Luis Valdez's play Zoot Suit is primarily about the relationships among justice, race, ethnicity, and cultural representation. The flamboyant young men who enjoy displaying their style through the unique, elaborate suits they wear are using fashion as an arena of competition amongst themselves. The specific style also emphasizes their group solidarity.
Members of the dominant white society, however, associate this fashion trend with a set of negative stereotypes they have about Mexican Americans. The European American characters seem to believe that all young Mexican American men are gang members or “pachucos.” The resentment extends to the their very presence. They be inconspicuous, and they should not show up to certain locations.
The 1940s era in which the play is set provides the historical context for actual events that inspired the play. The volatile situation relates to the conflicts over military service and patriotism among men who were often judged to be foreign and incapable of patriotism. The injustices levied against them is like salt in their wounds. When the stabbing occurs in the Sleepy Lagoon, the police officers do not arrest any of the white people present. A Latino man is assumed to be guilty, and Valdez portrays the trial as a sham.