Graphic by Scotty
Unfortunately, we must post a SPOILER notice for this topic. If you have not yet read Voyager, be forewarned. This warning also holds for those of you who have only listened to the (abridged) tapes of the last three stories - this story line was totally omitted from the taped versions, so proceed at your own risk! :-) There is no intention to exclude anyone from the topics, but obviously if we are going to have the freedom to choose topics, some of them are going to no doubt be from other books than Outlander. On the other hand, since the newsletter will be available for quite a while, it gives you all a chance to GET READING the next book so that we can all participate in all topics. After all, we have possibly 2 more years to go (sigh...) until the next book is published, so there's plenty of time to read all four books! And with that, on to the topic itself...
We have seen that Jamie is very attractive to members of the opposite sex - i.e. Black Jack and John Grey. I am interested in Jamie and John Grey's relationship in the sense of how it affects John. Whenever I have read the scenes from Voyager - in the prison, later when Jamie is the horse handler, and later still in the Caribbean - I have just felt SO sorry for John Grey and his love for Jamie. The quote that defines their relationship, IMHO, is when John says to Claire:+++++
"Do you know," he said again, softly, addressing his hands, "what it is to love someone, and never - never! - be able to give them peace, or joy, or happiness?"
He looked up then, eyes filled with pain. "to know that you cannot give them happiness, not through any fault of yours or theirs, but only because you were not born the right person for them?"
Copyright 1994 by Diana Gabaldon from the book "Voyager".+++++++++
Every time I've read those lines I think "I hear ya, brother." It is more profound, and has more impact on me than even Claire's realization about Frank right afterwards. I just have SO much empathy for John and his unrequited love. Anyone have any comments on this star-crossed love?
Judie, I agree with you absolutely here. John's desolation just shouts from the pages. He becomes a much more rounded character in 'Drums' and I am delighted that he and Claire reach an understanding...he is much more accepting of Claire than she of him, I find it hard that she can come to terms with women falling for him but not a man (she is the last person I would think of as being homophobic). I was delighted when John turned up in 'Drums'.
His love for Jamie is just as true as Claire's (perhaps that's what she finds so threatening) - but he totally respects Jamie's feelings and never tries to force the issue with him, even without knowing what Jamie went through at the hands of Jack Randall. To continue to love when you can hope for nothing is an incredible thing.
I think this is touching because unrequited love is an emotion that probably all of us have had! I know I can relate to feeling like John Grey, and knowing that no matter what I "did" it wouldn't matter a bit, I could never make the object of my affection love me back! I married my first husband because I felt guilty that he loved me so much and it was convenient for me at the time to get out of a situation I was in. It lasted 8 years but in the end I left and he kept thinking that if he "did" things for me that I would suddenly love him the way he loved me. I had to completely sever the relationship because he could never understand that I would NEVER feel about him as he did me. Terrible guilt trip! (No kids thank goodness!)
Anyway, I think John does understand that there will never be the type of relationship he wants but it fulfills something in him to take care of Jamie as best he can in other ways. I think it is a type of therapy for Jamie (subconsciously) to explore his feelings about John honestly and to perhaps allow that he is attracted to him, not physically, but emotionally. I thought Jamie was very open minded for his day and age especially after what he had been through with Jack.
I really like the character Gabaldon creates in John Grey. I remember reading a negative comment on some bb somewhere about Gabaldon's books stating that they were homophobic! How could that be true when John's character is such a likeable guy? I think Diana shows great respect for the very close friendship that develops between Jamie and John. And although Jamie cannot return his sexual attraction, he holds John in very high regard, and entrusts him with his SON! Not the act of a homophobic man, if you ask me.
I, too, have felt John's pain. Anyone who has fallen in love when the feelings are not returned can relate. But fortunately for many of us, we move on to meet our "soul mate" and those other heartbreaks fade into memory. But for John, he really seems to feel that Jamie IS his soul mate. So then the question becomes, can a person ever be happy being "just friends" with the one they love. Never had to try it, but it could be like jumping off a building. I don't have to try it to know it will hurt like hell when you land.
I just found Ladies of Lallybroch and came across your post about Jamie and John. Their scenes also touched me very deeply. I liked John from the moment that I knew he would not seek revenge on Jamie for his embarassment when he tried to "save" Claire. I was so grateful that Jamie was able to find a good friend in John while he was in prison.
I was unsure of why Diana had made the character gay, but maybe your question and your reminder of this touching scene just helped to answer. Not everyone is fortunate enough to have someone to whom they can give joy, love and happiness. And to those of us who are--it's a great blessing indeeed! I liked that lesson. So often, people base their happiness on what others can give to them. From John, we're reminded that the greatest gift is being able to give joy to others. I'm in the middle of my first reading of Drums and hope to see more of John Grey.
My thoughts on this subject lean towards wondering what it must have been like to be gay way back then! Is the story just modernized or do you think it was as rampant (ok, two male characters) as suggested in the book? It must've been hard for John - and did he know he was gay before Jamie? I am asking these questions from my memory, I haven't looked back in the book. Or did he just fall madly in love with an irresistible person? Like we did!
