Sally, Clara Oswald, and Doctor Who

***Doctor Who Spoiler Ahead***

“I am going to die and come alive again,” Sally informed me recently.

“Um, okay,” I replied. “Do you know of someone who did that?” I asked, curious where her comment was coming from.

“Yes,” she answered confidently.

“Who?” I persisted. I frequently read her Bible story books, alongside fairy tales, Greek mythology, and Curious George, so I expected that the answer would be “Jesus.”

“Clara in Doctor Who!” she replied with excitement.

In other words, when Sally spoke of someone dying and coming alive again, she was talking about Clara Oswald.


This isn’t the first time Sally has made interesting connections with Doctor Who. I am fascinated by watching Sally learn about the world and seek to make sense of it, and I love watching the role literature other media play in shaping her understanding of the world and the questions she asks. In our family, Doctor Who opens the door for interesting questions and discussions—because while Clara Oswald may die and come alive again, Sally will not.

In this vein, I especially enjoyed watching Sally listen with rapt attention this week as the Doctor delivered this inspirational monologue to a young girl in danger and on the verge of giving up:


It remains to be seen if Sally took this particular (and extremely beautiful) monologue as much to heart as she did Clara Oswald’s ability to die in one life and (it seems) come back in another!

The Lesbian Duplex 12: An Open Thread
When We Expect More of Our Children than of Ourselves
Why Does Lily Work Two Jobs while Carl is Unemployed?
The Pennington Point on Adult Kids Living at Home
About Libby Anne

Libby Anne grew up in a large evangelical homeschool family highly involved in the Christian Right. College turned her world upside down, and she is today an atheist, a feminist, and a progressive. She blogs about leaving religion, her experience with the Christian Patriarchy and Quiverfull movements, the detrimental effects of the "purity culture," the contradictions of conservative politics, and the importance of feminism.

  • Steve

    Well, technically it’s not the same Clara dying and coming alive. There are several versions of her that exist independently. They don’t have each other’s memories.

    • WCLPeter

      I wouldn’t be so sure of that.

      Clara was given crazy computer skills when she was downloaded by the Wi-Fi, she was able to hack a secured network and find the location of the Big Bad for the episode in record time; something the Doctor wasn’t able to himself.

      Dalek Clara used crazy computer skills to hack the Dalek Network and use it to remove all traces of the Doctor from all existence; something the Doctor himself said he’d been trying to do for years unsuccessfully.

      How much you want to bet that skills Clara learns in her past lives get transferred to her new lives as she’s reborn? Would also explain her time as a Governess translating into being a Nanny for her friend’s kids. Not to mention that phrase she keeps using, “Run you clever boy.”, regardless of the incarnation.

      What it means for the character, who knows, but the next few episodes are going to be loads of fun as we find out just who Clara Oswald is. Though, back to the topic at hand, I’m really interested to see Sally’s interpretation of Clara as time goes on.

  • Larry Clapp

    I read and watched a lot of sf in my youth, and later it took me a long time to shake off the “knowledge”, in the back of my mind, that somewhere along the way we’d discover the secret to immortality, and I would live forever. Or at least much longer. It wasn’t an especially traumatic realization, but it was interesting to realize that it was there, and that it wasn’t true. Alas.

    • M

      Yeah, I kinda hope we figure it out eventually, but I have no expectations that we’ll do it in my lifetime. There’s always the little niggling hope in the back of my mind, but I can usually go tell it to sit down in its corner, that’s not realistic :).

    • The_L

      I’d always been terrified of the idea of immortality, myself. Partly because if it doesn’t happen to everyone, you have to watch friends grow old and die while you stay young and healthy. Partly because if it does happen to everyone, and everybody isn’t neutered after, you’ve got horrific overpopulation. Partly because of films like Death Becomes Her, in which the immortal undergoes all sorts of nasty injuries and has to live through them all. But when I was little, at least, the primary reason I didn’t want to live forever was because I got bored very easily and didn’t want to be bored for thousands of years after I ran out of books to read and fun stuff to do.

