The Empowerment of La Llorona

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In a world filled with many expectations, the unreal begins to override the true realities of life. Folktales have been passed on from generation to generation as a way of preserving the history of different cultures throughout the world. According to anthologized science and nature writer Ferris Jabr, “Since the seventeenth century, writers have expanded, revised, and modernized the beloved fairytale thousands of times.” The art of storytelling has shaped history and played a crucial role in many cultures as the years have progressed. The ancient tale of the weeping woman, La Llorona, has been streamlined by many cultures, environments, and locations as the years have progressed. The old tale originates from Mexico around the 1500’s and has been revised in multiple ways.

There are numerous versions of La Llorona that continue to circulate the world today that implement a variety of morals. The story of the beautiful weeping woman is one that has altered Mexican culture forever. La Llorona has served as a cautionary tale that has been told by older generations to young children warning them of this mythical woman. Though many believe the legend of La Llorona is fictionalized to keep children out of the water and out of trouble, many believe she is real. The comparison of hidden relationships among these tales becomes clear when one considers examples from the various versions of La Llorona. The reader gains a better overview of La Llorona when considering the texts, The Weeping Woman, Prietita and the Ghost Woman, The Crying Woman, “The Story of Storytelling”, Mythology Lives, The Wailing Woman, and Caminando con La Llorona. According to the ideas above, it may be said the logic found in the tales of La Llorona embodies the traditional perspective of cultural norms versus the realities faced in today’s modern society. Varying representations of La Llorona in tales over centuries reflect changing views on race, class, and gender and how they intersect.

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In the original tales analyzed one can see how the stories of La Llorona have a major influence on race, class, and gender among several diverse cultures. Everyone in this life is entitled to the power to create and maintain certain values that have been greatly influenced by the environment they coincide in. The paradigm of possibility was built upon the concept of an equal opportunity playing field for everyone, yet gender inequality, divides among social class, and racism are just a few prime examples of problems inherent in society. Social expectations have empowered individuals to become more politically and culturally aware but are halted by forces outside their capability. Although many cultures are continuously evolving, for better or worse, the dream for a better life carries on. Social pressures have influenced the way people think about certain principles that have resulted in certain actions. Social limitations are sometimes beyond control however, every individual has the power to create, maintain, or change these values. Traditionally, La Llorona has been a key staple in Mexican culture as a cautionary tale to warn children of this mythical woman. As time has passed, La Llorona transitioned into an empowering female figure for her community. La Llorona defies maternal expectations by challenging the cultural identity placed on mothers in Mexican culture. Instead of freedom and equality women are given limited power of their lives. La Llorona empowers women of all different creeds, religions, and ethnicities to pursue individuality in whatever they choose to do in this life.

Breaking down the walls of cultural oppression among social class is just one factor to consider when analyzing the characteristics La Llorona exemplifies. Amy Fuller, lecturer in the History of the Americas at Nottingham Trent University explains, “The legend is deeply ingrained in Mexican culture and among the Chicano Mexican population of the United States.” (3.) Often in society, diverse cultures are molded by the external environments around them. In this narrative, Fuller depicts La Llorona from a different viewpoint that contrasts from the traditional viewpoint of the wailing woman. Fuller suggests social constructions embedded into Mexican culture have shaped and contributed to the legend of La Llorona eternally. In her narrative, Fuller details the characteristics La Llorona has symbolized as an indigenous woman in a masculine society. Chicanos are mestizos, or the blending of two races and cultures. For many years the Chicano community has been culturally oppressed by the limitations placed upon them like social constructions, such as class.

As time has evolved, La Llorona played a role in the revival of a new cultural identity. These indigenous women are blended into Hispanic culture and forced to assimilate into cultural norms. Rather than conforming into the masculine idea of a traditional Spanish housewife, La Llorona refused to assimilate into the common culture. As a heroine for indigenous women everywhere, La Llorona symbolizes cultural appropriation in modern society. Fuller proposes resistance to adopting diversity proves furthermore how inevitable change in society truly is. Breaking down the walls of cultural oppression, and accepting cultural appropriation is one factor to understanding the role La Llorona plays in the mestizo community as well as other indigenous cultures.

Another enlightening perspective to consider when analyzing the overview of La Llorona is the emphasis on how gender inequality has changed as time has progressed. Associate Professor in the Department of English and the Center for Mexican American studies, Domino Renee Perez explains, “While negative female types are in no way culturally or historically specific to Chicanos, for many familiar with the tale, La Llorona is a woman who traditionally serves as a cultural allegory, instructing people, primarily women, how to live, act, and function within specific established mores.” Perez educates on the social divides among men and women throughout history. For many years, women have fought to equalize the playing field for themselves against men. Cultural feminism has always been a large debate among different nations throughout the world. Over time, La Llorona has evolved into a surplus of diverse stories attempting to provide a voice for equality for women, while also attempting to coexist with other elements found in different versions of the tale.

Race, class, and gender are just a few other factors that are interconnected with the depiction of La Llorona. These interconnected factors found in the different versions of La Llorona greatly influence one another. The social expectations forced on by society have led many women to become more politically and culturally aware. The paradigm of possibility was built upon the idea of all humans being created equally. Although women’s rights have been created to protect women everywhere, gender inequality is still very present today. Gender inequality stems from different ways of thinking influenced by various cultural and social upbringings. Over the years, many nations have made positive progress to revamp the meaning of equality. Consequently, from the opposing perspective, people in society are trapped by outdated social norms in a xenophobic paradigm. People of diverse cultures are unwilling to assimilate into modern society due to societal pressures and expectations. When it comes to understanding the overview of La Llorona, race, class, and gender are just a few examples of man-made social constructions that have shaped the way humans live every day.

The legendary tales of La Llorona depict how race, class, and gender impact nations all around the world. The art of storytelling has played an important role in cultural preservation for many centuries. These stories that have been passed on from generation to generation have shaped and altered the way many people live their daily lives. Her story mirrors similar characteristics of defiance found in the video Mythology Lives. La Llorona protested the cultural norms bestowed upon her such as maternal expectations, gender inequality, and social class. Although La Llorona’s story has evolved into a surplus of various versions she is an embedded figure in Mexican culture forever. Though there are plenty versions of La Llorona’s story, each narrative offers enlightening perspectives on life. La Llorona offers cultural diversity and reinforces the idea of multiculturalism. For centuries race, class, and gender have enabled a divide among communities instead of unification. Breaking down the walls of cultural oppression and becoming culturally aware are just two ways people can change the environment they live in. Being able to accept cultural appropriation redefines the way one views race, class, and gender in different cultures. If people can reform their way of thinking, the paradigm of possibilities are endless.

Accepting the things that are outside the typical cultural norms allows us to mold cultures for the future generations to come. The art of storytelling represents all the values, traditions, and history of past times allowing us to create a new future filled with endless possibilities. The story of La Llorona serves as more than the typical cautionary tale advising for children to stay away from the edges of river banks and to be mindful of the weeping woman. Her story provides insight to key principles inherent in society and raises awareness to the harsh realities faced in this life on Earth. Each narrative serves as a timeless example of the power storytelling has in society. Breaking down cultural bias, uniting as the human race, and continually evolving are ideal for a better future. These varying representations of La Llorona all throughout the world mirror the changing views on race, class, and gender and how they influence society.

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The Empowerment of La Llorona. (2019, Dec 01). Retrieved from