Zoot Suit - East Coast Armory

John Grima
 Created
in 1930’s
 Popular in the 1940’s
 Consists of tight wasted, baggy pegged
ended trousers, long coat with broad
shoulders, and a long watch chain.
 Popular amongst Latin, African, and
Italian Americans.
 An icon of the era, similar to the disco suit
of the 1970’s
 Cloth
was rationed for war effort
 Civilian clothes dimensions were
regulated by the government
 Zoot suits were made by underground
 Wearing a Zoot suit became a way to
protest the war regulations.
 Zoot suits became associated with Latin
American gangs, and crime by the media
 Negative
atmosphere in the California
area after the Sleepy Lagoon Murder
 In
1943 US servicemen in Los Angeles
rounded up anyone wearing a Zoot Suit,
beat them and throw them into jail
charging them for rioting and vagrancy.
 Southern
California August 1st 1942,
 After
two groups of Latino gangs fought
each other one night one group was
arrested the next morning for the murder of
José Díaz.
 No
evidence was found linking the
“Puchacos” to the murder.
 The “Puchacos” were
put on a monkey trail.
The Judge ordered the defendants not to be allowed to
shower, shave, or dress for the trail.
The prosecution used an unfounded, racist testimony stating
that the (Mexican) defenders are inherently violent due to
the Aztecs.
The Prosecution used false evidence, to link the murder to
the defendants.
The Youths were all convicted on murder charges.
In 1944 all of the convictions were reversed in appeal and
the youths were released after much activisim.
Written in 1979 by. Made into a film in 1981.
Play was the first Latin American play on Broadway.
Play changed the names of the Defendants. And revolves around Henry
Reyna (who gets convicted for the murder)
Henry Reyna was spending his last night of freedom before going into the
US Navy, when the murder took place.
Henry Reyna is followed by the character El Pachuco, who is a mythical
zoot suit wearing character.
In the play El Pachuco acts as the narrator, Chorus and Henry’s inner
thoughts. Henry is also the only character in the play that El Pachuco
speaks to.
In the play’s end you find out that Henry goes in and out of jail over the
years, gets addicted to heavy drugs, and dies in the 1970’s
is categorized as a Drama / tragedy
 The play follows climatic structure with a
clear rising action climax and falling
 Born
June 26, 1940 in California
 Father of Latino / Chicano
 Wrote
La bamba, Zoot Suit,
Chicanos Story,
Corridos: Tales of Passion & Revolution
"Valdez, Luis - Zoot Suit." Drama Criticism. Ed.
Lawrence J. Trudeau. Vol. 10. Gale Cengage, 1999.
eNotes.com. 2006. 9 Dec, 2010
Salamon, Julie. "Racism in a 1940's Riot Over Outlandish
Suits." The New York Times (2002). Print.
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