The Other Wes Moore
The Other Wes Moore Essay (Critical Writing)
The Other Wes Moore is a 248-book written by Wes Moore in 2010 and published by Spiegel and Grau. While in his final year at university and after being given a Rhodes Scholar award, Moore learns of another man with whom he shares a name from the newspapers (Moore, para. 1). The man is on his way to prison accused of murdering a police officer.
Moore learns that he shares a great deal with the suspect and not just a name: they are from the same neighborhood, were born almost in the same year, lost their fathers during their childhood and were raised by their mothers, however, their later lives differed immensely.
The Other Wes Moore looks at why the lives of the two men who shared a common background ended so differently. How did Wes Moore end up in the army, speak at the 2008 National Convention, and get employed by Condoleeza Rice while the other Wes Moore was serving time in prison. How did one man achieve so much in life while the other is simply known as the ‘Other’ Wes Moore?
Why the Immense Difference
At first glance, The Other Wes Moore looks interesting as the author discovers the odd coincidences between him and the man who is charged with shooting and killing a police officer. These coincidences make Wes Moore wonder how he had evaded the destiny of the other Wes Moore, even though their background was very identical. In a way, the author narrates an “It could have been me” situation.
This interesting introduction would have perhaps prepared the reader for an interesting read, however, Moore opts to examine his life in parallel with that of the other Wes Moore in an attempt to establish where, and most significantly, why, there lives ended up so differently. This comparison makes the book an important read as it brings up a very critical question: What makes many young men, especially black, poor young men from single parent families, take up drug trade as a source of livelihood while knowing the risk that comes with it.
Going through the pages, it is evident that Moore does not have an answer to that question, he writes, “What made the difference?…The truth is that I don’t know” (Moore, pp. 76). He can only point out to the similarity to the background of the two men, and leaves the final decision to the reader.
The Source of all the Differences
Although he does not categorically state it, it is evident from Moore’s account of the two lives that the main point of divergence between him and the second Moore is in the way they were brought up by their mothers, and their mother’s own lives. Moore’s mother was brought up by college-educated parents , and she worked hard to create her own success and that of her family.
She moved several times in the struggle to find suitable place where her children would grow up in some degree of comfort, and she worked in many jobs so that her children would have decent education. When she realizes that Moore is on the brink of joining the criminal lifestyle, she sacrifices emotionally and economically and enrolls him in a military school.
In short, she simply refused to yield to the harsh conditions that often encircled them. On the contrary, the second Wes Moore’s mother attempted to fight off the harsh conditions and temptations, but ultimately gave up the struggle. She often leaves Moore behind as she goes to night outs. She quits college after losing her scholarship. Differences at home are squared with beatings. Moore’s older brother gets into the drug business, and soon all three of them are in it: mother and her two sons.
A Similar Background?
Moore’s argument that he had a similar background with the other Moore is simply unbelievable, and is plainly evident from the first chapter, where we observe the cast differences between in their upbringing. It is easy to understand why the two lives ended up very differently- the Johns Hopkins graduate was born into a loving, closely-knit family with two college-educated parents.
Although his father dies while he was young, the family remained intact and he received immense emotional and financial support from a number of relatives. This is in deep contrast with the second Wes Moore, who is born to a single mother and whose father does not care of him at all.
The two Moores are simply worlds apart but the author does not acknowledge this, maybe he does not comprehend this. Although he admits that having an adult who is invested in your welfare is vital to a child’s healthy development, he does not relate this to his own upbringing and that the second Moore. He had a supportive mother uncle, grandfather and a strong-willed mother while the other Moore was left unattended by his mother from age 8 while his older brother engaged led a criminal lifestyle.
Coming to the end of the book, The Other Wes Moore looks more like a vanity project for the author. The segments on his own life receive more coverage at the expense of that of the second Moore. In the epilogue, Moore dedicates several pages just listing his achievements in life- these are not related to the main topic of the book (why the two men’s lives ended up so differently), neither are they evaluated in any way to increase the readers understanding of the book’s theme- it is simply a listing of the things he has done or accomplished.
The author writes that he “searched for ways to fill that hole, sometimes in places I shouldn’t have looked. I made some tremendous mistakes along the way” (Moore, pp. 168), however, the readers never gets to know of those mistakes while the second Moore’s mistakes are laid bare.
