ECHO: Chapter 03: Life For Life

NigheanDubh
Clan Fraser
Joined: September 17th, 2009, 3:16 am

March 16th, 2010, 2:39 am #1




Welcome to the chapter by chapter book discussion of An Echo in the Bone.
Please post your interpretations. Please do not worry that ideas have already been presented. Regardless if they have or not, they are still your thoughts. Please post them.

:bagpipe: The discussion is open to "Virgins", Outlander, The Exile, Dragonfly in Amber, Voyager, all of the Lord John stories, The Scottish Prisoner, Drums of Autumn, The Fiery Cross, A Breath of Snow and Ashes,and The Outlandish Companion. The spoiler policy can be found here. If you would like to discuss topics which cover subsequent books, please go here: Echo Spoiler Thread.



Life for Life
Echo in the Bone
©Diana Gabaldon, 2009
Chapter 3 Life for Life

This chapter begins in the pantry, a place where things are put away, stored, until further use. It has become somewhat of a hospital morgue and emergency room as Claire treats Jamie’s newly acquired wound courtesy of the unpredictable Murdina Bug.

It is a short chapter but every word tells. The atmosphere is full of shock, fear, and hysteria. It feels unreal as Claire tries to stifle hysteria as she eyes Murdina’s feet sticking out from under her cloak, clad in worn, cracked boots and striped hose. Claire, remembers the Wicked Witch of the West. Murdina is like the wicked witch of the west, who meets her end as she attempts to kill Jamie. The dead women’s feet sticking out give death a sense of pathos, unpredictability, its unreality and humor.

As we know from the previous chapter, Murdina’s death was premeditated with the same accuracy as that of a house falling on her. Something flying through the air, swift and steady, caused her death; although not pre-meditated, definitively deadly.

There is a sense of numbness as Claire goes through the motions of cleansing Jamie’s wound, which could have had more dire consequences had the ball of the bullet gone a few inches up or to the right. There is candlelight, pain, shock mostly, a wee twinkle here and there but mostly regret, remorse, for something that Jamie feels could have been prevented. “Why did I not let him take it?”

Meanwhile, Claire is the healer. She gives comfort to Jamie, who also expects her to try to do something for Ian. Here it would seem that Jamie has confidence in Claire as a spiritual healer. Surely Ian has no visible wound. Claire has no visible wound either, but this event has jarred her and she is doing her best to keep her dithers about her.
“I had been holding to my own emotions like grim death.” 34. She is loath to let go, because she will be no use to anyone else. Claire is “self effacing” as she herself described Grannie MacLeod in the previous chapter. If Murdina is the Wicked Witch, is Claire the Good Witch? The Candlelight Witch, as Frank called her so many years ago, once upon a time. Or is Claire a mirror image of Grannie MacLeod—self effacing. Was Murdina self effacing? Following what Archie wanted without thought to the danger she was putting herself in?

Jamie is wounded, not seriously though, and Claire coaxes him to drink the whiskey, lest he should go into shock. She warns him that he can’t give in now. Jamie, as we know, since Outlander, never sought riches or power. He had all he needed to be happy. He questions his motive for wanting the gold, for keeping it from Archie. What made him cling to the gold? What did it represent for him? What did he think he would do with the gold?

There is a storm coming and snow is falling as Claire goes searching for Ian, with the fear that Archie Bug is possibly still there. She must keep herself from losing it “I dug the fingernails of my free hand into the palm trying to get a grip of myself.” There is much danger for Claire, were she to meet Archie, as much danger as it presented for Murdina. But unlike Murdina, Claire is unarmed. She is clearly the good witch. Uncertain whether Arch knows of Murdina’s death, a vindictive nature such as the former’s could mean the death of Claire. But Archie is nowhere to be seen as Jamie is out of sight.

Claire is so good as she remembers the idiosyncracy that Murdina had of naming the chickens. She was affectionate towards them even if she’d eventually kill them and eat them.

When Claire finds Ian in the barn, the young man is distraught and reproachful of his impetuousness. The one time that Ian acts correctly, he still feels guilty of the action that saved his uncle’s life. There is an internal storm brewing and one wonders if it’s only about Murdina, or an outlet for other pent up emotions that he just never had a chance to cry about.

