USC Digital Folklore Archives / Posts Tagged ‘revenge’
Folk speech
general
Proverbs

Living Well Is the Best Revenge

Text: Living well is the best revenge.

Context: The informant is the collector’s mother. The collector has often heard this saying from the informant throughout her childhood and has often taken it to heart. It was usually said during times where the collector had been wronged by someone else or had been facing hardships as a result of someone else. This was told a lot to the collector in high school and middle school. The informant learned this saying during her career in Wall Street. She doesn’t remember specifically where she learned it but remembered hearing it often at work. She then passed it on to her daughter and other friends. She likes this saying because she sees truth in it and finds it to be a mature take on conflicts. She also thinks it’s a healthy outlook on life and sees it as “taking the high road.”

Analysis: As the informant’s daughter, I felt that I learned this proverb early on and feel that it has helped me over time. It reminds me to not seek concrete revenge, but instead to ignore negativity and focus on moving on and becoming a better form of myself. In a sense, living well IS the best revenge, because those who have tried to wrong you are forced to watch you succeed and become a better person.

general
Legends
Narrative

The Jealous Husband of Chihuahua

Main Piece:

“In Chihuahua, in the neighborhood of Londres, there was a couple. The wife worked as a nurse at a hospital and the husband was a factory worker. They had three beautiful children. The husband did not want his wife to continue to work. He was jealous at all times because she was beautiful and always dressed nice to work. The wife did not want to leave her work because they needed the money, and she loved being a nurse. He kept insisting that she stop, but she continued to ignore his demands. One morning, the husband began to sharpen a huge butcher knife. The wife on her way to work saw him doing this and asked what he was going to do with that. He responded, that he needed it to kill one of their pigs. The wife shrugged and said goodbye and that she would return late afternoon. Two hours later, the neighbors heard various cries from the children in the home. Some neighbors approached the house and they saw one of the three children run out of the house and fall to the ground. The child’s throat had been slit. The neighbors rushed in and saw the husband about to take his own life, next to him were the other two kids, dead. The police arrived and they then went to the hospital to tell the wife the atrocities that her husband committed. The wife cried out, and then fainted. When she woke up, she went crazy and spent the rest of her life at a mental hospital.”

 

Context:

The informant is my 54-year-old man from Guadalajara, Mexico. I asked him to tell me this story, having heard it thousands of times growing up. He says he heard this story from a childhood friend. He believes that this shows the extremes people go to when they cannot control another person. Also, the dangers of being a jealous person.

Legends

Ghostly revenge

In 2011 my informant published a the book, The Empire of Death: A Cultural History of Ossuaries and Charnel Houses. The book’s 260 photographs were gathered by Dr. Koudounaris over the course of five years, during which he traveled to 70 different locations around the world, studying, visiting, and photographing charnel houses.

Dr. Koudounaris’ travels took him to the Catacombe dei Cappuccini (the Catacombs of the Capuchin monastery) in Palermo, Italy. Part of his process of learning about the catacombs included talking to the various fruit and flower vendors who sold their goods across from the monastery. Because the fruit and flower vendors are directly across from the monastery, they know everything that went on there and were able to tell him a variety of ghost stories about the monastery.

“The fruit and flower vendors are an incredible source of information. It’s hard to understand if you live in our type of society. Ya know, a street vendor, in societies like this is a source of incredible information. The fruit and flower vendors are across from the monastery and they know everything that goes on in the monastery. And everyone goes—it’s not like they go to super markets, they go to these vendors—so they are an incredible source of information if you really want to know what goes on in societies like that.”

