Study Guide

West Side Story Anita (Rita Moreno)

Anita (Rita Moreno)

If Maria succeeds in fighting back the forces of hate, Anita can't quite manage it. She loves Bernardo as much as Maria loves Tony, and her desire is just as strong as Maria's. But it hasn't sprung up overnight. She and Bernardo have been together for quite a while, and their passion has only grown. She's a sultry young woman, and he's all she can think about. Listen to her singing while getting dressed just before the rumble, when things are getting heavy.

ANITA: Anita's gonna get her kicks
Tonight.
We'll have our private little mix
Tonight.
He'll walk in hot and tired,
Poor dear.
Don't matter if he's tired,
As long as he's here
Tonight!

Girl wants it bad.

Fun fact: The stage version had this lyric, which was cleaned up a bit for the film:

ANITA: He'll walk in hot and tired,
So what?
Don't matter if he's tired
As long as he's hot.

Hear Me Roar

Even though Bernardo's the leader of the Sharks, and Anita adores him, she's no submissive gangster's moll. She feels free to tease Bernardo about his constant complaining about America: she knows every word by heart:

ANITA: Here comes the whole commercial.
(imitating Bernardo) Your mother's a Pole.
Your father's a Swede.
But you were born here.
That's all that you need.
You are an American. But us?
Foreigners! Lice! Cockroaches!

BERNARDO: But it's true!

[…]

ANITA: Sometimes I don't which is thicker—your skull or your accent!

Anita isn't into Bernardo's "us vs. them" approach to life. She even defends Tony:

BERNARDO: They use Maria for an excuse to start World War III. It is more than that.

ANITA: More than what? She was only dancing.

BERNARDO: With an American, who is really a Polack. 

ANITA: Says the spic.

BERNARDO: You are not so cute.

ANITA: That Tony is…and he works! 

BERNARDO: A delivery boy.

ANITA: And what are you?

Everything changes after Bernardo dies. She's ready for revenge, but Maria's pleas move her to sympathy. She agrees to deliver a message to Tony that Maria will meet him later at Doc's. But that sympathy evaporates when the try to rape her as she tries to deliver her message. Furious, she tells them instead to tell Tony that Maria is dead. This lie ends up getting Tony killed.

ANITA: Don't you touch me! I got a message for your American buddy. You tell that murderer that Maria's never going to meet him. You tell him that Chino found out about them and shot her. She's dead. 

Unlike Anita, Maria doesn't actually pull the trigger to spread the hate and vengeance, even though she's grieving just as bad. That makes Anita a nice contrast to our heroine: showing what horrible things she could have done and chose not to. Anita, on the other hand, has to share some of the responsibility for what happened. She started out completely out of it, but in the end, there's blood on her hands too.

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