Gender norms during the 1600s were certainly not in favor of women. They faced prejudices and discriminations that held them back from doing some of the more common tasks that men would be take for granite. Women’s rights were limited during this time. Women were expected to fill a role in the house rather than going out and earning money in order to support the family. These strict barriers that were in place for women, made Catalina challenging these gender norms more noteworthy in her life than just dressing up as a man in general. Gender norms during this time did not want a women to be fighting in battle. Catalina was able to join the militia, fooling others of her gender, and fight in combat. This is very impressive because if you asked someone in the 1600s if they would want a women fighting for their army, the response would immediately be “no”. Catalina proved these people wrong and showed her worth giving all the women who are frustrated with gender norms a voice. Catalina shows the reader that she is able to make it on her own as a women who dresses as a man giving power to the female gender. However, when she Catalina begins feeling too much power she ends up getting into criminal situations.
Churches and cathedrals for Catalina act as a sanctuary when she commits criminal offenses. She visits churches and cathedrals when she needs a place to go to avoid authority and imprisonment. During this time there was a law in place that made churches illegal for police to arrest someone while inside of the holy place. Thus giving criminals a safe space from the law. What is unusual about her church visits, is that she normally doesn’t go to them. She gives thanks to God only when she avoids getting caught, and only prays when she doesn’t want something bad to happen to her. Her religious beliefs are not very strong but her prays allows her to keep a clear conscious and continue doing criminal acts. Essentially she only reaches to God when she is desperation.
Churches and cathedrals as buildings and institutions of power also are able to restrict Catalina in some ways. Religion was very strict during the 1600s. Catalina was forced to join a convent which is Christian Community essentially ruled by Nuns. The Nuns were there to teach young girls how to grow up in a religious way. Catalina was not a fan of this, as Nuns attempted to control her and force her to do things that she didn’t want to. Religion being forced upon her made her feel restricted and leading her to later deny her vows and eventually running away. Religion being pushed upon her lead her to push away from religion.
Catalina develops a false sense of what kind of respect is usually given to man. She is very violent when the respect she thinks she deserves is not given to her. For instance when Catalina was investigating crimes in Peru, a man insulted her. This triggered her to kill him and she once again used the hiding in a church rule in order to avoid arrest. These type of situations her ego keeps getting her into are dangerous to her own well being. If caught by police she would face the death penalty. She also runs the risk of the people she is getting into confrontations with potentially harming her in some way. We also see Catalina become very manipulative to others displaying her narcissistic attitudes which usually end up putting her in some sort of dangerous situation. We first see her manipulate someone, besides fooling everyone that she is a man, when she was working on the fishing boat. She tricked her Uncle Esteban Eguiño into thinking she was a man and worked as a first mate on the boat. After a little of working there she decided to leave but first stealing her Uncle’s money. Her ego makes her believe that she is entitled to this money. Her Uncle could have easily discovered Catalina stole the money and go after to kill Catalina, who is a man at the time. This is a dangerous situation for her to be in just because she wants to feel like she has other people’s respect and not treated like a women.
Catalina once again killed more people. This time she killed some cops and she returned to a church in order to avoid police arrest. However, she met the Bishop once she realized how difficult of a situation she was in. She decided to confess to the Bishop; in the book she talks about the him as “such a saintly man, and feeling as if I might already be in the presence of God. I revealed myself to the pope”. She revealed her true identity in years to the Bishop and he accepted her. Since she was a virgin the Bishop was able to abolish her charges. This is ironic because in the end it is her gender that saves her. The entire book Catalina was running away from her gender but being female is the thing that saves her.
Despite killing several men she is still able to avoid this charges because there is a purity to her. In literal terms she is still “pure” but what she does throughout the story, behind the violence, has purity to her actions. She dresses as a man originally because she doesn’t fit into the gender norms that are put in place at the time for her. She doesn’t want to become a Nun because she believes it’s her decision to do what she wants and not just fall into regular gender classes. This act is very noble and brave. Power people are able to see this in her and for them to get Catalina in trouble wouldn’t be the right thing to do her. The Bishop was originally skeptical of Catalina but after talking to her, the Bishop’s opinion changes about her.
People react positively to Catalina dressing as a man after figure out she is a women. She visited Pope Urban VII with hopes of being granted permission to dress like a man. The Pope gave her ability to continue to dress as a man because she is still a virgin which is something that their faith values. This shows that people became much more accepting of her being a man. She later had jobs as a mule rider and merchant, which shows that people were still willing to do business with her. This displays others giving her the respect she was looking for the entire book.