I’ve been reflecting upon Jenny, as a result of this thread (and I am also in the middle of re-reading Voyager, so I have Outlander on the brain). I don’t dislike her, I think because she represents, for me, the prevailing sentiment of the day toward someone like Claire: fear and ignorance.
In Voyager, when Jenny and Claire finally speak with one another, after the Laoghaire mess, Jenny shares that she has never been more than 10 miles away from Lallybroch her entire life (which reminds me of the hill people Claire encounters in Outlander, when she finds that baby that’s been left out for the fairies – Jamie explains that they aren’t educated and live their lives based upon myth and superstition). We also don’t know how much education Jenny has had. So, what she knows is Lallybroch and the surrounding village. Jenny’s worldview, despite having a brother and husband who have traveled, therefore, is narrow: she is focused on her family, her land, and her tenants. The world at large is something she reads about in novels. She, as a result, doesn’t trust Claire (post-Outlander) because Claire scares her. Claire is an unknown (they don’t know her family), she’s an Englishwoman (when the English are terrorizing Scotland), she has the “Sight” (based upon her advice to plant potatoes and install a priest hole), and she comes to Jenny in a vision (during J & L’s wedding). Jenny then, in my view, is motivated by the fear of Claire’s difference; her choices are based upon her desire to protect what is dear to her—no matter what. She, in a way, is the realist to Jamie’s romantic; Jamie accepts Claire (you traveled through the stones and came 200 years into the past? Ok!) while Jenny is suspicious.
DG has an ongoing theme—in DiA when Claire tells Roger and Brianna the truth and Brianna doesn’t believe until she sees Geillis go through the stones—that is relevant to Jenny, too: “blessed are those who have not seen and have believed.” Jenny, too, is someone who has to see to believe, which is why she is fearful of Claire.
As for why she has Laoghaire and her daughters come back to Lallybroch when Jamie and Claire arrive, it’s a cowardly choice – but she is scared of what Claire’s return will bring to her family – they have already been through so much.
In Echo, she lashes out at Claire because of grief. It’s not fair to do that, but I understand how someone facing a loss as deep as Jenny’s would be desperate and angry. And Claire—a healer who cannot heal Ian—is a logical scapegoat for Jenny’s upset.
What bothers me more is Jenny’s decision in Echo to move to America. For someone who has never been more than 10 miles from her birthplace, the idea to move so far away, to leave behind her children and grandchildren, struck me as out of character, and it took me a while to process it. However, when Jenny does end up in America, in MOBY, we see that she and Claire reconcile, and that, I believe, is the direct result of Jenny being in a new environment and of spending more time with Claire one-on-one. Jenny’s worldview has also expanded so that she can live with difference and uncertainty.
So, I see Jenny as a character that evolves throughout the series – someone who moves from ignorance to acceptance, which reflects, the larger place in which Claire lives.
- This reply was modified 7 years, 3 months ago by khenlow.