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Symbols are objects, characters, figures, and colors used to represent abstract ideas or concepts.
Though Catalina’s relationship with religion is often tenuous, she regularly turns to churches in times of need. Laws at the time prevented police and other officers from invading the sanctuary of a church, thus allowing criminals a safe haven from arrest as long as they stayed inside the church walls. Though this may well be the only reason that Catalina seeks refuge in churches when she is in desperate situations, her reasoning for seeking sanctuary in a church seems more complex than that. Catalina was raised in a convent, and the priests and nuns were the only family and authority figures she likely encountered on a regular basis. Therefore, it is not surprising that she turns to the church in times of distress. Although she never explicitly mentions her views on specific religious doctrine, Catalina clearly finds some emotional support in the church and what it stands for. To her, the church represents a surrogate family, and she finds relief, both legally and emotionally, within its walls.
Clothing is Catalina’s representation of self, and her ability to change it allows her to change her very identity. Catalina’s original deception depended solely on the boy’s clothes she created for herself, and though two decades of cultivating her male persona have pushed that disguise deeper than skin-level, clothing still represents disguise and the ability to transform. Although Catalina often covers years in single sentences, she nonetheless makes mention of each new set of clothing she receives during her first decade living with a male identity. Her frequent mentions of clothes in these chapters underscore clothes’ importance in this time in her life. Each additional gift of clothing, such as from the half-Indian woman and the vicar, reaffirms Catalina’s male identity and allows her to continue under the pretense. Clothing enables the fluidity of her identity and also publicly reinforces the identity she has chosen for herself.
Ace your assignments with our guide to Lieutenant Nun!