Discussion #1: Outlander Reading Challenge 2012

As promised, I will be posting monthly meme’s/discussions for both reading challenges I am hosting, Outlander and Game of Thrones. These are meant purely for fun and by no means required to participate in the challenges. I will post five questions for you all to mull over and I will answer one of the questions myself to start off the discussion. I also invite you to post your favorite quote or passage from the book as well.

You are welcome to link your responses or reviews back to your blog using the Mr Linky on the corresponding Discussion page (in this case the Outlander Meme/Discussion page) or you can simply leave your response in the comments. The goal is to have some fun discussions and talk about the books.

Challenge participants hopefully have had some time to read the first Outlander book (otherwise known as Cross Stitch to all UK followers) but if not no worries we do have all year :). No matter where you are in the book or series, you are more than welcome to discuss the book right along with us….

Discussion Questions

  1. Did it bother you that Claire is older than Jamie? Why or why not? Does it matter she is not a virgin but he is? In what ways does it change/influence their relationship?
  2. Frank sees what he thinks is an “unhappy ghost” staring into Claire’s window. The ghost he describes sounds like Jamie, what do you make of this foreshadowing? How does the concept of ‘time travel’ change or influence this particular scene? Is this simply an unanswered observation with an explanation reserved for later books?
  3. Knowing that Captain Jack is related to Frank, does that change your opinion of Frank? In what ways? Do you think cruelty is in Frank’s ‘blood’? How much does of a role does genealogy play in their characters?
  4. How did you feel when Jamie beat Claire? Was it fitting given the circumstance and time period?
  5. What do you make of the two family mottos: Lucero non Uro–I shine, not burn (MacKenzie) and Je Suis Prest–I am ready (Fraser). How do these mottos influence the characters and families to which the mottos belong?

The Lit Bitch’s Response 

Question #1: It bothered me at first that Claire was older than Jamie, in so many novels–and society for that matter–the women are expected to be ‘virginal’ and are often younger than their mates. Claire would have been more mature and worldly than Jamie and that seemed almost sad to me…she would have an entirely different perspective of sex, marriage, and relationships even without the time travel bit.

In some ways I felt like Jamie was ‘robbed’ of the hero’s conquest…it was almost emasculating to think Claire was older and sexually more experienced than Jamie. There was no excitement or ‘newness’ for Claire but for Jamie everything would be ‘new’….Claire was married before, had sex before, was trying to get pregnant, and had loved before….I thought it was sad that they didn’t get to experience any ‘firsts’ together.

But at the same time, it was a nice change up from traditional literature. After some time I forgot this minor detail–the depth, strength, and power of their love completely eliminated the age/experience gap for me. There was a sweetness to Jamie’s innocents and I couldn’t help but feel enthusiasm the situation created…Claire could teach him things (in more way than just sexually) how to be a man and a husband. What woman wouldn’t want that? In many ways Claire defined Jamie manhood when it is usually the man who defines a lady’s womanhood. In the end….the age gap and sexual expiernce didn’t matter…all that mattered was their love and they do get to share a first eventually *insert knowing smile here LOL* 🙂

Favorite Quote/Passage

…for that fraction of time it seems as though all things are possible. You can look across the limitations of your own life and see that they are really nothing. In that moment when time stops it is as though you know you could undertake any venture complete it and come back to yourself to find the world unchanged and everything just as you left it a moment before…as though knowing that everything is possible suddenly nothing is necessary (507)

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10 Comments

  1. Oh I’m so excited for the discussions and wow, I love the discussion questions. I’ve been plodding through Outlander due to being somewhat busy and also desiring to discuss the novel in any way and not wanting to finish the novel before having that chance, guess I’ll be done now. Anyhow, I just want to answer all of these questions, so I guess I’ll start at question 1 and work my way through over the next few days. Before I start, thanks for answering that question Lit Bitch .. I’ve never ever looked at the age difference in that light and though it hasn’t changed how I think, it really has opened up a whole new light for me.

