Why the slave market scene and Claire’s reactions were so important in Outlander

Photo credit: Outlander/Starz Image acquired via Starz Media Room
Photo credit: Outlander/Starz Image acquired via Starz Media Room /
Photo credit: Outlander/Starz Image acquired via Starz Media Room
Photo credit: Outlander/Starz Image acquired via Starz Media Room /

Many fans wondered if the slave market scene and Claire accidentally becoming the owner of a slave in Outlander would be cut.

Ron D. Moore and Matthew B. Roberts pleasantly surprised my Outlander fans by keeping a particular storyline from the books in the series. In “Voyager,” Claire accidentally becomes the owner of a slave. How can you accidentally have this happen? Well, Jamie buys her the slave because it’s the best way to protect the boy. Claire isn’t happy about it, but it’s this overall storyline that is so important to tell.

While there are many who aren’t happy that this scene was used from the novel, many others are. This wasn’t a case of misrepresenting history or brushing over a very important aspect that needs to remain discussed. It’s about showing how one person may have wanted to do something but couldn’t.

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There was little Claire and Jamie could do

The slave market showed some of the atrocities that would happen to slaves. Many people didn’t care or they walked on by because that’s all they could do. Claire’s sickening looks mimicked those of the people watching. How could humans really believe that this was the right way to treat individuals just because of the color of their skin or where they came from? It was barbaric and cruel.

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So overcome by everything she saw, Claire physically attacked the auctioneer. She wanted to save a young man who was being humiliated; all because men wanted to buy him for breeding purposes.

In the end, there’s only one way Jamie can help this young man. Jamie buys the boy just to prevent someone else buying him. This doesn’t help anyone else, but does offer this boy a chance to be owned by caring people. It also gives them a chance to set one person free, although his fears of what could happen after setting the boy free are genuine and real. Even those with papers to say they were free could end up being kidnapped and sold (illegally) back into slavery.

None of this could help any of the others being sold at the slave market. The actions wouldn’t change any of the views of those who believed their right was to own a slave; and treat that person (who was their property in that time) any way they wanted.

The stark reality and reminder of the things that happened

Everything set around the slavery storyline was a stark reminder that this really did happen. It’s easy to forget the details 100+ years later. Some parts of the world barely touch on it in history, whether it’s because they want to forget the bad or because they choose to focus on other details of the past. Yet slavery (as a whole and the details of the treatment and barbaric nature) can’t be just brushed under the carpet, especially not when some parts of the world are still involved in slavery and mistreatment of individuals.

Outlander also didn’t just remind people of what happened in the past, but what could and couldn’t be done. Claire learned that it wasn’t just as simple as setting someone free. There were people who would take slaves back the moment they could. In Claire’s case, owning a slave was the best way to keep that person safe. Just unfortunately, she couldn’t buy them all to make sure each and every one was cared for and protected.

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Yet it also reminds everyone not to give up. Just because powerful people don’t agree with your views, doesn’t mean everyone else doesn’t. Getting the right people in power is one of the best ways to take action. Also doing what you can to help a small number of people is better than sitting back and doing nothing. Claire and Jamie helped one man. If everyone did the same, things could have changed much sooner.


Outlander continues on Sunday with the season 3 finale at 8/7c on Starz.