The renowned play “West Side Story” gives its audience a clear lens into the cultural separations of 1950s American society.
This play also gives us a clear understanding of the differences between the idealistic and realistic expectations of the American Dream.
In the song entitled “America,” this clear distinction is made.
There is a clear contrast between the two trains of thoughts, where “everything is free in America, “ well only “for a small fee in American.”
They acknowledge that “buying on credit is so nice,” but then the men echo in reference to their Latino ethnicity and suggest, “one look at us and they charge twice.”
The following contrasting lines create additional controversial elements between what is actually truthful of the American Dream, and what the reality of racial prejudice in America.
I have my own washing machine. What will you have though to keep clean?
Skyscrapers bloom in America. Twelve in a room in America.
Lots of new housing with more space. Lots of doors slamming in our face.
I’ll get a terrace apartment. Better get rid of your accent.
Life can be bright in America. If you can fight in America
Life is all right in America If you’re all white in America
Despite the rhyming phrases, complimented by choreographed dancing, the lyrics prove to be quite profound and controversial. Despite the hope for a better life, one filled with hope and options, one must question if this opportunity if available to all, regardless of ethnicity.
Are you “free to be anything you choose?” or “free to wait tables and shine shoes?”