Residence: Los Angeles
Date of Performance/Collection: 4/4/2015
Primary Language: English
Informant (“A”) is a 19 year old, female from Rancho Santa Fe, California, and attends The University of Southern California. She is a Human Biology major. She is of European descent and her family includes her mother, father, and older brother who attends college in Texas. Informant has studied ballet for 17 years, including work in a professional company.
A: “My high school used to be a boarding school, the school is over 100 years old, so we had a lot of traditions. First of all, the seniors have a rec room that they repaint each summer in their classes color. It takes a ton of hard work and time and is kind of a sacred space for the seniors, and they take their positions of ‘guardians of the lawn and rec room’ very seriously. There’s this legend about this guy named W who was this tiny, tiny 7th grader. Anyway I guess one day he got a bunch of squirt guns and soaked some seniors who were sitting on the lawn. The seniors of course got really mad and they chased after him and duct taped him to a tree. I guess he like was there for hours too. Just about every 7th grader knows this legend, and definitely knows to respect the seniors and their rec room and lawn.”
Analysis: The legend appears to reinforce the hierarchy maintained by the older students over the younger ones, showing that going against an established hierarchy leads to embarrassment. Her emphasis on the fact he was left for several hours plays into the fact that the punishment was quite severe for her perspective, and serves to show that forgetting one’s place in this hierarchy is an especially socially unacceptable offense.