Please wait while we process your payment
If you don't see it, please check your spam folder. Sometimes it can end up there.
Don’t have an account?
Create Your Account
Sign up for your FREE 7-day trial
Already have an account? Log in
Choose Your Plan
$4.99/month + tax
$24.99/year + tax
Save over 50% with a SparkNotes PLUS Annual Plan!
for a group?
Get Annual Plans at a discount when you buy 2 or more!
$18.74 /subscription + tax
Subtotal $37.48 + tax
on 2-49 accounts
on 50-99 accounts
Want 100 or more?
for a customized plan.
You'll be billed after your free trial ends.
7-Day Free Trial
Renews September 27, 2023
September 20, 2023
Discounts (applied to next billing)
This is not a valid promo code.
(one code per order)
Annual Plan - Group Discount
SparkNotes Plus subscription is $4.99/month or $24.99/year as selected above. The free trial period is the first 7 days of your subscription. TO CANCEL YOUR SUBSCRIPTION AND AVOID BEING CHARGED, YOU MUST CANCEL BEFORE THE END OF THE FREE TRIAL PERIOD. You may cancel your subscription on your Subscription and Billing page or contact Customer Support at firstname.lastname@example.org. Your subscription will continue automatically once the free trial period is over. Free trial is available to new customers only.
For the next 7 days, you'll have access to awesome PLUS stuff like AP English test prep, No Fear Shakespeare translations and audio, a note-taking tool, personalized dashboard, & much more!
You’ve successfully purchased a group discount. Your group members can use the joining link below to redeem their group membership. You'll also receive an email with the link.
Members will be prompted to log in or create an account to redeem their group membership.
Thanks for creating a SparkNotes account! Continue to start your free trial.
Your PLUS subscription has expired
*See discount terms and conditions.
Motifs are recurring structures, contrasts, and literary devices that can help to develop and inform the text’s major themes.
Catalina’s memoir follows the form of a traditional picaresque novel, a Spanish literary convention that was popular during her lifetime. Traditionally, the Spanish picaresque novel is about a loveable Spanish rogue’s adventures and is often episodic in nature. The rogue often has to live by his wits, has experiences with different social classes, and is usually traveling during the course of the story. Catalina’s memoir differs from the classic Spanish picaresque in two very dramatic ways—she is female, and her memoir is nonfiction (although some critics have questioned the latter). It is possible that Catalina herself was influenced by some of these works, which may explain why her memoir is told in a series of episodes rather than in standard chronological narrative form. As in many picaresque novels, Catalina’s recounting of her trials is often humorous, and although she uses violence to survive, she just as often has to rely on her intelligence.
One of the defining characteristics of Catalina’s story is the fleeting nature of the relationships and events in her life. The people closest to Catalina are often introduced in a few sentences and then never mentioned again. She travels from town to town and country to country, only rarely mentioning the differences between places. Even her social station changes rapidly—she goes from a page to the king’s secretary to a violent street thug, from a soldier to a deserter, and from a worker for the sheriff to a brutal killer. The impermanent nature of the events in Catalina’s life propels her story forward. Her memoir is based on action, not emotion, and what moves the reader from one chapter to the next is the rapid pace of events in Catalina’s life. Catalina’s lack of stability also helps her keep her biological gender a secret.
As Catalina grows older, her violent behavior becomes more and more pronounced as a means of protecting her honor, and these violent episodes trigger most of the action in the memoir. Catalina’s story begins when she runs away from the convent, an event precipitated by a savage beating she receives from one of the nuns. Once Catalina starts disguising herself as a man, the violence escalates: she stabs Reyes and must leave town, and many times she kills men over cards and flees into churches until the furor dies down. Many of the transitional events in Catalina’s story are precipitated by violence, and Catalina clearly feels that in order to maintain her honor she must commit these acts. Honor is extremely important in a society where the representation of public self is far more important than one’s private inner life, and for Catalina, violence and honor are inextricably intertwined.
Ace your assignments with our guide to Lieutenant Nun!