What do you believe the character of El Pachuco represents in "Zoot Suit"?  

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El Pachuco in Zoot Suit is a representative of the Pachuco subculture that dressed in zoot suits. Pachucos were sharply-dressed tough guys, at times gang members, within Mexican American culture in the 1930s and 40s.

Pachucos listened and danced to jazz and swing in both English and Spanish. The best...

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El Pachuco in Zoot Suit is a representative of the Pachuco subculture that dressed in zoot suits. Pachucos were sharply-dressed tough guys, at times gang members, within Mexican American culture in the 1930s and 40s.

Pachucos listened and danced to jazz and swing in both English and Spanish. The best known performer catering to Pachucos was German Valdez, also known as Tin Tan, a comedian and singer.

Pachucos took elements of American culture, film, and music and exaggerated them in their own way. Film tough guys like Robert Mitchum and Humphrey Bogart were imitated.

The popular dress of the day—double breasted suits—was greatly enlarged, with wide lapels, large pockets, garish colors, and wide-brimmed hats with a single long feather. Such dress led to controversy, with its extravagance argued to be unpatriotic during World War II. Some white racists responded with violence, targeting them during the Zoot Suit Riots, while police stood by or even arrested the victims.

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El Pachuco is representative of the very subculture (also called "Pachuco") embodied within this play. A pachuco is a Latino playboy with a strong aesthetic sensibility who wears zoot suits and engages in street gang activity and the nightlife scene. It is also a term associated with those migrating to El Paso, Texas, where the concept of a "pachuco" is thought to have originated. Spanish-speakers would refer to this migration as "going pa' El Chuco."

In the play itself, El Pachuco mirrors Henry "Hank" Reyna, offering himself up as a symbol of self-criticism and negativity. He serves as a "reality check" that forces Henry to give up his destiny, embodying the spirit of Pachuco culture in order to preach fidelity to la Raza. 

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In a 1988 interview, Valdez, the playwright, said El Pachuco is "the power inside every individual that's greater than any human institution." El Pachuco is Hank's alter ego, the part of him that refuses to allow Anglo society to degrade and abuse Chicanos. He serves as a sort of master of ceremonies, talking to the audience and making comments about the action. El Pachuco is the cool Chicano that everyone wants to be. He is confident and assertive and represents the proud, unwavering Chicano. 

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