MOBY: Chapter 113: Thanks for All the Fish

Joined: 5:07 PM - Aug 21, 2015

4:49 PM - Feb 21, 2017 #1

:bagpipe: As of the beginning of the Written in My Own Heart's Blood rekilt, all books currently published (as of 1/2016) are open for discussion. The spoiler policy can be found here. Please do not discuss excerpts from Diana's Daily Lines related to book 9 or any other not yet published works in the MOBY discussion threads. To discuss excerpts of upcoming works, see the threads here.

Written In My Own Heart's Blood by Diana Gabaldon
Part 7: Before I Go Hence
Chapter 113: Thanks for All the Fish

Claire returns from her trip to the fish market with a bass, crayfish, and oysters and prepares a stew for dinner. Ian and Rachel drop by just in time to eat. Claire and Jenny speculate on whether Rachel could be with child yet. The couple is clearly in a blissful honeymoon stage, but it is too soon to notice any signs of early pregnancy.

The men and children come in for dinner and after everyone is seated with their food and Fergus says the blessing, conversation begins. Marsali inquires whether Ian plans to go back to the army. He replies that he will, but not Washington’s army- at least not for a while- which creates a stir of curiosity. Ian reveals that he will travel with some Mohawk friends to take Dottie to New York to find her father and Lord John. Rachel adds that Henry received word their oldest brother, Benjamin, has died. Since Henry is still too weak to be of assistance, Dottie feels she must help her family deal with the sad news. Marsali invites Rachel to stay with their family while Ian is gone, but Rachel announces her intention to travel with Ian and Dottie and stay in camp with Denny to assist his medical practice. Claire’s attention is momentarily drawn from Rachel to Marsali. With thoughts of pregnancy fresh in her mind, she observes the symptoms in Marsali.

Claire reflects on her longing for her missing family members- Brianna, Roger, Jem, and Mandy. Later, when she and Jamie have retired to the loft she discovers that Jamie is thinking of William and wishing he could be a part of the family gathering. She notices Jamie has no sword and he tells her he has sold it for a good price. She acknowledges they need the money and her thoughts return to the absent children. She asks Jamie if he might tell William about Brianna’s family. Jamie's says, yes, if he ever gets a chance, but perhaps not everything. Their thoughts soon turn to lovemaking and the escape that activity provides. Their pillow talk is interrupted by a bat hunting bugs. While the bat does its work, Jamie and Claire resume their discussion of returning to Fraser’s Ridge. Ian and Fergus are considering joining them, but must talk it over with Rachel and Marsali first. Claire informs Jamie of her suspicions about Marsali being pregnant. Jamie says this possibility reinforces his intention to take a boat to North Carolina, a course of action he planned in order to spare a weakened Claire some physical exertion, in spite of her protests of being capable of enduring a trip over land. They discuss the uncertainty of what battles may come in the South before the war’s end and whether Fergus can sell his printing press in Philadelphia and make a living in North Carolina with Jamie’s precious press, Bonnie. Their money problems will be alleviated once they are home and able to access the hidden Spaniard’s gold and Jamie’s cache of aging whisky. Claire's thoughts turn to memories of people at the Ridge, most of which are pleasant, but not all, and Jamie promises to build Claire a new house and garden.

Thoughts and discussion questions-

The chapter title is a reference to Douglas Adams’s humorous science fiction novel, A Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, in which dolphins send the farewell message, “So long, and thanks for all the fish,” to humans before departing in advance of the Earth’s destruction. In a sequel entitled “So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish,” it is revealed that the dolphins constructed a new Earth in an alternate dimension. On a superficial level, the title is a nod to Claire having purchased and prepared fish for everyone’s dinner, but for those who know the origins of the quote, it could reflect their plans to rebuild their home on Fraser’s Ridge. Any other thoughts on the meaning of the title?

The massacre at Andrustown is mentioned again. Will this be significant to our characters in the future?

A major theme of this chapter is being with family. Jamie and Claire long for Brianna and her family, Jamie wishes William could get to know everyone, and Ian longs for children with Rachel. Given how important family is to the group, it isn’t surprising that Ian and Fergus are strongly considering joining Jamie and Claire in their return to Fraser’s Ridge, even though Fergus must have his doubts about leaving his established newspaper business and starting a new printing business in North Carolina where he had struggled previously to provide for his family.

What truth is Jamie not planning to tell William? The fact that his half-sister and her family are time travelers?

Speaking of family, Dottie also wishes to be there for her family. Does it seem strange that there are so few details regarding Benjamin’s death?

Is the hunting bat symbolic of Jamie and Claire working through the problems that are “bugging” them?

Will Claire ever stop being jealous of Bonnie?

Please share your thoughts on this chapter!
The minister's cat is a camstairy cat.

Clan Fraser
Joined: 10:09 PM - Jul 19, 2010

5:17 PM - Feb 21, 2017 #2

Vala wrote: Will Claire ever stop being jealous of Bonnie?
:rotfl: I think she would if Jamie didn't always sound so dreamy (or whatever) when he talks about her.

Arguably, the chapter title could be Claire saying to the city of Philadelphia a literal, "so long, and thanks for all the fish." :bigsmile: I enjoyed the Hitchhiker's Gulde reference here too.

I enjoyed this chapter for having most of the family together and enjoying one another's company. There are serious things under discussion, of course, but mostly this is a happy, calm moment of being together and it's nice for our characters to have some of those. I love that we have more of Fergus and Marsali (and their family) in these sections of the book since they so often seem to be pushed to the side with most focus on Brianna/Roger/Ian/William in the younger generation.

