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West Side Story

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1. Point out how the general setting of the play is established. Give at least two examples. The play West Side Story takes place in a suburb on the West Side of New York City. We can conclude that we are talking about a socially disadvantaged suburb as the surrounding area is described with high brick walls, not very attractive and by the presence of the two gangs - the Jets and the Sharks. We are also able to say in which time period the actions take place. As an indicator we are using the dance at the gym in Act I,Scene 4, where Tony and Maria first meet. At this dance everyone is dancing the jitterbug just as the jive. Both were popular during the 1940`s and 1950`s. We should also mention that it is summer. Otherwise typical autumn or winter weather would have been mentioned and/or the gangs possibly would not set the rumble outside. ( 139 ) 2. Outline the typical features of the society depicted. First we meet the Jets. ...read more.


( 302 ) 3. Examine the primary desires/hopes/agonies & terrors of one of the main characters and compare them with those of Gatsby. One of the protagonists of West Side Story is Tony. We learn that Tony is one of the founders of the Jets. No matter what he might have had in the gang in the past he left his "buddies" some time ago. What is important is that even though he no longer appears to be an active member of the Jets he still is accepted and - what is even more - respected by the other members. His presence is important for them at the dance, as well is his decision concerning the rumble. He left the gang because he is dreaming of something special, something he is not able to describe when talking to Riff in Act I, Scene 2. What is interesting to see is that he is not looking for wealth, not for material things. As soon as he gets to know Maria he seems to have found some part of what he is longing for. ...read more.


The ability to live in peace and harmony without being threatened should not be left out from this list. Tony and Maria are obviously not able to do so. Also when Anita enters the shop to leave a message for Tony is she treated with disrespect. This, as well as blaming Maria for not sticking "with her own kind" might lead to her telling a lie. One aspect going along with the preceding statements, being of great importance especially in this play, is the equality of all people living in the United States. In no part of the play do the different cultural groups seem to be equal unless in the end when Tony is killed. Only because of her hate does Maria give the impression of everyone in the scene being equal. In all other scenes everyone is treated according to their descent. The Jets are treated differently by the police and - as we are told within the society - as the Sharks are. ( 304 ) total amount of words: ( 1076 ) ...read more.

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