Study Guide

Outlander Quotes

By Diana Gabaldon

  • Love

    "If you ever did… Claire, it would make no difference to me. I love you so. Nothing you ever did could stop my loving you." (1.189)

    Frank is totally in love with Claire, but is he only saying this because he's made transgressions of his own and wants the same love and forgiveness from Claire? How do you think Frank would react if Claire did return from the past, married to another man and carrying his baby? Hi honey, I'm home…

    I turned toward him. "I don't hate you." "I don't hate you, either." (15.253)

    This is as close as Jamie and Claire get to saying I love you on their wedding night. It's actually a great start considering their marriage was arranged last minute.

    Met one month, married one day. Bound by vows and by blood. And by friendship as well. When the time came to leave, I hoped that I would not hurt [Jamie] too badly. (16.96)

    Although Claire hasn't said it yet, we're pretty sure she loves Jamie already. That's why she's so concerned about hurting his feelings when she returns to the time period she came from.

    "It means 'my brown one.' […] Mo duinne." (16.231)

    Pet names are a key part of love, and this is one of the handful Jamie has for Claire. It sounds plain (what about 'my plaid one,' huh, you Scottish brute?), but he explains that brown is actually a very rich color.

    "I risked my life for ye, committing theft, arson, assault, and murder. […] In return for which ye call me names, insult my manhood, kick me in the ballocks and claw my face. Then I beat you half to death and tell ye all the most humiliating things have ever happened to me, and you say ye love me." (22.213)

    Why does Claire tell Jamie she loves him (for the first time, no less) after all this? Why does she feel closer to him, and not farther from him, after he has beaten her so hard she can barely ride a horse?

    "I bloody well can't do without you, Jamie Fraser, and that's about it." (25.494)

    This is the point where we realize that Claire's love for Jamie is true… and eternal. She decides to stay in 1743, instead of returning to the 1900s, mainly because she loves him and wants to stay with him.

    [Jenny] stepped into [Jamie's] embrace, and the rough bright head bent to the dark. (26.251)

    Here's a little non-romantic love for you, although the love between Jamie and his sister Jenny isn't any less passionate. They fight like crazy when reunited, but only because they love each other so much. Jamie Fraser, the fiery Scotsman, doesn't do anything half-way, not even love, no matter who he loves.

    One never stops to think what underlies romance. Tragedy and terror, transmuted by time. Add a little art in the telling, and voila! a stirring romance, to make the blood run fast and the maidens sigh. (35.226)

    Do you agree with this formula for romance? It definitely works for Claire and Jamie.

    And was there love there? Beyond the limits of flesh and time, was all love possible? Was it necessary? (38.147)

    Claire ponders this as she sits and has a conversation with God… or at least a Presence with a capital P who might be God. She considers both extremes: that there is no love, and that there is all love. Are the two concepts really all that different?

    "He made love to me, Claire. He hurt me—hurt me badly—while he did it, but it was an act of love to him." (39.35)

    Jamie is talking about Randall here. Do you believe Randall's raping Jamie was an act of love in his twisted mind? Is Randall even capable of love?

  • Sex

    He laid me carefully back in the grass, the feathery blossoms of the cow parsley seeming to float in the air around his head. He bent forward and kissed me, softly, and kept on kissing me as he unbuttoned my dress, one button at a time, teasing, pausing to reach a hand inside and play with the swelling tips of my breasts. (2.191)

    There are lots of steamy sex scenes in Outlander, but they're not gratuitous. No, really, they're not. This one shows how Claire is comfortable having sex outdoors. That's important because, in the 18th century, she and Jamie will rarely have a moment's privacy in which to be intimate.

    If I were a horse, I'd like [Jamie] to ride me anywhere. (4.112)

    This double entendre means exactly what you think it means. Lucky for Claire, she doesn't have to be a horse to understand what this would feel like. Time-travel is possible in this world; shape-shifting is not.

    "I want this marriage consummated, wi' no uncertainty whatsoever" (15.2)

    Sex is a critical part of marriage in this time period. Heck, it's almost mandatory. Why would a man want to marry a woman if she wasn't going to sleep with him? For Jamie, that's actually a main reason he does want to get married. It would be scandalous if he slept with a woman without marrying her first. (More scandalous for her, of course…)

    "Tell me if I'm too rough, or tell me to stop altogether, if ye wish. Anytime until we are joined; I don't think I can stop after that." (15.139)

    And this is how Claire and Jamie begin to consummate their marriage… the first time of many. When he says he can't stop, he means it—we lose count of how many times they do it after this.

