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Jan. 20th, 2019

Ever since I read that Kushner and Spielberg were using Arthur Laurents' original book as inspiration for the upcoming remake, I've been taking a closer look at it.
And I have some thoughts.

Although the 1961 film and current theatrical productions are quite similar to the original book there are some interesting tidbits, especially about the families of both Maria and Tony.

If you recall that after the rumble Chino goes to find Maria and asks her where her family is. She replies that they are at the store which, one would assume, means that they are shopping. But, in fact, they are the successful owners of a bodega, a small Latin grocery store. So successful that in the original book Action complains that they have driven his own family store out of business and A-rab, in retaliation, is beaten up in the Prologue because he threw a stink bomb in the bodega. As a traditional Latin family of that time they would be grooming Bernardo to take over the family business and that brings us to Chino and Maria.

Chino is described as being an "assistant" and he appears to be the only Shark with a job. Maria has been brought over specifically to marry Chino which, I believe, implies that Bernardo and Chino have been chosen to run the bodega and Maria will fulfill her traditional role of cooking, cleaning and raising children. I would also imagine that the wedding of Chino and Maria was to be in the very near future since Maria, who in the production, has her own room and tenement apartments have only two bedrooms - she's currently using Bernardo's bedroom.

Laurents also provides some information on Tony's family. In the film and current productions we only know that Tony's mother lives in the kitchen and is overweight. But in the original book we learn that his mother was born in Poland, which begs the question if that household is bilingual as are many homes with a foreign born parent.
We also learn that his father is attending night school to improve the family situation. Like Maria's family apartment Tony's apartment would have two bedrooms so that Tony and Riff would be sharing the other bedroom. They lived together like brothers as Tony tells Maria after the rumble.

Whether or not we get a glimpse of family life in the upcoming version remains to be seen but it would be nice if the parents no longer remained a cypher.

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