America (West Side Story)

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America (West Side Story)

Introduction
This document is the lyrics of the song America extracts from the movie West Side Story. This movie is a musical directed by Jerome Robbins and Robert Wise in 1961. It sets in NY in the 50’s. It deals with a confrontation between two rival gangs : the Jets (american) and the Sharks (Portorican). It also deals with a love story between Tony and Maria. Their love story is based on Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet as the two lovers belong to different groups. The song America was write by Stephen Sondheim and composed by Leonard Bernstein. During the scene, the portorican girls support the life in America whereas the portorican boys criticise it. To study this song, I’m going to present in a first part the life in Puerto Rico and then in a second part the life in the US. And to finish, in a third part, the boy’s intention.

I – The life in Puerto Rico (l.1 to l.7)
=> The climate : There are a lot of hurricanes which destroy the houses and the plantations. It is also very hot, so hot that it must be difficult to work. => The working conditions : In Puerto Rico, they are waiting for jobs. A lot of people are unemployed or even if they have a job, they are low-paid and they have to borrow (emprunter) money from the banks. They are exploited and indebted. => The birth rate : The birth rate is very high. The portoricans are Catholic and they don’t know anything about the birth control or the means of contraception. There are more and more mouths to feed and more and more unemployment. Consequently, they have to emigrate, mainly to the US, in order to have a better life. It was easy for them to get the American citizenship because Puerto Rico depended on the USA.

It is a negative image of Puerto Rico. Maria criticises it and yet she says “my heart’s devotion” (l.1) but she is ironical. She prefers the life in the US and doesn’t care if P.Rico disappears because she says “let it sink back in the ocean”.

II – The life in the...
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