Many versions of the tale associate La Llorona with evil. Some versions describe her visits to lustful young men whom she lures to their deaths. Other versions describe her efforts to steal living children who are out by the river late at night, mistaking them for her own dead children. Because some versions imply that the children are disobeying their parents, parents often use the story to frighten children into obedience. In some versions, however, La Llorona is a sympathetic figure deserving of pity. In others, she is a malevolent force to be feared. Gabriel and Narciso ask the mob to have mercy on Lupito because he was mad when he killed the sheriff. The connection is that Lupito and La Llorona were both insane when they murdered, and thus they cannot be held accountable to rational moral judgment.

The pairing of La Llorona and Lupito in Antonio’s dream shows that he is beginning to deal with morally ambivalent issues. Antonio wants to make moral sense out of Lupito’s death, but easy answers elude him. The figure of La Llorona expresses Antonio’s anxieties about growing up, about disobeying his parents, and about wandering by the river. His dream ends with the voice of María mourning that her son is growing older, an apparition that phrases Antonio’s anxiety about leaving his mother in her own voice. Antonio is developing an independent self-consciousness and learning to combine elements of both his parents’ heritages. As a young boy, though, he is still ambivalent about the consequences of change.

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