    "You are not going to hurt me," I said impatiently. "And if you did, I wouldn't mind." (15.225)

    As Gaga sings in "Poker Face," "Baby when it's love, if it's not rough it isn't fun." Claire shows Jamie what this means, and he understands that a little pain in the bedroom is a lot different from a little pain on the battlefield.

    We took each other then, in a savage, urgent silence, thrusting fiercely and finishing within moments, driven by a compulsion I didn't understand, but knew we must obey, or be lost to each other forever. It was not an act of love, but one of necessity, as though we knew that left alone, neither of us could stand. Our only strength lay in fusion, drowning the memories of death and non-rape in the flooding of the senses. (20.76)

    This is kind of like an intense version of make-up sex, except Jamie and Claire aren't making up with each other, they're making up with life. Both of them almost died after being ambushed, so they're getting reacquainted with life after this near-death experience by getting it on by the river.

    "Well, I didna think it was right to roger you in that state, however fierce I wanted to." (22.280)

    We include this quote only because we'd never heard the term "roger" as a euphemism for sex before. Thanks to Diana Gabaldon and Judy Blume, we'll never be able to look at a man named Roger or Ralph the same way.

    "It's… it's like… I think it's though everyone has a small place inside themselves, maybe, a private bit that they keep to themselves. It's like a little fortress, where the most private part of you lives—maybe it's your soul, maybe just that bit that makes you yourself and not anyone else." (36.258)

    Sex is generally shown as pretty hot and awesome in Outlander, but Randall's rape of Jamie shows just how damaging sex can be when it is unwanted. Jamie feels violated in ways he never has before… and this is coming from a man who has been shot, stabbed, had his hand broken, and been punched in the face in front of a crowd of people.

    "Claire, I want you so badly that my bones shake in my body, but God help me, I am afraid to touch you!" (38.48)

    After being raped by Randall, Jamie can't bring himself to have sex with Claire. He tried to think of her while Randall was raping him, as a means of mental escape, but now he can't think of her without thinking of Randall. Sex is about as mental as it is physical, so it's no wonder Jamie is deeply confused now.

    The demon had me up against the wall; I could feel stone behind my head and stone beneath my grasping fingers, and a stone-hard body pressing hard against me, bony knee between my own, stone and bone, between my own… legs, more stony hardness… ah. A softness amidst the hardness of life, pleasant coolness in the heat, comfort in the midst of woe. (39.162)

    This sex scene is practically an exorcism, with the reference to a demon and the sheer intensity of it. Claire's tactic here seems to be to shag all the trauma of Randall's rape out of Jamie.

  • Women and Femininity

    His eyes raked me slowly from head to toe, traveling with a sort of insolent appreciation over the thin peony-sprigged cotton dress I wore, and lingering with an odd look of amusement on my legs. (3.18)

    Claire reads this lascivious look from Jack Randall as creepy, which it is, but that's beside the point. The main reason he's looking at her with such fascination is that she's dressed unlike any other woman of the times. Most women in this time period wear drab clothing that is much thicker and covers up much more.

    "St. Paul says 'Let a woman be silent, and—'"

    "You can mind your own bloody business," I snarled, sweat dripping behind my ears, "and so can St. Paul." (3.221-3.222)

    The men in the 18th century definitely believe that women should be seen and not heard. It's really difficult for them to shut up and let Claire do her job, even when they know she is right. She's at a distinct disadvantage at this time, simply for being female.

    Was it always women? I wondered suddenly. (8.72)

    Almost all the legends Claire hears of people getting swept away through fairy circles have to deal with lost women. Why is it only women who are lost? Is it because they are the only ones capable of taking care of another in a different time period? How would this story be different if Claire were male?

    "Nay, [Jamie] needs a woman, not a girl. And Laoghaire will be a girl when she's fifty." (8.124)

    Alec might be a traditional Scotsman, but he recognizes that not all women are wilting flowers who need to be taken care of. He sees Claire as a woman, and that means she has agency, power, and the ability to take care of herself and others. This is what Jamie needs.

    "There's not a man in the place who's not half in his cups already, and they'll be far gone in an hour. 'Tis no place for lasses tonight." (10.100)

    Just being a woman puts you in danger in this time period. Men can't seem to control their sexual urges at all, especially when drunk. We get the feeling that if anyone did attack Claire on this night, he might not be punished at all.

