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Essay about Luis Valdez's Play, Los Vendidos

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In his play, "Los Vendidos," Luis Valdez addresses, through humor and stereotypes, the issues faced by Mexicans in America throughout history. Although a "White Washed Mexican" woman is supposedly looking for a Mexican, what she is actually looking for is an American with darker skin. The key word here is American, as she is looking for someone who has denied his or her Mexican roots and become acculturated to the American way of life. This woman does not want a Mexican for any other reason than the fact that he is Mexican, and she has no respect for his heritage.

The scene opens as a woman who works for the government walks into a shop that sells "Mexicans." She is looking for a Mexican for their administration. In the prologue of the play, this woman is designated a "White Washed Mexican," as she denies her Mexican roots, and pretends to be an Anglo. When she enters the store, she introduces herself as Ms. Jiminez (pronounced Jimmy-Nez, rather than the actual pronunciation, Hime-nez). Through the way that she pronounces her name, it is clear that she denies her Mexican heritage.

One important aspect of the play is the adjectives that Ms. Jimenez uses to describe the Mexican that they would like to use as their prototype. Such adjectives are: "suave, debonair, dark (not too dark, but beige), sophisticated, respectable, someone with class." All of these adjectives could describe a Mexican male, but not one that has been affected by American society. As the Mexican male attempts to become a part of American society, he soon realizes that he is not welcome, which often causes him to rebel against the culture that will not accept him. An example is the Zoot Suit Riots that occurred in 1944. The Zoot Suit Riots were a reaction...


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...ty from racial prejudice, which affects all aspects of their life, from gaining equal access to education to gaining employment. It seems that Latinos are forced to choose whether they want to keep their heritage and remain proud or if they want to become American. The quote that best describes the balance between the two comes from Raul Morin when he describes the mix of heritages that made up the military services of World War II: "For this reason we have made the term 'Mexican-Anglo' our choice. We then imply that we are proud to be Anglos, and at the same time are not trying to deny our Mexican ancestry (Vargas 306)."

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Cuello, Jose. "FOR COMMENT: Latinos and Hispanics: A Primer Technology." E-mail to Recipients of list H-LATAM. 17 Dec 1996.

Vargas, Zaragosa. Major Problems in Mexican American History. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company. 1999


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