Claire and Fergus: A Mother’s Instinct
Written by: Emem Uko
One of the highlights of season two for me was watching Claire and Fergus’ burgeoning relationship. A child who has never known a mother and a pregnant woman preparing to become a mother for the first time – what a beautifully unique and dynamic character duo for the book and show to explore! While Jamie and Murtagh provide Fergus with the ever-important male mentoring and guidance every young man needs, it’s Fergus’ relationship with Claire that most struck me. This was especially true as we reached the point in the season where the men returned to Scotland and prepared for impending battle. While watching “Je Suis Prest,” one question came to mind – why did Claire pull Fergus away from Shinty with the men, when he was clearly having fun?
We see Claire go into full-fledged panic mode in this episode, and it’s understandable. As she watches the clan men preparing for the upcoming rising, she is transported to the time she served as a British Army nurse, in World War II, and she relives memories that trouble her, even haunt her. She is reminded of the similarities of the cost of war, no matter the time period. Her mind recalls the downtime the soldiers had, as well as when they were met with their untimely deaths. The unnerving familiarity of her present moment with her past forces her to grab little Fergus away from playing. She doesn’t want history to repeat itself; she knows all too well that young soldiers can play games with each other one day, and then the next, perish on the battlefield together. Fergus is not going to meet that fate, not when she has an eye on him.
Fergus is a curious and somewhat precocious child with little to no inkling of the dangers of war. But why should he? There is an excitement in the atmosphere and he is thrilled to be witnessing the adrenaline rush of preparing for battle. But, Claire has seen young soldiers die. The chilling recount of the soldier that cried for his mother is reason enough for her to make sure that Fergus is far away from the surroundings of war.
Pulling Fergus away from creating a friendship with the men is good parenting. If these men do not return, their loss will not be as crippling as it would be if he gets close to them. If he doesn’t form close friendships with them, then there’s a chance that he wouldn’t sneak off with them to battle. Her Fergus will be safer.
We have to remember that it wasn’t long ago that Claire lost a child – she certainly isn’t going to lose another. Claire has taken Fergus under her wing, mending the void left behind from losing her baby, Faith. Recalling Reverend Graham’s advice to Frank – “children accept the world as it is presented to them” – you’re struck with how aptly that also applies here, on both accounts. To Fergus, Claire is the closest to a mother he’s ever known. And for Claire, she loves and views Fergus as her child, whether she bore him or not. Her innate motherly instinct is in overdrive when it comes to the impending war and Fergus’ well-being.