Compare and contrast Los Vendidos by Luis Valdez and Death of a Salesman by Arthur Miller.

A comparison of Los Vendidos and Death of a Salesman could center on how both plays address masculine stereotypes and issues. It might note how each play highlights the ways in which Western society tends to restrict and simplify the roles of men. A contrast could be made by talking about the product that is actually being sold. In Los Vendidos, the men are the product. In Death of a Salesman, Willy is figuratively, though not literally, selling himself.

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

One comparison you could make between Luis Valdez’s Los Vendidos and Arthur Miller’s A Death of a Salesman could be related to masculine pressures and masculine stereotypes.

As you might remember, the main character in Death of a Salesman is Willy Loman. There’s ample pressure on Willy. That pressure might not be there if he was a woman. If Willy wasn’t a man, he might not feel like he has to continue to provide for his family even though, clearly, he no longer has the ability to do so. You could argue that one of the central issues of the play is Willy’s failure to meet the demands of the masculine, breadwinner stereotype.

Los Vendidos, too, deals with stereotypes. Remember, Valdez’s play is about a Ronald Reagan-era official who has to find a “Mexican type” for the Republican president’s administration. As with Death of a Salesman, Los Vendidos highlights the many cultural stereotypes of masculinity. There’s the stereotypical Mexican revolutionary, the stereotypical Mexican agricultural laborer, and so on. As with Death of a Salesman, Los Vendidos points out how society tends to restrict and tether men to rather limited categories and labels.

A contrast could have to do with race. Compared to the men in Los Vendidos, you might say that Willy Loman, despite his numerous hardships, is still relatively privileged. He still has resources and opportunities that other men of other races might struggle to obtain.

Additionally, you could argue Loman’s struggles are his own making. They’re a result of choices he made. He chooses to drink, lie, and have an affair. The men in Los Vendidos seem to be much more determined by external influences.

Lastly, Willy isn’t literally selling himself (though he figuratively might be). In Los Vendidos, it’s the men themselves that are being sold. There’s no separation between them and the product or products. It’s one and the same.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team