Tag Archives: fear tactic

El Cucuy

Context:

MV is a 2nd generation Mexican-American from New Mexico. Half of her family is of Japanese-Mexican descent and the other half is mestizo. Much of her extended family lives in Mexico. I received this story from her in a video conference call from our respective homes. She learned this story from her grandmother, who told it to her when she was a child.

Text:

JS: Tell me the story of El Quiqui (alternatively el cucuy)

MV: All right so el quiqui lives in tunnels in the mountains. And he’s a really creepy guy who takes away bad children and eats them. There’s this girl, her name is Rosa or some other Mexican shit it doesn’t really matter (laughs). And she’s such a good kid, always does her chores, is obedient and all that. Her sister, though, her name is… Margarita (laughs), she’s awful, just a bad kid all around. So one night el quiqui comes and takes her to the mountains. Rosa goes up and just as he is about to eat Margarita, she saves her, and also finds all these other kids in his tunnels and sets them free.

JS: What do you think the story means?

MV: Classic. Classic! “Do your chores or you’re gonna get eaten (laughs)”

Thoughts:

The practical utility of this legend, as the informant stated above, is obvious. It is a tool for persuading children to take care of household duties. Paradoxically, to give them a sense of responsibility, the story scares them into obedience. The informant’s response, “classic,” suggests that household duty and obedience are important parts of being a woman in a Mexican family. Interestingly, in this informant’s account, the two children were girls. This gendering of the objects of El Cucuy’s aggression suggests that young girls are more often trained at a young age to assist with chores around the house than young boys. The faithful Rosa is a model child, one with a sense of responsibility to her sister and to her family. She is a model of domesticity and virtue. Additionally, El Cucuy is masculine, suggesting that a girl who is not obedient will be taken away and consumed by a mysterious and dangerous man. The story can be used to scare children into doing their chores, but it also contains a gendered lesson of matronly duty and selflessness, that if one does not practice obedience, she will end up with an unfavorable man and meet her demise.

For a more comprehensive look at El Cucuy and other Mexican children’s folk legends, see Domino Renee Perez’s book There was a woman: La Llorona from folklore to popular culture

Perez, Domino Renee. There was a woman: La Llorona from folklore to popular culture. University of Texas Press, 2008.

Cin – Turkish Demons

Piece: We have these things Cin, pronounced jin, uhm and like plural you would say cinler, because there are plenty, and they’re like these little demons, uhm I’m like hella fucking scared of these, these little shits, parents and grandparents can use these to scare little kids out of doing literally anything, and the biggest one being staying out until dark. Uhm the main one was my grandmother would say that after the sunset prayer, because in Turkey a mosque prays 5 times a day, and so like the equivalent of a preacher, at the top of the mosque sings a prayer 5 times a day, the one that represents sunset, if you stay past that prayer, these things would come out and eat you or haunt you.  You can actually release these on people, like a curse, we had a few like old women in my village who had a very powerful third eye and if they said a bad prayer towards you, they could curse you with these like “I release the cins on you” or something like that. So some people if they were cursed I remember hearing, uhm they could not sleep for days, they would wake up from their sleep because they see these in their dreams. But it seems like a dream even though it’s actually real, they are there, its just once they disappear, like the people who are cursed they think they are sleeping, but they are actually awake when they see theses creatures, it’s just that when they’re terrorized enough, they think they have woken  up from a dream, or a nightmare.

Background information: The informant is a USC student. Originally from a small village in Turkey, she relocated at the age of 10 to the United States.

Context: Apparently these demons were introduced to kids at a very young age. They are used to keep kids in line whenever they want to act rebellious. The informant remembers these so vividly because they used to scare the living daylight out of her as a kid.

Personal Analysis: A trend that I have noticed among interviewees is that most of their parents use some sort of story to control their kids. It’s almost as if “fear” is the only way parents can assert dominance over their children. This collection is another example of just that: Parents using fear tactics to control their kids.

For another version of this myth, see Ilargia.franceserv.eu. (2019). OLD FEARS IN TURKISH CULTURE. [online] Available at: http://ilargia.franceserv.eu/index.php/articles-posts/etudes-studies/42-old-fears-in-turkish-culture [Accessed 26 Apr. 2019].