Catherine Leigh Dollanganger, aka Cathy
In the cast of characters, Cathy Dolanganger is the narrator of the book. At the beginning of the story, our protagonist is just 12 years old and is the second child of four children in the Dollanganger household. The story starts out pretty well, and Cathy sounds like a pre-teen still seeing through the rosy glasses of childhood. Life is perfect until her beloved father dies. Despite her sadness, there is a flicker of anticipation as they move to a new place, her mother’s childhood home.
Cathy is particularly in awe of her beautiful mother in the beginning of the book, but as things gradually turn for the worse, she begins to loathe her. The events that lead to their being in the attic and their grandmother’s mistrust and hatred toward them leaves Cathy with a stronger bond to her siblings. The bond is even more reinforced with her brother Chris as they grow older and they take on the roles of parents to their brother and sister.
Even though Cathy is trapped in the attic, she is a mixture of contradictions. She vacillates between hope that everything will be fine again as they remember and despair that they will be trapped in the attic forever. She also has mixed feelings toward her mother’s new husband—she kisses him on the lips while he is asleep—and yet a kind of jealousy and bitterness toward her mother because of her new marriage. This is not only because of her abandonment of them, but because she covets her mother’s husband, too.
Her closeness to Chris takes a new turn especially after they become intimate. This provokes confusion in Cathy and a stronger bond with Chris as they plan and plot their escape from Foxworth Hall.