Claire is an amazing, strong woman. Her love for Jamie drives some of her actions and make us gasp in awe. She shows us again in “Heaven and Earth” when she leaps from the Porpoise in the dead of night. It’s literally a leap of faith. She doesn’t know where she’s going, if she’ll find Jamie, or if she’ll ever reach the shores of the island with the beacons of light glittering in the distance.
Well, we know she does reach the shore of some island in “Uncharted,” and demonstrates her outdoor-savvy skills – probably drawing on her time growing up with her Uncle Lamb. Claire adapts to her situation and surroundings as she dries and re-arranges her clothing for travel inland. She knows to find water in the crevices of leaves, make shade in the heat of the day, and uses the two pieces of flint she finds to make a fire when evening comes.
I’ve watched the episode numerous times, and this time I focused on Claire’s emotional response to her physical challenges between the time she washed up on shore and when Father Fogden discovers her.
She appears fairly confident as she strikes out from the beach, finds a bit of water, and continues inland. But as the heat intensifies and no roads or evidence of civilization comes into view, we see her resolve begin to melt with the midday sun.
She whimpers at the sight of dried dew and rotted coconuts. No water, and no way to retrieve the coconuts growing at the top of the tree. What is Claire thinking, and how does she find the strength to carry on? I’ve never been in circumstances that severe, but I’ve been in situations where I wanted to give in and give up. I’ve read about mind games people play to pass the time, so I thought it would be fun to speculate.
Perhaps she plays music or sings songs in her mind. It takes time and can distract her from monotony and fear. Claire might re-live the events of the recent past – jumping from a ship and thinking about that leap of faith might keep her adrenaline flowing and her senses alert. Precious memories held close to her heart would certainly help her stay true to her mission of finding Jamie. She would choose those that help her most – I’d be focused on the wedding, Jamie’s declaration, “You are my home now,” and the hope of them reuniting.
Sometimes it comes down to the most basic and rudimentary coping mechanisms. One step forward is one step closer to her destination. When the songs become tedious and hope is fading, it may be all that your mind can handle. It may be that your focus has to be on one more step. Then another. Keep repeating that as long as you can.
When she steps into the clearing and sees Father Fogden, she collapses. Is it from relief, or that she simply cannot take another step? It may be a combination of both emotional and physical exhaustion. Both kinds of stress take their toll, and at some point the body simply says, “I can go no further.” It may be relief in finding another human who she hopes will help her. Her survival skills can close down for now – it’s time for her mind and body to rest and heal.