    "I still say the only good weapon for a woman is poison." (19.145)

    Dougal isn't exactly progressive for a man of his time, and all the men are resistant about teaching Claire to use a gun. However, there's some irony in this statement given that Dougal's mistress, Geillis Duncan, does use poison later on to kill her own husband. Dougal must be so proud.

    I did somehow feel that it was [Jamie's] responsibility to protect me, and that he had failed me. Perhaps because he so clearly felt that way. (21.145)

    Claire has officially gone from 20th-century woman to 18th-century woman with this statement. She has realized that she is living in a different time, one in which a woman does need a man to protect her. It's understandably pretty hard for her to admit.

    "That's what they want sometimes, ye know," [Jenny] said quietly smiling into my eyes. "They want to come back." (30.40)

    Jenny thinks men want to have sex sometimes because they want to be back in the womb. Whether or not this is true, it is apparent that Claire serves as kind of a mother figure to Jamie. She takes care of his wounds, tells him to stay out of trouble, and loves him even when he does something boneheaded and hurts himself.

    "You feel as though your skin is verra thin all over. You feel everything that touches you, even the rubbing of your clothes, and not just on your belly, but over your legs and flanks and breasts." (30.29)

    Here Jenny describes what to expect when you're expecting. These feelings never change, no matter what century a woman is living in, and Claire is curious, mainly because she fears she will never know what it's like to be pregnant.

    "I know such a thing must be a painful duty to a young woman of feeling, and I am most sensible of your kindness in undertaking it, I do assure you." (34.21)

    Claire is able to sneak into Wentworth Prison because she is a woman—the male soldiers do not suspect a fragile young female thing such as her at all. This is a good example of Claire using her perceived weakness (i.e. her gender) to her advantage.

  • Tradition and Customs

    "Ye'd be a better prospect for marriage did ye ha' a bit of money and a future." (7.106)

    It's super hard for a man at this time to get married if he doesn't have money and a career. Times never seem to change in some ways, and even though Jamie has a lot going for him, he often gets teased for being a poor nobody.

    "Ye know her father will no' let her wed outside the clan." (10.70)

    If Laoghaire were a girl of status, she might be able to wed outside the clan in order to forge an alliance with another clan. But Laoghaire is pretty common, so her father will only let her marry within the clan.

    I was glad to see that the women were not expected to participate, but contented themselves with offering bannocks and drafts of al to the departing heroes. (10.121)

    There's a traditional hunt at the Gathering of Castle Leoch, and men and women each have their traditional places: men carrying spears and other weapons, women serving food. We wonder how they'd act if someone like Katniss Everdeen showed up with a bow and arrow? Claire seems content to sit on the sidelines… until her medical assistance is needed.

    The death of Geordie, hideous as it was, put only a momentary damper on the celebrations. A lavish funeral Mass was said over him that afternoon in the castle chapel, and the games began the next morning. (10.157)

    The show—or in this case, the games of the Gathering—must go on, even after a funeral. A little death isn't anything to keep Scotsmen from celebrating this exciting tradition. Heck, it might even be a part of the tradition. We can't imagine that boar hunt goes off without a hitch every time.

    "Bags of grain and bunches of turnips have at least the benefit of lack of motion. Fowl, if suitably trussed and caged, I have nae argument with. Nor with goats. […] I have given explicit directions this year, though. We shall not accept live pigs." (11.11)

    If you tried to pay your landlord with a goat, you'd probably be evicted, but it's totally an acceptable custom to pay your rent with livestock in 18th-century Scotland.

    "Sleep in your room with ye?" He sounded truly shocked. "I couldna do that! Your reputation would be ruined!" (12.46)

    To Claire, a man and a woman sleeping in the same room without being married isn't exactly commonplace, but it's not as scandalous as it is to Jamie in the 18th-century. At this time, the custom is for men and women to be apart until marriage.

    On my blanket rested a small parcel, done up in a sheet of thin paper, fastened with the tail-feather of a woodpecker thrust through the sheet. Unfolding it carefully, I found a large chunk of rough amber. One face of the chunk had been smoothed off and polished, and in this window could be seen the delicate dark form of a tiny dragonfly, suspended in eternal flight. (20.2)

    Not having Internet, people have to deliver hand-written messages by foot in the 18th century. It's custom to include a little present as well. Not only is the gift Hugh Munro gives to Claire symbolic (she could be seen as a creature suspended in time herself), but it's a lot nicer than attaching a funny .gif to an e-mail.