The book also seems to give the author a platform to prove his poor background. He seems frantic to attest to his poor and disadvantaged upbringing- that is contrasted by the fact that he and his brothers attended an expensive private school. This is misleading. His claim that they had run-ins with the law ignores the type and severity of the offenses: the author was scolded by a police officer for spraying a building while the second Moore was arrested for intimidating another child with a knife.
The Other Wes Moore exposes the effect of fatherlessness in the upbringing and fate of children. Both men lost their fathers and were brought up by their mothers in single families, this background greatly affected their future life: one ends up as a university graduate and a Rhodes Scholar while the second is charged with the murder of a policeman.
Although the author tries to argue that they had a similar background, this assertion is misleading: the two men’s early lives were worlds apart. The author also fails in his attempts to prove his poor and disadvantaged background, which is negated by several factors that he seems to ignore. Rather than give the topic a fair outlook, his writing appears biased, focusing on his own strengths and the second Moore’s weaknesses.
Moore, Wes. One Name, Two Fates. 2011. Web. Web.
Moore, Wes. The Other Wes Moore. NY: Spiegel and Grau, 2010
The Concept of Identity in The other Wes Moore by Wes Moore Essay
A 2010 nonfiction bestseller The Other Wes Moore: One name, two fates, depicts the true story of two namesakes from Baltimore. The two main characters with identical names pursue very different life paths, which are significantly influenced by their background and upbringing. In such a manner, Wes Moore contends that “public servants – the teachers, mentors, and volunteers who work with our youth – are as imperative to our national standing and survival as are our armed forces” (Plain Talk about Literacy and Learning, 2017, p. 31). By comparing and contrasting their lives, the author addresses the issues of destiny, exploited opportunities, and life choices and thus provides a profound contemplation upon the concept of identity in American society.
The other Wes Moore chronicles the life stories of two African American boys – Wes Moore, The Author, and The Other Wes Moore. The author depicts their life scenarios, which have very much in common, “I was surprised to find just how much we did have in common, aside from our names, and how much our narratives intersected before they faithfully diverged” (Moore, 2010, p. xiii). Both characters “grew up not far from each other but whose path in life differed dramatically” (Strom, 2016, p. 37). Both of them faced racism at some points in their lives. Hence, this is a coming-of-age novel, featuring how these characters with similar backgrounds ended up with very different lives, “One of us is free and has experienced things that he never even to dream about as a kid. The other will spend every day until his death behind bars…” (Moore, 2010, p. xii). As a result, Wes Moore, The Author, is a successful author and a Rhodes Scholar, whereas the Other Wes Moore is a life-sentence prisoner.
The author’s father died as a very young man, and his mother worked hard to provide her son with education at a private school. However, the teenage author did not succeed at school. Instead, he kept company with street gangs and even got a warning from the police. The author’s mother realized that he had troubles at school and continued to communicate with drug dealers and thieves. He “had forgotten how to act naturally, thinking way too much in each situation and getting tangled in the contradictions between my two worlds” (Moore, 2010, p. 54). Therefore, she decided to send him to a military school. It was a difficult change in the author’s life since he had to get used to strict regulations and to live away from home. However, he gradually began to appreciate the benefits of this education and realized that: “the journey I took was never mine alone” (Moore, 2010, p. 171). In other words, he understood that military services provided him with support and reliable friends, and it eventually had a beneficial effect on his subsequent life. The protagonist continued to pursue a military career, having achieved considerable success in politics.
The Other Wes Moore was also raised in Baltimore by a single mother. His father had abandoned the family, and his half-brother Tony was involved in selling drugs. The Other Wes struggled to escape the criminal path. In fact, his brother Tony tried to persuade Wes that his criminal future was not predestined: “If you won’t listen, that’s on you. You have the potential to do so much more; go so much further” (Moore, 2010, p. 71-72). However, the Other Wes eventually received a life sentence for first-degree murder. In this context, the author asks a range of existential questions: “Who is to blame for this? Tony, the neighborhood, the school system, Wes’s friends?” (Moore, 2010, p. 75). Thus, the two characters ended up with very different lives, in spite of very similar backgrounds and circumstances.
