American Horror Story has adapted numerous historical cases, figures, and legends throughout its nine season arc and, while a slightly untraditional adaptation of the La Llorona legend, signs point to Mr. Jingles’ mom being a representation of the character in 1984.
In 1984, the character was first introduced in episode 7, “The Lady in White”, and is played by Lily Rabe, one of American Horror Story‘s alumni dating back to the series’ first season. The episode serves as a partial origin story about Benjamin Richter (John Carroll Lynch), also known as Mr. Jingles. While the character of the “lady in white” is only utilized for a short arc, she plays a powerful role in the season on the whole given her relationship to one of the primary characters, and the implications that her familial tragedy is partially to blame for the camp’s curse that forces all who perish on the grounds to stay confined there, in purgatory, similarly to how is done with the Murder House in season one of the show.
La Llorona was recently adapted into a movie within The Conjuring universe, The Curse of La Llorona, which was a critical flop. Though the legends surrounding La Llorona are firmly rooted in Hispanic culture, a cautionary tale told to children by their parents and grandparents, Murphy’s character bears a striking resemblance, intentional or not.
Benjamin Richter’s origin story goes back to 1948, when Camp Redwood was known as Camp Golden Star. His mother, Lavinia (Rabe), was a cook at the camp, which takes a clear page from Friday the 13th. Benjamin had a younger brother, Bobby, who was the apple of their mother’s eye whereas he was harshly criticized by her. After Lavinia tasks Benjamin with supervising his brother so they can go swimming in the lake, a tragic turn of events led to Bobby’s death. Benjamin abandoned his brother to go watch counselors hook up in the woods, and Bobby disobeyed his brother’s orders not to go in the lake, which resulted in him being run over by a boat and cut up by the propeller when it couldn’t be stopped in time. Lavinia, mad with rage, went on a killing spree, then turned on Benjamin, who ended up killing her in self-defense.
According to the show, “her blood had poured into this ground, with her pain and her rage.” This implies she is the reason why those murdered at the camp end up in purgatory. Richter discovers his mother is still bound to the camp after the ghosts tell him they are being terrorized by a “lady in white.” La Llorona’s story is a little different, as she murdered her own children by drowning them after finding out about her husband’s infidelity; it was her way to get revenge. After murdering her children, La Llorona killed herself out of grief. According to legend, she was refused entry into Heaven until she found her sons’ souls. She is known to prey on children, kidnapping them and compulsively drowning them, and is commonly described as a vengeful, restless spirit. While this does differ from Murphy’s origin tale, there is significant overlap.
In American Horror Story, Lavinia is similarly a restless, vengeful spirit who constantly is in search of her son, Bobby, after his death. She terrorizes the counselors – even though they’re already dead – in a similar loop to her murder spree before the night she died. Her vengeful qualities surfaced after she convinced Margaret Booth (Leslie Grossman) to go on a killing spree and frame her son, Benjamin. She is also always seen in white attire, similar to how La Llorona is always depicted wearing a white gown with a veil. Also like La Llorona, Lavinia Richter is overcome with anguish until she was reunited with her son, Bobby, which allowed her to finally be at peace.
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