Luis Valdez is a contemporary Hispanic playwright who penned "Los Vendidos" in 1967 as part of El Teatro Campesino, a farmworkers' performance group founded by the United Farm Workers. The satirical one-act play compares the faces of the Hispanic population through the use of the stereotypical characters -- Farmworker, Pachuco, Revolucionario and Mexican-American -- who are currently on sale at a "Used Mexican Lot."
Valdez introduces the first Mexican model, the Farmworker, as a potential purchase for Miss Jimenez, an Anglicized Hispanic woman who comes into Honest Sancho's Used Mexican Lot looking for a Mexican for Governor Reagan's administration. The secretary asks for a model that is dark but not too dark, suave and a hard worker. The Farmworker meets these requirements and is also hardworking, durable, friendly and economical. Ultimately, he is not purchased because he does not speak English. The character represents the stereotypes of the Mexican farmworker in the 1980s -- useful for agricultural work, with no English skills and a very obedient worker who asks for little in the way of payment or housing.
After Miss Jimenez finds the Farmworker less than suitable, she asks for an urban model and is presented with the Pachuco. This second model of a Mexican is streamlined, built for speed and walks with a Chicano shuffle. The Pachuco knife fights, dances, speaks English, including swear words, is economical, runs on alcohol and hamburgers, and can be beaten and bruised. Honest Sancho describes the Pachuco as the perfect scapegoat, which indicates Valdez's argument that Pachucos were generally stereotyped as thieves, arrested often and beaten by the Los Angeles Police Department. Analyst Jon D. Rossini describes the pachuco as a dangerous mythological figure, a belief that Valdez plays upon.
After the Pachuco is rejected, Honest Sancho presents Miss Jimenez with the Revolucionario, or as he describes him, the "Early California Bandit Type." The Revolucionario appears after the request for a more traditional, romantic model of Mexican. Honest Sancho plays upon the stereotypical image of Pancho Villa who "rides horses, stays in the mountains, ... leads revolutions." This model, according to the play, is the Mexican most popularly seen in movies. Valdez plays upon the stereotype of the Pancho Villa figure, describing this model as a rougher version of a Mexican who also has a very romantic side.
Miss Jimenez rejects the Revolucionario because she desires an American-made product, which brings Honest Sancho to the Mexican-American, who is bilingual, college-educated and clean. He is a more expensive model as he is made of two pachucos, a farmworker and three Americans. Miss Jimenez is horrified after her purchase, though, as the Mexican-American begins to talk about "taking up arms" and "killing white people." According to analyst Harry Justin Elam, the Mexican-American represents Valdez's idea that in order to assimilate into American culture, the Mexican had to give up part of his culture and is ultimately seen as a trouble-maker.
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