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The narrator of the memoir that covers twenty-six years of her life. Catalina escapes a convent at the age of fifteen and lives her life as a man, joining the army and inciting violence both on and off the battlefield. Although Catalina does not exhibit significant emotional growth during this time, she is weighed down by the secret that she keeps—that of her biological gender—and much of the focus of her memoir is the price she pays to keep this secret. Catalina also explores her conflicting feelings about the church and God, as well as her intense patriotism toward her native country, Spain.
Read an in-depth analysis of Catalina.
Catalina’s father, a native-born resident of San Sebastian, Spain. Captain de Erauso is genuinely anguished by Catalina’s flight from the convent and resolutely searches for her, even going to the king’s secretary for assistance. He does not recognize Catalina when he sees her dressed as a page, but expresses great concern for her.
Catalina’s mother, sister to the prioress of the convent that Catalina is placed in at the age of four. María does not recognize Catalina when she sees her, now age fifteen and dressed as a man, at mass.
Catalina’s brother, the secretary to Governor Alonso de Ribera. Miguel cares about his family deeply, although he does not recognize Catalina when she joins his company. He is a loyal Basque, expressing great concern for Catalina merely because of her Basque hometown, and exhibits great enthusiasm and depth of feeling during his short appearance in Catalina’s memoir. Eventually, Catalina unknowingly kills him during a duel. Catalina’s relationship with him is the closest relationship in her life.
The Augustine friar who served as bishop of Guamanga from 1612 until his death in 1620. The bishop risks his life to help Catalina escape the constables in Guamanga, and he is one of the only people to get through Catalina’s tough exterior. She is deeply touched by his spirituality and refers to him as a “saintly man.” He is the first person to whom she confesses the truth of her biological gender. Bearing out her faith in his caring and belief in honor, he protects Catalina after she makes her confession.
The priest who arrives to take Catalina’s confession after her near-death battle with the Cid. Catalina implies that she tells Brother Luis that she is a woman. The priest is kind and encouraging to Catalina, who describes him as being a “great man.”
The daughter of a Spaniard and an Indian woman, and a widow. The half-Indian woman treats Catalina well and feels pity for Catalina’s destitution. She is wealthy and hopes to marry her daughter to Catalina.
A girl Catalina refuses to marry, describing her as being “as black and ugly as the devil himself.”
Catalina’s uncle, also the first cousin of Catalina’s mother. Esteban hires her on as ship’s boy on his vessel, and although he does not recognize her as his niece, as a loyal Basque he allows Catalina to curry favor with him simply due to the fact that her background is also Basque.
A dark, hairy giant known as “the Cid.” The Cid attempts to steal from Catalina during a card game. He is quite brazen in his behavior and doesn’t hesitate to defend himself when Catalina reacts with violence. Although he wounds Catalina badly, he dies almost at once.
An arrogant young man who starts an argument with Catalina. When confronted by Catalina, Reyes does not back down and instead responds with threats of violence. He is a proud young man with loyal friends, and he is willing to go to great lengths to defend his honor.
The daughter of the late Captain Juan Dávalos and Dõna María de Ulloa, who is a nun and founded a convent. María is brave and adventurous, urging Catalina to cross a river that frightens even Catalina. María has been unfaithful to her husband with the bishop’s nephew and enlists Catalina’s help in escaping her vengeful husband.
The Pope of the Catholic Church, residing in Rome. The Pope is willing to allow Catalina to rebel against propriety and continue dressing as a man, while urging her to lead an honest existence. A gracious ruler, he believes Catalina’s virginity is much more significant than her cross-dressing in defining her character.
Ace your assignments with our guide to Lieutenant Nun!