Zoot Suit

Zoot Suit Literary Elements




English and Spanish

Setting and Context

Los Angeles, during World War II

Narrator and Point of View

The primary narrator is El Pachuco, and the primary point of view is that of Henry Reyna.

Tone and Mood

Mythical, fantastical, political, tense, dramatic.

Protagonist and Antagonist

Protagonist is Henry Reyna, Antagonist is Rafas and the white authorities/cops

Major Conflict

The major conflict concerns Henry and the other members of the 38th Street Gang getting wrongfully imprisoned and sentenced to life imprisonment for murder. The sentencing is clearly motivated by racist logic, and the gang members must fight for their freedom with the help of some key activists.


The climax occurs when the gang members are released from prison.


Alice and Henry's affair is foreshadowed by her stating that she believes they will be great friends.


Henry and the other boys' feelings are often understated or covered up by a macho laissez-faire attitude.


Allusions to Chicano culture, popular culture (figures like Rita Hayworth and Cecil B. DeMille)


Much of the set is made out of newspaper; El Pachuco is stripped during the Zoot Suit riots.


The multiple endings present something of a paradox, as the audience doesn't get a clear perspective on what happens to Henry.


The characters Alice, Della, and Bertha parallel one another. El Pachuco and Henry are also aligned.


The Press itself is personified as an actor onstage and a chorus of voices at different times.

Use of Dramatic Devices

Direct address to the audience; multiple endings.