48 pages 1 hour read

Gillian McDunn

Caterpillar Summer

Fiction | Novel | Middle Grade | Published in 2019

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Character Analysis

Cat Gladwell

The narrator and protagonist, Cat (short for both Catherine and Caterpillar) is 11 years old. Caring for her younger brother, Chicken, who has an unspecified disability is her primary focus in life. She is mature, responsible, and self-sacrificing, always putting Chicken’s needs and preferences above her own. Cat is highly attuned to what upsets Chicken and takes steps to prevent this. She is also able to comfort and calm him when something goes wrong, evidence that Chicken trusts her and depends on her for care and safety.

Much of the novel’s conflict is centered on Cat’s discontent for being responsible for Chicken. Though she cares deeply for him, she grows to resent the way she must always put her needs and desires aside for Chicken. She becomes frustrated that Chicken cannot place himself in her shoes, as evidenced by the way he delights in the way the “Chicken” character in Mom’s books always wins out in the end. On Gingerbread Island, Cat slowly asserts herself. While initially she is reluctant to leave Chicken in the care of Lily, as it becomes increasingly evident that he trusts Lily, Cat takes the opportunity to spend time away from Chicken.

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Related Titles

By Gillian McDunn