22 July 2018
Never been a fan of demons or ghosts. The thought of having the dead come back to life in an untouchable physical form only brings fear and shock to my stomach. Only in spirit form they appear, yet through many individuals’ experience, it is hard to provide proof on any monster occurrences as being true. Hearing about evil spirits coming through the house, even through a board game, a.k.a the Ouija board, will keep me up for nights, knowing it is possible for something lifeless to cause harm. One of the most famous stories that terrified me as a child was La Llorona. In Spanish culture, stories of La Llorona has been passed down through generations as a lesson about cultural allegory for women or as a good scare for children to become obedient. The story alters among traditions; however, it continues to live through generations, becoming memorable in one’s life. Although the purpose of La Llorona is to be used as a disciplinary tool, the story it represents monsters as a cultural aspect through Jeffrey Cohen’s Seven Monster Theses.
The original story of La Llorona is told to warn children about misbehaving or straying away from home for long. (Arora). Although the story alters depending on what culture the story is being told to, some parts of the story stay similar. La Llorona is the story or the “weeping woman”. The time of occurrence varies but the root of the story began with a beautiful women who meet a man with wealth and a popular status. The parents did not approve of their love, however as a act of rebellion, she takes off with her love and have children together. The man does not respect the relationship and cheats upon her. As revenge, the girl has a violent outrage and ultimately drowns and kills her children. She attempts to kill herself in a similar matter where she succeeds, however is denied entrance at the Gates of Heaven. She spends eternity looking for her children after she realizes the damage she has done. La Llorona is referred to as the ‘woman in white’ along any area around large bodies of water, weeping “Ay Mis Hijos!”; No one fully understands whether she cries from pain or anger. (Canaderia). The great fear of La Llorona is how she kidnaps children and drowns them after the realization that they aren’t her children. For generations, the story is told repetitively to implement discipline or cause a great scare. (Santos).
One adaptation of La Llorona is presented in the children’s horror comedy animation, La Leyenda de la Llorona. The movie itself presents the consequences of an encounterment with the female figure herself, La Llorona. The plot is altered to provide a less horror approach for young kids to watch. La Llorona was mysterious “Woman in white” figure that appeared down the street on a late Halloween night. One of the main characters named Beto is kidnapped by the figures, causing his sister KiKi to attempt to go on a looking spree for her brother. Kiki learns the real story behind the figure through help of elders met on the journey, however the story is different. La Llorona is depicted as a women who left her kids on a boat to save her house from burning into flames, however her children were found dead days later after failing to return to the boat in time. Townspeople have stories about their occurrences with La Llorona which helps the kids locate her for the safety of their siblings and friends; unlike the original story, La Llorona is not known for kidnapping children and causing harm, instead she attempts to take care of children she kidnaps to fill the void of her missing children. La Llorona attempts to take children’s’ souls because of disobedience but is soon reunited with her own children at their graves, leaving a happy ending and a solution to the mystery of La Llorona. The movie itself is a prime example as La Llorona is children adaptations to present the significance of the icon, La Llorona and part of Hispanic culture.
Another adaptation is emphasized by the author Sandra Cisneros interpretation in the “Woman Hollering Creek”. Cisneros story presents how La Llorona is presented in literature in a similar storyline. In the vignette, the character Cleofilas is described as a very beautiful woman with confidence and pride in herself, like La Llorona. Her only friends were described as “Dolores” and “Soledad” translating as “sorrow” and “solitude”, which depicts her life as lonely and isolated, similar to the lifestyle of La Llorona. The difference between the mythical story of La Llorona and Cisneros’s story is the depiction and influence of a wealthy man. Cleofilas watches and learns about the betrayal and unfaithfulness of a husband on a novela, but experiences physical abuse while La Llorona experiences betrayal. Each character was depicting of their own challenges and confusion and they attempt to put their love for their husband above all things, even abuse, until the damage is unbearable; Cleofilas flees while La Llorona murders what she felt was most important to her husband. Each story provides a sense of empowerment for women to finally disclose upon a situation that was determined as toxic for the women’s well being, after being taught for so long that women shall conform to the norm of women being obedient to men.
