In Chicano literature, Valdez credits such influences as Old Comedy, commedia dell’arte, Bertolt Brecht, Japanese theater, and the religious drama of the pre-Hispanic peoples of Latin America. His plays detail the farmworkers and their hardships in the fields. The characters, farmworker and owner, are more symbolic than realistic. The purpose of many of the actos is didactic—they teach while entertaining.
Rivera’s . . . y no se lo tragó la tierra (1971; And the Earth Did Not Part, 1971) is a composite of stories and anecdotes. Some are socially or communally focused and some are individually focused. Chicano poets such as Tino Villanueva and others trace a cycle of the Anglos’ being welcomed but rejecting the Mexicans’ friendship, the prospering of the Anglos, the ruin of the land by the Anglos, the exile of the Mexicans into barrios, the seeking of work in the mines and the fields of the North, often with cultural alienation, and finally “an honest friend/ that by clear waters I await”—the friend being the United Farm Workers. As is the theater, Chicano poetry is strongly linked to the social struggles of the migrants. It affirms the Mexican American culture and maintains a flux between Spanish and English.