Ian lets himself be comforted. As Jamie is a father to Ian, Claire becomes like a mother. They bond as they grieve.

Clarence tries to comfort Ian and again we can see the double emotion towards death in this chapter— its pathos and its ridiculous hilarity as Ian responds to Clarence and elicits laughter mixed with tears.

The chapter comes to a closure with a Soul Leading Prayer. Ian, as taught by his uncle, recites the prayer without hesitation. He knows the prayer by heart. How many has Ian killed? Claire wonders.

Claire also reflects on the power of prayer and I particularly found these words comforting:
“The words seemed puny and powerless, swallowed among the sounds of hay rustling and beast chewing. But I felt a tiny bit of comfort for having said them. Perhaps it was only that the sense of reaching out to something larger than yourself gives you some feeling that there is something larger—and there really has to be, because plainly you aren’t sufficient to the situation. I surely wasn’t.” p. 35

There are mixed emotions in dealing with death in this chapter. Ian has saved Jamie but had to kill Murdina in order to do it. The storm may represent what’s ahead for Ian, the storm’s wrath that he will face in Archie.
Last edited by audiobooklover on January 17th, 2014, 2:51 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Reason: Mod edit to fix links
"'I wish to God,' said Gideon with mild exasperation, 'that you'd talk--just once--in prose like other people.'"
--Game of Kings
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Joined: March 1st, 2010, 2:15 pm

March 26th, 2010, 2:24 pm #2

Jamie, as we know, since Outlander, never sought riches or power. He had all he needed to be happy. He questions his motive for wanting the gold, for keeping it from Archie. What made him cling to the gold? What did it represent for him? What did he think he would do with the gold?
This is a fascinating point to contemplate. When I read it, I felt as though Jamie's sense of honor was intervening. It was not the Bug's gold, and so they couldn't have it. I wasn't sure what Jamie was going to do with it, I don't think he really knew either, just that his sense of honor said it wasn't theirs, so they can't have it.

I wonder if it represented what could have been. Had Charles recieved the gold, his campaign could have been a success, and Jamie's life would not have fallen apart without Claire and Bree, he wouldn't have gone to prison, etc, etc. (In this romantic version of what could have been, the heart will leave out the fact that most likely Claire and Bree would have died in childbirth)
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NE Mom
Clan Fraser Veteran
Joined: March 4th, 2010, 9:58 pm

March 30th, 2010, 5:38 pm #3

I think the gold may have been an "insurance policy" for his family - Jamie looked for, and found, gold and gems in Voyager, which wound up keeping Lallybroch afloat through very difficult times. Maybe he thought it would be good to hold in safekeeping, used only what he needed, and tried to continue the safety and security of his family "across the stones" by keeping it hidden where Jem could find it, if need be, along with instructions to have it blessed.

Always thinking of his family, he is. :<3:
"Blue? Are there blue butterflies in Scotland?"..."It's a dream, Sassenach. I could have flutterbys wi' tartan wings, and I liked." Claire & Jamie, by Diana Gabaldon
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Laura
Clan Fraser
Joined: September 16th, 2009, 12:54 pm

March 31st, 2010, 6:05 pm #4

NE and teton, you both bring up very good points. What does the gold mean for Jamie? Honor? Protection for his family? Both? But never _Jamie's_ personal need. Always for others. When he gave himself up to the English for the bounty money, and when he went into the smuggling business in Edinburgh. All to keep the residents of Lallybroch from starvation.

Side note: There is a very subtle interplay in the book between the wealth of the Grey family (including William, of course) and the lack thereof in the Fraser family. Jamie and Claire have never sought riches nor have they desired wealth. Family. Responsibility. Honor. Integrity. The Greys hold the same sense of family, responsibility, honor, and integrity ... but they are wealthy and influential. How does this affect William? Lord John? Claire? Jamie? Just something to ponder as we make our way through the book.

CLAIRE: In the first paragraph, Claire has this to say (referring to the Higgenses) :
ECHO p31 wrote:They'd would all erupt from their sanctum like a flight of panicked quail -- and I quailed myself at thought of having to deal with them before I had to.
Can't you just see the image of the Higgenses all panicked? The cabin abuzz?

quailed: (v) to lose heart or courage in difficulty or danger; shrink with fear.

