West Side Story Wiki
West Side Story Wiki

Anita (played by Rita Moreno)

(~Anita to the Jets after they harass her)

Anita (Rita Moreno), is a Puerto Rican immigrant. She is the girlfriend of Bernardo and a close friend and confidante to his sister Maria. Anita's character is based loosely on Juliet's Nurse in Shakespeare's Romeo & Juliet. The Nurse lived in the House of Capulet and was Juliet's maidservant and closest friend, and one of the few people who knew about Juliet's secret marriage to Romeo.

After the rumble, during which Bernardo is killed by Tony, Anita is in mourning and warns Maria to leave Tony and find someone else, preferably someone of her own race, but when Maria reminds Anita of her love for Bernardo and points out that when you're in love, right and wrong don't matter, Anita begins to understand Maria's situation. When Lieutenant Schrank arrives to question Maria about the flare-up at the dance, Maria sends Anita to Doc's to give Tony a message that she will be a little late in meeting him there, but when Anita arrives at Doc's, the other Jets (except for Ice, their new leader, who is not there) begin harassing her and come very close to raping her until Doc arrives and stops them. In anger, Anita states that Bernardo was right in hating them and, instead of relaying Maria's message, tells them to tell Tony that Chino shot and killed Maria when he found out about them; in so doing, Anita's action sets the final act of the tragedy into motion.