Zoot Suit Questions and Answers
by Luis Valdez

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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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Walter Fischer eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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Luis Valdez’s play Zoot Suit was inspired by the Mexican American immigrant experience during the 1930s and 1940s, an experience that included racial discrimination at the hands of the country’s Caucasian majority and anti-Mexican riots that broke out in Los Angeles in 1943. As with many books, films, and plays inspired by actual events, Valdez employed “poetic license” in shaping his story of one particular Mexican American, Henry Reyna, the play’s protagonist. Henry is not only the play’s protagonist; he serves as the personification of the Latin American archetype of Los Angeles during the period portrayed. That archetype was characterized by the “zoot suit,” a colorful suit with high-waisted baggy pants and a prominent coat with wide lapels. Zoot suits were a symbol of heritage as well as of outsider status in America.

While Zoot Suit is based upon real-life events, it is a work of fiction . That is why, in the play’s opening scene, the character Pachuco addresses the...

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