The Imaginary Heroine

searching for the plot

A New Dawn part 8: “Destination: Forks, Washington” by Cara Lockwood March 18, 2010

[Part of a series discussing the essays in A New Dawn edited by Ellen Hopkins. These posts may contain spoilers about all four Twilight novels and Midnight Sun.]

This was supposed to be a pretty lol-worthy ditty about the real world town in which the fictional Bella and Edward play out the tasty Twilight drama. It’s not quite as lol-worthy as, say, this…but it was pretty good all the same.

I’m equal parts amused and annoyed by Lockwood’s admission that she’s creeped out by little towns. She ties this fear to a point about how lots of weird stuff happens in small towns in fiction. I would argue that lots of weird stuff happens in big towns in fiction too. An inordinate number of super heros and their nemeses seem to live in NYC, no?

After growing up in a small town in Kansas (~3,000 people, very close to the size of Forks, WA) and moving to Long Beach (~400,000 people), I definitely experienced the opposite feelings. Big cities creep me out. It’s loud and there’s always someone around who could be up to no good. I find it more plausible for something crazy and fantastical to go down in an urban environment, because it’s still a foreign land for me.

This is a picture of downtown in my real home town. Notice the lack of...everything...

When I brought my college friends home with me, I was always amused to see their reactions. Gravel roads and county highways seem far simpler to me than city streets stuffed full of businesses and traffic. They seemed to be immediately lost. About as lost as I feel when I try to drive myself anywhere new in L.A. county.

After dark? Forget about it. All of my city friends seemed convinced that a chainsaw killer was waiting for them in the ditch at the next cross roads. Never mind that they were probably in more peril from meeting gentle Bambi and family whilst they crossed the road. Which is kind of like my terror of being outside the apartment alone after dark.

All this affirms my belief that monsters, whether in character or setting form, are obviously reflections of the unknown. City folk write about creepy Podunk towns. People from Podunk towns know nothing happens there and think that the big ol’ city is out to get them.

This is downtown in 1911... Hmm... Looks about the same.

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