Moore raises a range of important issues, in particular, the role of upbringing in a person’s life. As a matter of fact, the author’s mother had a significant impact on his life, and her efforts to provide him with a decent education made an essential contribution in his development as a child and a teenager. Indeed, the author’s mother sincerely believed in his potential, which eventually encouraged his academic progress, since “supportive relationships are critical for the positive development of youth at risk” (Johnston, & Onofre, 2017, p.130). Meanwhile, the Other Wes’s mother gave up and lost hope in her son’s future. As a result, this attitude directly influenced his life because “The expectations that others place on us form our expectations of ourselves” (Moore, 2010, p. 126). Instead, Wes’s delinquent brother Tony served as a role model for him, and “Wes wanted to be just like Tony. Tony wanted Wes to be nothing like him” (Moore, 2010, p. 72). Thus, a person’s family background and upbringing are essential vehicles in his/her life.
The effect of life choices is another significant aspect of the development of both characters. Hence, the author admitted that both Weses had encountered chances that could have drastically changed their lives: “From everything you told me, both of us did some pretty wrong stuff when we were younger. And both of us had second chances” (Moore, 2010, p. 66). At some point, the author managed to abandon the criminal path, whereas the Other Wes failed to escape it. Indeed, the two characters could have easily interchanged their life scenarios because “The chilling truth is that his story could have been mine. The tragedy is that my story could have been his” (Moore, 2010, p. 180). Hence, learning another person’s history helped the author to comprehend his own life path as “Learning the details of his story helped me understand my own life and choices…” (Moore, 2010, p. xiii). In such a manner, the author emphasized that a person’s destiny was basically a construct of his/her life choices.
Yet there are two deeper messages in The other Wes Moore. The first one is the author’s appeal to parents, youth practitioners, and educators who have a paramount role in a person’s development. The second one is the idea that each person bears responsibility for his/her life choices, and, therefore, it is necessary to carefully consider one’s steps, since “it’s hard sometimes to distinguish between second chances and last chances” (Moore, 2010, p. 67). Hence, the author of The Other Wes Moore extensively contemplates the concept of identity by addressing the American society in general and each person in particular.
Thus, a person’s identity in The other Wes Moore is the result of the collective influences from one’s family and mentors, as well as one’s own decisions. That is why the two Weses had such different lives in spite of their similar background and identical names. In other words, a person’s upbringing and life choices eventually constitute his/her identity, which is a key message of Moore’s novel.
Johnston, G. D., & Onofre, A. L. (2017). Book review: The other Wes Moore: One name, two fates. National Youth-At-Risk Journal, 2(2), 128-131.
Moore, W. (2010). The other Wes Moore: One name, two fates. New York: Random House Publishing Group.
Plain talk about literacy and learning (2017). Metairie, LA: The Center for Development & Learning.
Strom, B. (2016). Using service learning to teach The other Wes Moore: The importance of teaching nonfiction as critical literacy. English Journal, 105(4), 37-42.
The Other Wes Moore Essay (Book Review)
The story The Other Wes Moore: One Name ,Two Fates is one of the modern bestsellers and the most interesting stories. While reading the story we are following the life paths of two individual persons who seem to have only one thing in common: the name. However, later it becomes obvious that although their lives are different, there are a lot of parallels in their fates. The story is written by Wes Moore who tells us his real-life story of getting acquainted with a man with the same name.
The Analysis of the Plot
Wes Moore, the author of the story, met his hewing accidentally. However, this accident changed a lot in his life. First of all, it has made him think about his life encouraging him finding out which factors from his past have influenced his life path and have made him of who he is nowadays.
Wes Moore, his hewing, is the person who lived in the same neighborhood as the author of the story, he went the same school, and it can be said that he experienced all the life troubles on the path of the formation of his personality as the author did. However, some factors had played their roles making their fates so different.
The influence of parents was one of the factors. Although the author of the story experienced hard way of growing up living in Bronx, the inner intelligence of his mother helped him to choose the right path in life. He says that “when my mom first landed in the Bronx, she was just a small child, but she was a survivor and learned quickly” (Moore 8). His mother managed to become integrated into the lifestyle of Americans. Undoubtedly, her education and the way of children rising made a great contribution to the future destiny of her son.