The story of La Llorona bodies society diversity as well as common fears or desires among cultures. La Llorona falls under Cohen’s Seventh Monster Theory of “The Monster Stands at the Threshold … of Becoming”; the theory states that monsters have us “reevaluate our cultural assumptions about race, gender, sexuality, our perception of difference, our tolerance towards expression…. ask why we have created them” (20). Each adaptation of the story of La Llorona teaches the importance of cultural allegory; the allegory expresses equality about sacrifice and a representation of how not to behave to your children. Thus, parents explain the story to establish credibility to themselves as great behaving parents who know best. The theory also explains that humans create monsters to represent our fears, which as parents, the fears of losing their loved ones, which also ties together to another thesis of “ The Monster’s body is a Cultural Body”. The theory states that “the body incorporates fear, desire, anxiety and fantasy, giving them life and uncanny independence… it’s pure culture” (4). La Llorona is a prominent figure in Hispanic culture, being that if the story is untold, children are considerably missing a part of their culture and history. After the story has floated around her decades, it has molded into a Hispanic tradition to warn children about the ghost. Kidnapping is considered to be categorized as anxious fear for parents would never want to lose touch with their children. La Llorona is a predatory figure or icon that figuratively presents every parent’s worst fear. Each adaptation has provided a sense of importance as providing lessons of not wandering off into the dark for too long as well as the sacrifices a mother makes for her loved ones.
Despite the wicked and cruel horror depicted among the story of La Llorona, it continues to be memorable story that leaves a mark or purpose in individual’s lives everywhere. The adaptations all altered among the audience and purpose thrives for, but the story itself shifts among cultures, making it slightly harder to categorize one story as the “correct” story. The origin itself is unknown, but a children’s first occurrence with being told the story of La Llorona will not be forgotten. Hispanic culture has accepted this story as a common depicting of parents’ fear as well as a lesson of Hispanic culture. Always remember to not wander off too late, curiosity killed the cat.
Arora, Shirley L. “La Llorona.” Encyclopedia of Mexico: History, Society & Culture, edited by Michael S. Werner, Routledge, 1st edition, 1998. Credo Reference, https://search.credoreference.com/content/entry/routmex/la_llorona/0?institutionId=5312.
The article establishes the origins of the La Llorona story. The folktale has been around for decades yet the purpose or minor details of the story vary. I will use the article to establish background and originality to the famous La Llorona.
Candelaria, Cordelia Chávez. “La Llorona.” The Greenwood Encyclopedia of Latino Literature, edited by Nicolas Kanellos, ABC-CLIO, 1st edition, 2008. Credo Reference, https://search.credoreference.com/content/entry/abclatlit/la_llorona/0?institutionId=5312.
The article explains the folktale of La Llorona that has been around for centuries. The story’s purpose is to either scared kids at night or a tactic to simply tell kids so they do not stay out late. The article help establishes the purpose of the La Llorona, because every folktale has a message. I will use the article to help establish why La Llorona is important in the spanish culture.
Santos, Cristina. “La Llorona.” The Ashgate Encyclopedia of Literary and Cinematic Monsters, Jeffrey Andrew Weinstock, Ashgate Publishing, 1st edition, 2014. Credo Reference, https://search.credoreference.com/content/entry/ashgtmonster/la_llorona/0?institutionId=5312.
The article gives information about La Llorona in literature. As she becomes part of literature, her story often changes to in order to convey the author’s message. The article will help establish how La Llorona is characterized differently upon the message the author is trying to convey.
Cisneros, Sandra. Woman Hollering Creek and Other Stories. New York :Vintage Books, 1992. Print.
The story is an example of folktales being a part of our everyday lives, for here it is part a vignette novel by Sandra Cisneros who is known for writing about spanish culture. The article will help me establish how La Llorona becomes modernized in literature.
Weiser, Kathy. “La Llorona – Weeping Woman of the Southwest.” Legends of America, 17 Mar. 2017, www.legendsofamerica.com/gh-lallorona/.
The article shows the story told in the South West region of America. Different places depict different stories of La Llorona for various reasons, each altering because of what purpose is desired from the story. The article helps me establish the development of the La Llorona story throughout the years for this story has no exact origin.
Cohen, Jeffrey Jerome. Monster Theory: Reading Culture. University of Minnesota Press, 1997
The book was used in class to demonstrate why monsters are important figurative figures in society. Although just depicted as horror objects, they provide a reflection or representation of society or cultures. The book was brought into class, making it credible to use. I plan to use it to help construct the importance of the monster.