Catherine, Called Birdy by Karen Cushman, is the diary of the fictional teenage Lady Catherine in the year 1290. Catherine, who is nicknamed “Birdy” or “Little Bird”, records her daily trials and triumphs along with her fears and hopes for the future. On the small Medieval manor on which she lives, her options are limited. As Catherine seeks to avoid an arranged marriage and find meaning in her life, Cushman challenges the reader to consider questions of identity, equality, freedom, and familial responsibility. The book opens a window into the life of Medieval women and will enrich students’ study of both literature and history.
Catherine thinks Shaggy Beard is the most foul person ever to walk the face of the earth.
Catherine's father: Father sees Shaggy Beard as an average man who will bring wealth and security to Catherine and her family.
You are so much already, Little Bird. Why not cease your fearful pounding against the bars of your cage and be content?
Catherine thinks all of the sewing, embroidery, and other ladylike tasks she does are pointless and not worth her time.
x xxx xxxxx
Catherine's mother: Mother sees these tasks are part of the life she and Catherine were born into. She believes that accepting them willingly makes life happier and more peaceful.
x xxx xxxxx
Catherine views Meg as a friend and fun companion. She does not worry about class distinctions and wishes Meg would stop curtseying and calling her "my lady".
Meg: As a peasant, Meg is always conscious of the class difference between herself and Lady Catherine. She is respectful of Catherine and hesitant to act too boldly in front of her.
Catherine is impressed with the relics Brother Norbert and Brother Berhtwald bring back from Rome.
Reader: I think the monks may have been fooled by the soldier who led them to the graves. They relics could be fake. Since the graves were unmarked, the soldier could have lied just for the money the monks paid for his help.