More intriguing is the fact that Jamie has such profound respect for John, despite the knowledge of how he feels about Jamie. Quite a tribute considering Jamie's past and general distaste for men who are homosexual. Was it John's fairness? Or was their relationship in prison like a moth attracted to a light just to get away from the disease and malaise down in the cells with his own men? Maybe the drinking of some brandy and a good chess game made him feel human during a time it was very hard to feel human. I dunno, but those books are so rich with character and story! I love discussing it! Well, that's my thoughts for now - off the cuff!
Voyager was my favorite book in the series. Unfortunately my copy has been missing for some time (*anguished cry*). Of course, none are available at the UBS (who would part with one?). So, my Voyager facts are probably rusty; please forgive me if I remembered something incorrectly!
I remember a conversation, either on the LOL board or on the TLT board, in which someone who had only read Outlander believed that Diana had unfairly depicted gay men in a very negative light. I replied, "Just keep reading." I am a pretty philosophical person, and I think the reason I am attracted to Diana's writing is that she is, too. Diana seems to delight in exploring the vast array of human nature, and I think she gives us John and Jack as a contrast/comparison of human nature.
The similarity is an attention-getter: they are gay. The differences are equally clear. While Jack appears to be consumed by his passion, even to the point of endangering his own life and career, John restrains his passion, out of respect for himself and for Jamie. This is even more impressive when you consider that John more than once was in a position to force Jamie into a physical relationship.
At first glance, it would seem that Diana has used these characters to demonstrate that being gay bears no impact on a person's character. However, I believe the true lesson in comparing Jack and John is that self-discipline is a great virtue, one that Diana seems to hold in the highest esteem. To me, this makes John one of the best characters in the series. Although both Claire and Jamie are each wary of John's affection at one point or another, they both eventually realize that his respectful devotion to Jamie makes him a continuing resource to them in a time when people frequently were forced to rely on the kindness of others. Jamie realizes this long before Claire does, and he entrusts John with his son.
In the scene Judie provided for this topic, Claire is forced to acknowledge that despite all her negative feelings toward him, John is a person of honor, on whom she can rely for support. I think that that scene struck me as one of the greatest expressions of love John could have shown for Jamie; he has already cared for Jamie's son, now he volunteers to care for Jamie's wife, his *adversary for Jamie's affection*. I hope that this relationship (Claire/John) will be developed in King; I think it would be very touching if at some point Claire and John unite to help Jamie or protect him from harm.
There is one other key role that I believe John plays in the series. I think that one reason we love Jamie is that he evolves from a darling young man into an unbelievable mature man. One aspect of this is his survival of and triumph over his experiences at Jack's hands. Over and over we have wondered "how did he get over that???". I think a part of the answer lies in his growing friendship with John. The hatred and bitterness we might have expected Jamie to have for all gay men is superceded by his realization that he likes John, and that John has behaved honorably toward him.
Lady Lee R.:
At first I didn't like John Grey (I think this is because in my mind I was associating with him as a British athority figure & that to me was someone like Jack Randall) but as his character grew and as I saw that he wasn't out to make the prisoners suffer more than possible, I began to change my opinion of him. Now I think of him as a gentleman and I DO feel sorry for him for his love for Jamie will never be returned. I do think that John should know why Jamie reacted so strongly against his "advances". After reading DOA, I greatly admire him, especially in the "situation" with Brianna. I am looking forward to see how John and Jamie's relationship will be in the next books, especially knowing that the Revolutionary War is coming and that certain events are going to change their lives forever. I do hope that their friendship will grow and that John will finally understand Jamie's past.
I thought this relationship added a complexity to the character of Jamie. His initial response to Grey's attention was violent (the prison scene), also a deep revulsion toward Grey. But they developed a friendship at the horse farm and when Jamie knew he had to leave he entrusted the care of his son to John. Now this was the most interesting scene to me, Jamie fumbling around trying to offer John the use of his body in payment for looking after Willie, and John, shocked, burst into laughter. There is a similarity to the scene in Outlander when he offered himself to Randall for Claire's release ... Jamie Fraser was willing to bargain with his most personal self to help ensure the safety of those he loved. And people can't understand why we love this man!
I was very impressed by how sensitively this was handled. While acknowledging Claire's natural disgust and concern for the situation, feelings were brought out in a way that, IMHO, elevated his feeling for Jamie above the purely physical into the realm of what real love is. There are many of us who can relate to how it is to love someone on this level, yet know that for whatever reason you'll never be together...this kind of love is truly happy for that person when they find fulfillment even if it has to be with someone else. Diana shows a rare insight into both the better and darker side of a person's soul.
That conversation that John has with Claire about Jamie is one of the most poignant parts of the story. I defy anyone to say that they haven't felt that way about anyone.
My heart breaks for John. He will never be truly happy until he gets over Jamie, and I do not think that will ever happen. I have a lot of respect for him, though, in that he has been very honest with both Jamie and Claire about his feelings and about the strength of them. John is a better person than I could ever be because he is tortured by his love for Jamie and by the knowledge that it could never be, and yet he remains such a good and loyal friend to the Fraser family. I do not think that I could withstand that kind of suffering. Then again, I can understand his desire to stay around Jamie even though he knows that he will never be completely satisfied. So, yes, I agree that that portion was very profound indeed. I tell ya, I would truly hate to be Lord John Grey.