Study Guide

Outlander Sex

By Diana Gabaldon


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.