Informant: This is kinda like a… guardian spirit type of thing? Some people interpret him as evil, though never in my lifetime was he interpreted as evil in anything anyone ever told me ever? I’ve only seen this character as a good creature, but I’ve heard some people see him differently. I don’t know. Anyway, it’s a character called – ugh, this is stupidly named, so I’ll have to say it in Portuguese. Saci-pererê. And he’s a black young boy who wears red shorts and no shirt and a red hood, like a pointy hood that just falls down. Like Santa Clause without the pom poms. And he only has one leg, so he just hops around. He’s essentially just like a trickster, and he’ll mess with people. He’ll make them trip or, like… I don’t know, steal their blanket. When I was growing up I was told he was a friendly… friend. Who would do stupid shit. Nothing serious. I think some people thought he would do so many goofy things that he’d eventually do something serious, like… burn your house down or beat you while laughing. But I think most of Brazilian culture interprets him as nice! It’s just some people… Yeah. Tough crowd.
My informant is a 19-year-old college student at a small liberal arts college in Washington state. She was born in Brazil, and grew up there, moving to Florida in late elementary school, back to Brazil for a few years, then finally settling outside of Seattle in our last two years of high school. Her father’s American, and her mom’s Brazilian. Portugese was her first language, and she still speaks Portugese at home with her mom. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, this piece was collected via an interview that took place over FaceTime.
I find it really interesting that even within Brazil, people have different interpretations of the character. I thought that opinions on characters only differed when the character exists in multiple different cultures, because they would be seen in different contexts and would probably have slightly different versions of the stories surrounding the character. This one, however, is within Brazil, where I assume the details of the character stay the same. It makes me wonder what the difference of opinion says about Brazil, if their opinions vary drastically across the country.