My Father’s version of La Llorona

--Informant Info--
Nationality: American
Age: 59
Occupation: Neurologist
Residence: Los Angeles California
Date of Performance/Collection: November 1, 2021
Primary Language: English
Other Language(s): Spanish

Background: Just after my father ate dinner coming back from work, we were sitting on the couch watching a movie and I brought up the subject of La Llorona. With so many variations of the legend all over the Hispanic and Latin American diaspora I was curious about the version he was told growing up and how that might differ from what I was told.

Dad: I can tell you what I was told

This lady was in love with this man. She was jealous of her children’s affection for her husband, so as to keep them from taking too much attention from him. She killed them. But after realizing what she had done she went crazy and wandered the streets up and down wailing. And she would kill any children that crossed her path as revenge for her own being dead. That’s why they tell kids to run away from La Llorona. 

Me: Did she die in that state? (referencing her state of insanity)

Well she did spend the rest of her life being crazy, but her spirit came back as an angry ghost to haunt the streets. 

-What happened to the husband?: 

He disowned the wife after what she had done. And that made it doubly worse.   

-Where did the legend take place?: 

Back in Mexico just outside of Mexico city around the 1700’s.  But she can roam anywhere on earth. 

-Was it used to make you behave as a kid?: 

Yeah if you didn’t behave you were told that La Llorona would come and get you. Sometimes we were told that she would be summoned if you weren’t behaving properly. 

-I was told that she drowned her kids in the river?: 

(Dad looked up La Llorona online) there are different stories, (referencing wikipedia) this one says it dates back to the colonial era. 

-What’s it say?: (referring to the article he was looking at) 

There are all sorts of takes on it. Some say she was an indian (indigenous) woman and the husband was a Spaniard…She was not allowed to enter Heaven and had to remain in Purgatory for what she had done. 

It seems like it came out during the colonial period and it was to warn women from hooking up with the conquistadors otherwise this would happen.

She would be a disgrace to the other indian women. Basically becoming a servant to the spaniards. 

-I then talked about the various versions that I was told growing up and the ones discussed in the reading for this class. What seemed to be consistent amongst the two of us was that punishment from heaven was involved and that the legend dates back to colonial times. 

What is interesting is that Dad pointed out the racial element of the legend. Himself having indigenous blood, being a 1/4th and myself 1/8th. The tribe of my great great grandmother was from Northern Mexico although the two of us don’t know the specific tribe. 

Maybe there’s some sort of personal connection to that element within my family. Or some sort of remnant of generational trauma that lingers.