    "'Tis not a matter of life or death where ye come from, to disobey orders or take matters into your own hands." (22.29)

    There are many more ways to die in 18th-century Scotland than there are in 20th-century Scotland. Axe to the head, gunshot wound, infection, wolf attack… the list goes on. So Jamie makes a good point for traditional subservience in a husband-wife relationship—especially this one. Jamie just knows more about battle and, well, life than Claire does in this time period, so it's important from her to trust his judgment.

    "It's, er, it's kind of ye, Ian. To take her, I mean. Most kind." (26.195)

    Jamie is referring to the fact that Ian married Jenny even though she wasn't a virgin (even though she was, but Jamie doesn't know that yet). A woman who isn't a virgin isn't a desirable mate, so Jamie views Ian's marrying Jenny as an act of charity. Needless to say, that doesn't sit well with her.

    "Nay, lass! If I'm found wi' Sir Fletcher's property, that's a hanging offense. Attempted theft is only flogging or mutilation." (35.89)

    It seems that possession of personal property is an offense punishable by death. Given that people seem to get away with murder, rape, and all sorts of other crimes all the time, we find this a little backward.

  • Power

    Frank's ancestor, the notorious Black Jack Randall, had not been merely a gallant soldier for the Crown, but a trust—and secret—agent of the Duke of Sandringham. (2.92)

    Much of the drama of the plot of Outlander comes from politics, power plays, and scandals, and Jack Randall encompasses all three. His allegiance is so ambiguous, Reverend Wakefield doesn't even understand where Randall's loyalties lie, and he has access to all sorts of historical documents.

    "What exactly is obstruction?" I asked casually. […] "Ah. Well, I suppose it's whatever the English say it is." (4.73, 4.75)

    Talk about tyranny. As the ruling power, the English pretty much do whatever they want to whomever they want. They don't even have to clearly define the crime Jamie's committed before they flog him for it.

    No English officer with a grain of sense would lead his men so deeply into the clan lands. (5.12)

    The English are tyrannical, yes, but the Scottish have power in concentration. They might not outnumber the English, but they are highly concentrated where they live, and almost everyone there believes the same thing: that the English are the enemy.

    It quickly became apparent that this was the regular occasion on which the laird of Castle Leoch dispense justice to his tacksmen and tenants, hearing cases and settling disputes. (6.41)

    The system of power and justice is a little different in 18th-century Scotland than it is anywhere else. Each of the Scottish clans have a leader, or laird, and that man is kind of like the Judge Judy of the castle—what he says, goes. We're not sure how this dictatorship is different from the tyrannical rule of the English king, but little details make huge differences, we guess.

    Bluff called, I had little choice but to mutter something of the yes-well-perhaps-later variety, and excuse myself hastily on the pretext of visiting the necessary facilities before the singing should start. Game and set to Colum, but not yet match. (8.29)

    Any lesser person would feel helpless going up against Colum, the chieftain of clan Mackenzie. But not Claire. She has power in her wits, and in her knowledge of the future. She's not a helpless woman, even when standing up to a very powerful man.

    From the little I remembered of Bonnie Prince Charlie, the Young Pretender to the throne, part of his support had come from France, but part of the finances behind his unsuccessful rising had come from the shallow, threadbare pockets of the people he proposed to rule. (11.65)

    When Claire learned all this in school, it was history, but now that she's living in it, it's politics. And it's shady politics, too. It's like if a politician raised campaign funds solely from people who are being served in soup kitchens.

    "Shouldn't you help [Jamie]?" I murmured to Murtagh, out of the corner of my mouth. He looked surprised at the idea. "No, why?" "He'll call for help if he needs it," said Ned Gowan. (11.151-11.153)

    When Jamie finds himself in a three-on-one barroom brawl (he's the one), he has enough physical power to take all the men out… and his companions know that. It would be insulting to Jamie if they helped… he needs to show off his strength at this moment.

    "Earn their respect before ye do aught else. And if you canna do that, earn their fear." (13.33)

    This is how power is earned on the Scottish Highlands. It seems that the men who do it best, like Colum Mackenzie, take a little bit from column A and a little bit from column B.

    "I'm a pretty problem to the brothers Mackenzie. On the one hand, if I'm a threat to young Hamish's chieftainship, they want me safely dead. On the other, if I'm not, they want me—and my property—securely on their side if it comes to war." (20.29)

    These power plays between Scottish clans can be confusing. They can also, strangely enough, be lifesaving. While it would simplify one issue to just have Jamie dead, his death would complicate another—perhaps more important—matter. So all this confusion keeps him alive… or at least delays his inevitable death.

