Imagine a culture for sale with stereotypes as the price tag. In the mid-60s Luis Valdez created a play that expressed his strong views of pervasive Hispanic stereotypes of the time. Valdez is a contemporary Hispanic playwright who penned "Los Vendidos" in 1967 as part of El Teatro Campesino, a farmworkers' performance group founded by the United Farm Workers. The satirical one-act play compares the faces of the Hispanic population through the use of stereotypical characters labelled as Farmworker, Pachuco, Revolucionario and Mexican-American. The setting of the play is that the characters are are currently on sale at a "Used Mexican Lot." In a "Los Vendidos" analysis of the interactions with Miss Jimenez and Honest Sancho, the reader sees stereotypical Mexican-American character analysis through Valdez's words as the characters are reduced to only one-dimensional traits.
Analyzing the Farmworker Character
As the play opens, the first highly-stereotyped character is revealed as a potential purchase for Miss Jimenez. Jiminez is described as an Anglicized Hispanic woman who comes into Honest Sancho's Used Mexican Lot looking for a Mexican for Governor Reagan's administration. The secretary asks for a model that is dark but not too dark, suave and a hard worker. Valdez introduces the first Mexican model as the Farmworker. The Farmworker meets the requirements outlined by Jiminez and is also hardworking, durable, friendly and economical. Ultimately, he is not purchased because he does not speak English. The character represents the stereotypes of a 1980s Mexican farmworker. In the Farmworker character analysis, this character is only useful for agricultural work, has no English skills and is a very obedient worker who asks for little in the way of payment or housing.
"Los Vendidos" Analysis of Pachuco
After Miss Jimenez finds the Farmworker less than suitable for her purchase needs, she asks Honest Sancho for an urban model and is presented with the Pachuco. This second model of a Mexican is streamlined, built for speed and walks with a Chicano shuffle. The Pachuco performs knife fights, dances, speaks English, swears, is economical, runs on alcohol and hamburgers and can be beaten and bruised. Honest Sancho describes the Pachuco as the perfect scapegoat. Valdez here portrays his argument that Pachucos were generally stereotyped as thieves, beaten and arrested often by the Los Angeles Police Department. A further Pachuco character analysis is that the Pachuco is a dangerous mythological figure. Valdez further plays upon this cultural interpretation of the Pachuco in "Los Vendidos" with this interaction.
A Closer Look at Revolucionario
The play moves forward and after the Pachuco is rejected as well, Honest Sancho presents Miss Jimenez with the Revolucionario or as he describes him, the "Early California Bandit Type." The Revolucionario appears after Jimenez's request for a more traditional, romantic model of Mexican. While presenting the Revoluicionario for purchase, Honest Sancho plays upon the stereotypical image of Pancho Villa who "rides horses, stays in the mountains . . . leads revolutions." According to the play, this model is the Mexican most popularly seen in movies. Valdez plays upon a Revolucionario character stereotype of the Pancho Villa figure by describing this model as a rougher version of a Mexican but with a very romantic side.
Analyzing Valdez's Mexican-American Character
In a final analysis of "Los Vendidos" characters, Miss Jimenez rejects the Revolucionario because she actually desires an American-made product. This brings Honest Sancho to the Mexican-American. This model is presented as bilingual, college-educated and clean. He is a more expensive model to purchase as he is made of two Pachucos, a Farmworker and three Americans. Honest Sancho makes a sale to his persistent client. However, Miss Jimenez is immediately horrified after her purchase because the Mexican-American begins to talk about "taking up arms" and "killing white people." In a Mexican-American character analysis, the Mexican-American is seen as representing Valdez's ideas that in order to assimilate into American culture, the Mexican-American had to give up part of his culture and is ultimately still seen as a trouble-maker. As part of the "Los Vendidos" summary, the play's satirical look at profiling reflected a harsh view of the contemporaneous Hispanic stereotypes Valdez spoke out against.
Based in Los Angeles, Jana Sosnowski holds Master of Science in educational psychology and instructional technology, She has spent the past 11 years in education, primarily in the secondary classroom teaching English and journalism. Sosnowski has also worked as a curriculum writer for a math remediation program. She earned a Bachelor of Arts in print journalism from the University of Southern California.