Lieutenant Nun: Freedom Through Violence?

This next paper was a response to Catalina De Erauso’s The Lieutenant Nun.  The main character runs away from the convent, dresses in drag, and has a fantastic life as a man.  This was my response.

Lieutenant Nun: Freedom Through Violence?

In my opinion, Catalina De Erauso’s adventurous tale of the transvestite nun is fascinating.  Her story exposes how a woman views man’s social standing through freedom and access.  Even an unknown man has the freedom to gamble, make money, and receive an education if he chooses.  However, it soon becomes clear that this freedom is attained through violence.

Soon after Erauso flees the convent she is offered a job and an education.  It is ironic because Virginia Woolfe and Sor Juana De La Cruz wanted an education so much.  On the other hand, dressed as a man Erauso refuses education.  It is not surprising that Erauso is still assaulted, ” . . . when I let him know I wasn’t interested (in education), he pleaded and insisted and finally went so far as to lay hands on me.”(page 5).

While traveling to Bilbao, Erauso is cornered by some local boys.  Erauso defends himself by picking, ” . . .up some stones and let one of them have it.”(page 6).  Erauso ends up in jail for a month then goes back to travelling.  As a woman it is surprising that Erauso is able to travel and obtain different jobs at will during this time in history.  On the other hand, it is no surprise that he is constantly engaging in violent behavior.

Erauso takes a new post in Sana and is given a position as a shopkeeper and is also left in charge of some credit accounts.  Erauso was given a “dirty look” by Reyes.  Erauso, ” . . . went looking for Reyes . . . and gave him a slash worth ten stitches.”(page 12).  After a short time in jail Erauso is freed.

Finally, Erauso meets up with his brother while joining the army.  Although his brother is unaware that Erauso is really his sister he feels a kinship because they are from the same area.  His brother requests that Erauso is in his company and they spend time together.  Unfortunately, Erauso begins to see his brothers mistress and, ” . . . when I came out he lit into me with his belt, wounding me in the hand . . . I was forced to defend myself . . . and he was banished from Paicabi”(page 19)  It is ironic that Erauso had no qualms about dating his brothers mistress nor did he shy away from having to fight over it.

I feel that this is how women view men in general.  It is easy for me to see how Erauso led a carefree yet violent life.  I imagine that this is how men’s lives appeared to be during the time of the Conquistadores.  In fact, it is not much different from how men’s lives appears to me now – attaining money and freedom through violent means.

Joy Clark is a writer, producer, vocalist, and publisher. Lexington, KY

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