Background of informant:
My informant (AG)’s parents moved from Mexico to Los Angeles before her birth. She speaks Spanish to her parents in home and is surrounded by Mexican culture.
AG: “The story that I know about her is that, she was with a man and they had children together. And for some reason, she became crazy. Either because of the guy, or just because of herself [in a questioning tone]. Let’s say, I don’t really know why. Because of that, uhh, she went crazy and she drowned her kids in the river. And then when she realized what she did, she wanted the kids back. But she couldn’t so she killed herself, thinking that she could reunited with them. But when she went to heaven, because she committed suicide, she couldn’t get into heaven and had to find her kids back. So she came back to earth and she’s like [pause] damned. Just wandering on the street looking for her children. And then like, what she said, was like ‘Where’s my kids?’, ‘¿Dónde estás Mi hijo?’”
SH: Is this sentence always a part when people tell this story?
AG: “Yes, cause you learned as a kid…like… [pause] I think I learned from some older cousin and they were trying to scare the younger kids. And cause you are little, so its like “no you can’t follow us, cause La Llorona will come and she’ll be like ‘¿Dónde estás Mi hijo?’ [in a different tone] and she’ll take you!” Cause you’re kid so she’ll think that you were hers kid. ”
AG: “Surprisingly, a lot of adults, [pause], kind of believe in it. Cause like, my uncle claimed that he heard her and seen her. But a weird thing about Latin American, especially Mexican, is that they can be very superstitious. […] People claim that every time when you’re sleeping and hear a crying outside, “Oh, that’s Llorona!” And when you wake up, you’ll just have discussion with your family, like, “I heard, I heard La Llorona last night.” So it’s like in certain situation, we talk about supernatural stuffs.”
Context of the performance:
AG and I were discussing on Alfred Hitchcock’s 1958 film Vertigo in a writing class. When we were close reading the scene when the female character jumps into SF Bay to kill her self, she told me this really reminds her of a story she heard when she was young. And she started to talk to me about this story and it turns out that this female character in Vertigo shares many similarities with La Llorona.
My thoughts about the piece:
This piece was performed after I first knew about La Llorona’s story on ANTH 333 lecture. Not only is the content of the piece slightly different from the version that I heard of, the context when my informant learned about this piece is also different. Instead of being told by parents to kids, or among young women (as what we’ve discussing on class), AG was told by her older cousins to scare her in order to prevent her from following them.
For another version of this legend, see Vertigo (1958).