Informant: This is a legend I have been hearing since I was a child. It is called “La Llorona.” Most people think this is a Mexican legend, and maybe it did originate from there but I heard it from my Venezuelan friends and family. The legend basically says that there was this woman from a rural area who married a rich man. When her husband leaves her for another woman, she drowns her two children in the river near their house. Immediately after killing them, she feels such a strong sense of guilt that she kills herself. Legend has it that at night you can hear her crying “mis hijos, mis hijos,” which basically translates to “my children, my children.” My friends and I used to tell this legend at parties and sleepovers, sort of like a horror story we used to entertain each other with. As a kid, I was always frightened by it, especially because of the imagery that went along with the legend. So, for example, the version I heard always included the woman, or La Llorona, dressed all in white and walking around the streets stealing children to replace the ones she lost. This legend was a really big part of my childhood and a great story that always got my friends and me feeling scared.
This was extremely interesting for me to hear because I’m Mexican and I thought than this legend was only told in Mexico. The fact that Paula is from Venezuela and grew up listening to the same legend took me a little bit by surprise. It also made me wonder if the legend of La Llorona is more of a Latin America tale rather than just a Mexican one. I can completely relate to Paula hearing the story from her friends and family and using it as a form of entertainment at social gatherings. I can also see how this legend would be used to instil fear into children and why it would be so fun to tell it as a little kid.
The story itself is really interesting and gets at the root of a lot of social interactions in Latin societies. The fact that it is about a woman who goes crazy after her husband cheats on her demonstrates the machista approach taken by most Latin societies. Basically, this implies that women need men in their lives in order to stay sane. It also demonstrates how women in Latin societies often grow up with the notion that in order to be happy their husband must be loyal to them; in other words, women cannot have a happy life without a husband. It is very intriguing that this story is mostly told among children. Its hidden meaning works as a form of unconsciously telling children what is valued in society and what is not.