Becoming a Werewolf
The history of the Quileute tribe and their connection things beyond the human is documented in ‘Eclipse’ chapter 11. We are told that “there has always been magic in our blood” and that they were “spirit warriors” before they became “shape-shifting” people. The tale of Taha Aki links the tribe for the first time with the wolf, as his spirit shared the body of the animal. This seems to have been the beginning of the possibility of being beyond both simple man and simple wolf.
The description of Taha Aki matches what Bella discovers about Jacob and the other werewolves. “He led the tribe for many years, for he did not age” (EC11) and the genetic passing on of the ability to transform to his sons “after they had reached the age of manhood.” It is important to note, that just as Jacob and his friends are different, the wolves in the story are different too, “because they were spirit wolves and reflected the man they were inside.” (EC11)
If no vampires are near then “the descendants of Taha Aki no longer became wolves when they reached manhood”. If there are one of two vampires, then “the pack stayed small.” (EC11) It is noticeable that when the number of vampires increase with Victoria’s army, then “the pack has grown” (EC18) so that they are able to fight.
There is a direct connection between the vampires and the wolves, although Bella believes that “The Cullens had no idea… They didn’t know that coming here would change you.” (EC5) but Jacob is certain: “Bella, honey, we only protect people from one thing—our one enemy. It’s the reason we exist—because they do.” (NM13) If vampires were not present, then there are no need for werewolves to protect the tribe.
To change into a werewolf, it is vital to be a direct descendant of Taha Aki. People had always believed that it was a direct male descendant, but this is proven to be untrue when Leah Clearwater becomes one of the pack. (EC19) There is no escape from this: “What I am was born in me. It’s part of who I am, who my family is, who we all are as a tribe.” (EC4) It is not an option but something that will happen to a select number of people at the age of maturity: “It’s in my blood on both sides. I never had a chance. Like Quil doesn’t have a chance.” (NM15) Once a werewolf, there is no turning back. As Jacob bleakly jokes, ““No. I’m in this for life. A life sentence.” (NM12)
There is “no exact age” (NM15) that someone becomes a werewolf. Jacob explains that “Sometimes, if you get really upset or something, that can trigger it early” (NM15) and that you need to be able to control your feelings and anger to be able to phase back again. With Sam, “it took him two weeks to calm down enough to change back” because no one had anticipated it would happen to him and “he thought he’d gone insane” as a result. (EC5)
It is slightly unclear as to how long the initial transformation takes, but there are suggestions that it’s around a week. “Embry missed a week of school” (NM7) and Bella was going to give it “a week before she started getting pushy” (NM10) about Jake being ill. The high body heat is one of the symptoms: “Woah, Jake – you’re burning up.” (NM9) and there is some suggestion of pain with the “every part of me hurts” (NM9) although Stephenie Meyer points out that this is more “disorientating and mentally uncomfortable” (PC11) than physical pain.
The pack has one leader; an alpha male. In Bella’s time, this should be Jake because of his lineage, but he explains: “I didn’t want to be some legendary chief. I didn’t want to be part of a pack of werewolves, let alone their leader. I wouldn’t take it when Sam offered.” (EC21) Sam Uley leads them instead. The alpha does control the pack: “When he tells us to do something, or not to do something—when he really means it, well, we can’t just ignore him.” (NM14)