Study Guide

West Side Story Love

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TONY AND MARIA: Today, the world was just an address A place for me to live in, no better than all right. But here you are And what was just a world is a star!

These two sing about the sun and stars a lot when professing their love. It's a beautiful image: stars that shine forever, wishing on a star, all that super romantic stuff. But it's also a great way to reference Romeo and Juliet, whom Shakespeare called "star-cross'd lovers," stars in this case being what decided people's fates. Romeo promised to "defy thee stars!" and Juliet at her balcony is actively compared to the sun. If you're going for an adaptation, adapt the best.

MARIA: I feel pretty, oh so pretty! I feel pretty, and witty, and gay!

Here's Maria, beaming from ear to ear and so fantastically happy she's in love that her feet practically leave the floor. If you remember your first crush, you know that buzzy feeling: you're walking around in a daze and the the whole world is just wonderful and your friends are looking at you like you're nuts.

TONY: Tonight, tonight
Won't be just any night
Tonight there will be no morning star.
Tonight, tonight
I'll see my love tonight,
And for us, stars will stop
Where they are.

Tony's talking about halting time and making the night last forever. It's another great description of infatuation—the world falls away and it's just you and your sweetie.

TONY: Maria!
I've just met a girl named Maria,
And suddenly that name
Will never be the same
To me.
I've just kissed a girl named Maria,
And suddenly I've found
How wonderful a sound
Can be!
Say it loud and there's music playing,
Say it soft and it's almost like praying.

This is love in its first bloom. He talks about her name like it's something he'd never heard before, and is now just the most wonderful thing in the whole wide world. That's what young love feels like.

BERNARDO: Everywhere grime in America,
Organized crime in America,
Terrible time in America.

ANITA: You forget I'm in America!

"America" turns into a feisty give-and-take between the guys and the gals. Anita loves life in the U.S. Bernardo doesn't, but you come away with the real sense that these two are going to have epic, earth-shattering nookie when this little number is over.

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

Never forget that Anita loves Bernardo almost as much as Tony and Maria love each other. That sends her into very, very dark places once her true love dies. Her love is a little, let's say…more "mature" than Maria's.

TONY AND MARIA: There's a place for us,
A time a place for us.
Hold my hand and we're halfway there.
Hold my hand and I'll take you there

These two are engaged in magical thinking: their love for each other feels strong enough to make miracles happen. It's a beautiful thought, but there's a real feeling of hopelessness to these lyrics once you've seen the movie more than once (or twenty times, as the case may be).

MARIA: It isn't true, not for me,
It's true for you, not for me,
I hear your words,
And in my head
I know they're smart
But my heart, Anita,
But my heart
Knows they're wrong.

Is love rational? In a head vs. heart smackdown, the heart wins this round hands down.

TONY: I'm gonna see her tomorrow an' I can't wait!

DOC: Tony... things aren't tough enough?

TONY: Tough? Doc, I'm in love!

It's the heart for the win again. Doc thinks Tony's being a fool for love, ignoring all the trouble it will get him into. He turns out to be right, but Tony feels no need to explain; he's in love, and that will take care of everything.

MARIA: Hold my hand and we're halfway there.

MARIA AND TONY: Hold my hand and I'll take you there,
Somehow . . .
MARIA: Some day, some—

The song pretty much ends here, without that last word "somewhere" being delivered as the last words Tony hears. That's not an accident: these kids won't get a somewhere. But because she loves him, Maria has to keep that hope alive for him until his last breath.

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