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What is the significance/meaning of El Pachuco's quote in the beginning of the...

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amaine | Student, Undergraduate | eNotes Newbie

Posted December 10, 2009 at 6:12 AM via web

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What is the significance/meaning of El Pachuco's quote in the beginning of the play? (quote starts with "Ladies and gentlemen the play you are about to see is a construct of fact and fantasy...")

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MaudlinStreet | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Senior Educator

Posted December 20, 2009 at 1:52 PM (Answer #1)

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In this quote, El Pachuco reveals his role throughout the play. He also explains the importance of the archetype "pachuco" in Chicano culture. Essentially, he sets up the ideas of freedom, control, and power that will permeate the narrative.

El Pachuco presides over the entire play, acting as Henry's alter ego. He interrupts the action or speaks to the audience directly, and sings narration at different points. El Pachuco is the consummate Mexican-American pachuco figure, a zoot-suiter who is tough, cool, slick, and defiant. He tells it like it is and is meticulous and vain about his appearance.

The author explained the role of El Pachuco this way: "The Pachuco is the Jungian self-image, the superego if you will, the power inside every individual that's greater than any human institution.... I dressed the Pachuco in the colors of Tezcatlipoca, the Aztec god of education, the dean of the school of hard knocks." El Pachuco achieves mythic proportions when he is stripped of his zoot suit by the Anglo rioters. Dressed only in a loincloth, he adopts a regal majesty as he exits, walking backward, from the stage. When he returns, he is not content to accept the damning prediction that Henry will return to prison. At his prompting, the other characters recite alternative futures for Henry. He controls the action of the play and embroiders the events of Henry's life.

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