The other Wes Moore did not have the support of relatives. He was actually on his own in the life battle. This made him embittered. However, not only social isolation and the lack of help were the roots of his misfortunes but also the absence of the guide for the right path in life.
The author summarizes the message of his book by the words of Samuel Beckett who said, “Try again. Fail again. Fail better” (Moore 185). These words represent the guide which the other Wes Moore did not obtain in his childhood and teenage. The author thinks that these words represent “the ebb and flow of life itself” (Moore 185). He says,
“Failing doesn’t make us a failure. But not trying to do better, to be better, does make us fools” (Moore 185).
In my opinion, the book should be read by teenagers because they are in the age when they have to choose the right path in life and make their choice consciously. As the resident of New York City, I know how different this city is and I can imagine how difficult it is to choose the right path and to become the architect of your own fortune when you live in the unfortunate neighborhood. The message which Wes Moore gives to us in his book represents the right model for life.
In summary, The Other Wes Moore: One Name ,Two Fates is a very interesting story which I will advice to read everyone. The plot of the book makes it clear how important the help of others is for our well-being and, what is more important, how important it is to be a strong-willed personality being able to overcome the life failures.
Moore, Wes. The Other Wes Moore: One Name ,Two Fates, New York: Random House Publishing Group, 2010. Print.
The Impact of Family Influences
Both Wes Moores were given opportunities at one point in the book, but the author Wes took full advantage of his positive opportunities and his exposure to education. The other Wes wasted opportunities and is sitting in a prison cell right now, partly because of his brother Tony’s influence. The other Wes has negative family influences that pushed him in the opposite direction. Positive opportunities family members provided them exposed the differences between the author Wes and the other Wes Moore.
Family is a big contributor to opportunity in the Author Wes Moore says, about people leading him in the right direction “…I found myself surrounded by people–starting with my mom, grandparents, uncles, and aunts, and leading to a string of wonderful role models and mentors–who kept pushing me […] to see the boundless possibilities of the wider world and the unexplored possibilities within myself.” The author Wes Moore has a strong support system from his family giving him more opportunities leading to his success. According to the book Growing Up In Poverty: Findings From Young Lives, “Cognitive achievement is further related to parental education, and in three of the countries to maternal psychosocial ‘skills.” The author Wes had a mother who had opportunities for higher education and it gave opportunities. The other Wes Moore lacked this support.
Family context and background influences the author Wes says, “We make decisions based on what we see in that limited world and follow the only models available.” This explains how family helped him choose to take advantage of his opportunities. When the author Wes Moore decides to not play basketball in college, he made that decision based on the influence of his uncle. He had two opportunities at the time, but choosing education had a more positive outcome. According to Growing Up In Poverty: Findings From Young Lives, “Beyond outcomes such as educational achievement, recently there has been conceptual discussion and empirical research on the social opportunities children have and how these are related to their individual and family backgrounds.” His uncle trying to push him towards the education caused author Wes to gain more opportunities and skills. The other Wes lacked any type of role model or anyone pushing him in the right direction; led him into a world with fewer opportunities and even danger. The other Wes did not have social skills whenever the boy punched him because he automatically went and got a weapon. Whenever author Wes was in the situation with the people throwing rocks at him, he handled it in a poise and calm way. Having these social skills gave the author Wes gave him an advantage.
Believing you are a product of your environment diminishes hope and opportunities of mental growth. The other Wes buys into his belief that he is a product of his environment. When other Wes was talking to author Wes in the prison he said, “From everything you told me, both of us did some pretty wrong stuff when we were younger. And both of us had second chances. But if the situation or the context where you make the decisions don’t change, then second chances don’t meant too much, huh?” The other Wes is a product of his environment and did not have much support compared to the author Wes meaning he had fewer opportunities. He is saying even if he made a different choice the other Wes still could not have received a different outcome. In the book Growing Up In Poverty: Findings From Young Lives, For children growing up in poverty, “Children’s life chances in education, health, and well-being are closely bound up with, and shaped by, the situation of their households, and their socio-cultural environment, as well as the unequal distribution of power, wealth, and opportunities in societies.” The other Wes had gone through so much adversity his choices were defined on him knowing nothing good was coming out of his decisions anyway. When the other Wes has opportunities presented to him he believed his decisions would not change his current circumstance.
