La Llorona

[A]: La Llorona is a classic Mexican myth, and the myth is that a woman that had two children she loses them…or they get killed…or she kills them…or something like that and for the rest of her life she’s a spirit that roams around the streets screaming, “Ay mis hijos,” and people would hear it and when people would hear her scream everyone would rush into their house so that she wouldn’t take their kids, that’s the idea that she could take your kids if you’re not looking after them…so yeah

[Me]: Is it just a well-known thing or did your parents throw that at you when you weren’t coming inside?

[A]: Oh actually I don’t know! It seems like something they definitely would have done but I can’t say for certain that I remember that happening…It was definitely a well-known thing though and on Dia de los Muertos they would tell her story at school 

When I asked A if he could think of any tales, legends, or myths from his childhood that he’d like to tell me about, the first thing he said was, “Well there’s La Llorona of course,” like it was the most common thing in the world. Had we not discussed this legend in class, I would’ve had no idea what he was talking about because it’s not folklore from a community that I belong to; however, La Llorona was so deeply woven into A’s background that I don’t think it would have occurred to him that I might not have known the story beforehand. This begs the bigger question in the discussion of how folklore influences the filter through which we see the world, like how almost all American folklore echoes the future-orientation of the vast majority of Americans. Although the published La Llorona legend that we looked at in class had implications for motherhood and gender roles, A interprets the legend as a warning to kids to listen to their parents so they don’t get kidnapped. It’s more than likely that certain pockets of Mexican communities have adapted the “traditional”—and I use that word in the loosest sense possible—La Llorona legend to fit their child-rearing needs.