Having been born and raised in the states but being of Hispanic heritage gave me the gift of multiple world views. Folk tales like The Tale of the Burt Girl’s Street in Mexico and other legends may not seem like they would have a huge personal impact on an individual but there is something unique about people like me who were raised in a land where such stories amalgamate from all corners of the world.
Of course, I am not in the slightest sense the only Latino who grew up hearing the tales of Europe like Snow White and Hansel and Gretel and the Latin tales like La Llorona, the legend of Quetzalcoatl and La Calle Quemada. Hispanics born and raised here can attest to that. Still, it has made me and those like me privy to legends that offer very different morals and speak to the different standpoints of cultures.
The Tale of the Burnt Girl’s Street
The tale of the burnt girl’s street in Mexico tells the story of Beatriz, the beautiful daughter of a Viceroy in Mexico. Beatriz was not only uncommonly gorgeous, but she was kind hearted as well and devoted much of her time tending to the poor and the sick. As a result, suitors would come from all over the world to fight for her hand in front of the mansion where she lived. These suitors would fight and die until a suitor from Italy, Don Martin proved himself in battle and defeated all other suitors.
Beatriz came to love Don Martin for his bravery, handsome face and prowess. Still, Beatriz heart was heavy with the blood of the men who had died trying to win her affection. She proceeded to essentially light herself on fire so that her face may no longer be the cause of bloodshed. Don Martin, despite seeing the burnt condition of Beatriz’s face still loved her and asked her father for her hand in marriage.
Meanings and Parallels
La Calle Quemada stresses the importance of inner beauty and the fleeting nature of superficial beauty. Beatriz was so pure at heart that she wanted to end as much suffering as possible even it meant deforming her own face.
Having read tales like Bluebeard as a child, where a woman is essentially punished for her curiosity despite discovering her husband’s grizzly slaying of past wives, it compels me to compare Mexican folktales and Latin American folk tales to the European ones that have become so popular in American culture.
The tale of the burnt girl’s street in Mexico stands as an exalting tale of a woman’s character whereas tales like Bluebeard condemn women for minor transgressions spurred by innocent curiosity.
I feel fortunate to have been exposed to Latin and European folk tales like these because it has made my perception of the world all the sharper, focused and broader at the same time. The stark contrast of morals between the two kinds of tales speaks volumes about the cultures that birthed them.