La Llorona


When asked if his abuelita had told him about any legends during his visits to Mexico, MS responded:

“She told me about La Llorona. It was a story she heard growing up from her parents to discourage her from playing in rivers. And now they made it into a movie a couple years ago.”

When asked to explain the version that his abuelita told him, MS responded:

“Yeah, so I knew about the story before the movie came out. The version she told me was that this woman fell in love with this guy from a wealthy family, but he wasn’t interested in her, so she killed the kids they had had together. Then she felt bad about it so she killed herself too and became a ghost. So now her spirit kind of roams around bodies of water, like lakes and rivers, and cries while looking for her kids. Abuelita also said she tempts kids into water and drowns them, so that’s why parents warn their kids to stay away from bodies of water when they’re playing.”


MS is a sixteen year old who has grown up in Los Angeles, CA. His abuelita immigrated from Mexico to Sacramento, CA in 1961. She then returned to her hometown in Mexico in the ’90s. Here, MS is recalling legends he had heard from his abuelita when his family visited her in her hometown during vacations.


The legend of La Llorona speaks to several anxieties: the notion that a mother might murder her children if she is discontent, the fear parents have of their children drowning while playing, as well as their fear of their children being lured away. Guilt brings these anxieties together and serves as the strong emotion that keeps “the weeping woman” bound to the mortal plane. Considered a cornerstone of Mexican and Chicano folklore, the way MS was indirectly exposed to the legend highlights how identity may be shaped by these legends. In a sense, he exists in between identities, close enough to have heard the “authentic” version from his abuelita before it was retold by those outside of the culture, yet removed by the virtue of where he has grown up; he can merely visit the folklore, he cannot “own” it in the same way as his abuelita.