    Question 1: Never has Claire’s age bothered me, it isn’t a huge difference really. I think it is part of what Jamie found very attractive because if he wanted young and immature, there was the option of girls like Laoghaire, yet Claire’s maturity, knowledge, strength, opinions and everything else that makes up Claire, is what he was immediately drawn to. There was no doubt, it was a woman he was getting out of the marriage deal.

    I found Jamie’s virginal state absolutely adorable. To be such a huge man with such a presence and well desired by many, and yet to have his morals, virtues and virginity all intact, even after a visit to France, I found incredibly sexy. Then to have an older woman who had been married, which he was well aware of, so it would be a very safe assumption that he was aware her virginity was certainly well and truly gone, but he wasn’t phased in the slightest, only jealous that another had held her heart, not so much her body. What a testiment to the man that he is. I think if Claire had of been a virgin, the dynamics of their relationship wouldn’t have worked the way that it did, that it does. If they both had to be clumsy and embarressed, we wouldn’t have gotten the heat and passion that took our breath away. The thought that they didn’t share firsts had never occurred to me and now that it does, I think their love is stronger without those firsts because their firsts were how electric they were together. The chemistry and the desire between them wasn’t anything Claire had experienced before, so for them both, wow what a first without the clumsiness of learning the art of love making and hoping they’re doing it right, Claire already knows they are, something she wouldn’t have expected.

    Reply
    • Ohhh these are great points!!! I agree, I don’t think the dynamics of the relationship would have been totally different if Claire had been a virgin. I didn’t even really think about the other options for Jamie….your right Laoghaire was about it! Really who else would there have been???

      In later books, I felt like Jamie was much older and more mature than Claire at times so their age difference for me was quickly forgotten. I think the age difference worked well as a catalyst for the rest of the story in book I….Jamie was ‘young and innocent’ in the beginning but by the end he had gone through so much it seemed like he aged years which I suspect was the desired outcome Gabaldon had in mind. His innocents in many ways was pivotal especially in the end with all that transpired between Captain Randall and Jamie. I think making Jamie young and virginal made his love more pure and fierce than had he been a seasoned ‘vet’ of the heart :).

      Great discussion, thanks for posting a response!! I look forward to reading more!
      PS, glad you liked the questions. I tried to come up with some different and unique ones than the usuals…. 🙂 Happy reading!!

      Reply
      • Oh I agree, later as the novels go on, Jamie is a lot “older” and mature. That would be a huge combination of the times, men were men and took such a “head of the family/leader” sort of stance within their family. They also worked very hard, so that was a huge factor for them to grow as the men they were of the time period. That on top of what we who have read the future novels know, and even what happens in Outlander with Black Jack, wow that would just influence and change you as a person so much.

        Yes, Jamie being the virgin with so much passion made him an amazingly pure and fierce lover. He gave his everything to Claire from their first moment together that it just took my breath away.

  2. Question 2: The Ghost. No matter how many times I read the novels and what little crumbs Diana gives us, that ghost haunts me and I just KNOW it is Jamie, without a shadow of a doubt, especially with events that occur further in the future in the later novels. Though have you ever noticed, she never really comes out and lets us know that it is.

    What do I make of this ghostly appearance? Oh it is hard to place into words all that I think and feel about the ghostly Jamie. If you start to think about it, is it the ghost that has spent time already with Claire in the past and because the time he is now in as a ghost, is he looking at her in the future alive, though in the past she would well, she would be dead, so … oh I’m going to confuse myself and everyone here. I believe that Jamie and Claire are truly “soul mates” in every sense of the word. I don’t know if that ghost had lived with Claire already and was looking at his love in the arms of another man before she’d come to him, or if his spirit which technically is dead in Claire’s time, is drawn to his love, his heart, his very essence, and therefore appears in Claire’s life before she is brought to him. The ghost throws in great thinking and pondering thoughts and I think it is a piece of genius on Diana’s behalf because here we are, 7 novels later, waiting for an 8th and still pondering that ghost!

