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Twilight: What's The Story Behind Jasper Cullen?

For whatever issues adults have endured in The Twilight Saga, having fully fleshed out origins for each vampire is not one of them. Edward (Robert Pattinson) may be the most controlling boyfriend on the face of the planet, but at least we have no questions about the details of his family members. Even Jasper Cullen (Jackson Rathbone), who gets about an average of two lines per movie, has an intricate history stretching back centuries.

The vampire in question is quite the enigma, but receives some clarity in "Eclipse." Spoken through his expression of perpetual pain, Jasper explains that his history is quite different from the moral high ground of the Cullens. Jasper turned into a vampire during the height of the Civil War. This was not due to any altruism that we have come to expect from Carlisle (Peter Facinelli), but was a war tactic. 

While the Civil War was in full effect, there was also another war going strong. During the Southern vampire wars, ruthless Maria (Catalina Sandino Moreno) changed Jasper as part of her newborn army's quest for territory. Newborn vampires are more powerful than full vampires because they still have some human blood still coursing through their system. Because of Jasper's ability to manipulate emotions, he became an asset to Maria. She kept him around to lead her army, and eventually retired newborns once they outlived their use. Only after escaping Maria's manipulation and meeting Alice was Jasper exposed to another way of life.

Jasper's role in the Civil War is controversial at best

Thanks to the popularity of Anne Rice's southern gothic novels, vampires have long had an odd relationship with the dark history of the South. When "Interview With the Vampire" came out in 1976, plantations of the South were celebrated. Louis is the proud owner of a plantation, and there is no further conversation about his unethical practices. "True Blood" is set in Louisiana, while "The Vampire Diaries" took the strange stance of putting Damon (Ian Somerhalder) in the Confederate Army. Unfortunately, "Twilight" is no different. Jasper was also on the Confederate side. And while "The Vampire Diaries" at least attempts to cover their bases by having Damon desert the army for moral reasons, Jasper is given no such excuse.

Canonically in Stephenie Meyer's books, Jasper is the youngest major in Texas and even lied about his age to enlist. "Eclipse" makes this just as uncomfortable by glossing over this fact. Not even the feeblest attempts were made to draw a connection between the Newborn Army and the atrocities of the South. Could the vampire army be a metaphor for the crimes perpetrated at the time? Maybe. But we will never know. Jasper never makes mention of the politics of the time or if he has grown and learned since then. All we know is that he is a great fighter who was so passionate about the South's right to slavery that he insisted on being part of the Confederacy.