There were Educational opportunities presented to the parents as well. When the other Wes Moores mother lost her opportunity to go to college “Mary realized the letter effectively closed the door on her college aspirations. She had already completed sixteen hours of college credits and would get no closer toward graduation.” It was an opportunity that was taken from her to finish her education. So, the other Wes didn’t finish high school because his mother quit college. This was another opportunity the other Wes wasted because of his lack of support. Since he did not have anyone to look up to, he started wasting his education opportunities. Constantly going in and out of jail, the other Wes never finished high school. In Growing Up In Poverty: Finding From Young Lives, we ?nd evidence that both parental SES and the mother’s psychosocial skills are positively associated with children’s cognitive and psychosocial skills across all countries, and that the mother’s psychosocial skills can partly explain the link between parental SES and the child’s psychosocial skills.” If his mother didn’t quit school and found another way to pay for it, the other Wes would have had a role model to look up to, and he would have had more opportunities given to him like the Author Wes Moore did. The successful author Wes Moore was given more possibilities than the other Wes because Wes’ family mainly, his mother, was naturally a big contributor to his opportunities. His mother gave him a better education by sending author Wes to private school. She may have known to do this based on her having completed her own education. His uncle told him to focus more on education than basketball. Wes’ mother made the best choice by sending him to military school instilling discipline and hard work into him.
Both of the Wes Moores had opportunities, but one had role models and family to support and mold his decision making. In order for the other Wes not to waste opportunities he would have to see people doing the right things like the author did so he could know what was right and wrong. The other Wes wasted opportunities, not only because he is a product of his environment, but he had nobody to see doing the right things. If his brother Tony wasn’t a hypocrite and sold drugs telling his brother not to sell them. Tony doing the opposite of what he was preaching to his brother, the other Wes sold drugs anyway. The author Wes has so much support from his family and friends they steered in him not only the direction of success, but in every opportunity to get the right outcome.
The Other Wes Moore, by Wes Moore, Book Review
The Other Wes Moore is a non-fiction story that chronicles the lives of two young African-American men that share the same name: Wes Moore. The story compares and contrasts the lives and decisions of the two men and brings to light the social factors that drove them to have completely different lives. The book begs the question: Are people products of their environment, or do they make their own paths? Race, religion and relationships each have a tremendous impact of the paths of each of the men.
These factors change the circumstances of the men’s lives and lead to forks in the road, where a decision must be made; in turn, these decisions piece together to create a lives that lead to opposite ends of the spectrum of success. The race, religion and relationships in each of the men’s lives began nearly identical, but the way that they were handled ultimately decided the outcome of the two lives.
I will use the name ‘Moore’ to describe the author and the name ‘Wes’ to describe the other Wes Moore in the story.
The two men come from a very similar beginning. Each of them was born in Baltimore, Maryland, each grew up without a father, each grew up as a black man, and the two men were the same age. The book was comprised of the authors recollection of his own life and decisions, while the other Wes Moore is featured through meetings with the author. The two men meet and discuss their lives through a glass window in prison. The goal was to work collaboratively to create a book detailing their lives and the differences in their choices.
The story unfolds in three main parts. Part one is about how the two men each grew up with the absence of a father. However, the reason for the absence was different. Moore’s father passed away when Moore was still very young; he died suddenly of a virus called acute epiglottitis, which causes suffocation. Wes’s father, on the other hand, was absent in his life from a young age by choice. Wes claims that this did not have much of an impact on his life.
The second part of the story is a discussion about maturity. The story of the two lives continues, and the paths begin to separate. Wes notices his older brother, Tony, collecting a large wardrobe of expensive clothing. Wes, now 15 years old, follows his brother and begins to sell marijuana illegally. Later, he gets one of his “many” girlfriends pregnant and drops out of school. He also is involved in a shootout with one of his girlfriends boyfriends, and gets sentenced to six months in juvenile prison. Moore has also found himself in some mischief; he was caught spraying graffiti and he was handcuffed, but nothing came of the incident. Moore was naturally intelligent, but his social life at home and in school led his grades to slip. After threatening repeatedly, Moore’s mother, Joy, sends Moore to Valley Forge Military Academy, where after a slow start, Moore excels at the school.