    "It's a damn thin line between justice and brutality, Sassenach. I only hope I've come down on the right side of it." (31.164)

    As a leader, Jamie has to tread this fine line. Punishment needs to be severe enough to stick, but not harmful enough to cause the punished to want to seek retribution. Unfortunately in this case, with Jamie beating Ronald McNab, it comes back to harm him.

  • Duty

    The thought of using the grimy neckrag was something my medical training wouldn't let me contemplate. (3.127)

    As a physician, Claire probably took the Hippocratic Oath, and she takes this oath seriously. So much so, that the fact that this grimy neckrag might do harm almost physically prevents her from using it.

    Why not? I wanted to say. Because you didn't know her, she was nothing to you. Because you were already hurt. Because it takes something special in the way of guts to stand up in front of a crowd and let someone hit you in the face, no matter what your motive. (6.100)

    Claire thinks Jamie is crazy for taking Laoghaire's punishment. She doesn't seem to realize that she's exactly the same way. As a physician, she does things all the time for people she doesn't know. Sure, it's not getting punched in the face, but her life is often in danger when she's trying to save the lives of others.

    "Aye, I see why it'd stick in your craw to be Colum's man, weel enough. But there's considerations the other way, no? If it comes to fighting for the Stuarts, say, and Dougal has his way." (7.97)

    The political games of the era are really hard to figure out at times. Scottish politics of the 18th century isn't exactly a popular elective in high school, and even Claire doesn't understand a lot of it—she just knows she'll go wherever Jamie goes.

    It was immensely satisfying to be able once again to relive a pain, reset a joint, repair damage. (8.1)

    Being a physician is an integral part of Claire's identity. She feels a duty to her profession and to her patients, and it really makes her feel good to treat people, even if the methods are more archaic than she would prefer.

    "You are safe," [Jamie] said firmly. "You have my name and my family, my clan, and if necessary, the protection of my body as well." (15.52)

    Even though they've barely been married an hour, Jamie pledges himself to Claire. It's his duty as a husband, after all, and he'll do everything he can to not let her down.

    "I don't make idle threats, Sassenach," [Jamie] said, raising one brow, "and I don't take frivolous vows." (22.299)

    A man's word is his honor, and it actually means something in this time period. At least it does when we're talking about James Fraser. Other men… we're not sure we'd trust them as much as Jamie, at least not without a record of all their recent tweets and Snapchat logs.

    I felt like a traitor, in fact. Here [Jamie] was, making plans that would affect his entire life, taking my comfort and safety into account, when I had been doing my best to abandon him completely, dragging him into substantial danger in the process. (23.31)

    Claire and Jamie make a vow of honesty on their wedding night. As a result, she feels super guilty when she realizes how much time she's spend plotting to essentially betray his trust. Which is more important to her: her duty as a wife, or returning to her own time?

    "I regret only that I have but on life to give for my country?" I asked ironically. (25.108)

    Here Claire quotes Nathan Hale, a man who died spying on the British during the Revolutionary War. Claire is referring to Geillis's dubious loyalty here, as the witch is diverting money away from Scotland to France, to assist in the Jacobite uprising that will eventually wipe out all the Highlanders.

    "Do what ye wish to me. I'll not struggle, though I'll allow you to bind me if ye think it needful. And I'll not speak of it, come tomorrow. But first you'll see the woman safe from the prison." (35.205)

    Jamie feels that it is his husbandly duty to sacrifice himself for Claire… even if the sacrifice means submitting himself as catcher to Randall's pitcher. He already feels like he failed Claire once, back when they were almost shot by the river, so it's not surprising to us that he chooses to make this sacrifice now.

    I drew a deep breath and prayed for detachment. (36.175)

    Claire's relationship to Jamie is complicated by the fact that she is also a physician, and arguably the only physician who can treat him without killing him. As a result, sometimes she has to put him through great pain in order to heal him. At these times, she has to separate her doctor side from her wife side, and do her physician's duty.

  • Loyalty

    "Ye need not be scairt of me," he said softly. "Nor anyone here, so long as I'm with ye." (4.115)

    Jamie gives Claire his loyalty almost as soon as he meets her. He has good reason to since he trusted her with his life early on, and she fixed him, cleaning his wounds and setting his dislocated shoulder. If he can trust her with his life, he wants to give her the same security.

    For a young man on the run, with unknown enemies, Jamie had been remarkably confiding to a stranger. (7.115)

    Jamie trusts Claire with his body (not in that way… at least not at this point) so it's only natural that he goes from that to trusting her with his past. Wounds are both physical and mental, and he also relies on Claire to care for the mental ones.

