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Catherine, Called Birdy - Plot Diagram
Transcript of Catherine, Called Birdy - Plot Diagram
Catherine is the main protagonist of the story, and narrates it in first person. Catherine's nickname is Birdy. She is a lady, or daughter of a lord.
Lord Murgaw, called Shaggy Beard by Catherine, is a vile, rude, and disgusting suitor "from the north" who eyes Catherine's hand in marriage. He is the driving force behind Plot 1.
Lord Rollo is Catherine's father and lords over Stonebridge Manor. He is cruel, selfish, and disgusting (according to Catherine) and desperately wants to marry his daughter off to a rich man to benefit himself.
Morwenna is Catherine's peasant maid. She tries to enforce Lord Rollo and Lady Aislinn's orders for Catherine with various degrees of success. She also pushes Catherine along her her way to accepting her fate.
Lady Aislinn is Catherine's mother. Aislinn, like Morwenna, often speaks with Catherine and encourages her to take her place in society without resistance. Main Characters
Catherine is the main protagonist of the story, and narrates it in first person.
Lady Aislinn is Catherine's mother. Many times in the story, she tells Catherine to be content with who she is.
The Old Woman - When the Jews stay in Catherine's hall, there is an old woman who tells stories to the children. Because she is a Jew, she was discriminated in society. Catherine later talks to her, and the old woman tells her that "'...In the world to come, you will not be asked 'Why were you not George' or 'Why were you not Perkin?' but 'Why were you not Catherine?'" (p. 17).
Edward - Edward is Catherine's youngest brother, and is a monk. When Catherine tells him about how she wants to be a monk, Edward recommends her not to, because he says she will never convince people that she is a monk.
George - George is Catherine's uncle. He is a crusader and a younger brother in his family. After hearing of George's adventures as a crusader, Catherine wants to be one and tells her dream to George.
Madame Joanna - Madame Joanna is the king's cousin, who vitis Aelis' manor while Catherine is visiting. In her soothsaying, she tells Birdy about wings and when to use them. Catherine does not understand.
Perkin is a clever peasant goat boy and Catherine's best friend on the manor. When Catherine tells him her idea of running away, he explains to her that she shouldn't, by explaining how each of her ideas wouldn't work.
Aelis is Catherine's lady friend. She teaches Catherine that people aren't always what they usually are.
Robert is a knight and Catherine's "Abominable" brother. He shows that people can change, because at first, he is rude and mean, but later becomes caring and helpful.
Lord Rollo is Catherine's father. He is a relatively poor country knight, and shows that people aren't always the same, because when talking with Catherine's mother he does not roar and is gentle and polite. Plot 1 Plot 2 Plot 1 Plot 2 Plot 1 Plot 2 Plot 1 Plot 2 Plot 1 Plot 2 Plot 1 Plot 2 Plot 2 Plot 1 Plot 1 Plot 2 Plot 1 Plot 2 Catherine goes to a fair with Morwenna and encounters a bear, who is set to fight against some dogs in an event called a "bear-baiting". To save the bear, Catherine pays the owner half her pouch of silver and her silver toothpick. In doing so, she accepts the marriage with Shaggy Beard, and is betrothed to him. This is the crisis because it is the low point of the story - the protagonist, Catherine, is hopeless and woebegone about her decision to save the bear and marry Murgaw. The first suitor is the inciting force, marking the point when her father starts inviting suitors to his residence. This is the inciting force because it introduces the conflict between Catherine’s wants and her feudalistic societal role. After meeting the first suitor whom she describes as a “clodpole”(6) and “. Catherine realizes that she should start thinking more deeply about whether she wants to follow the roles that society has imposed upon her. The first part of the rising action is when the second suitor, Rolf, comes. Catherine tricks him by pretending to be a villager and spreading untrue rumors about herself, while her father is unaware. This is part of the rising action because her father invites another suitor, which escalates the conflict. Catherine’s father ups the ante by inviting yet another suitor from Kent. Catherine talks of her family’s wealth, and the suitor is overcome with greed. He discusses a betrothal with Catherine’s father, who is outraged by his demands for a dowry. Catherine’s father kicks him out (literally) to avoid paying a dowry. Catherine’s father escalates the conflict in the story by inviting another suitor, which Catherine successfully drives away. The fourth suitor comes at dinner, unknown to Catherine. Although the suitor is okay with Catherine, he is disgusted by her father, and leaves without a betrothal. Catherine’s struggle with her society’s perspective on marriage increases with every suitor, which she gets rid of each time. The fifth suitor, the son of the Baron Fulk, comes to the manor. Catherine is unwilling to marry him because he is extremely fat. When trying to make him uncomfortable, Catherine accidentally sets the privy on fire when Fulk is using it. The baron’s son leaves without a betrothal. Catherine has outwitted yet another suitor in her disagreement with society. Catherine’s father seats Catherine next to Lord Murgaw at Robert’s wedding. Lord Murgaw, whom Catherine calls “Shaggy Beard,” is very rich. Shaggy Beard and Lord Rollo discuss a marriage between Catherine and Shaggy Beard, as Lord Rollo finds many advantages in a potential marriage. Catherine drives away a few of Shaggy Beard’s representatives, but Shaggy Beard is determined to marry her and negotiates endlessly. Catherine is trying to escape her arranged marriage and is against the current feudal society’s view on marriage. She wishes to marry who she wants to, instead of the suitors her father invites. As a result, during the course of the novel, Catherine performs various schemes to rid the suitors from her presence. man vs. society Characters Setting Point of View The book is set in Stonebridge Manor in Lincolnshire, England in the year 1290. The book is written in first person point of view. Characters Catherine doesn’t want to be who she is, and wants to be a villager