    The concept of time travel obviously is very relevant to this scene because without it, Jamie and Claire would never have existed in the same time period. But what does it all mean? Sure, it is an observation reserved for later books, but to date, I don’t believe it is an observation that has been completely without a doubt answered. Perhaps book 8 will do that?

    Reply
  3. I hope it is okay that I’m just making my way through these questions, I feel like I’m just hogging all the questions, but I’m SO keen to discuss the novels and I love the thinking these questions are producing.

    Question3: I dread answering this question because my first response is no, it doesn’t change the way I think about Frank, but that isn’t entirely true. I don’t completely judge Frank by the actions of his many times great grandfather, but I do see a little of Black Jack in Frank. Now I know I can hear those who love Frank screaming at me and I’m sorry, but for those who have read further on and get to know more about Frank and what he does to Claire, it makes me mad. (Sure, his actions aren’t in the same league as Jack, but unpleasant all the same). I would also love to say that cruelty isn’t in Frank’s blood, but from what I’ve seen in my own life, genetics are amazing and I’ve seen those who were given up for adoption at birth, be entirely like the mother that gave them up, it is somewhat freaky. So yes, with what I know of Frank in a future novel, I think there is some of Jack (though not the same persuasion) in Frank.

    I would love to hear other opinions about Frank, because I don’t dislike him, I just don’t entirely like him either .. if that makes sense.

    Reply
  4. It has been quite some time since I’ve been here … busy busy busy. I was hoping to read other comments here, sadly not 😦 Am I in the wrong spot and there are other questions elsewhere? I’ll attempt to answer the last two questions now that I’ve finished Outlander again and I’ve just picked up Dragonfly in Amber. Hoping to have more time to read *crosses fingers* though I will definitely have them read before the year is out.

    So onto the next question …
    Question 4: Asking how you feel about Claire being beaten sounds so harsh. There is no doubt that he did beat her, but not in the fashion that some would think, he so didn’t take his fists to her. Now, I’m not saying giving her backside a good belting isn’t a good thing, but you do need to look at the time period and the circumstances of that time period. Women, wives were to do as they were told by their husbands, without question. Now Claire most certainly was not docile and did break the rules and could make the men blush with her occassional language, but that was pretty much excepted by Jamie and those who were around them. But when Claire didn’t do as she as instructed when it counted as in this instance and it put everyone’s life in danger, as well as her own, yeah I believe the “belting” she received was justified. Ultimately it meant she couldn’t sit for having been smacked on the backside, and her pride was also wounded, but ultimately it wasn’t a harsh penalty for what she had done to the collective.

    Reply
  5. I do hope there are more questions after this one coming …
    Question 5: I think the mottos truly speak to the personalities of the families. Je Suis Prest, I am ready. When is Jamie not ready? He doesn’t need to know the next challenge his way, but he does know how to deal with it no matter what. Even looking at Brianna, she is truly a Fraser. She goes through the stones in search of her mother and bites off more than she expected, but she just deals with it as it comes her way. She has been brought up in a different world, a softer world and kept from its harsh realities. But she is a Fraser and she has backbone and finds her way through it all.

    Lucero non Uro, I shine, not burn. The MacKenzie’s are brazen and full of self confidence. Though some of their actions are quite questionable, that aside, they truly do shine. They have strength and numbers and are pretty much ruling the highlands. Look at Colum and his disability. If he didn’t have the strength of character that he has and the brother, there is no way he could run such a huge clan and shine so brightly that his disability isn’t really a factor. The clan would support Dougal as the chief of the clan if he didn’t shine so brightly.

    Reply
  6. I know I’m late to this post! My book club is reading Outlander and I was searching blogs for topics! I love your questions! I was wondering, have you watched the show? Thoughts?

    Reply
    • Yes I’ve watched the show and LOVE the portrayals of Claire and Jamie. At times it deviates from the book but for the most part it’s pretty spot on! I am so glad you found this little Outlander lovers blog 🙂

      Reply
  1. Reading Challenge Discussion: Outlander by Diana Gabaldon « The Polished Bookworm

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