to. After all, Leah exists in a world were Bella is the uttermost standard and every female out there is nothing more than a stereotype, Leah dares to be human and to be without a man (seriously, it’s hinted that Leah’s mom is already cooking for Bella’s dad!) and has the wants and needs of a person. And a person who has been deeply wounded and has gotten no rest from her pain.
-Emily is the name of Stephenie’s sister. I think she’s the one who encouraged her to publish this crap.
*Meyer thinks it’s funny to be taken advantage off if you “deserve it”: Lauren (a character from Bella’s school) gets cheated of 5k because of a modeling scam and has to cut her hair. Seriously, don’t think I’m being serious here, go to Meyer’s site and check New Moon’s FAQ. It’s there.