Author Archives: Tara Moreno-Goodwin


Me: Do you have any other folklore to share with me?

CP: I actually do have a proverb!

Me: Okay perfect!

CP:The proverb is right is right wrong is wrong and right never wronged nobody!

Me: I’m familiar with this proverb also growing up.

  1. Background: The informant was always told it by her dad growing up when they were fighting with their sister to remind them of their “integrity”. The informant explained to them it was a lesson to not to sink to a level of unkindness in arguments. The informant said that they took it as a reminder to always be a good person even in situations where the other person may be acting unkind. They said that this proverb stuck with them throughout growing up and they believe that it was one of the beginning inspirations of what made them want to become a lawyer. They explained the notion of finding the right solution and dealing with conflict in a mature way connects back to the foundational characteristics of becoming a lawyer.
  2. Context: The informant verbally performed the story to me at the The Ronald Tutor Center on the main USC campus. The informant was verbally told this proverb by their father  in the context of arguments in order to teach them a valuable life lesson. 
  3. My Reflection: This performance is a proverb that acts as a way to teach a moral, valuable lesson on the importance of being kind, holding yourself to a standard in which you do not stoop to a level of unkiness even if others around you are. The informant’s father told this folklore during arguments between their sibling and them which is interesting because it then becomes family folklore in a way since it is directly applied to their immediate families behavior and experience growing up. Although I am not a part of that particular folklore (the tellers immediate family) I still immediately understood the meaning of the proverb as it is applicable to many aspects of life not just sibling rivalry. I think the overarching relatability that probers present is what makes them so impactful and carried on not just within one folk group but through many (even though there may be variations the main theme and lesson is at the foundation). The lesson taught reflects the teller’s identity by reflecting what they were taught to be important while growing up, the family values and expectations are highlighted through the performances of this text.
  1. Me: How do you spell the title of this next piece?

CP: It’s Cucuy.

Me: Okay thank you!

CP: Okay so, Cucuy are these ghosts, demon creatures that hide in the dark. They only appear to children who have been really bad and you don’t have to be outside to see a Cucuy, they can come to your room. So, if you are being a really bad kid the Cucuy come and they have scary bone faces that basically scare you straight. Basically if your mom sends you to your room after being bad  and it’s late at night they will come to you. 

Me: Why do you remember this story and like it?

CP: I like this story because I like ghost stories, it’s scary and somewhat of a warning and a fun Halloween story. 

Me: And where did you hear it from and what does it mean to you?

CP: So I was at a family gathering with my aunts, my mom and her side of the family, they are all Mexican. They were all telling us stories of their childhood and someone brought up and told us Cucuy. They were like, “oh yeah that used to scare me so much, seeing the Cucuy at night” and their mom used to warn them because they were really bad. Why are the stories I remember so dark!

Me:It’s okay that’s how mine is as well! So what does this story mean to you?

CP: For me it doesn’t really mean anything  because I know they aren’t real and my mom didn’t use it as a scare tactic for me but it’s just fun to see some of my mom’s childhood.

  1. Background: The informant likes this story because they enjoy ghost stories. The informant heard it at a family gathering with their moms side of the family who are all Mexican. They were sitting together and telling each other stories of their childhood when one of their aunts brought up this story. The aunt talked about how scared it made her and how they often got it told to them. The informant said it’s not as personal to them because they were never really told it by their mother as a scare tactic but it stuck with them as an interesting part of their mothers childhood. 
  2. Context:The informant verbally performed the story to me at the The Ronald Tutor Center on the main USC campus. The informant was told this story by her Mexican side of the family at gatherings. 
  3. This piece acts as a folktale, specifically a fairy tale with the use of mythical creatures. Fairy tales are entertaining but also convey key messages, lessons and truths sometimes through fear (this text specifically is more scary and a warning sign to the consequences of bad behavior in children). This example reflects the teller’s identity in that it was told by their Mexican family which highlights the cultural aspects of their Mexican heritage as well as family values and culture in teaching children the importance of being well behaved or else creatures will punish you. Others in the same folk group (children, Mexican) would likely find the same main meaning of the consequences of bad behavior but they may apply it to different situations of their childhood. I think those outside of the folk group would be able to understand the intended message but culturally may be met with a disconnect as all groups possess their own key values and beliefs. Although the teller wasn’t told the story by their parents as a scare tactic in their childhood, the presence of the story within their mothers side of the family shows a glimpse into the mothers childhood and culture which makes this piece of folklore relevant to the teller.

