Zoot Suit

Zoot Suit Quotes and Analysis

“Forget about the war oversees. Your war is on the home front”

El Pachuco

After Henry ends up in the prison, he hears a voice talking to him—the voice of El Pachuco. Henry tries to reason with the voice, to convince the voice it is worth fighting for his own country, as he just enlisted in the Navy. El Pachuco assures him that there is a war to be fought in America, referring to the case that Henry is wrapped up in.

“Because everyone knows that Mexicans, Filipinos and Blacks belong to the huarache… the straw hat and the dirty overall.”

El Pachuco

During a conversation between the press and El Pachuco, the press blames the Mexicans for trying to appear classy and well-dressed by wearing their zoot suits. The press claims that the Mexican community is trying to outdo the white man through the clothes they are wearing, and El Pachuco points out how this is difficult for the white community to accept since they would like to keep the Mexicans and other racial groups oppressed. In this moment, El Pachuco speaks truth to power.

“Only this reality is real now, only this place is real, sitting in the lonely cell of your will...”

El Pachuco

During the time Henry is kept in his cell, he takes the time to think about his life and to meditate on the way in which society treats him. During this time, his only companion is El Pachuco, talking to him from a distance. El Pachuco urges Henry to look within for strength and really consider his plight carefully and thoughtfully.

"Aside from your parents, I've been called into this case by a citizens' committee that's forming on your behalf, Henry. In spite of evidence to the contrary, there are some people out there who don't want to see you get the shaft."


George Shearer, the lawyer who is taking on Henry and the boys' case, explains that there is a committee that has formed and hired him to work on the gang members' case. He suggests that, even though it seems like everyone is against them, there is actually a group of people that wants to help them.

"Are you aware you're in here just because some bigshot up in San Simeon wants to sell more papers? It's true."

Alice Bloomfield

Alice, the leftist reporter, tells George that the reason he is in jail is because a newspaperman wants to sell more papers and he thinks he can do so if he writes about a Mexican Crime Wave. She outlines the fact that there are ulterior motives at play in his imprisonment.

"The Pachuco Style was an act in Life

and his language a new creation,

His will to be was an awesome force

eluding all documentation..."

El Pachuco

El Pachuco says this when he is first addressing the audience. He introduces himself in verse, outlining what exactly it means to be a "pachuco." A pachuco is the manifestation of all the forces of nature, an almost otherworldly identity that is made out of the very fabric of life itself.

"Don't give me that bullshit. Either I kill him or he kills me."


When Henry gets in a fight with Rafas and holds a knife to his throat, El Pachuco tells him that everyone is looking at him and that he is risking the reputation of Mexicans everywhere. Henry looks out at the audience and says this line, breaking the fourth wall and implicating the audience in his decision of whether or not to kill his rival.

"I'll go to hell with you if you want me to."


Della, Henry's girlfriend, says this to Henry in a flashback to their night at Sleepy Lagoon. It shows her devotion to him.

"Oh, Hank. All the love and hate it's taken to get us together in this lousy prison room. Do you realize only Hitler and the Second World War could have accomplished that? I don't know whether to laugh or cry."


Alice says this to Henry when she visits him after he has been in solitary confinement. He suggests that he is attracted to her, and she gets upset with him, telling him how committed she is to her activism. In this moment, she becomes very emotional, and begins to give in to her own attraction to Henry.

"Henry Reyna...El Pachuco...The man...the myth...still lives."

El Pachuco

El Pachuco says this at the very end of the play. After a number of different fates have been suggested by the characters for Henry, El Pachuco suggests that Henry turns into a kind of mythic figure that lives forever. The play ends with El Pachuco invoking an image of Henry as a mystical entity, a representation of the Chicano identity more broadly.