Does Walter Woodcock die in the Outlander books?

Outlander Season 7 -- Courtesy of Robert Wilson/STARZ
Outlander Season 7 -- Courtesy of Robert Wilson/STARZ /

Outlander Season 7, Episode 6 brought a sad end to Walter Woodcock’s story. Is that how it ended for him in the Outlander books?

Caution: This post contains major spoilers from An Echo in the Bone.

Walter Woodcock survived his leg being amputated just to die of a pulmonary embolism. There was nothing Claire could have really done, especially considering the situation that they were all in. The prisoners had been moved to the pig pen, deemed traitors rather than prisoners of war.

If you’re a book reader, you may have been surprised by the decision to kill Walter off. Do you feel like you missed something in the books? Well, it turns out this is a slight change that actually makes a lot of sense.

What happens to Walter in the Outlander books?

Just like in the show, Walter does have his leg amputated. The situation works out the same way, with Denny and Claire working together to make sure the leg is amputated in the right place to save Walter’s life. Then the British take the fort and Claire and co. have to escape with Walter left behind.

Nobody knows what happened to Walter after that. While Claire is captured by the British, she doesn’t get to see Walter again. She does eventually meet Mercy Woodcock, Walter’s wife, but she still doesn’t hear anything about the man she operated on.

Walter is deemed missing in action (MIA). That means Mercy isn’t a widow when she starts to fall for Henry Grey, John Grey’s nephew. Eventually, Mercy could fight to have her husband claimed as dead, but that would definitely take time, especially as the war continues on. So, Mercy’s status as married is still there.

In the show, that’s changed. With Walter’s death, Claire can offer Mercy some sort of closure. After all, there were some strong feelings for Walter when it came to his wife. It would make more sense to have Mercy find out her husband is dead and grieve him. In the book, she comes across as someone who is willing to just follow her heart, and I didn’t really like her because of that. I got nothing from the story that Walter was in any way abusive or mean to her or even that they didn’t love each other, so the storyline didn’t make a lot of sense. With the show’s change, there’s closure.

As show-watchers, we also get some closure for Walter. We find out that he could have survived the amputation if it wasn’t for the pulmonary embolism. We have the chance to say goodbye to him instead of always being left with his life in limbo.

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