La llarona

Bernie is a very close friend of mine from Mexico. Bernie left Mexico for the first time to study at USC. He loves to talk about his culture, and speaks with a thick Mexican accent.



Performance: “The story, it is a superstitious story. It is about a woman who has three kids. All of the kids are women. The story is, is that she treated really really bad her children and they all left her. And the story goes that they left to a lake that is really close to the house. So, it says that during night she will find her kinds…she…they….she finally finds them drowned. And the story is that my mom will tell me that you gotta behave but at the same time the mom has got to be right. So every night she will go to that river and cry. So whenever, that was the way she would scare us or make us go to bed, because if we don’t go to bed that woman will cry and come get us. So the story is that you gotta do as you’re told, but at the same time, you gotta stay with your mother, because if you don’t go to bed she’s gonna come back looking for her children.”

Does she have a name? The woman?

“Yes. La Llarona.”



Response: This is a story that I had heard before and that we had discussed in my Forms of Folklore class at USC. However, Bernie’s examples differ from the ones I had heard. I had always heard that la llarona in fact drowned her own children and then mourns their deaths, not that they drowned because they disobeyed their mother. The story, like the other versions I had heard, was made in order to scare children into obeying their parents. Another variation I had never heard was that all three of her children were girls. Im not sure what this adds to the story but it is an interesting detail.