      Heaven was different to me, somehow, but I’m still not sure why.

      • Mogg

        Heaven was no different to me – I remember asking my mother in all seriousness how we wouldn’t get bored in heaven when I was about eight years old. I was quite worried about it.

      • M

        I think there’s enough to do that I wouldn’t get bored for a long, long time. There would definitely have to be off-planet colonies of some sort though, to deal with overpopulation!

        And honestly, I find true immortality to be highly unlikely. Certainly not unkillability, which is different from most sci-fi depictions of immortality (immortals don’t die, but they can be killed). A lifespan of 300-400 years, on the other hand, could be possible. I’d like that a lot, especially if we stretched out the most productive and healthy years and didn’t just tack on lots of time being old.

      • Karen

        I love the way “Groundhog Day” handled this, with Bill Murray’s character deciding to learn to play piano and sculpt and spend his days making others’ lives better. Even the old homeless guy’s death was improved, dying warm and clean and after a good meal. I believe in Heaven, but in my version I’ll spend my time talking to the people who painted Lascaux and built Gobleki Tepe and wrote in Linear A. It’ll be the greatest graduate seminar ever.

      • Rae

        See, I’m the opposite. I’m like “There are more books to read in this world than I ever can read in my lifetime! This is a problem! And I may not have time to watch all the English-language sci-fi TV shows in the world, even though I’ve made significant progress on that front!”

        That said, given my family history alone it’s quite possible that I can live to 100, and given what kind of medical advances have happened in the past 100 years, I’m pretty sure that I could make it into the 22nd century (barring any unfortunate accidents).

        But, that said, immortality of the Captain Jack Harkness variety is pretty horrifying, especially if you’ve seen Miracle Day…

  • Jolie

    Interesting that she thought of Clara and not the Doctor himself regenerating :)

  • TheGloriousLiberty

    Okay, a spoiler note would have been nice, the new season of Who isn’t on Netflix yet so I haven’t seen it.

  • Gordon

    Run you silly boy, and remember.

    • Ubi Dubium

      I was just going to say “Run you clever boy, and remember” but you got there first. Can’t wait for the explanation to this. (And also how River Song is going to work into it, because I’ll be very put out if she doesn’t.)

  • KristinMH

    I hope Moffat can pay off the mystery he’s set up with Clara. I’m afraid that nothing he comes up with will be half as interesting as not knowing.

    And I agree, if they don’t work River into it somehow I’ll be very disappointed!

    • Rachel R

      I’m hoping Moffat gets River in this story too. I’m not ready to say goodbye to her yet.

  • Noadi

    Anyone else hear that monologue and start wondering if Carl Sagan was a Time Lord? The first thing that popped into my head after it was “we’re all made of star stuff”.

  • Alchemist

    We’ve been watching the doctor with the kids (twins12, girl, boy) since it started again in 2005.
    When hr did his first regeneration, into David Tennent, my son said “Just like the carpenter god! You know, the one who got nailed to a tree”.
    I didn’t quite know what to say and could only manage “Not a tree darling, a cross”.
    Since then the kids have noticed a number of parallels between storylines in books and movies etc and their very patchy understanding of religion.
    I’ve found that very useful in explaining that some people believe different things, even if those things aren’t real. I guess it helps my children get their heads around beliefs that don’t make logical sense.

  • UrsulaL

    If you haven’t found them yet, you may want to look up “Lindalee’s Doctor Who Review” on YouTube. The last season of Doctor Who, as reviewed by a four year old. The cute level is wonderful, and it may also be useful for getting a perspective on what sort of things a small child does and doesn’t pick up from an episode.

  • Rachel R

    Our family has been completely obsessed with The Doctor for years. You can’t swing a dead Dalek in our house without hitting a TARDIS or some other kind of Doctor Who kitsch. :-)

  • Thomas

    While on the subject of Docotor Who, I just want to register my objection to the fact that the 12th Doctor is yet another white male.