    "Colum Mackenzie, I come to you as kinsman and as ally. I give ye no vow, for my oath is pledged to the name that I bear. […] I give ye my obedience, as kinsman and as laird, and I hold myself bound by your word, so long as my feet rest on the lands of clan Mackenzie." (10.88)

    Jamie has to carefully choose his words at the oath-taking due to clan politics. If he pledges an oath to Mackenzie, he becomes one of the clan… which means he might become laird someday. Jamie doesn't want that responsibility, so he manages to earn Colum's trust, but not pledge an oath. Jamie would make a good politician.

    "Do you mean to be laird, if Colum dies?" […] "No. Even if I felt myself entitled to it—which I don't—it would split the clan, Dougal's men against those that might follow me." (16.45)

    Jamie would be a good leader because he has his clansmen's best interests at heart. He's not the type of person to make a grab at power at the expense of others. He is loyal to his people.

    Met one month, married one day. Bound by vows and by blood. And by friendship as well. When the time came to leave, I hoped that I would not hurt [Jamie] too badly. (16.96)

    Married one day, and Claire already feels loyal to Jamie. She doesn't want to hurt his feelings, even though she's only known him a month… and even though she came from the future. Why does she trust him so much?

    "Your interests are always foremost in my mind, Uncle," [Jamie] said, and I thought that in spite of the teasing tone, there was a sharp undercurrent of truth to this, one that Colum perceived as well as I. (24.436)

    There are different levels of family loyalty. Jamie might be loyal to his uncle most of the time, but only until the interests of his more immediate family conflict with the interests of Colum.

    "Do you know when I was born?" I asked, looking up. […] "On the twentieth of October, in the Year of Our Lord nineteen hundred and eighteen." (25.339)

    This is a big step for Claire and Jamie's marriage. She's trusting him with her biggest secret—that she's a time traveler—and his believing her shows how much he trusts her. Would you believe your significant other if they told you the same thing?

    "You don't mind my seeing your back?" (8.95)

    First, Claire has great grammar. Second, we see Jamie continuing to trust Claire with his most private places. He doesn't even let other men see his back, because it's a reminder of all the torture he has endured. He's willing to let her see it, though, because maybe she can heal the emotional damage the torture caused.

    "I swear by the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by the holy iron that I hold, to give ye my fealty and pledge ye my loyalty to the name of the clan Mackenzie." (10.78)

    The clans take loyalty seriously. There's a whole ceremony, including a swearing to Mr. JC himself and a pledge to be killed should that trust be breached. This is like cross my heart and hope to die taken to the extreme.

  • Marriage

    I think we both felt that [Inverness] was a symbolic place to reestablish our marriage; we had been married and spent a two-day honey-moon in the Highlands, shortly before the outbreak of war six years before. (1.9)

    Marriage is one of the first themes mentioned in the book, which is a big red flag to us that it's going to be explored quite a bit as the story unfolds. As someone who ends up with two husbands, Claire knows quite a bit about marriage.

    "Do you think I've been unfaithful to you?" I demand. "Do you? Because if so, you can leave this room this instant. Leave the house altogether! How dare you imply such a thing?" (1.185)

    Claire takes her marriage vows seriously. Even while she was away from Frank at war for six years, she honored them. That's one of the reasons it's so difficult for her to rationalize her marriage to Jamie… but we guess it's a little easier to do this when your husband hasn't even been born yet.

    "The only way I can legally refuse to give ye to Randall is to change ye from an Englishwoman into a Scot. […] Ye must marry a Scot. Young Jamie." (13.119, 13.122)

    Marriage isn't always about romance. In fact, in this time period, it seems to be more about money or power. In Claire's case, her marriage to Jamie is an opportunity to save her own life.

    If I were in fact to be married, I didn't want to do it looking like the village drudge. (14.15)

    Go big or go home, huh? Even though Claire's already been married once, she decides she might as well look nice for her second wedding… a wedding she doesn't even really want. Why does she care about her appearance here? Is it because she wants to look good for herself, or for Jamie?

    I gasped as the point of the dirk scored deeply across his wrist, leaving a dark line welling blood. There was not time to jerk away before my own hand was seized and I felt the burning slice of the blade. Swiftly, Dougal pressed me wrist to Jamie's and bound the two together with a strip of white linen. (14.65)

    This is where the phrase tying the knot comes from. We had no idea it was so bloody. Maybe we should start using a different phrase?

