Analysis of Los Vendidos and Exploitation of Mexican-Americans
The short play Los Vendidos portrayed by el Teatro Campesino shows the history of Mexican-Americans. It shows racist perceptions and actions towards Mexican-Americans. The title itself implies the exploitation of Chicanos. In translation from Spanish "Vendidos" can mean either those who sell-out others, or those who are sold. In the play either meaning can be applied. Those who are sold would be the eleven different characters that Sancho describes. But, the "sell-out" could be Ms. Jimenez, a main character, who is the exemplary "white-washed" Mexican-American.
The Teatro Campesino was a theater group that originated on the picket-lines in Delano in 1965. They were improve actors who cleverly mocked the large business owners that were exploiting the invaluable Mexican-American labor force. In fact, they were such an important factor in the American economy that when the Mexican-American youth were so quickly drafted for the Vietnam War the business owners of the plantations where these youth had been working were resentful, "Local rural youths were being drafted so fast…that…owners of large farms and ranches…voiced stern protests with the local draft boards." ( Vargas, Zaragosa, Major Problems in Mexican American History. Houghton Mifflin Co., 1999. P 304)
The play takes into account the major personalities and characters of Mexican-Americans in history. The Mexican peon, farm worker, pachuco, vato, zoo-suiter, boxer, barrio family, militant student, Vietnam veteran, cowboy-type bandit, and the gringo or "white-washed" Mexican-American are major figures in American history. In the play these figures are "items to be sold." The selling of these figures shows the exploitation of Mexican-Americans in American history by those who believe Mexicans to be inferior to Anglos. The buying and selling of these people shows the perception of Mexican-Americans as property that can be abused and manipulated.
Ms. Jimenez is the "sell-out" or white-washed Mexican-American. This is displayed just as the play begins when she introduces herself. Sancho hears her say her name as "Ji-mi-nez" and realizes she is a Chicana. Excitedly, he starts to speak Spanish to her and pronounces her name in Spanish, "Hee-me-nez," stressing the second syllable. She corrects him saying that the Spanish pronunciation is not how her name is pronounced. She quickly makes it apparent that she does not speak Spanish and does not even want to be know as a Chicana. She rejects her own ethnicity, which is one example of how she is a "sell-out." In any instance of such widespread oppression there has always been people who attempt to hide or reject their own identity so that they might succeed or better survive in the environment of their oppressors. Many times the oppressed people are taught to feel shameful of their heritage because the racism is so ingrained in everyday life and culture. In 1924...