Unit 4: Emergence of Chican@s

Nonviolent Resistance by Judy Baca
“Nonviolent Resistance” by Judy Baca a panel from the “World Wall: A Vision of the Future Without Fear”


Beginning with the Sleepy Lagoon trial as depicted through Luis Valdez’s play Zoot Suit and Rudolfo “Corky” Gonzalez’s poem “I am Joaquin,” MEXICAN AMERICAN LITERATURE students will examine the inter- and intra-cultural conflicts which result as Mexican Americans assert and negotiate identity as common yet distinct from both Mexican nationals and European Americans.


Chican@, symbolism, theme, plot, protagonist, antagonist, internal/ external conflict, allusion, subversion, archetype, nepantla

Essential Questions:

1. What is IDENTITY and how is it shaped  by historical events during the 20th Century Civil Rights Movement?

2. How does IDENTITY shape perspectives of historical events and conflicts?

3. What was the influence of the Civil Rights movement on the emergence of Chican@ identity?

4. In what ways does symbolism in literature, art, and theater serve to understand the emergence of Chicano identity?

from the Great Wall by Judy Baca www.judybaca.com
from the Great Wall by Judy Baca www.judybaca.com


Objective 1: Historical Context

After completing CORNELL NOTES on video, “Zoot Suit Riots” students will be able to write a summary that identifies significant historical contexts and issues that inspired Luis Valdez’s play Zoot Suit.

I. Pre-Reading: Research Teams on Luis  Valdez, Teatro Campesino, and Zoot Suit Riots.

II. Reading: Complete Cornell Notes as you watch Zoot Suit Riots a documentary from PBS Series American Experience.

III.  Post Reading: Students will write a paragraph that describes the historical context of Luis Valdez’s play, Zoot Suit. 

Objective 2: Chican@ Identity in the Luis Valdez’s Zoot Suitzoot-suit1

After analyzing SYMBOLISM of the “pachuco” in Luis Valdez’s play Zoot Suit students will be able to identify themes about identity conveyed by internal and external conflicts of the play’s plot.

I. Pre-reading: “Zoot Suit” Notes, Teatro Campesino and Luis Valdez

II. Reading: Play and Analysis Map

III. Post-Reading: Students will write an essay which summarizes the play and analyzes the symbolic value of the play’s protagonist.

Objective 3: “Who is the Chicano” by Ruben Salazar

After close reading Ruben Salazar’s essay, ” Who is the Chicano and What does the Chicano Want?” students will be able to identify the author’s central claim, evidence, and purpose.

I.  Pre-Reading: Los Angeles Walk Out,  Background Notes

II.  Reading: “Who is the Chicano?” by Ruben Salazar


Corky GonzalesObjective 4: The Emergence of Chican@ Identity

After close reading Rudolfo “Corky” Gonzales’s poem “I am Joaquin” and Gloria Anzaldua’s “La Consciencia de la Mestiza: Toward a New Mestiza Consciousness”,  students will be able to analyze the use of historical allusions and symbols to convey themes about identity.

I.  Pre-Reading: Notes

II.  Reading: “I am Joaquin”, Film, “La Conciencia de la Mesitiza Towards a New Consciousness” by Gloria Anzaldua

III.  Post Reading: Says Means Matters