Folktale Creature: The Squonk

Main Piece: 

“He’s just sad and ugly and I love him. Oh boy, so, the squonk is basically this kind of urban legend, like cryptid creature that’s certainly meant to explain like those weird noises hunters hear in the night. And the thing is that the squonk cries a lot because he’s ugly, and that’s what those weird noises are. And that’s it. He just cries a lot because he’s ugly and no one wants to be the squonk.”


My informant had a strong personal connection to the squonk that was mostly based on finding the concept delightful. She is from an entirely different area than the squonk, which supposedly exists in Pennsylvania. My informant discovered the concept online, but does not recall exactly where. As mentioned above, she says it is meant to explain strange sounds hunters hear that sound like crying.


Folklore is normally emblematic of the culture in which it exists. For example, modern American folklore tends to have an emphasis on the future and the brightness at the end of the tunnel- proverbs such as “all’s well that ends well” or “the ends justify the means.” Americans tend to have an emphasis on happiness and hope to the exclusion of other sentiments. It’s interesting, then, that there’s this specifically Pennsylvanian creature that is so unbearably and irredeemably ugly that all it does is cries. This kind of hopelessness is not normally emblematic of American folklore. Two possible explanations fit within the framework of America as a mostly hopeful folk group. First, this could be a bizarre way of putting down the other. The hunter is not the one crying in the woods because they’re ugly- it’s the noise possibly frightening them that is. Second, this could be an example of an unconsciously counter-hegemonic folk belief. The majority of America is full of blind hopeful folklore, but we believe in a creature that lives in the woods and cries because of how depressed it is over its hideousness.