Los Vendidos, which means “sellouts” by Luis Valdez, is a play revolving around Americans and Mexicans and portrays the prejudice that the Americans had towards the Mexicans. The play surrounds a shop where the seller, Honest Sancho, pretends to sell Mexican boys who are compared to Robots. The Mexican boys are sold to buyers with Sancho manipulating their actions through snapping his fingers and signaling specific instructions and commands. Honest Sancho is not as honest as his name because he sells Mexicans to Americans. The play begins with Miss Jimenez, who is the secretary to governor Regan, visiting Sancho’s shop (Gale 4). The secretary visits the shop to purchase a suitable Mexican who can carry out an administration campaign for the governor by wooing many Mexicans to vote for the governor. Sancho has four different Mexican’s at the back of his shop, ready for sale. The Mexicans included the Mexican-American Eric Garcia, the romantic revolutionario, farmer worker, and the urban Mexican named Johnny Pachuno, who had unique features and functions. The characters presented in the play effectively bring out the themes of racial stereotyping, acculturation and Marxism.
Analysis of the Characters
The secretary is presented with the farmworker whom Sancho considered hardworking, having worked in slave labor for a small wage. The farmworker is described as friendly and “loves patrone,” thus viable for the campaign as he would forge relationships with the people. The secretary immediately rejects the farmworker, sighting that he cannot speak English, which is essential for the campaign. Sancho presents Johnny Pachuco, who is considered to be an urban Mexican as he is from the city. Johnny’s special features include he can speak English, has knowledge of knife fights, rough behavior, and alcohol consumption. Johnny fits the role as he can brutalize and serve as a scapegoat, but the secretary rejects him. Sancho introduces the revolutionario, who is a traditional and romantic Mexican, as seen in the popular Mexican movies. The revolutionario model is fit because he is rough but still has a romantic side though Miss Jimenez rejects him because of his typical Mexican descent.
Lastly, the Mexican American is introduced, he has outstanding features as he has attended college, is bilingual, with admirable public speaking skills, he is very ambitious, dresses impressively, and is polite. The Mexican American is considered to be more expensive compared to the other boys. The secretary purchases the Mexican American for his outstanding characters but is soon horrified by his thoughts (Orona-Cordova 99). The Mexican American explains how he will take up arms and kill white people, which is against his role in the campaign. According to the play, Sancho is an opportunist who sells people of his own culture for profits, and he is compared to slave traders (Christianto 98). The secretary is sold out and rejects people of her ethnicity. She despises the farmworker as he cannot speak English, rejects Pachuco because he steals and the Revolutionario as he is made in Mexico.
Themes in the play
The central theme observed throughout the play is racial stereotyping, with Americans having prejudice over the Mexicans. Sancho sells models who are Mexican-American and Mexicans, but they are rejected by the secretary. The secretary is looking for a Mexican type of model but wants one who holds American characteristics, which portrays stereotyping. Also, the models are rejected based on their weakness, which is a clear indication of prejudice (Gale 2). The farmworker is described as a cheap worker, Pachuco is referred to as a Mexican gangster, and the revolutionario is viewed as the romantic Mexican; hence, the three do not fit in the American space. The stereotyping entails the view that the models have Mexican characteristics that include being lazy, uneducated, and violent; therefore, they cannot fit in the administrative role (Putrie). The Mexican-American is selected because he has American traits but has darker skin; hence, he is easy to sell out. Eric Garcia speaks lowly of his fellow cultural people by highlighting the weaknesses of the Mexicans.
Additionally, acculturation is a theme present in the play describing the assimilation of the Mexicans into the American culture because it is the dominant culture. The stereotyping of Mexicans, such as the farm worker, has been illustrated in the play together with those who have been assimilated into the American culture, such as Eric Garcia (Gale 6). The secretary has been incorporated into the American culture by assuming the Anglo pronunciation disregarding the Spanish pronunciation of her name. Miss Jimenez is quick to reject her fellow ethnic people as they do not meet the American traits. Valdez also fuels acculturation by looking for models that have American characteristics. The secretary shows the trait of social identity as she separates herself from the Mexicans who are her racial people and assumes the American culture.
Marxism is evident in the play with classes of laborers and capitalists being witnessed. The capitalist class of people in high social status is shown through Honest Sancho, who sells the models earning himself a high income. Miss Jimenez is of a high social level because she holds the position of the governor’s secretary and has the money to purchase models. The models are considered to be laborers in the lower social class; hence, they can be sold by individuals at the higher social levels. The play depicts social injustice where the Americans exploit the Mexicans. The secretary settles on the Mexican American due to his race rather than his ability. The other models are rejected because they don’t hold American traits illustrating social inequalities where Americans are given priority.
Christianto, Adi Prasatya, and Dewi Widyastuti. “The Representation of Mexican-Americans’ Life Stages through the Models in Luis Valdez’s Los Vendidos.” Journal of Language and Literature 14.1 (2014): 95-102. Link: https://www.e-journal.usd.ac.id/index.php/JOLL/article/view/403
Gale, Cengage Learning. A Study Guide for Luis Valdez’s” Los Vendidos.” Gale, Cengage Learning, 2016. Link: https://books.google.com/books?hl=en&lr=&id=htr2DAAAQBAJ&oi=fnd&pg=PT3&dq=A+Study+Guide+for+Luis+Valdez%27s%22+Los+Vendidos.%22+Gale,+Cengage+&ots=Pd5syFzxcl&sig=loADmRMc_MlVlGdKteYqFHBq97Y
Orona-Cordova, Roberta. “Zoot Suit and the Pachuco Phenomenon: An Interview with Luis Valdez.” Revista Chicano-Riquena 11 (1983): 98-100. Link: https://mseffie.com/assignments/zoot_suit/Valdez%20Interview.pdf
Putrie, elfrida s. Racial discrimination reflected through the characters in luis valdez’s Los vendidos. Diss. Sanata dharma university, 2012. Link: https://repository.usd.ac.id/7551/1/084214116_Full.pdf