Have we _ever_ see Claire lose heart or courage in difficulty or danger? shrink with fear? Do we in ECHO? We've seen her run when she is emotionally overwhelmed - Voyager, ABOSAA - but once collected, she faces things head-on. I have begun to notice, though, that Claire does tend to think like Scarlett O'Hara in Gone With the Wind: "I'll think about that tomorrow." She pushes emotions to the side, and focuses on the task at hand. Does she ever, then, really process her emotions or does she repress them?
ECHO wrote:p 32: I felt it, too, a hard knot of protest and denial - No, it can't be true, it can't have happened! - in my throat, but there was work to be done. I'd deal with the inescapable later.

p. 33: But there was nothing I could do about that. I hoped there was something I could do about Ian.
IAN: OMy - my heart just breaks for Ian in this scene. "But I dinna see how I can live." This boy - now a man - has had such heartache and pain in his young life. Here is the link to the SOUL LEADING PRAYER from the Carmina Gadelica.

In the very last paragraph, Claire:
I hoped the prayer had helped him, at least a little, and wondered whether the Mohawk had any better means of dealing with unjust death than did the Catholic Church.

Then I realized that I knew exactly what the Mohawk would do in such a case. So did Ian; he'd done it.
When I first read this I had a "huh?" moment. What did Ian do? Then it hit me like a ton of bricks: the Mohawk way of dealing with unjust death is to trade life for life. And Ian _had_ done it: he stayed with the Mohawk in exchange for the life Roger took in Drums of Autumn.
The Ultimate Guide to Dorothy Dunnett's THE GAME OF KINGS available here.
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Pauline
Clan Fraser
Joined: October 1st, 2009, 11:19 pm

March 31st, 2010, 10:26 pm #5

Laura wrote: IAN: OMy - my heart just breaks for Ian in this scene. "But I dinna see how I can live." This boy - now a man - has had such heartache and pain in his young life. Here is the link to the SOUL LEADING PRAYER from the Carmina Gadelica.

In the very last paragraph, Claire:
I hoped the prayer had helped him, at least a little, and wondered whether the Mohawk had any better means of dealing with unjust death than did the Catholic Church.

Then I realized that I knew exactly what the Mohawk would do in such a case. So did Ian; he'd done it.
When I first read this I had a "huh?" moment. What did Ian do? Then it hit me like a ton of bricks: the Mohawk way of dealing with unjust death is to trade life for life. And Ian _had_ done it: he stayed with the Mohawk in exchange for the life Roger took in Drums of Autumn.
I still don't see what was unjust about Murdina's death. It was purely self-defense. She had already shot Jamie and was readying to shoot again. I never really got the whole guilt thing other than the fact that he was forced to unwittingly kill someone he knew.
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NigheanDubh
Clan Fraser
Joined: September 17th, 2009, 3:16 am

April 1st, 2010, 12:30 am #6

I know what you mean, Pauline.
DG, however, does tell us that Murdina acted out of panic. We need Laura to post a link to that from CS. I believe she has in another thread. Can't recall where though. Laura??? We need your help, when you have a chance.

Yet, Arch did arm her with a gun and she did use it. Panicked or not, Murdina did shoot and hit Jamie, and she was ready to aim and fire again. Somehow, I don't get the guilt either. I'll have to reread how DG explained it.
"'I wish to God,' said Gideon with mild exasperation, 'that you'd talk--just once--in prose like other people.'"
--Game of Kings
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Laura
Clan Fraser
Joined: September 16th, 2009, 12:54 pm

April 1st, 2010, 12:59 am #7

Your wish is but my command: MRS. BUG -

In our earlier discussions, we really got in-depth into the motivation behind Mrs. Bug's shooting of Jamie. If we follow the chain of events ...

1. Arch Bug hides the gold.
2. Arch Bug kills the pig to get the sow out of her den.
3. Arch Bug sends Murdina - with 2 guns - into the den for the gold.
4. Murdina shoots at Jamie.
5. Ian shoots Murdina.

