Close this search box.

Catherine Called Birdy Film Ending Explained

The film Catherine Called Birdy ends on a hopeful note, diverging from the book’s more somber conclusion. Birdy remains at home, continuing her education and helping her family.

Catherine Called Birdy, directed by Lena Dunham, is a film adaptation of Karen Cushman’s 1994 novel. Set in 13th-century England, it follows the life of a 14-year-old girl named Birdy. The film explores themes of adolescence, gender roles, and societal expectations.

Birdy’s Struggle

Birdy, played by Bella Ramsey, is a spirited teenager. She lives in a time when young women had little control over their destinies. Her father, Lord Rollo, is financially strained and decides to marry Birdy off to a wealthy suitor to alleviate the family’s debts. Birdy, however, is determined to resist this fate and employs various tactics to deter her suitors.

Birdy’s rebellious nature and clever schemes make her a relatable and endearing character. Her struggle against societal norms and her father’s wishes highlight the limited choices available to women in medieval times. The film does an excellent job of portraying Birdy’s inner turmoil and her desire for autonomy.

The Climax

The climax of the film sees Birdy facing the prospect of being married off to a man she refers to as Shaggy Beard. Despite her efforts to fend off suitors, her father’s financial desperation leads to an agreement with Shaggy Beard. As Birdy is taken away in a stagecoach, her family, including her father, is visibly upset. Shaggy Beard, who is in poor health, attempts to reassure Birdy that she will know how to take care of him.

In a dramatic turn of events, Lord Rollo appears at the side of the coach and demands his daughter back, despite having accepted the dowry. Shaggy Beard initially refuses but eventually challenges Lord Rollo to a duel. The duel is intense, with Lord Rollo sustaining a bloody gash. However, he manages to overpower Shaggy Beard, who then claims a back issue and calls off the duel. The townspeople prevent Shaggy Beard from escaping with Birdy, and her father pulls her to safety.

The Resolution

The film concludes on a hopeful note, diverging from the book’s ending. In the novel, Shaggy Beard dies, and Birdy is betrothed to his son, Stephen. However, the film opts for a more optimistic resolution. Birdy remains at home, content to continue her education and help raise her sisters. She finds solace in her family and friends, who have also found happiness in their own ways. Birdy learns to use her status to influence and inspire others, embodying the change she wishes to see in the world.

Comparison with the Book

Book Ending

In Karen Cushman’s novel, the ending is more somber. Birdy is reluctantly set to marry Shaggy Beard, but he dies in a bar brawl. She is then matched with his son, Stephen, whom she finds more agreeable. The book emphasizes the harsh realities of medieval life and the limited choices available to women.

Film Ending

Lena Dunham’s adaptation takes creative liberties to provide a more uplifting conclusion. Dunham, a long-time fan of the book, wanted to give the story a hopeful ending that resonates with modern audiences. The film’s ending underscores themes of autonomy and resistance against societal constraints, reflecting contemporary values while maintaining historical accuracy.

Gender Roles and Autonomy

Both the book and the film explore the restrictive gender roles of the 13th century. Birdy’s struggle against her arranged marriage highlights the lack of agency women had over their lives. The film’s ending, where Birdy remains at home and continues her education, symbolizes a victory for personal autonomy and self-determination.

Family and Community

The film emphasizes the importance of family and community support. Birdy’s father, despite his initial financial motivations, ultimately fights for her freedom. The townspeople’s intervention during the duel signifies a collective stand against injustice. This communal support is a crucial element in Birdy’s journey towards self-empowerment.

Coming of Age

Catherine Called Birdy is fundamentally a coming-of-age story. Birdy’s experiences reflect the universal challenges of adolescence, such as identity formation, resistance to authority, and the quest for independence. The film’s ending, where Birdy embraces her role in her family and community, signifies her maturation and acceptance of her responsibilities.


Lena Dunham’s adaptation of Catherine Called Birdy offers a fresh and modern take on Karen Cushman’s beloved novel. By altering the ending to provide a more hopeful resolution, the film resonates with contemporary audiences while staying true to the historical context. The themes of gender roles, autonomy, family, and community are skillfully woven into the narrative, making the film a poignant and relevant exploration of adolescence in any era.


Movies selected 4 You


16 Jun 2024

Ticket to Paradise Ending Explained


16 Jun 2024

Black Adam Film Ending Explained


12 Jun 2024

V/H/S/99 Ending Explained


12 Jun 2024

The Good Nurse Ending Explained


12 Jun 2024

The School for Good and Evil Ending Explained


12 Jun 2024

Ending of Bitch Ass Explained