The Jersey Devil

Context: This testimony is from a GP who lives in Connecticut. She shared this legend with me that she was told by her 4th grade teacher in an English class. GP shared with me childhood trauma that stemmed from the telling of the tale on the Jersey Devil and exemplified for me the lasting impact that haunted mythic characters can make on younger audiences.

Text: “In 4th grade I learned about the Jersey Devil from my teacher. The story involved this lady who had 7 kids and fell pregnant. It was a painful pregnancy and when she had the kid it was demonic and went into the fireplace, came out of the chimney and haunts New Jersey to this day. When I heard about this I was terrified of going to New Jersey but my family friends were having a New Years eve party in New Jersey and my parents forced me to go and I was terrified the entire car ride over.”

Analysis: I believe this testimony illustrates the emotional and psychological impact that folklore can have on young minds. The Jersey Devil has eerie supernatural elements whilst still being tied to an existing geographical location. GP’s reaction to the story induced a real fear of the state of New Jersey. Additionally the introduction of the legend from a teacher, a figure of authority, amplifies the credibility for children and the fear being experienced as it seems true.