Racism In West Side Story

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The musical West Side Story is without a doubt one of the most popular and memorable musicals ever to be created. The makers of the musical include composer Leonard Bernstein, lyricist Stephen Sondheim and librettist Arthur Laurents. This musical is often analyzed for being based off of Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare, however there are other underlying themes that should be acknowledged as well. In particular there is a constant stream of racism seen throughout the play. From Lieutenant Schrank’s aggressively offensive remarks, to Anita’s flip-flopping mindset, and even in Tony and Maria’s love for one another, racism is a perpetual theme throughout the musical. The racism streamed in both directions and was the primary reason behind every problem, meeting, and encounter across the entire musical. The Jets and the Sharks, the two gangs fighting each other for territory on the street, are simply a backbone that helps to define society back then and how race was such a visible part of everyday life. Although the racism somewhat goes both ways, the Puerto Ricans are given the harder time, especially by the…show more content…
Anita from the start wanted to embrace America and the opportunity that it appeared to offer, however the social injustices only push her away from wanting and conforming the ‘American way’ due to the lack of respect and possibility. Anita even projects some racist tendencies towards the other side after Bernardo is murdered; she orders Maria to stay away from Tony, she says, “A boy like that who’d kill your brother; forget that boy and find another. One of your own kind, stick to your own kind, a boy like that will give you sorrow; you’ll meet another boy tomorrow.” The racism comes through on both sides of the equation and is a key reason as to why the gangs are so violent with one
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