Monday, July 18, 2005

feminist revisions : la llorona

Tigrette came up to me when I got to San Antonio and told me that La Llorona was after her if she didn't behave, and that she couldn't go to the river with my parents because that was where La Llorona hung out. The older kids in her day camp decided to teach her, SA-style, about Midget Mansion, the Donkey Lady, and La Llorona. I remember hearing these stories from Mexican Americans and thinking the Donkey Lady was international. Only to find out she was SA born and bred. I'd forgotten too, what good storytellers the Chicano kids can be when it comes to horror, especially when they tell an outsider - in this case my daughter, poor thing softened by Austin, TX.

It was late when Tigrette asked, almost bedtime, so I told her we would talk about it the next day because she didn't need to be talking about these kinds of women before bed. Well, going through Southtown and seeing countless paintings or decoupaged creations with little Fridas on them reminded her of the stories I'd promised to give.

She asked me, first off, why a woman would kill her kids. My mother curled her lip and said "when you are older you'll understand". I told her that women today don't have to have kids like they used to and so they didn't have to hold as much anger toward them either so that kind of comment probably wasn't productive.

Then I talked to Tigrette about La Malinche and the Spanish conquest and how even women like Andrea Yates are modern-day Lloronas for some. More importantly I told her that someone like La Llorona was easily a character others could blame but that women could also connect with her. And that, if society at the time of each Llorona's appearance were less dichotomous, these women wouldn't have to make impossible choices like drowning the first children of a mestizo race.

I caught her later re-telling the story to my father. She didn't go into all the feminist language I did but she did end the story with "So La Llorona had to kill her children because they weren't accepted by others and it was too much". Well, at least she'd made it her own story and she was no longer afraid of La Llorona.

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