Chapter 18 is a significant chapter in many aspects. I have always wondered whether there is some meaning behind The Impetuous Pirate. Of course, the fact that the narration is taking place on a ship foreshadows the trip that Claire and Jamie will undertake across the Atlantic. They will face issues with pirates in Voyager and subsequent books. In fact, piracy was a threat to many colonial establishments centuries back.
How Valdez perceives Tessa is of interest: “. . . He was impressed by her fearlessness; so bold, so impetuous . . . and so beautiful.” Claire and Brianna are most likely perceived as such by eighteenth-century characters. Of course, Tessa is probably not a time-traveler but the creation of a twentieth-century author who has assigned a behavior and mindset to her very similar to Claire’s and Brianna’s. Is Valdez raping Tessa? The story of Valdez and Tessa parallels the sex scene between Jamie and Geneva. Tessa is attracted to the pirate as Geneva was attracted to Jamie.
. . . His chest was magnificent, a smooth expanse of gleaming bronze. Her fingertips ached to touch it, even though her heart pounded deafeningly in her ears as he reached for the waistband of his breeches.
Of course, the only difference is that Jamie was never interested in Geneva. Then, Tessa gets scared during intercourse. She is a virgin as Geneva was.
‘Oh!” she said. “Oh, please! You can’t! I don’t want you to!” [Fine time to start making protests, I thought.]
“Don’t worry, mi amor. Trust me.”
The expression in brackets is what Claire is thinking about the situation. Jamie did not stop when Geneva asked him to do it because he was already much into it (it is not easy to overcome biology at that stage), and he knew that everything would be fine at the end since he was the one with more experience.
. . . how could she be feeling such things for this man, who had cold-bloodedly sunk her father’s ship, and murdered a hundred men with his own hands? She should be recoiling in horror, but instead she found herself gasping for breath, opening her mouth to receive his burning kisses, . . .
One cannot forget that Geneva’s brother was killed at the Battle of Prestonpans, and the main reason why Lord Dunsany was concerned about bringing Jamie to the house. People at Helwater were wary about him. He was simply the Scottish barbarian to them. Are readers experiencing Geneva’s point of view through Tessa’s? I will leave that to you, my readers, to decide.
Chapter 18 also defines how the friendship between Claire and Joe Abernathy started. Of course, they are both odd, unusual to society (white color symbolism). They were both not expected to become doctors. Others did not approve their career choices. They share similarities that make them become close friends. Of note is the fact that Joe does not criticize Claire for reading very descriptive sexual scenes. He is not shocked at all. He establishes a friendly conversation with her. Talking about sex is not a taboo to them. I tend to suspect that back at that time it was not a proper topic of discussion in particular between a black man and a white woman. Furthermore, sex is not typically a subject of conversation between strangers trying to meet each other.
Of interest is the reason why Joe Abernathy calls Claire Lady Jane.
. . .”It’s the voice, that accent that sounds like you just drank tea with the Queen. That’s what you’ve got, keeps the guys from bein’ worse than they are. See, you sound like Winston Churchill – if Winston Churchill was a lady, that is – and that scares them a little. You’ve got somethin’ else, though” – . . . “You have a way of talking like you expect to get your way, and if you don’t, you’ll know the reason why. . .”
The bolded words in the passage describe Claire as a white lady. Furthermore, it reminds the reader about that scene in book 1 in which Jamie fell off his horse because he was injured, and how Claire reacted to it. One wonders what Jamie’s companions thought at that time.
Finally, Joe mentions that when he is taking a break, he is not interested in studying and reading medical journals. He prefers to travel the Spanish Main by reading romance novels. Similarly, Claire prefers to do the same thing. She decides to leave the comfort and safety of the twentieth century to be with the man she loves in the past.
Thanks for reading!
Gabaldon, Diana. Voyager. 1994. New York: Bantam Dell. 2002. Print.