Author Archive
Legends
Narrative

Chupacabra

During my JEP assignment, my group asked our second grade students to tell us scary stories that they had heard of outside of school. The first story came from a student who told the story of the Chupacabra, a scary creature from Mexico. She described it as a really tall half-man, half-animal creature that comes out at night in the woods in Mexico and kidnaps whoever is nearby. She claimed that the Chupacabra has many arms, and is similar to the video game character Slenderman. She said she learned this story from her mother, who warned her not to go into the woods in fear of that the Chupacabra might find her. She heard the story first when she was on vacation, visiting family in Mexico. She likes this story because she likes scary stories and thinks it is funny to scare her friends with it.

After hearing her story, I can assume it was told to her as a cautionary tale from her mother, which is a common theme within scary folklore provided to children. I think that these stories are effective in teaching children about what not to do in order to keep them safe. I think it is interesting that she told this version of the Chupacabra character, as I personally have heard it (and other students in her class have heard it) differently than what she told. I have heard that the Chupacabra is a smaller, hog-like animal that is vicious, but her version includes a man-like creature with many arms. This could possibly be to reflect the fear that her mother has of her daughter interacting with people—particularly men—that she does not know. The difference in versions of the stories reflects what the storytellers want to get out of their audience. In this case, her mother wanted to scare her into avoiding wandering around the woods while they were in Mexico, away from her normal surroundings.

Legends
Narrative

Grandmother Theresa

During my JEP assignment, my group asked our second grade students to tell us scary stories that they had heard of outside of school. This story came from a student who told us of a personal ghost he has seen and heard about named Grandmother Theresa. He informed me that this is a ghost that lives in his house and watches over him to make sure he behaves well. He explained that Grandmother Theresa is a transparent ghost who floats around carrying a long stick—one side made of metal and one side with a pillow attached. He claims that if any children in the house are being really bad, Grandmother Theresa will hit you with the metal rod. If anyone is just being moderately bad, Grandmother Theresa will hit you with the pillow as a warning. He also told another student, who is notorious for causing ruckus in the class, that the ghost would come to his house too if he continued to behave poorly.

This student learned the story of Grandmother Theresa from his mother after he had behaved particularly badly and disrespectfully. He claims that since he has known about this scary figure, his behavior has improved. I believe that his mother told him this legend in order for him to behave better and understand that if he behaved poorly, he would be punished (without having to actually punish him). It is a cautionary tale in order to curb behavior. I think that this tactic has worked in the case of the student, for he has a large fear of this Grandmother Theresa figure. This student has tried to convince other students of the existence of this figure, especially because he claims to have seen her appear in his house to him before. I think this case shows how impressionable children are.

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