A Research Paper on the play “Los Vendidos” by Luis Valdez
The play titled Los Vendidos, which when translated into Spanish means “sell outs”, was written in 1967 by Luis Valdez and was first performed according to Baru (2011), in East Los Angeles at the Brown Beret Junta. In the play, the author seeks to display the social disparities between the Latin community and the locals in California. In effect, the role of the various authorizes such as the state, local and federal governments are highlighted to portray certain misconceptions about Americans towards Latinos. Although out the play, it is evident that Luis Valdez adapts to some great extent, character traits innate in the Mexican culture. Generally, the play seeks to inform the larger American audience of the triviality of some of the stereotypes assumed with regard to the Mexicans living in California, and how ridiculous these stereotypes and misconceptions are. In this paper, an in- depth analysis of the emerging themes, motifs and characters in the play will be discussed.
Brief Background of the Author
The author (Luis Valdez) was born on 26th June, 1940 in Delano, and grew up in California as a farm workers’ son (Brenan & Timothy, 2011). Early in his childhood, he developed a great interest in Dram and was in particular, influenced by his teacher to pursue theatre production. His wrote and produced his first play whilst studying Arts at the San Jose State University. He later earned a B. A. degree in English from the same University. Other academic achievement of Luis Valdez in clued an Honorary Doctorate degree in Arts, awarded by the same University. It was not until he joined the United Farm Workers Organization Committee (UFWOC), that he was able to write Los Vendidos (Baru, 2011).
The general plot of the play touches on one main argument and is evident in the person of Luis Valdez; that it was not right for the Latino community in California to sell out their cultural beliefs and act as if they did not matter, whilst embracing that of the whites. The plot itself is very simple and quite understandable. Between humorous and ingenious episodes, and the final closure marred with a reversal of events, the author succeeds in creating a vivid depiction of his ideas (Vogelmann, 2006). The use of satire and comical expression in delivering politically related messages is widely evident in the play, which translates into an interesting and thrilling conclusion (Eghtesad, 2011). In effect, Valdez succeeds in propelling his play into an acto, probably because he is very deceptive in conveying his messages, which earns him the credit of being able to communicate his widely controversial ideas, without actually offending too many people.
The play is set at Honest Sancho’s Used Mexican Lot, and a fictional Mexican curio shop, which sells robotic models imitating the different stereotypes innate between Mexicans and Americans. The models can be manipulated by buyers by a simple cracking or snapping of the fingers signaling certain specific commands. Much of the action intrinsic in the play revolves around one of the major characters, the secretary, who in the play is given the name of Miss Jimenez. She in the beginning of the play initiates conversation with the owner of the store herein introduced as Honest Sancho.
Sancho, in trying to maintain the conversation, mentions or calls out the name of the secretary with a Spanish accent to it. In response to this, the secretary tries to chastise Sancho of the correct manner in which to pronounce her name using good English. The secretary then explains to the store owner the manner of her business there. She introduces herself as secretary to Governor Reagan, and proceeds to mention her reason for visiting the curio shop. She is looking to buy a Latino model to be used in wooing a larger voting crowd. Essentially, this might be interpreted to directly mean, the Mexican vote. According to the play, it is evident that the secretary is herself of Latino descent, and it is somehow queer, that she should seem indifferent as to the availability of cultural stereotypes among the four different models Sancho presents to her.
Honest Sancho presents his first model titled the sturdy farm worker, which the secretary proceeds to reject on grounds that the models does not speak English (Valdez, 2011). She is then introduced to Johnny Pachuco, a Latino gangster during the 1950s who despite the fact that he is a drug addict, gangster and violent, is an easy scapegoat. At this point, it is evident that the secretary has no intention of purchasing either of the models shown to her. She asks instead for a more romantic model, and Sancho reveals anther robot; Revolucionario is introduced as one of the much praised bandits in Californian history. The secretary rejects this model too, especially after she learns that he of typical Mexican descent, and in effect, not American. The last of the four models is then unveiled at this point in the play. Erica Garcia is a contemporary Mexican American, which is gifted in public speaking, and dresses impressively. In addition, he is ambitious, and very polite not to mention possess a University education too. Reluctantly, Miss Jimenez agrees to purchase Erica for $15, 000. Suddenly, Erica Garcia starts remonstrating in Spanish and snaps the other three models into life. The secretary flees in fear, and the three models split the money among themselves.