or a rich lady, but not the daughter of a poor country knight, whom she is. As she says at the beginning of the story, "If I had to be born a lady, why not a rich lady, so someone else could do the work and I could lie on a silken bed..." (5). Catherine desperately wants to be someone else, even a vendor or a crusader, as shown in passages like this. man vs. self The Jews seek shelter in Catherine’s hall, and Catherine travels with them to a fair. The woman tells Catherine to be herself, but Catherine does not understand. Catherine visits the monastery where Edward, her brother, lives, and wants to be a monk. Edward says that she would never fool anyone into thinking that she was a monk, and that her dream is futile. George visits home, and Catherine tells him of how she wants to be a crusader. George tells her that it is a very gruelling, bloody life, and that it is unlike her dreams. Catherine’s mother tells her about how she met her father, and Catherine cannot imagine her father like that. Catherine tells her mother her idea of being a song maker, and her mother instructs her, "Don't stretch your legs longer than your stockings or your toes will stick out" (53) and compares her to a bird in a cage, though Catherine doesn’t understand. Catherine visits Aelis’ court, and the court is visited by Madame Joanna, the king’s cousin. In her soothsaying, Madame Joanna tells Catherine about everyone’s figurative “wings” and when to use them. Meg, Catherine’s friend from the dairy, is betrothed to Alf. Catherine helps them get their own cottage. This makes Catherine envious of the fact that a peasant can choose her husband, but a noble lady cannot. This gives her all the more reason to strive to be a villager. When Catherine helps her mother, Catherine’s mother talks about Catherine’s father, and how he is nice and fine. She also tells her that marriage “is what you make it”, giving the analogy of “If you spit in the air, it will fall on your face” (175). Catherine does not understand and thinks that she is crazy. Shaggy Beard sends Catherine some silver, a silver toothpick, and a sewing kit. Naturally, Catherine despises the gifts. Meanwhile, his son Stephen gives Catherine a bronze knife, which Catherine appreciates. Catherine runs away from home in panic to flee from the marriage with Shaggy Beard . This is the crisis because one of the main reasons why Catherine doesn’t want to be a lady is because she has to marry whom her father wants. Now, she is forced to marry Shaggy Beard, and she will not be able to stop it. This is a low point in Catherine’s life because the part Catherine hates the most about being a lady is coming true. As Catherine’s father Rollo had already reached an agreement with Lord Murgaw regarding Murgaw’s marriage to Catherine, the agreement naturally passed on to Murgaw’s son after his death. As a result, Stephen, Murgaw’s son, proposes a marriage to Catherine. Catherine sees the villagers outside her house and wishes she were one. This event is the inciting force because it arouses feelings of longing to be someone else. This brings out the conflict of man v. self, because it shows Birdy’s ambivalent feelings about her societal role. After realizing that she will retain her individuality even with a marriage, Catherine accepts the marriage with Stephen. Plot 2 of Catherine, Called Birdy is resolved when Catherine realizes that, even though she is chained by the societal roles of her age to a husband, her soul can soar like a bird. Catherine realizes that even if she is married and restrained by societal roles, she will still retain her individuality and rule-breaking personality. This ties back to the consistent message in the story: there are times to fight and times to hold back. The theme for Plot 1 of Catherine, Called Birdy is "Fight the battles you will win." This theme is critical to the plot development of the novel. For example, Catherine has many arguments with her father about not wanting to marry and not wanting him to choose. It was not necessary for her to have these arguments because she would not have won those "battles" and they were only a waste of time. However, Catherine should have stuck to her own smaller fights, or conflicts, that she could actually win. In fact, Catherine's mother says something similar when she says that just because a bird can fly does not mean it has to flap its wings all the time. The theme for Plot 2 of Catherine Called Birdy is “Always be yourself”. Many times in the book, Catherine wanted to be something other than herself. For example, when the Jews visited, the old lady says, “...not...‘Why were you not George?’ or ‘Why were you not Perkin’ but ‘Why were you not Catherine?’” The old lady is trying to say that Catherine could have been those two but she is Birdy and to remain Birdy and not someone else.
Catherine later finds in the book that it is impossible to be someone else, and everyone should try to make the best of who they are. She says when reaching an epiphany at Ethelfritha’s house, “But I also cannot survive if I am not myself...I am no minstrel and no wart charmer but me, Birdy, Catherine of Stonebridge...” (202). Catherine is explaining that she must be herself and cannot be anyone else. When Catherine returns home, she finds that Shaggy Beard was killed, and his son Stephen wants to marry her. Catherine accepts, showing that she has overcome her personal barriers and is okay with being the daughter of a poor country knight. When Catherine runs away to Ethelfritha’s house, she realizes that she should and could not have tried been someone else and has to be herself. She remembers what the old Jewish lady said and figures out what she really meant. When Lord Murgaw’s representatives arrive, they bring news of his death in a bar fight. Catherine, who was growing desperate and listless about her impending “doom” of marriage, is greatly relieved to escape from the clutches of Murgaw. This is the climax because this is the point where the protagonist, Catherine, finally settles the conflict of man vs. society by escaping her marriage. Catherine is much happier with marrying Stephen rather than marrying Lord Murgaw, because "...he is young and clean, loves learning, and is not Shaggy Beard" (205). Because Catherine feels better about marrying Stephen, her dread of being a poor knight's daughter is lessened. Man vs. Self