West Side Story and Gender: What if Tony lived?

Instead of writing my 7-page paper due tomorrow on West Side Story and the youth's intersections of race, gender, class, and how all that contribute to nation-making, I'm taking a break from writing my outline to do some creative exercise for my brain.

There's a lot of gender going on in West Side Story. Anybodys is the tomboy who really really really wants to be in the Jets, but on multiple counts the boys dismiss her and ask her to conform to feminine standards of beauty. Anybodys even incessantly hangs around the Jets boys and imitate their masculine behavior, including spitting on the ground and insulting girls.

Then there is the divide between the Shark boys and girls. They all acknowledge the opportunities and luxuries that America accords them, but while the girls really enjoy the new found freedom with all the nice buildings, roads, glamorous lives in New York City, the boys lament that they are discriminated against in America and the girls are getting too out of hand with their freedoms that threaten male power and the traditional gender roles that they knew.

In the middle of this modern-day Romeo and Juliet is the star-crossed couple, Tony and Maria, whose love transcends the boundaries of race and cultural difference. Maria is a idealistic dreamer, and Tony also somewhat defies his group by being more ambitious and romantic. But my question is, what if Tony had lived? What if they do end up together? Would Tony treat Maria like the free girl that she wants to be? What if she wants a career? Would Tony insist that she become a housewife and take care of children? Is he that progressive?

Or maybe Maria just wants a happy life with Tony and is more than happy to stay home and take care of the kids. How would the society at large understand and interpret their mixed children?


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