    "Did ye no promise to obey me?" [Jamie] asked, shaking me gently. "Yes, but—" But only because I had to, I was going to say, but he was already urging my horse's head around toward the thicket. (20. 96-20.97)

    As you can tell from the whole exchanging-of-blood thing above, they take marriage vows seriously in this time, and when they say obey they mean it. Jamie expects Claire to do as he says, or else she will be punished for it. Claire, used to acting of her own accord, of course disobeys. We'll see the punishment later.

    "I am your master… and you're mine. Seems I canna possess your soul without losing my own." (23.180)

    These would be good wedding vows, we think, because Jamie realizes that Claire isn't just subservient to him; he is subservient to her in ways, too. Their marriage is a delicate balance, with the scales always tipping back and forth.

    "He had money, a good position. And I doubt he beat her." (26.36)

    And that's the Highlander's definition of a good marriage. In this time period, is it even necessary for a man to do anything else?

    "[I'm] the Sassenach wench Jamie's married." (26.160)

    At least Claire has a sense of humor about how atypical her marriage is to Jamie, and how others might view it. People in the clans of Scotland don't typically marry outside them.

    "My wedding night's no one's business but mine and yours—sure it's not his! Next you'll be showing him the sheets from my bridal bed!" (26.205)

    This sentence is full of 18th-century weirdness. We're not sure if the concept of privacy exists at this time, and the fact that couples saved blood-stained bridal sheets to prove the wives were virgins… well, that leaves us speechless.

  • Violence

    I was quite sure I was still hallucinating when the sound of shots was followed by the appearance of five or six men dressed in red coats and knee breeches, waving muskets. (3.2)

    Claire has seen her share of violence, but she comes from a world in which wars break out and they eventually end. In the 18th century, tribes and clans and countries always seem to be at battle, and everyone has to be on their toes.

    Had [Jamie] screamed when it was done? I pushed the thought hastily away. I had heard the stories that trickled out of postwar Germany, of course, of atrocities much worse than this, but he was right; hearing is not at all the same as seeing. (8.98)

    As someone who lived through WWII, Claire knows about the Holocaust. But she's never met anyone who suffered through it, or seen their wounds. Seeing Jamie's wounds is a harsh reminder that violence happens, and it happens to people who she cares about.

    I knew the sound of mortal wounding. (10.131)

    As a nurse, Claire has seen intense violence, and even watched men die. This can't be easy, but it gives her a cool-headedness that helps her stay calm even when she finds herself in intense life-or-death situations, like a boar-hunt gone wrong.

    "You've seen men die before," [Dougal] said flatly. "By violence."

    Not a question, almost an accusation. "Many of them," I said, just as flatly. (10.155-10.156)

    Dougal thinks it odd that Claire has seen so much violence in her time—the tradition is for women to stay behind while the men wage war. The fact that she is so calm in the face of death makes him suspicious of her.

    "If you're sizable, half the men ye meet will fear ye, and the other half will want to try ye. Knock one down […] and the rest will let ye be. But learn to do it fast and clean, or you'll be fightin' all your life." (11.176)

    Sometimes violence is the only answer to a problem, at least according to this advice from Jamie's dad. However, it's important to note that while he encourages his son to fight, he also encourages him to get it over with as soon as possible. Violence should only be used sparingly, and as a last resort.

    "Did ye know ye can hear the flesh being torn?" (13.55)

    Ew. We wish we didn't know that. It's a lot easier to desensitize yourself to violence when it doesn't encompass all the senses. We do not want to know what this smells like.

    I stabbed again, with a desperate strength, and this time found the spot. (20.71)

    This is the first time Claire has to kill a man. If she remained in the 1940s, she probably wouldn't have to kill anyone since those are markedly different times. But battle and death is almost a way of life in 18th century Scotland, so though this is the first man Claire kills, it's not the last.

    "I dinna know what's a sadist. And if I forgive you for this afternoon, I reckon you'll forgive me, too, as soon as ye can sit down again. As for my pleasure…" His lip twitched. "I said I would have to punish you. I did not say I wasna going to enjoy it." (22.53)

    Jamie violently whips Claire for disobeying him. Compare this with when Randall violently abused Jamie for disobeying him. How is Jamie like Randall? How are they different? Are either of these beatings justified?

    I stooped and drew the dagger from my stocking in a move that continued upward with all the force I could muster. The knifepoint took the advancing soldier just under the chin. […] He staged back away from the wall, and slid down it in slow motion, as the life drained away from him. (35.107)

    This is the second man Claire has killed, but the first who wasn't directly threatening her life. Of course, given a hot second, he would have. Does this make it any easier or more difficult for her to take his life?

