Tale: José the Beast Slayer

I work with my friend J, whose mother is from Portugal and father is from Mexico. I asked him to tell me one of his favorite stories that he remembers hearing while growing up to try and get a folktale out of him. He told me this story while we were working, I was the only member of the audience. He said that his mother would tell it to him when he was younger as a sort of fairytale.

The story is called Jose the Beast Slayer. The story starts with a woman being trapped in a wooden home with no door by her father. She is here for years until she eventually is able to escape and fall in love with a Duke. They have a son and soon after his birth the father dies and the son quickly proves himself to be wise and strong. He takes care of his mother for a while while they live in the woods. One day Jose the beast slayer runs into a giant and kills it quickly. He returns to his mother with some gold and the great news and she tells him he should go see the King and tell him of the story. When Jose meets with the king he quickly realizes that the king is his grandfather, the one who locked up the girl in the beginning. They are reunited and they go find the woman and bring her to the kingdom. Many years later when the king passes away and Jose the beast slayer becomes the new king of the land.

This to me as many of the elements of a typical folk tale. The hero is Jose, the protagonist is the giant. There is a brief love story. There is a happy ending of a reuniting family. The protagonist shows strength and intelligence beyond his years. The story inspires happiness and unity. I was surprised that there was nothing specific in the story that related to the culture of Portugal, but I didn’t consider that a loss or odd. The start of the story reminded me a lot of Rapunzel which also doesn’t represent one culture either.