Arch put his wife in harm's way - with 2 guns! He obviously thought the gold was worth a life ... he just never thought it would be his wife's.

Why wasn't it Arch retrieving the gold? My guess is that he was dealing with the white sow, which really _is_ the more dangerous job. Still -- I come back to Arch arming Murdina. We can see the natural progression - and that Ian is not responsible - but this is not going to alleviate his sorrow.
The Ultimate Guide to Dorothy Dunnett's THE GAME OF KINGS available here.
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Pauline
Clan Fraser
Joined: October 1st, 2009, 11:19 pm

April 1st, 2010, 11:58 pm #8

Laura wrote: Arch put his wife in harm's way - with 2 guns! He obviously thought the gold was worth a life ... he just never thought it would be his wife's.

Why wasn't it Arch retrieving the gold? My guess is that he was dealing with the white sow, which really _is_ the more dangerous job. Still -- I come back to Arch arming Murdina. We can see the natural progression - and that Ian is not responsible - but this is not going to alleviate his sorrow.
I thought that the reason Murdina had the guns instead of Arch was because Arch lost his fingers back in Scotland and he couldn't pull a trigger. That's why he used a hatchet all of the time.
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NigheanDubh
Clan Fraser
Joined: September 17th, 2009, 3:16 am

April 2nd, 2010, 2:45 am #9

Well, yes, he was unable to fire a gun, however...
Arch still put Murdina in harm's way; he gave her the possibility of murdering someone. What else do you do with a gun? or two? And she did smother the Brown guy, so she is capable of murder. I don't think she meant to kill Jamie, but if anyone got in the way, she'd shoot first and ask questions later. She was in that frame of mind, it would seem--all hyped up.
"'I wish to God,' said Gideon with mild exasperation, 'that you'd talk--just once--in prose like other people.'"
--Game of Kings
Quote

Pauline
Clan Fraser
Joined: October 1st, 2009, 11:19 pm

April 2nd, 2010, 3:07 am #10

NigheanDubh wrote:Well, yes, he was unable to fire a gun, however...
Arch still put Murdina in harm's way; he gave her the possibility of murdering someone. What else do you do with a gun? or two? And she did smother the Brown guy, so she is capable of murder. I don't think she meant to kill Jamie, but if anyone got in the way, she'd shoot first and ask questions later. She was in that frame of mind, it would seem--all hyped up.
I agree but it seems from D.G's blog that she's saying that it was an accident that Murdina shot at Jamie. Somehow, sneaking around in the middle of the night packing guns, shooting, and taking aim to shoot again, doesn't strike me as accidental. Sounds pretty premeditated to me.
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Lady Jayne
Clan Fraser
Joined: October 4th, 2009, 7:41 pm

April 2nd, 2010, 3:14 am #11

Pauline wrote:
NigheanDubh wrote:Well, yes, he was unable to fire a gun, however...
Arch still put Murdina in harm's way; he gave her the possibility of murdering someone. What else do you do with a gun? or two? And she did smother the Brown guy, so she is capable of murder. I don't think she meant to kill Jamie, but if anyone got in the way, she'd shoot first and ask questions later. She was in that frame of mind, it would seem--all hyped up.
I agree but it seems from D.G's blog that she's saying that it was an accident that Murdina shot at Jamie. Somehow, sneaking around in the middle of the night packing guns, shooting, and taking aim to shoot again, doesn't strike me as accidental. Sounds pretty premeditated to me.
Maybe Murdina planned to use the guns on the white sow if she returned. Also, I am not sure how well she could aim and shoot her target, especially with little light. Judging from DG's comments, Murdina meant to injure her attackers rather than shoot to kill so that she could secure her escape without being followed. Obviously, things turned out differently.
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Anam-Charaid
Clan Fraser
Joined: September 19th, 2009, 5:20 pm

April 2nd, 2010, 1:43 pm #12

teton87 wrote:
Jamie, as we know, since Outlander, never sought riches or power. He had all he needed to be happy. He questions his motive for wanting the gold, for keeping it from Archie. What made him cling to the gold? What did it represent for him? What did he think he would do with the gold?
This is a fascinating point to contemplate. When I read it, I felt as though Jamie's sense of honor was intervening. It was not the Bug's gold, and so they couldn't have it. I wasn't sure what Jamie was going to do with it, I don't think he really knew either, just that his sense of honor said it wasn't theirs, so they can't have it.

