A United States Southern Proverb

“What’s done in the dark, will one day come to the light”

The informant first heard this proverb from her mother when she was growing up. She remembers that both of her parents used to say it often. Her mother is from Texas and her father was from Arkansas. While she was born and raised in Long Beach, CA, she thinks the proverb is more common in the South of the US and perhaps originated from African Americans. She says that she has only heard other black people say it, but she doesn’t know if it’s related to race or if it’s because those people also had parents from the South like her.

The informant believes this proverb is a warning to would-be sinners or criminals and means that just because no one else was around when you did something bad does not mean that no one will ever find out about what you did. She used an example from her childhood, when she was about 10 she really liked a watch that belonged to her mother. So when her mother left for work she took the watch out of her mother’s room and wore it to school. After school she put it back in her mother’s room exactly as she found it and her mother never knew she took it. But a few days later she got in trouble for taking it anyway because her mother noticed that her watch had been worn. She had gotten away with doing wrong, but only for a short time before her mother found out what she had done.

I agree with my informant’s interpretation of this proverb.