The final interlude of the story is a discussion about whether or not the men are products of their environment. Wes now has two children with two different women. He earns his GED, but even after being caught selling drugs in the past, Wes gets back into the dealing game. The final chapter in Wes’s story ultimately decides the fate of his life. Wes, his brother Tony, and two other men enter a jewelry store armed and they loot over $400,000 worth of merchandise. In their escape, security guard Sergeant Bruce Prothero follows the men, and is shot and killed in the chase. After hiding out for over a week, Wes and Tony are captured and Wes is sentenced to life in prison. Meanwhile, Moore has continued to excel at school and eventually finds himself as the recipient of the prestigious Rhodes scholarship. He continued to succeed and eventually learned about the other Wes Moore, and he wanted to learn about what led them to two opposite sides of life.
The first factor that differentiates the two lives is family; the family environment can be a support system or a bad influence. It is clear that Moore’s family acted more as a support system, while the toxic nature of drug abuse and violence influenced Wes negatively. Moore’s mother Joy obviously wanted the best for Moore when she enrolled him into Riverdale, but she underestimated the social consequences of a black child in a white school. This is described when Moore says: “My mother saw Riverdale as a haven, a place where I could escape my neighborhood and open my horizons. But for me, it was where I got lost.” (Page 42) Wes’s mother Mary was very upset when she found out Wes was dealing drugs, and although Wes’s older brother Tony was a dealer, he did not want Wes to go down the same path. However, it is so common in family structures to see the younger siblings follow the lead of the older ones, and that is what led Wes to get into the drug game. Another example of relationships affecting the paths of the two men are their friends. Moore was mostly surrounded with men like Captain Hill and Mayor Kurt Schmoke, whereas Wes had Woody, who attempted to influence him positively, but was also surrounded by the drug gang, which only pushed him further down the wrong path. It is by no means the fault of the family that caused Wes to make the decisions that he did, they only elevated existing tendencies to choose the easy way out. Moore suggests that sometimes the people that we choose to associate with exemplify our own beliefs and behaviors, and this can push us more towards our view of ourselves, whether positive or negative.
Race is a key trend in this book that comes up several times. Institutional racism comes in many different forms and pops up in the most unlikely of places. One of the key similarities of the two Wes Moore’s is that they are both black. Each of them deals with racism and discrimination from society, and it hinders both of them. “He lifted all eighty pounds of Wes off the ground, slamming him face first on the trunk of the police cruiser. Wes’s chest collapsed against the trunk of the car, sending pain throughout his entire body… he tried to plead his case to the police officer as he closed the second cuff on Wes’s eight-year-old wrists.” (pages 37-38) This is the first instance of brutality that took place against Wes after he was involved in a violent fight. It came across like the officer in the story was treating Wes like an animal, and that can instill a bad influence on an eight year old child. Throughout Moore’s time at Riverdale, he was one of the only black children attending the school. He was harassed by the other students for being different, and this caused his grades to slip. Another example of racial harassment to Moore was when he and Dalio were walking through town and a group of drunk teenagers verbally and physically harassed them with racist motives. It’s not a coincidence that the odds were stacked against both of the men; the real life accounts of abuse in the two lives bring to light how society sets back people of color. The two men both did not get to enjoy white privilege and most definitely did not get the benefit of the doubt in most situations. This undoubtedly hindered the paths of each of the men, to no fault of their own.
