Tony is something of a romantic idealist who admits that “introspecting was hard” – implying that he is an extrovert, prone to acting rather than pondering his reasons for doing so. He’s something of a dreamer and a romantic, singing about how sure he is that something good is coming, he can feel it just around the corner. When he meets Maria and falls in love with her, he immediately knows that he adores her, and they sing together the next day about running away, getting married, and their lives together. He naively assumes he can create peace between the Sharks and the Jets, and that will change everything and allow him and Maria to be together. He also believes in following his heart—right into whatever he sees that is attracting him. If he meets Maria at a dance, and wants to be with her, he sees no reason why they should hesitate. He doesn’t see how he should abide by the communal standards of the time – if he feels love for Maria, why should he let the Jets’ racial prejudices stop him? What has their fight go to do with him? Yet, he also feels he should stop them from violence, because it’s the wrong thing to do; he almost beat a boy to death in a blind rage, went to prison, and spent time introspecting about what he wanted for his life and who it made him. Though a romantic, he is also prone to bursts of violence; he winds up killing Bernardo in a rage after Bernardo accidentally knives Riff. Then he goes running off to Maria, where they have a fight and then sleep together, and intend to run away together. Tony really doesn’t have a rational bone in his body; he just acts on whatever he feels in the moment, although he does acknowledge that they can’t stay in New York after what he’s done, because both sides would be after him. When he hears Maria has been killed (a lie), he believes it and wants to die. Unlike his cousin, he’s not trying to keep things stable, and doesn’t care much about how things used to be; Tony wants to think about his future, make a fresh start, and doesn’t mind the thought of leaving everything he knows if he can be with Maria.

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Tony is far more open-minded and tolerant than his cousin or the Jets; he does not see the point in fighting, and tries to peacefully negotiate with people to bring them to a consensus and get them to calm down. Unfortunately, nobody wants to listen to him, because nobody wants peace—they want “war.” Tony follows his instincts and goes after Maria, because he feels an instant connection to her; he lacks all of her doubts and questioning, because he thinks just feeling a certain way is a good enough reason to be together. He is very hard on himself for having hurt people in the past, and wants to avoid doing that again—but gets talked into things by Riff, out of a desire to please him… like going to the dance. Or going to the fight and convincing them to stop. Tony also flies into blind rages in which he acts without thinking, including the time he beat a boy almost to death, and when he kills Bernardo – he doesn’t stop to think about what will happen next, he just picks up the knife and uses it.

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