I wonder if it represented what could have been. Had Charles recieved the gold, his campaign could have been a success, and Jamie's life would not have fallen apart without Claire and Bree, he wouldn't have gone to prison, etc, etc. (In this romantic version of what could have been, the heart will leave out the fact that most likely Claire and Bree would have died in childbirth)
:agree: That had been my interpretation all along. Arch Bug had come about the gold through dishonest measures. Jamie's sense of honor could not abide this.

What you pose here is definitely an interesting thought. The seduction of the what ifs. Although Jamie is rather pragmatic, I think he knew that for them, their tiny family nucleus there was no other alternative. Things came to pass as they had to, in some form their twenty year separation was payment for the breach to the natural order of the universe. I think.... :thinking:

But the wine had been too strong for her, as it had for the others; and like the others she had stepped from the safe shores of friendship. She stood now in another country, whose sun burned and whose air was too rare for her breathing. Checkmate
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Joined: March 1st, 2010, 2:15 pm

April 5th, 2010, 1:49 pm #13

Anam-Charaid wrote:What you pose here is definitely an interesting thought. The seduction of the what ifs. Although Jamie is rather pragmatic, I think he knew that for them, their tiny family nucleus there was no other alternative. Things came to pass as they had to, in some form their twenty year separation was payment for the breach to the natural order of the universe. I think.... :thinking:
I wonder if this will count as time served in Purgatory for Jamie. He always mentions that he's expecting some kind of Purgatory without Claire in the afterlife (If I have to wait 200 yrs in Purg for you than I will...), but maybe he already did. :thinking:
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NigheanDubh
Clan Fraser
Joined: September 17th, 2009, 3:16 am

April 5th, 2010, 10:06 pm #14

teton87 wrote:
Anam-Charaid wrote:What you pose here is definitely an interesting thought. The seduction of the what ifs. Although Jamie is rather pragmatic, I think he knew that for them, their tiny family nucleus there was no other alternative. Things came to pass as they had to, in some form their twenty year separation was payment for the breach to the natural order of the universe. I think.... :thinking:
I wonder if this will count as time served in Purgatory for Jamie. He always mentions that he's expecting some kind of Purgatory without Claire in the afterlife (If I have to wait 200 yrs in Purg for you than I will...), but maybe he already did. :thinking:
Ladies, you have me wondering. Teton, interesting thought..."maybe he already did " spend time in purgatory. (loops us back to that ghost.)

As much as Jamie tried to set things right, he feels it cost dearly. Does he feel that Murdina's death was due to his persistence over the gold? He is so hard on himself.
I agree that his sense of honor would have him feel that Archie did not deserve it. At least not the way he was going about getting it.
I really wonder whether Jamie would have shared the gold if Arch had made a case for sharing it.
"'I wish to God,' said Gideon with mild exasperation, 'that you'd talk--just once--in prose like other people.'"
--Game of Kings
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Joined: March 1st, 2010, 2:15 pm

April 6th, 2010, 2:09 pm #15

Dictionary.com says:
pur·ga·to·ry   /ˈpɜrgəˌtɔri, -ˌtoʊri/ Show Spelled [pur-guh-tawr-ee, -tohr-ee] Show IPA noun,plural-ries, adjective
–noun
1.(in the belief of Roman Catholics and others) a condition or place in which the souls of those dying penitent are purified from venial sins, or undergo the temporal punishment that, after the guilt of mortal sin has been remitted, still remains to be endured by the sinner.
2.(initial capital letter, italics) Italian, Pur·ga·to·rio  /ˌpurgɑˈtɔryɔ/ Show Spelled[poor-gah-taw-ryaw] Show IPA. the second part of Dante's Divine Comedy, in which the repentant sinners are depicted.Compare inferno (def. 3), paradise (def. 7).
3.any condition or place of temporary punishment, suffering, expiation, or the like.
I think that Jamie's 20 yrs without Claire definitely qualify under definition #3.
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