Religion is a powerful influencer in how billions of people live their lives. Whether or not you are religious, you cannot deny that many of the principles of Christianity inforce positive living and healthy fellowship with others. These principles can act as an outline for many tough decisions, and can form a life of honest living. It is clear that Moore was influenced by religion from an early age. His grandfather, Rev. Dr. James Thomas was a minister. When Moore was young, after his father had died, he, his mother and his siblings moved in with his grandparents. They were strict on the kids, but also provided love and support. This is likely were religious values were introduced to Moore. These values appear a few times in the story. For example, “As we were seconds away from taking the leap, the multitude of prayers that left the plane were palpable. I stared at the yellow light at the front of the plane, waiting for it to turn green; I spoke with God, asking Him to watch over me and the others in the plane.” (Page 132) This by no means say that Moore is a Christian, or believes in any particular god, but it definitely presses the idea that he has faith that there is something watching over us, and that can be all it takes. This took place right before Moore was about to jump out of a plane. Having a religious family can act as a second family to many people. They provide support and wisdom for each other and this can make it easier to find success in life. In the call to action, Moore allows Travis Smiley to express what he thinks about religion when he says: “The most important thing in life is to try, and that God will take care of the rest.” On the other side of the spectrum, Wes was not religious in anyway: “Where was God when people didn’t make enough money to feed their families? Where was God when kids were selling rocks at twelve years old, and their parents encouraged it because the kids were the main breadwinners in the home?…’Fuck God’.” (Page 137) Wes obviously has no hope for salvation and no care for a greater power. This leads back to the question, are people products of their environment? Wes was never exposed to any religious ideas like Moore was; he was stuck in a bad environment with people that were no better than him. Religion can be powerful, but only if you are willing to open your heart to it, and only one of the two men made that decision.
I felt like this book was a unique and brilliant idea at examining two people that started from seemingly the same point and ended up with totally different lifes. I enjoyed my time learning about Moore’s successes, and also about the decisions that led to Wes’s life in prison sentence. The book begged the question: are people products of their environment? There is no definitive answer, but the story leads the reader to look at his own perspective and answer the question himself. I believe that environment and circumstances absolutely create paths for people, but they do not decide the path for the person. A person’s decisions and hard work essentially forge new paths for an individual to take, and if the decisions are positive, it is likely that the outcome will be positive as well. This story reinforced class concepts; for example I learned so much about how society can affect the circumstances for a person. In this case, race played a part in both of the men’s lives several times. It also presented how toxic drugs can be to family life, and how important a family support system is. Wes is now a 33 year old grandfather and is still serving his time in prison. The author Wes is a bestselling writer, and he works in the white house and on wall street. The impact of reading this story was profound on me, and I would highly recommend this book to anyone who wants an inside look at the factors that shape people’s destinies.
(The paper is longer than it should be, but most of that is because I have included quotes, and I assume quotes do not count towards the length of the paper.)
The Other Wes Moore
In the book, The Other Wes Moore, as difficult as it is to believe the two Moores share great similarities such as names and other aspects of life. The Other Wes Moore was written by Wes Moore in the year of 2010. It is the mind-baffling story of the two different kids that had been born to the exact same name .
They were born only a few blocks apart, in the same decaying city. One grew up to become a scholarly army officer , while the other winded up serving life in prison . All of the events in this novel are based off of a true story .
This is a narrative informative nonfiction of two African American males that were nearly identical . The purpose of this novel is to expand one’s knowledge, and dissect the reasons as to how these two people lived the exact same life and still winded up going down two completely different paths . This story gives a better understanding as to why one is serving life in prison, while the other is out living the life that the other never got the chance to experience. “It is my sincere hope that this book does not come across as self-congratulatory or self-exculpatory. Most important, it is not meant in any way to provide excuses for the events of the fateful day February 7, 2000. Let me be clear. The only victims that day were Sergeant Bruce Prothero and his family. Rather, this book will use our two lives as a way of thinking about choices and accountability, not just for each of us as individuals but for all of us as a society. This book is meant to show how, for those of us who live in the most precarious places in this country, our destinies can be determined by a single stumble down the wrong path, or a tentative step down the right one” ( Moore 8 ) .Wes Moore , the author , was born October 15, 1978, in Baltimore , Maryland . He is a author, social entrepreneur , and a hard working – devoted army officer . He lived a troubled childhood, just like the other Wes Moore, yet he still managed to turn his life around . This book starts off by explaining how Wes Moore came up and how he ended up finding out about the other Wes Moore .The real Wes Moore had grew up experiencing a very troubled childhood , but he turned it all around for himself . In 2000, he had had an article written about him for winning one of the most prestigious academic awards in the world . A couple months earlier an article had been published by the same company about another situation, a situation that stuck with Moore for the long run. A couple months earlier, there had been a planned armed robbery of a Jewelry store that had gone completely wrong . The store’s security guard was shot and killed after he had pursued the men into the store parking lot. Two weeks later, all of the suspects had been apprehended and taken into custody . It was said that the shooter, Richard Moore , would more than likely serve life in prison for the murder. It was not this , however , that had caught his attention. It was the fact that the shooter’s younger brother had the exact same name as him .
