Ghost in Old House

Text: Basically I was falling asleep in my bed. And to get to my room you have to go through my brother’s room. Anyways I was trying to fall asleep, and I was facing the wall when I heard my door open. I assumed it was my mom, but I didn’t hear the door to my brother’s room open. Then I heard pacing back and forth and heard someone going through my things for so long. I was so scared. I forget how long it was until I worked up the courage to move and look to see what it was, but there was nothing there, and my door was closed.


Informant is a freshman at USC studying Journalism, originally from the Bay. We are waiting for class to start as she dramatically tells her experience. She is genuine and convincing in her manner of storytelling.

I live in a really old house (like 115 years old I think) in the Bay, and so I’ve always been aware of superstitious stuff there. This was one instance that freaked me out probably 4 or 5 years ago. I would define this experience as supernatural or a ghost story because I feel like there was no other way to explain it. It couldn’t have been sleep paralysis or anything because I could move.

Analysis: This ghost story folk narrative is an example of a legend. Ghosts are a type of legendary creature, and therefore, this story is an example of a memorate, or a personal experience that has been translated into a traditional legend. The informant’s experience has been translated into a ghost story because of the prevalence of ghost stories in this particular context, making it plausible within this society. Furthermore, the idea that ghosts are more common in “old” houses goes back to an idea highly promoted by Ulo Valk in “Ghostly Possession and Real Estate: The Dead in Contemporary Estonian Folklore,” where he proposed that spirits maintain the value placed on ownership, a “powerful relationship between the self and material objects that is often projected beyond the grave” (Valk 49).