I've been listening to DRAGONFLY IN AMBER lately, and I was intrigued by a comment on Compuserve about the fact that there are many references in that book to things that are "stuck" or "frozen" somehow, unchanging, unmoving. I thought it might be interesting to compile a list. (Many thanks to Sheila on Compuserve for the inspiration for this blog post!)
Please note, all quotes used below are copyright © 1992 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.
The dragonfly in amber that Hugh Munro gave Claire as a wedding present. (And the chunk of amber that Jamie gave to Claire as a gift for their first anniversary.)
The skeletons that Jamie and Claire discover in a cave in France, with their arms locked about one another. I was stunned to discover that there really was such a Neolithic couple, discovered in a cave in Italy in 2007 -- a full fifteen years after DRAGONFLY was published! I think the picture below is just amazing.
The clan stones at Culloden, weathered by more than two centuries of exposure to the elements, but otherwise unchanging.
The objects -- including Roger's genealogical chart -- pinned to the giant cork-board in the Rev. Wakefield's study. (I always imagine the cork-lined wall as looking something like this, only much larger and more crammed with papers.)
The miniature portraits of Claire and Jamie. Claire's dream (nightmare?) of being trapped inside the portrait always makes a shiver go up my spine:
"A Lady," he said softly, cradling the last of the portraits in his palm, shielding it for the moment. "With brown hair curling luxuriantly to her shoulders, and a necklace of pearls. Undated. The artist unknown."I like to imagine that this miniature portrait was what Frank was holding.
It was a mirror, not a miniature. My cheeks were flushed, and my lips trembled as Frank's finger gently traced the edge of my jaw, the graceful line of my neck. The tears welled in my eyes and spilled down my cheeks as I heard his voice, still lecturing, as he laid down the miniature, and I stared upward at the timbered ceiling.
"Undated. Unknown. But once...once, she was real."
(DRAGONFLY Chapter 10, "A Lady, With Brown Hair Curling Luxuriantly", p. 152 in the hardcover)
Claire's description of the way a child's personality is fixed at a very early age.
But from the very start, there is that small streak of steel within each child. That thing that says "I am," and forms the core of personality.Claire waiting for Jamie when he's taken away for questioning following the incident at the dinner party after Mary's rape:
In the second year, the bone hardens and the child stands upright, skull wide and solid, a helmet protecting the softness within. And "I am" grows, too. Looking at them, you can almost see it, sturdy as heartwood, glowing through the translucent flesh.
The bones of the face emerge at six, and the soul within is fixed at seven. The process of encapsulation goes on, to reach its peak in the glossy shell of adolescence, when all softness then is hidden under the nacreous layers of the multiple new personalities that teenagers try on to guard themselves.
(DRAGONFLY Chapter 4, "Culloden", p. 55 in the hardcover)
But for the hours of the night, I was helpless; powerless to move as a dragonfly in amber.The stillborn baby, Faith, who will always remain exactly as she was when Claire saw her.
(DRAGONFLY Chapter 19, "An Oath is Sworn", p. 270 in the hardcover)
"She was perfect," I said softly, as though to myself. "So small. I could cup her head in the palm of my hand. Her ears stuck out just a little--I could see the light shine through them."And finally, heartbreakingly...the twenty-year separation that left Claire and Jamie "frozen" in each other's memories, not dead, but trapped in time, unchanging through all their years apart.
The light had shone through her skin as well, glowing in the roundness of cheek and buttock with the light that pearls have; still and cool, with the strange touch of the water world still on them.
"Mother Hildegarde wrapped her in a length of white satin," I said, looking down at my fists, clenched in my lap. "Her eyes were closed. She hadn't any lashes yet, but her eyes were slanted. I said they were like yours, but they said all babies' eyes are like that."
(DRAGONFLY Chapter 28, "The Coming of the Light", p. 398 in the hardcover)
He was slow, and careful; so was I. Each touch, each moment must be savored, remembered--treasured as a talisman against a future empty of him.
(DRAGONFLY Chapter 46, "Timor Mortis Conturbat Me", p. 698 in the hardcover)