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Zoot Suit and Other Plays

By Luis Valdez

In the book Zoot Suit and Other Plays, Luis Valdez demonstrates the way Chicanos have been treated through out history in the United States. In the book, there are three plays, which are “Zoot Suit,” “Bandido,” and “I Don’t Have To Show You No Stinking Badges.

Zoot Suit

The “Zoot Suit” play deals with the “Pachuco Riots” during World War II in Los Angeles. Valdez writes about the Sleepy Lagoon murder case were Henry Reyna and numerous young Chicanos were convicted of murder and sentenced to life in prison for the murder of Jose Williams. While he is incarcerated, George Shearer, a lawyer, visits him in jail and talks Henry into appealing his case. George then introduces Alice, a reporter, to Henry. Unfortunately, George is drafted and is sent to war. George leaves the case for Alice to handle. The press continuously accuses Henry and the other pachucos in the Sleepy Lagoon murder.After the case is won Henry and Alice fall in love with each other, but the only problem is that Henry had promised to marry Adela his girlfriend. In the conclusion of the play the press, El Pachuco, and Alice have their own end to the story. The press says that Henry goes back to prison and kills an inmate. He doesn’t come out of jail until 1955, and then dies of the trauma of his life in 1972.Rudy says that he goes to Korea to defend the 38th Parallel until he is killed in 1952.Alice says that he marries Della, his girlfriend, and has five kids.

“Bandido”

Tiburcio Vasquez

tiburcio vasquez

“Bandido” is a melodramatic musical that takes place during the Gold Rush.It is a play with in a play. “Bandido” is about the cultural clashes between the native Mexicans and the newcomers Americans in the nineteenth-century California.The play tells the story of Tiburcio Vasquez, a real life bandit and a self-proclaimed liberator from California.His forbidden escapades as a selfish Liberator of California led him to his arrest and trial for murder of three men at Tres Pinos, California. His fellow gang member whose wife had become Vasquez’s lover helped capture him.The brave villain or sometimes seen as a hero, tells his story through flashbacks. While Vasquez is in jail, he sells photographs of himself for fifty cents.He makes his stories of love, jealousy, and betrayal come to life.Valdez, in “Bandido” is not only famous for his exploits but for his womanizing.At the end of the play, Valdez gets hung in San José California.He leaves his money and inheritance to Rosario and the daughter he had with her.

Tiburcio Vasquez

“I Don’t Have To Show You No Stinking Badges”

This play takes place in Monterey Park, a suburb of greater Los Angeles, on the distant fringe of Hollywood, USA during the Reagan years, early in 1985. The main characters are Buddy Villa, Connie his wife, Sonny their son and Anita Sonny's friend. This play is about a family who are struggling with different problems. Connie and Buddy are both actors who are struggling to get roles in commercials and movies that are not stereotypical. They find that in today's society playing roles other than gardeners, maids, crooks and whores is impossible for Latinos. On the other hand, Sonny is struggling with the idea that he wants to live his own life and do what he wants rather than live the life that his parents want him to live. He's sixteen and has dropped out of Harvard and come back to Los Angeles with his friend, Anita who has turned his world upside down. Sonny is confused about what he wants to do with the rest of his life, and out of his confusion he somehow manages to rob a Jack In The Box he claims that he was only acting like a cholo (Mexican gangster) but no one believes him. The cops come to his house and want him to surrender and come out with his hands up. Then towards the end of the play the reader sees that the play was really a play within in a play within a play. The director comes into the play and he and Sonny argue over the play's ending. The last scene ends with Connie and Buddy's dream scene which is about a flying saucer that is shaped like a sombrero ( Mexican hat) coming and taking Sonny away.