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Ethnic Identity and the Pursuit of Happiness Ethnic identity is dynamic and adjusts to the institutional and structural forces of dominant society Ethnic identity may be based on a common language ritual or shared world views a historical consciousness of a sequence of events and struggles that reflect continuity from the past to the future a social awareness seeking communal or group acceptance a political voice In addition ones ethnic identity is how one regards oneself as well as how one is perceived by others In the short play Zoot Suit by Luis Valdez the search for ethnic identity by the main character Henry Reyna is made difficult through many different factors in society In addition his need and arrogance to fit into the social scene of the Chicano youth were reasons that blocked Henry of realizing his true self as Mexican in America rather than a foreigner in a strange land Torn between the two antagonists society and personal pride Henry is prime example of both the modern tragic hero and the classic tragic hero Trying to adjust and exist as figure that claims Mexican identity El Pachuco the ambiguous ghost-like character of Zoot Suit existed as the Best friend and worst Enemy the mentor and tormentor of Henry Reyna With the guidance of El Pachuco Henry was forced to face both enemies society and pride which had a strong hold on his well being and in the end to come out as potential candidate as any other American to live the American dream El Pachuco though not a tangible character in the play was a substantial figure in defining the dilemma of the main character Henry Reyna Most of the time he acted as Henrys alter ego often playing pivotal role in the final decision of Henrys actions El Pachuco who engaged himself in the task of guiding Henry towards the path of true Mexican identity provoked Henrys pride from time
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