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  • For example, would it be more correct to refer to Germain as Jamie's step-grandson (via Marsali), his adoptive grandson (via Fergus), or simply his grandson (as it's generally written in the text).

    I would argue for completeness when initially discussing the relationship, but ultimately using the terms most frequently used in the text. By this standard, I would suggest:

    Relationship to Jamie:

    Brianna - daughter

    Marsali - stepdaughter

    Fergus - Adopted son

    Germain et al - Grandson/granddaughter (w/o qualifiers, since Jamie/Claire don't seem to use any)

     

    Relationship to Claire:

    Marsali - Stepdaughter

    Fergus - Son-in-law

    Germain et al - Grandson/granddaughter (w/o qualifiers, since Jamie/Claire don't seem to use any)

    William - Stepson (twice over)

    Lord John - ?????? (Given her use of LJ's title, it seems incorrect to disregard the connection completely, but not sure what's most appropriate)


    Relationship to Jenny and Ian:

    Fergus - foster son (per Jenny in Blood)

    Germain et al - Grandson/granddaughter (per Jenny introducing herself to Henri-Christian as "your grannie")



    Relationship to Brianna:

    Marsali - Sister-in-law. (By the transitive property, Brianna should be Marsali's stepsister, but there's two mentions of Marsali as Brianna's "good sister" and none at all of them as each other's stepsisters)

    William - half-brother (He was briefly her stepbrother but half-brother seems more appropriate)



    Fergus is the trickiest. Jamie and others use "adopted son" slightly more often than "foster son," but they're used interchangably when Jamie is introducing Fergus. When explaining the relationship to Mrs. Figg in Blood, Jenny clearly considers Fergus to be both a foster and adopted son to Jamie, and a foster son to her (“No, [Claire's] husband is my brother’s adopted son,” Jenny explained. “But I raised Fergus from a wee lad myself, so he’s my foster son, as well"). However, Claire and others repeatedly refer to Fergus as Jamie's only, making foster mother/adoptive mother seem inappropriate term for her. An argument could be made for stepmother, but Claire is never referred to as such. Son-in-law, defining Fergus via his relationship with Claire's stepdaughter, seems more apt. There's really no discussion of Brianna's relationship to Fergus either.

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    • In practical terms, the qualifiers don't matter much in any of the relationships; the only time Jamie or anyone has to define their relationships is when explaining (with honest disclosure of any non-bloodedness or otherwise unusual status) to an outsider, which is a rare occurrence.

      As a reader, however, I think I tend to take into account not just how characters define their relationships in bald terms to a stranger, but also their unspoken behaviors. With Jamie and Marsali, for instance, I would argue that she and Joan are, in effect, Jamie's adopted daughters. While he certainly was their stepfather during his marriage to Laoghaire, once that marriage was declared invalid, the term "stepfather" would no longer, I feel, be exactly correct. It may be used as a term of habit by Jamie or Marsali herself, but Jamie's severing all traditional marital ties with Laoghaire, as well as his legal pledge to provide for a dowry and the overall welfare of two non-biological children, seems to me to call for a term that is not dependent on the status of Jamie's relationship (ill-defined as it is) to their mother. Still, I'll grant that the term "adopted" may not ever have been used in the text in re Jamie/Marsali/Joan (though I haven't verified with a text search), so stepfather/stepchildren may still be more appropriate, after all.

      With both Fergus and Marsali's relationships to Claire, I think my main consideration is how Claire consistently defines her relationship to them through the lens of their relationship to Jamie. I.e., although she does develop a bond with each of them over time, she still tends to describe them as "Jamie's" in lieu of directly defining her own relationship with them.

      (I'll interject here that I agree that Claire's relationship to Fergus's children has never needed any qualifiers, except maybe to the more discerning outsider. For Germain's whole life, and those of his siblings, he has had a grandson's relationship with both Jamie and Claire. The question of adoption and step-status has nearly everything to do with his parents becoming "more" to Jamie and Claire over time, by law or otherwise, and almost nothing to do with his own consistent, unchanging relationship with them.)

      Going back to Claire/Fergus/Marsali, I would tend towards calling her stepmother to both of them. Claire did not mother Fergus in any traditional sense (in the books; I'll leave the show's approach alone in this current discussion) when he was a child. And I haven't done a text search, but as far as I can remember, Claire usually refers to Fergus as her "husband's adopted son" or some variation thereof, and likewise associates Marsali with Jamie, in order to define her own relationship with her. Thus the "step" designation seems most appropriate to me. I think the "in-law" designation adds confusion, rather than clarification.

      Re: Jenny's relationship to Fergus, I think her claim is just as legitimate as Jamie's. When you say "Claire and others repeatedly refer to Fergus as Jamie's only", I would argue this is largely a matter of context. Most of the time, I imagine Claire doesn't feel the need to launch into a detailed history of Fergus's checkered upbringing with every person who asks for clarification. And before Jenny comes to America, most acquaintances would have no practical need of knowing the existence of a remote Scottish foster mother. Jamie is the person they know, so it's simplest to say Fergus is Jamie's adopted son and have done with it.

      Even still, the fact remains that Fergus was largely raised by Jenny, particularly considering Jamie's sporadic presence in Fergus's day-to-day life for all those years. Of course Claire knows academically that Fergus lived under Jenny's roof for twenty years, but she (Claire) didn't have much chance to witness their dynamic firsthand, and so that may also be why Jenny isn't her first thought when answering the question of who Fergus's parents are, adoptive or otherwise.

      There's also the matter of cultural perspective. Explicating the complexities of Scottish familial connections is no small job. As an example, while Jamie is biologically the nephew of Dougal MacKenzie, he also "fostered" with Dougal during his teen years, as was customary among powerful Highland families, and thus his relationship with Dougal had a father/son dynamic as well. And not only did Dougal view Jamie as a nephew and as a foster son, but also as a rival for leadership of the clan. Talk about complex relationships!

      Claire, although familiar by now with Highland customs in a broad sense, often feels inclined to leave the conversation whenever it turns to the (in her view) boring business mapping Scottish ancestral relationships and connections. I get the sense that she would probably not feel the need to explain all such complexities to another "sassenach".

      To bring this back to the wiki, in all of these cases, it is easy enough to add a footnote to explain, in the briefest of terms, the various layers of any particular relationship. With Claire and William, for instance, the designation "stepmother" could be clarified with a footnote that states that Claire is the wife of William's biological father (who, from age six on, did not have a direct hand in raising him), and was for a brief period the wife of William's adoptive father.

      I could probably go on, but it's late and I'd better quit before I add more words to an already over-long response. :)

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    • Appreciate the thoughtful response. :) 

      All of these relationships are very complex and of course each character can be these things in parallel. They don't need to put labels on it.

      I think my question is how we should be handling it in the context of the wikia, which is of course held together by neat little labels and objective facts. But as you've pointed out, it's very very hard to put the characters in those boxes.

      Even if we respect the need for representing all facets of all of these relationships, I'd love to clarify how they will be defined, especially initially, on each page.

      It actually does sound like we're largely in alignment on what relationships should be prioritized, maybe it would make sense to use that as the standard, but use footnotes to indicate the complexity in more detail?

      For example, I would argue for restoring Germain et al's pages to list family relationships as "Claire Fraser (grandmother)" [w/ a footnote detailing her actual relationship] rather than "Claire Fraser (adoptive grandmother)" I actually think that's how you originally wrote those pages, but they've been changed a few times in the interim. I myself added the double-relationship under the trivia section for Joan (I thought I added elsewhere but apparently not).

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