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Word Count: 683
As long as love hatred and conflict remain in the world West Side Story will remain an important timeless and relevant work One of the largest and most culturally significant themes throughout the play is racismviolence This is expressed through the conflict between the sharks and jets which comes to symbolize the conflict between Puerto Ricans and poor whites in New York City during the 1950s and can be applied on a broader level to symbolize racial tension in generalThis theme is explored and explained in act one by the song America which exemplify and define the sharks and the jets and speak to the larger theme of racism in America To fully understand this central song it is important to examine the songs role in the play as a whole the structure and mechanics of the song and the effect that the song has on the rest of the musicalThe first real exposition of the Puerto Ricans and the Sharks is the song America Sung by Anita and Rosalia and featuring the shark girlfriend chorus this song explains the benefits and problems associated with America The song takes the form of a debate between Anita and Rosalia with Anita and later the chorus defending America and what it has to offer and Rosalia defending Puerto Rico Anita and Rosalias respective positions in the choral debate reveal much about their character and their debate has larger implications which help explain the sharks as a groupIn America Rosalia takes a critical view of America and American culture The song begins with Rosalias nostalgia for Puerto Rico the lovely island island of tropical breezes Throughout the entire piece Rosalia romanticizes Puerto Rico which on an explicit level indicates that she is unhappy with the decision to immigrate to the United StatesOn a more implicit level it reveals that Rosalia is a romantic who is driven by nostalgia When looking at Rosalias position in this song through a
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