Yes, I assumed that the truth about Brianna's family that Jamie wouldn't tell was about time travel. And, yes, details about Ben's death are lacking and that allows Hal to doubt the truth of it. I found it interesting that Claire thought about Hal and her conversation with him earlier. Much as his grace drove her nuts, she is concerned about him and his family.

I was surprised by Marsali's question to Ian about rejoining the army. I guess I always assumed that Ian would go back to NC with Jamie and Claire and his scouting for the army always seemed so casual to me, so with Jamie's resignation I kind of felt that Ian was probably done with that. Though it makes sense that he'd consider it if he actually got his pay, unlike Jamie who never expected to see any money. And, if Ian stayed with the army (and Rachel presumably did too to help Denny and Dottie with patients), it seems more likely that Jenny would stay with Marsali and Fergus and help with the shop and children, since I can't quite see Jenny going to the army camp (and she didn't earlier). Oh and this would keep Rachel and Denny together, which is one sad aspect of Rachel and Ian going to NC - to be away from her brother and new SIL. [Yeesh. I think this sounds run-on and convoluted, but I hope it makes sense.]

Lisa SF
Clan Fraser
Joined: 11:43 PM - Aug 02, 2011

5:27 PM - Feb 21, 2017 #3

Me too - I love the reference to Douglas Adams!

It's lovely seeing the big, sprawling family together for a meal. Of course, William is missing, and it's fitting that Jamie brings him up. Yes, I also assumed that the time traveling piece was the part Jamie might not tell William about his sister.

I find everything related to Benjamin's death highly suspect. The news is very roundabout, and there's good reason to think that something is a bit off about it. It's very touching that Claire feels such a connection to John and Hal and their family.

There are lots of sweet little moments in this chapter, like Claire rubbing Jenny's shoulders (and of course, Claire and Jamie's intimate moments and their pillow talk afterward). Also, Marsali cradling H-C is sweet and sorrowful all together.
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Clan Fraser
Clan Fraser
Joined: 7:06 AM - May 26, 2012

7:31 PM - Feb 21, 2017 #4

audiobooklover wrote:
Vala wrote: Will Claire ever stop being jealous of Bonnie?
:rotfl: I think she would if Jamie didn't always sound so dreamy (or whatever) when he talks about her.
Maybe if Jamie gives Bonnie to Fergus that will ease Claire's mind?

Thanks for the great summary Vala, and for the explanation about the chapter title (yes, I did read HHGTTG, but it was eons ago, so I miss all the subtle references)

Every time little Henri-Christian does or says something I can't help thinking of what comes next. It was especially sad to see Marsali holding him and rocking him; it is like a foreshadow of her holding and rocking his little body. I am glad that she is already pregnant, as the new child will seem like an addition to the family when it arrives, and not a replacement to H-C.

It was nice to see all the family together, even though I could not place that many people in the tiny print-shop - perhaps it has magical expanding qualities like Harry Potter's tent?

I wonder, how well did Jenny know Marsali before she eloped with Fergus? I imagine that she saw something of Jamie while he was married to "that woman" and so would also have seen the two girls. Do you think she links Marsali to her mother at all?

Clan Fraser
Joined: 3:16 AM - Sep 17, 2009

1:17 AM - Feb 25, 2017 #5

Thanks for the wonderful summary, Vala.

Today on my way to and from work I listened to catch up. I'm almost there.

I loved the family unity this chapter had. There is a cheerful atmosphere, of plans for the future. Sad about what will happen to H-C. It's hard seeing your children grow up and start to go their own way that it is so precious when everyone is together. That was so palpable.
I think that Claire is excited about being able to tell William about his relation to Brianna. I suppose he'll eventually learn about their time travel too. I mean, John Grey has been told even if he doesn't really believe it.
DLT wrote:
audiobooklover wrote:
Vala wrote: Will Claire ever stop being jealous of Bonnie?
:rotfl: I think she would if Jamie didn't always sound so dreamy (or whatever) when he talks about her.
Maybe if Jamie gives Bonnie to Fergus that will ease Claire's mind?
"'I wish to God,' said Gideon with mild exasperation, 'that you'd talk--just once--in prose like other people.'"
--Game of Kings

Lady Jayne
Clan Fraser
Joined: 7:41 PM - Oct 04, 2009

5:23 AM - Feb 27, 2017 #6

Verra nice summary and questions Vala. I agree with everyone's comments about the warm, familial atmosphere and how Jamie will hold off explaining the time travel factor to William. Can't wait to hear that exchange!

Felicite's new rag doll made me think of Mandy and her red-headed rag doll. I don't recall if we get to read about Jenny meeting Ian's Mohawk friends, but the thought of Jenny Murray being gobsmacked made me laugh.

We get a clue as to Benjamin's whereabouts before he disappeared. Like Fergus, I wonder why Captain Grey would be at the Middlebrook Encampment in New Jersey when Washington's army had left there in June of last year. Is this a a piece of information for future reference? Claire has a soft spot for the Grey's. "I felt a twist of surprisingly acute pain, as though someone had knotted a length of barbed wire round my heart" (p. 641 hc). That's a pretty painful description.

While Claire reminisces about Fraser's Ridge, she mentions "the fearsome white sow, terror of the entire neighborhood," that they had bought (p. 648). I had thought the white piglet was a house warming gift from Aunt Jocasta. I am looking forward to going home, too, for a Fraser's Ridge reunion, pig and all! :)

Joined: 8:02 PM - Sep 30, 2016

6:18 PM - Oct 10, 2018 #7

I just listened to this on audio and loved the description of the family meal. Reminded me of one of my favorite chapters in Dragonfly, the potato feast around the campfire. 
And I wonder too, if Claire will ever stop being jealous of Bonnie!!!!