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Hugo Estrada

Mr. Cook
Honors ELA
1/23/15

Zoot Suit Slang


Peoples opinion of someone is often developed by different characteristics that
the other person posses. These characteristics can be based on the persons features,
such as their appearance or the actions that they do. These features develop the way
that people think about them. In Zoot Suit by Luis Valdez, Valdez develops the
characters in a negative way that makes other people have disreputable reactions
towards them, gives them a new identity and creates a connection with their style with
their use of slang during the writing.
The slang that the pachucos posses develop the reactions that people have
toward them because it sounds like an inferior, arrogant way of speaking. The reactions
that the Los Angeles authority constituents have towards the 38th are full of rancor.
They state that the Pachucos are criminals(62).While incarcerated for the accusations
that they have, Tommy realized that he has a meager vocabulary(68). This meager
vocabulary of theirs is typically heard within gangs, which are also seen as negative. To
the people, the believe they are scornful and should be put in the gas chamber where
they belong(62). All of these reactions about the characters develop the characters by
making them inferior.
The Chicano slang develops the characters by having pachucos lose their
identity and background. Most of the 38th street gang members come from a Mexican

family but they speak with a Calo accent. They do not speak the traditional way that
their parents and relatives speak, Como que pedo? Nel, Simon? Since when did we
stop speaking spanish in this house? Have you no respect?(36). Enrique does not see
the way that they are speaking as the spanish that he speaks. He believes that they are
showing a lack of respect towards their culture while adapting to a new culture. The lack
of respect in their slang develops them as disrespectful. On the other hand, the
pachucos do not feel the same way. Their view of this is that they are pachucos and that
is how they are. They have grown with this identity according to Tommy when he says,
I grew up right alongside these most of these batos, and im pachuco too. Simon, esa,
you better believe it!(68-69). Tommy along with the rest of the gang strongly believe
that they are pachucos.
The pachuco image and the pachuco slang connect to develop the negative
image that anglos and family members have towards pachucos. The image that the
press has towards pachucos is a person with thick heavy heads of hair, the duck tail
comb, the pachuco pants(53). They are trying to make the pachucos look like
mobsters(53). The descriptive image that the press has about pachucos can be
described as arrogant. Henry's father descrives their slang as something that is
disrespecting to their culture. Both the slang and the pachuco image are seen as
arrogant and develops the characters the same way.
All in all, the slang of the pachucos develop the pachuco characters as inferior
towards society and the negative image that they have against pachucos. Their beliefs
are that pachucos are scornful to society. Along with this, their family think that they
have lost their identity of where they come from.

Works Cited
Valdez, Luis. Zoot Suit. Zoot Suit and Other Plays.Houston: Arte Publico Press, 1992.
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