Rules by Cynthia Lord: Characters

Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Abby Federico

Abby has taught elementary special education and has her master's degree in this area.

In this lesson, you'll learn about the characters in the book ''Rules'' by Cynthia Lord. You'll meet the main character, Catherine, and other important characters in the book, including David, Kristi, and Jason.

Rules Background

Imagine having to explain to someone why you have to knock before going into the bathroom, or why people wear swimsuits in the pool. Well, that's what the main character of Rules by Cynthia Lord must do.

Rules is about a girl named Catherine who helps take care of her brother, David. David has autism, a mental disorder that makes it hard to communicate with people, get along in society, and form relationships. Catherine has to create rules to help her brother understand social situations. Let's learn more about Catherine and the characters in her life.

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  • 0:04 ''Rules'' Background
  • 0:35 Catherine
  • 1:09 David
  • 1:42 Kristi
  • 2:00 Jason
  • 2:44 Lesson Summary
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Catherine is the main character of the book. She is 12 years old, and she is on summer vacation with her family, babysitting her autistic brother, David. Catherine feels that her entire family's life revolves around her brother's autism, and she desires a normal life. So for years she'd been teaching her brother rules to make him seem more normal, like responding to people when they say hello and always keeping your pants on in public.

She feels embarrassed by her brother. But throughout the course of the story, she learns that normal means something different to each person and that she must love and accept people for who they are.


David is Catherine's younger brother. He has autism, so he has trouble interacting with people and must always be supervised. David loves going to the video store and watching movies at home.

He lives by very strict times. If their father is late arriving home from work even by a few minutes, David becomes very upset. And he tries to live strictly by rules set for him, though he often breaks them. One rule, for instance, is that he has to knock on the bathroom door before going in, especially if there are other people at the house. Another rule is that he cannot put toys in the fish tank.

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