The Spanish language is the defining factor that connects Hispanics throughout the world. There are also religious and cultural characteristics that many of these Spanish-speaking countries share. One popular myth is the one of La Llorona. The tale of the wailing woman is also found in other cultures. In ancient Greece, Medea was the goddess who killed her children in order to inflict vengeance on her imposing husband. The legend of the anguished mother has universal connotations.
Hispanic Version of the Story
Throughout Mexico and the American Southwest the story involves the explorer Hernan Cortez and his Indian mistress La Malinche. She betrayed her people when she fell in love with the conqueror of the Mayan and Aztec people. La Malinche had several children with Cortez. When the conquistador abandoned her she was accused of being a traitor and was shunned by the community.
A Mother’s Dilemma
Not only was La Malinche the recipient of society’s wrath, so were her children. One mother’s actions led to an eternity of cruelty and prejudice for her children. The only solution for the anguished matriarch was to put an end to their suffering by drowning them in the river. Water as a means of escape is how the myth surrounding La Llorona near waterways came to light.
Water and the Subconscious
The story of La Llorona always involves a water source and nighttime. She never appears during the day only with the black night sky as a backdrop. Water and darkness set the stage for this tale. Water gives life while the still of the night brings darkness. Darkness represents the unconscious and water is the source of life.