    I took the knife from the table and drew it firmly across his chest, along the path of the freshly healed scar. […] I forced myself to run my fingers over his chest, scooping up a gout of blood which I rubbed savagely over his lips. There was one phrase that I didn't have to invent, having heard it myself. Bending low over him, I whispered, "Now kiss me." (39.149)

    Sex can be healing, but it seems that violence can be, too. Claire's tactic here is to desensitize Jamie to the violence and rape he suffered from Randall. It's an extreme form of therapy. Do you think it would work on anyone other than James Fraser?

  • The Supernatural

    "The story goes that by order of the house's owner, one wall was built up first, then a stone block was dropped from the top of it onto one of the men—presumably a dislikable fellow was chosen for the sacrifice—and he was buried then in the cellar and the rest of the house build up over him. He haunts the cellar where he was killed, except on the anniversary of his death and the four Old Days." (1.80)

    Sometimes it feels like Scotland is a land ruled by superstition: ghosts, Wee Folk, Loch Ness monsters. But with Claire time-traveling and all, these things almost seem normal. Maybe they are true after all…

    "It wasn't his dress that was odd. But when he pushed past me, I could swear he was close enough that I should have felt him brush my sleeve—but I didn't." (1.152)

    The identity of the mysterious Scottish ghost in full Highlander regalia who is watching Claire brush her hair is never revealed in Outlander. Could it be Jamie? But if so, how?

    "Oh, you read tea leaves?" I asked, mildly amused. (2.50)

    Claire kind of seems to scoff at tealeaf reading at this point. What she doesn't realize is that most of Mrs. Graham's predictions come true. A little tealeaf reading is normal compared to traveling two hundred years back in time.

    The truth is that nothing moved, nothing changed, nothing whatsoever appeared to happen and yet I experienced a feeling of elemental terror so great that I lost all sense of who, or what, or where I was. I was in the heart of chaos, and no power of mind or body was of use against it. (2.219)

    Just as the stone circles seem inhuman and older than time itself, so does the power they command. Claire has trouble putting what happens to her into words… all we know is that it gives us a headache to even think about it.

    Had I fought toward others? I had some consciousness of fighting toward a surface of some kind. Had I actually chosen to come to this particular time because it offered some sort of haven from that whirling maelstrom? (7.47)

    Claire tries to figure out what the heck actually happened when she fell through the stones, but this kind of mental exercise is futile. The supernatural is supernatural because it defies logic. She, like us, can only guess at what really happened.

    It's always two hundred years in Highland stories, said the Reverend Wakefield's voice in memory. The same thing as "Once upon a time," you know. (8.70)

    As Claire listens to the Bard sing some faerie tales, she starts to wonder if they're true. How much of supernatural legend is rooted in some sort of truth? What is truth and what is embellishment?

    It was a small bundle of plants, plucked up roughly by the roots, and bound together with a bit of black thread. (24.162)

    People believe in the supernatural in this time period, so things like this ill-wish left under Claire's pillow have power. Or at least people think they do. Should Claire be worried? Remember that she almost gets burned at the stake for being a witch a few weeks after finding this omen…

    I realized dimly that I was either being hypnotized, or under the influence of some drug. (24.639)

    Geillis Duncan is suspected of being a witch… and we think she is. Or maybe she has some sodium pentathol hidden somewhere in her cleavage. She somehow manages to put Claire under a spell and almost get her to reveal that she's a time-traveler. That's some hardcore magic there… or something the NSA would be interested in if Geillis lived in the 21st century.

    "Yes, I am a witch! To you, I must be. […] I can nurse the sick and breathe their air and touch their bodies, and the sickness can't touch me. […] And you must think it's an enchantment, because you've never heard of vaccine and there's no other way you can explain it." (25.335)

    Saying she's a witch is an easier explanation than saying she's a time traveler. It raises the possibility, too, that maybe women who were accused of being witches actually were time travelers. This sure would explain a lot…

    The anointing was quick and immeasurably gentle, a feather touch by the Abbot's rapidly moving thumb. "Superstitious magic," said the rational side of my brain, but I was deeply moved by the love on the faces of the monks as they prayed. (39.101)

    By this point, Claire should know better than to dismiss anything as superstitious. She's a time-traveler who has done witchcraft and seen the Loch Ness monster. A few monks believing in God is the most mundane thing she has seen so far.