For further reading and another version of this folklore see page 57 of “Chicano Folklore.” Google Books, Google, 

La Llorona

CP: The story of La Llorona is the story of the crying woman. So in old Mexico, there was this girl who lived in a small village. She was the most beautiful girl in that entire territory, she got many suitors, everyone basically wanted to have this girl. Back then you would have a dowry.

Me: Wait what is that again?

CP: A dowry is when you have money that you give to someone who marries you. Your father would also have to consent, it was like a  contract. Before that though, you would have to bring an offering to the falling. All these men would bring cows, pigs, sheep, money, clothes, fabrics, everything you could want back then that was thought as the finery in order to get acceptance of the proposal. So she was like “no no I like being single, I’m beautiful I shouldn’t settle for less” and so one day this soldier comes. He is so handsome, the most handsome guy she’s ever seen in her life and she’s like, “I want him.” And so she seduces him, dances with him, and they basically fall in love. He offers marriage and she says yes so they both accept. They get married and after they get married they have two kids. So, the soldier then has to leave when the kids are little to go to war again and he’s gone for a long time. The woman is so in love with him and is waiting on him, waiting on him because she wants him to come home, be with the family, raise the kids and have this wonderful life together. So when he comes back, he tells her “I’m leaving you.” and she says “what? You can’t leave me.” and he says “yeah I can.” He leaves, he takes his stuff and leaves. He comes back the next day with another woman to see his children. The woman is just as beautiful as La Llorona, he takes the kids out for visitation and La Llorona is so jealous, and filled with this rage that she can’t get over it. So when he brings the kids back she tells him “you will never see your kids again” and he’s like “you can’t make that happen, i’m going to take them from you” and he leaves with the other woman. La Llrona is so angry she drives herself crazy and delusional. She takes her children to a nearby river for a picnic. While she’s with her children she gives them kisses, feeds them great food, takes them and says “let’s go swimming, i’m going to teach you how to swim.” So, she takes them one at a time and while she’s in the river with her children she drowns them and kills them.

Me: Oh I did not expect that.

CP: After she’s done what she’s done, she’s so upset and sad that she just cries and cries and cries and so she drowns herself. The bottoms of her kids and La Llrona wash up on the river and the townspeople find them. When the ex husband comes back to take his kids the townspeople tell him they are all dead. So now La Llorona is told to children to tell them to behave and not to be out late at night. The story goes that she comes back as a ghost crying and  if you can hear her crying late at night that you need to go home because she misses her kids so much she steals little children and drowns them. 

  1. Background:The informant talked about how it’s a testament to her Mexican culture.It’s a ghost story that she was first told in the first grade by her teacher who would always tell them in October. The informant said it always stuck with her because they like scary stories and they also like how it’s somewhat of a lesson to men not to cheat and for children to behave and be good kids. 
  2. Context The informant verbally performed the story to me at the The Ronald Tutor Center on the main USC campus. The performance is a hispanic story told verbally to the informant by her teacher as a child. The performance acts as a scary story and lesson to both children and men. 
  3. My reflection:Coming from a Hispanic background specifically Ecuadorian I found this performance very intriguing as it is one I was not familiar with at all. This folk legend serves as not only entertainment through scary storytelling and characters but also teaches a lesson specifically children to not be out late at night and behave well.​​ The teller is apart of the Mexican folk group and this specific story reflects that in the use of the Spanish language, the location of the story (Mexico)  as well as its origins of being shared by their Mexican teachers, family and friends. Although the folktale is aimed at children aged folk groups (similar to many American ghost stories), other groups such as men may interpret the meaning of the scary story as a lesson to not cheat. 

For further reading and another version of this folklore see “La Llorona – Weeping Woman of the Southwest.” Legends of America,