Me: “Did you grow up with any legends in your hometown?”
AH: “In Lebanon it’s all mountains, my house will overlook the mountains from a balcony, some noises that no one seems to know of can be heard every night, they sound just like hyenas, like the laughing noise that hyenas make”.
Me: “Oh- have you personally seen hyenas on the mountain?”
AH: “No, no one has ever seen hyenas there. People in my village simply believe that the noises come from a hyena-like person, almost like a werewolf. People in the village try to determine who is a true hyena-like person and they try to find out who could it be. People are determined to find out who it is so they can get them to stop laughing in order to let us sleep at night. However, my parents would always say don’t go to the woods or mountains…they would tell us to avoid it at all costs. So yeah, I always grew up hearing those laughing noises at night”.
Context (informant’s relationship to the piece, where they heard it, how they interpret it):
– AH’s relationship to this piece stems from his Lebanon hometown which allowed him to have various experiences as he would first-hand hear the hyena-like noises constantly in his childhood village. AH would hear this legend be talked about by his parents and from the people in his community. The hyena-like person concept was an idea that was constantly heard about all around town considering many wanted to find the person who kept them up at night. AH interprets this legend as a light-hearted concept within his town considering that not much attention has come about when it comes to doing something about the noises. Given that the village people are not adamant about calling animal control or the city police to investigate, AH interprets this legend as a fun idea that unites his entire community.
Analysis (what kind of personal, cultural, or historical values might be expressed) YOUR interpretation:
– The overall cultural value within this legend stems from Lebanese culture considering the hyena-like creature is completely precise and embedded in AH’s Lebanon village within their overall lifestyle. Not to mention, the personal values that can be expressed within this legend is that it allows the individual to create different theories surrounding the noise because they have various personal experiences when it comes to hearing the noises from their homes; thus exemplifying their spiritual values. I see this legend as an overall concept of protection or nurture when it comes to the parent’s emphasis on not allowing their children to enter the woods/mountains. Whether the legend is true or not, I think parents use this idea as a tactic to keep their children safe and at home. Considering that I have never experienced any situation similar to this, I interpret this legend to be a nonchalant way for the village people to avoid the sounds in order to save them the trouble of getting to the bottom of what actually keeps them up at night. Not to mention, I interpret this legend as a uniting cultural phenomenon among many generations within their town. Despite the fact that I have never experienced anything similar to this legend, I have heard about similar legends regarding my Mexican culture. I grew up hearing about the legend of La Llorona which had similar motives of making children behave and to stay in at night in order to avoid danger. The legend of La Llorona can be seen as a different oikotype when it comes to the concept of behavioral legends. However, one distinctive difference from AH’s legend compared to La Llorona, was that I grew up knowing that kids in my school would participate in legend quests as they would go hiking in attempt to see if La Llorona was real or not instead of simply being scared and staying at home like the influence of AH’s legend.