Märchen – Mormon

Märchen – Johnny Lingo

“Johnny Lingo was the most handsome and successful young man on the island.  He had grown up to be very favorable in the eyes of the families in the village.  One day the village people heard that Johnny Lingo was returning to the island from a trading exploration to call on a village man named Moki and ask him for his daughter’s hand in marriage.  The name of Moki’s daughter was Mahana.  Mahana was a young and quiet girl.  She often hid from the people and caused little commotion.  All the village people laughed at Mahana and Moki was ashamed of her.  When the village people heard that Johnny Lingo wanted to ask for Mahana’s hand in marriage, they were all appalled.  The whole village came to Moki’s hut to witness the bargain between Johnny Lingo and Moki.  It was a cultural tradition to offer cows in exchange for a woman to marry.  When Johnny Lingo arrived to Moki’s hut, they sat down to discuss the worth of Mahana.  The village people whispered to each other and said that Moki could not ask for more than one cow in exchange for Mahana, or even part of a cow.  Many of the village women boasted of their worth.  Some boasted about being worth three cows and others were proud to say that they were worth five cows.  The people quieted down to hear what Moki had to say.  After discussing the matters with his counselor, Moki turned to Johnny Lingo and asked for three cows.  All the village people laughed and mocked.  Mahana, watching from behind the trees, felt so embarrassed and ashamed.  Johnny Lingo replied and said, “I will give you eight cows for Mahana.”  This was a shock to all the people, especially Moki.  The bargain was settled and Moki would now wait for Johnny Lingo to bring the cows.  The next day, Moki and his counselor were waiting for Johnny Lingo.  They both doubted that he would come, but suddenly they heard a sound in the distance.  The noise grew louder as it drew nearer, and soon enough Moki was able to see big and strong cows walking toward his land.  Johnny Lingo arrived with all eight cows.  The marriage ceremony took place a couple nights after and because Mahana did not want to be around the village people, she and Johnny Lingo left for their honeymoon on a boat.  Before Johnny Lingo had left for the honeymoon, he had asked the island’s shopkeeper for a very special mirror that he wanted to give to Mahana for a wedding gift.  Because the shopkeeper did not have the mirror that Johnny Lingo wanted, he had to put in a special order from overseas.  When Johnny Lingo and Mahana returned from their honeymoon, the shopkeeper personally delivered the beautiful gold mirror to Johnny Lingo.  When the shopkeeper arrived to Johnny Lingo and Mahana’s hut, he was welcomed by Mahana who was the most beautiful woman he had ever seen on the whole island.  She smiled and greeted the shopkeeper.  When the shopkeeper was able to talk to Johnny Lingo alone, he asked him what he did.  Johnny Lingo said that if a man made a woman feel beautiful, she would be beautiful.  Mahana was always the most beautiful girl in Johnny Lingo’s eyes and because he treated her with love and respect, the beauty shone on the outside.”

Emilie, who is of the Mormon religion, says that the story of Johnny Lingo is primarily told at church to the young children.  Emilie heard this tale when she was eight years old from a primary or Sunday school teacher.  She has also seen this story on a VHS.  The story of Johnny Lingo is one of the more popular Mormon folktales and most every Mormon knows about Johnny Lingo.

The story of Johnny Lingo serves the purpose of a moral lesson; it teaches people to treat others kindly and with respect because the manner in how one is treated has a great impact on a person.  It influences a person’s self-esteem, which would affect how one thinks about himself and how one carries and presents himself.  The audience of “Johnny Lingo” is young children because treating people fairly is a quality that should be instilled at a young stage of life.  This is a story told at church because church is one the places where people learn good values.  In addition, the Mormon Church places great emphasis on having good, strong values.

Johnny Lingo has also been made into movies.  In 1969, there was a movie called “Johnny Lingo”.  The synopsis of this movie has the same characters and seems to closely follow the plot of the tale Emilie has told me.  In 2003, a movie title “The Legend of Johnny Lingo” was made.  This plot of this movie is a modern spin of the story Emilie has told me, making it more interesting and relevant for today’s audiences.  The characters seem to be the same with the general ideas remaining similar.  However, judging from the synopsis, the storyline is different.

Johnny Lingo. Dir. Judge Whitaker. Brigham Young University, 1969.

The Legend of Johnny Lingo. Dir. Steven Ramirez. Turtles Crossing LLC, 2003.