Readers have different opinions regarding Malva’s love for Claire. This post will be an analysis of the evidence detailed in the books in regards to Malva loving Claire. The second part of this post will be focused on how Malva knew about Jamie’s scars. This is my last post about A Breath of Snow and Ashes. Other topics associated with book 6, such as the ghost of Black Jack, will be explained in my essay which will be published this spring /summer.
Malva’s Love for Claire
Claire did love Malva not only as an apprentice but also as a daughter. Just keep in mind how Claire refers to Malva after her death: “daughter of my heart.”
When she is back at the Ridge in MOBY, she muses about her relationship with Malva.
Malva Christie. A strange, damaged young woman – but one I’d loved. Who perhaps had loved me, as well as she could. . . (MOBY, ch. 144).
More revealing hints are found in A Breath of Snow and Ashes. After Claire is released from the murder charges, she and Jamie are discussing about the possible murderers. Claire thinks that a good a candidate could be a married man or his wife.
I closed my eyes, envisioning the possibilities. If she had an affair with a married man – and they had looked at her, too, only more discreetly – yes, he might have killed her too keep it undiscovered. Or a scorned wife . . . (ch. 98)
This musing is what led me to hypothesize more about Malva’s mother, Mona, and her sister-in-law. I wrote several posts about them. However, this line of thought brings to mind the scorned lover, which turns to be the case in the relationship between Malva and Allan as demonstrated in the following passages (from Allan’s point of view):
“Not as I loved her,” he said softly, not looking at me. “I loved her all her life, from the time she was born and they gave her me to hold. There was nay other, for either of us. . . ” (A Breath of Snow and Ashes, ch. 122)
“She said – she loved you,” he said, low-voiced and thick. “She couldna hurt ye so. She meant to tell the truth. No matter what I said to her, she just kept saying that – she loved ye, and she’d tell.” (A Breath of Snow and Ashes, ch. 122)
Based on Allan, Malva did love Claire. I also think it as a possibility. First Allan did not like Malva having sexual contact with other men. Of course, she was desperate to get a father for her child, but all this promiscuous behaviour filled Allan with anger. Allan even confesses that he beat Malva for it. He even mentions that he would slap her every time that he thought of seeing her married to somebody of Tom’s choice (A Breath of Snow and Ashes, ch. 122). Allan simply does not make a distinction between different types of loves. Since Malva was never loved but abused her whole life, she probably came to the realization that she loved Claire as a mother. Jamie and Claire could have offered her protection. Obviously, she probably did not want the treatment she received from both Allan and Tom for her child. By noticing that both Jamie and Claire love their “adopted” children and grandchildren, she probably thought her child would be loved and raised in a safe environment. According to Claire, her mistake was to trust Allan.
. . . My horror at the story and my anger at what he had done to us was subsumed by a flood of sorrow. Oh Malva, I thought in despair. Oh, my darling Malva. Why didn’t you tell me? But of course she wouldn’t have told me. Her only confidant was Allan (A Breath of Snow and Ashes, ch. 122).
Malva’s Knowledge of Jamie’s Scars
I decided to write about this topic because it seems to be confusing to some readers. How did Malva know about Jamie’s scars?
Jamie has a tendency to go “au naturele” when he is at the White Spring. In The Fiery Cross, he invokes the ghost of Dougal MacKenzie in a cleansing ritual that takes place at the White Spring. Claire is watching him in this scene. He is naked and it seems he is not aware of Claire’s presence at the beginning. Of course the name of the spring is not revealed at this stage but its description matches what will later be known to the reader as the White Spring.
Now, on the verge of winter, the white glimmer of the rock by the spring was easily visible through the leafless scrim of alder and mountain ash. Jamie had found a large, pale boulder, and rolled it to the head of the spring, where he had scratched the form of a cross upon it, and said a prayer, consecrating the spring to our use. I had thought at the time of making a joke equating whisky with holy water – thinking of Father Kenneth and the baptisms – but had on second thoughts refrained; I wasn’t so sure Jamie would think it a joke (ch. 22).
Jamie also has a tendency to wear only his shirt in the vicinity of the White Spring. When remembering the conversation between Jamie and Brianna about Saint Killian, Claire was actually looking for Jamie. She finds him meditating or praying at the White Spring wearing only his shirt (An Echo in the Bone, ch. 8). Another example is the spring bath in book 7. In this scene, Jamie, Young Ian, Bobby Higgins and his stepsons are swimming naked.
Of interest is the scene in book 6 in which the charm composed of finger bones is found. This scene starts with a detailed description of Jamie helping Brianna moving a boulder from one side of a creek to the other. Here are few details of Jamie’s physical appearance or attire (A Breath of Snow and Ashes, ch. 49).
He’d been fishing; barefoot and wet to mid-thigh. . .
Thou shalt not uncover thy father’s nakedness . . .
The last reference is Brianna’s own thought after requesting her father to take off his shirt. Based on her observations, it seems that Jamie’s legs are noticeably exposed. A few minutes afterwards, Jemmy and Germain, find the charm at the Flat Rock, a geological feature of the aforementioned creek. These several instances show that it is possible for many, not just Allan or Malva, to notice Jamie’s scars.
I will start soon writing about book 7. I have read the whole series now, but it will take me a while to process all the information into interesting blog posts.
Gabaldon, Diana. A Breath of Snow and Ashes. 2005. New York: Bantam Dell. 2006. Print.
– – -. An Echo in the Bone. 2009. New York: Bantam Dell. 2011. Print.
– – -. The Fiery Cross. 2001. New York: Bantam Dell. 2005. Print.