The story is as follows:

“It’s a very complex story. She was a young girl and had fallen in love with this circus strong man. She was supposed to be married to a guy in Naples. Her family had arranged for her a marriage to this wealthy Neapolitan family but she was—was she 15 or 16?—anyways she was in love with this circus strong man named Garibaldi so she went to her parents and told her, ya know, that she would not marry the guy from Naples because she was going to marry Garibaldi, and Garibaldi was 47 and she was like 15, and that she had already given her virginity to Garibaldi which made her worthless and so her parents disowned her and cast her out. So she went to Garibaldi and Garibaldi, it turned out his only interest in her was sexual which is obviously not a surprise and so he, he was a circus performer and he started this pervert circus and it featured his young bride cause he married her at that time and they had private shows where she would have sex with midgets and animals and so fourth for wealthy clients. Eventually after a couple of weeks of this she wound up dead. They believe she had been penetrated by a horse and suffered severe injuries and her body was dumped in this alley where they found it and, her parents, ya know of course they were mortified but by this time ya know, they took her body but by this time she was dead. And they wanted charges brought against Garibaldi but it was not possible because of course no one would testify because to testify would mean admitting that you were at one of these shows. Anyways, these were wealthy Sicilians, members of the upper class and they weren’t going to say that they paid a 1000 lira to watch a girl have sex with a horse. Ya know, no way. So Garibaldi was going to walk free except that her ghost started pursuing and tormenting him and um, Garibaldi had left Palermo and gone to Siracusa uh, but apparently the ghost followed him to Siracusa. He had gone to a priest and asked the priest if he would help him and try to exorcise the ghost and the priest said that he would only help him if Garibaldi would make a full confession of his own misdeeds regarding the girl and Garibaldi refused. But eventually whatever was happening had gotten so bad that he decided he was going to talk to the priest and confess and he had left—this was still in Seracusa—he had left to go to the church and the priest was late that day and when the priest got there around noon he found Garibaldi’s dead body in the confessional booth. And the theory is that he had gone to the church and gone into the confessional booth but it was not the priest on the other side of the booth but the ghost and she had killed him. And the reason they believe that is because a candelabra was found shoved up his ass and he had died of also these internal hemorrhaging. Her injuries her vaginal whereas his were anal but it’s the same type of thing, so it was believed that perhaps that is how the ghost had enacted her revenge, by sodomizing him to death.”

This legend is a classic revenge tale. The girl loved Garibaldi and had given herself to him, which as my informant stated made her worthless. Once she had given her virginity to Garibaldi, there was no way for her parents to marry her off to the man they had promised her to. Finding out that Garibaldi wanted nothing from her other than sex and then to be exploited in the way she was ultimately resulting in her death left her as some might call, a vengeful spirit. Certain ghost beliefs say that a person wronged in life cannot go onto the afterlife until their killer has been brought to justice–one may assume that this is the case in this legend.

Legends
Narrative

Children Horror Story

So, there was this really, really good looking couple.  They had a baby girl that was super cute.  But as the baby grew up, she got less and less cute to the point where the parents became too embarrassed to take her out and have other people see her so they tried to keep her at home as much as possible.  One day, the little girl kept crying that she wanted to go to the park and the mom couldn’t handle it anymore, so she took her to the park.  At the park, the little girl was like, “Mommy, I need to use the bathroom.”  There wasn’t a bathroom anywhere so the mom brought her daughter to a little secluded grassy area that was on a cliff near the park. She told the daughter, “You can pee here. No one will see you.”  While the girl was peeing, the mom pushed her off the cliff and the little girl died.  A couple weeks later, she found out that she was pregnant again.  When the baby was born, it was the most adorable little baby boy and as he grew, he just got cuter and cuter.  The couple loved their son so much and was always showing him off.  One day, the mom brought the little boy out to the same park and he needed to pee.  The mom then took her son back to the grassy cliff area.  She told him, “Mommy will wait for you over there so take your time.”  He replied, “Ok, but Mommy? Please don’t push me off this time.”

My informant told me this story while we were eating dinner.  We had previously been discussing our beliefs regarding  the after life when she said that the topic reminded her of a story she heard.  She told me that her mother had told her this story.  When I asked her what this story meant to her, she told me that it taught her that she should never be embarrassed by their family.

I feel like the story is very effective because of the twist at the end.  When I was hearing this story I expected the ghost of the girl to return and push the boy off the cliff; I was completely blown away when it turned out that the boy was a reincarnation of the girl.  I agree with my informant’s interpretation.  Additionally, I believe there is a focus on how shallowness is a bad characteristic to have, as seen through the couple’s better treatment for their better looking child.  At the same time, the theme of revenge is somewhat present through the reincarnation of the little girl into the little boy.

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