Author Stephenie Meyer uses religious themes and allegories throughout her Twilight series, and the second book, New Moon, is no exception.
We get an idea of Carlisle’s and Edward’s self-perception in the second chapter, “Stitches.” As he tends to her injury, Carlisle tells Bella why he and his family live virtuously despite the difficulty: he is still hopeful that an honorable life—mortal or immortal—merits redemption. Let’s look at some excerpts from their conversation.
"I’m sure all this sounds a little bizarre, coming from a vampire." He grinned, knowing how their casual use of that word never failed to shock me. “But I’m hoping that there is still a point to this life, even for us. It’s a long shot, I’ll admit,” he continued in an offhand voice. “By all accounts, we’re damned regardless. But I hope, maybe foolishly, that we’ll get some measure of credit for trying.”
. . .
Carlisle guessed the direction of my thoughts again. “Edward’s with me up to a point. God and heaven exist. . . . and so does hell. But he doesn’t believe there is an afterlife for our kind.” Carlisle’s voice was very soft; he stared out the big window over the sink, into the darkness. “You see, he thinks we’ve lost our souls.”
. . .
“That’s the real problem, isn’t it?” I guessed. “That’s why he’s being so difficult about me.”
Carlisle spoke slowly. “I look at my . . . son. His strength, his goodness, the brightness that shines out of him—and it only fuels that hope, that faith, more than ever. How could there not be more for one such as Edward?” I nodded in fervent agreement. “But if I believed as he does . . .” He looked down at me with unfathomable eyes. “If you believed as he did. Could you take away his soul?”
Although Bella begins to understand why Edward has refused to change her into a vampire, she doesn’t accept his beliefs as her own. Unable to persuade her to stay away, Edward leaves Forks to keep Bella safe from what he believes himself to be: a soulless monster.
Bella continues to offer her life as a sacrifice to Edward even after he’s gone. She becomes self-destructive, hoping he’ll understand that she’s too vulnerable as a human. It isn’t until Edward thinks Bella is dead that they’re reunited in Volterra, where Edward had planned to have himself killed rather than live with his grief. It becomes clear to both of them that they cannot be apart, and Edward promises to stay with Bella for the rest of her life. When she dies, he’ll simply return to his plan of having himself killed.
In the final chapter, Bella asks Edward to recall what he said when he saw her in Volterra:
“If you really believed that you’d lost your soul, then when I found you in Volterra, you would have realized immediately what was happening, instead of thinking we were both dead together. But you didn’t—you said ‘Amazing. Carlisle was right,’” I reminded him, triumphant. “There’s hope in you, after all.”
There’s quite a good bit of suicide-as-sacrifice in New Moon, and it’s led many parents and critics to believe young adults could be adversely affected by the portrayal of Bella and Edward’s relationship. What do you think?