The first section continues on to explain how the two men grew up. Wes Moore watched his father pass away from an allergic reaction, at the age of four years old . Due to financial issues that would follow shorty after , his mother moved him and his family to the Murphy Homes Projects . It was there , he watched his brother convert into a big-time drug dealer . He was eventually sent to go live with his grandparents in the Bronx, thinking that lifestyle would be better for him . He began to attend high school, which is where his troubles got worse. His behavior was erotic, and he had began to attend school irregularly . To keep him from getting too deep into trouble in the Bronx, his grandparents sent him to Valley Forge Military School . The first night he was there, he hated it and had tried to escape , but failed. With the help of his mentors, he eventually went on to graduate form the school .
The other Wes Moore’s childhood did not have as much of a happy ending . Despite his family moving into a safer neighborhood , his troubled ways did not leave him as easily . He was still captivated by the dangerous lifestyle that he had once lived . His school attendance was irregular , as well , but it only got worse from there . His girlfriend winded up being two months pregnant . He even lied to his mother about where all the money he was obtaining was coming from, but his mother knew better than to believe whatever he had told her . His father had never really been in his life . He never finished high school, and he landed his first prison sentence for shooting a man that had disrespected his girlfriend . Moore then got help and ended a small position in Job Corp. It was then that he decided he wanted to live his old lifestyle alone and earn a better life for him and his family . However, he eventually ran into some more financial problems, and resorted to moving drugs again to get a little extra money . Shortly after this relapse , he became involved in a armed robbery gone wrong , that would ultimately cost him the rest of his life .
The two Moore’s could not be any more similar nor different . On paper, it might be possible to get the two confused . But in person, the two could not be any more different from each other . Their destinies derived from success and failure . One was destined for greatness, while the other one simply was not . Not only portraying the two Wes Moores: the story is an illustration of their families. “ Families are the compass that guides us. They are the inspiration to reach great heights, and our comfort when we occasionally falter.” (Brad Henry) If not nothing more, Moore expressed the degree of family shaping who we are. Family support is everything and without it most have little chance of reaching the success they want to. It is very clear that the author was momentously influenced by his family to make him the person he is today. Him and both Wes had to cope with the fact that they did not have fathers in their lives. Moore’s father died when he was younger and till this day and throughout the writing of the novel Wes Moore uses his father has an inspiration. As far as the other Wes he follows in his father’s footsteps and repeats not being in his own sons life. It is known that Wes’s mother, Joy kept him from being just like the Other Wes. The author began to change his ways when he realized his mother started sacrificing for him. Before this the both Wes Moore’s were very similar. The Other Wes Moore’s family also supported him but at times had a weaker influence. He would get mixed messages. Families try so hard to control their children’s purposes and most of the time ends up backfiring.
The authors family had very high prospects for him. They wanted him to do the best he can so that he could become as successful as possible. As any regular teenager Wes began to get in trouble. So as a mother Joy takes action and enrolls him into a all “white school”. Her goal was to expand his limits and help him form a better life. The denial of Riverdale and weak academic result tends to put a strain on him and his mother’s relationship. “My mother saw Riverdale as a haven, a place where I could escape my neighborhood and open my horizons. But for me, it was where I got lost.” (Chapter 3) She defiantly underestimates the impact that the social hostility of attending there would have on her son. In result of all this Joy then takes the next steps to get him into military school to get his act right. In order to get him in there she has to begin working several jobs. She worked as hard as she could to keep him in there even when he begged to come home. This showed Wes that his mother only wanted what was best. That she expected not only for him to live better, do better, be better, but the assurance he could do better.
The other Wes Moore Struggled with a supporting family. His biggest influential person was his brother Tony, who was caught up in dealing drugs. Tony intentions was never to get Other Wes involved in the drug game at all, but of course because that’s what he seen that’s what he wanted to do. Major factor to this all was that their mother was never around due to the fact she was always working in order to take care of them. When Mary did find out it was not pretty at all. She reacted more than harshly, to the point where she began to flush thousands of dollars’ worth of drugs Wes planned on selling down the toilet. All he had was his mother and her belief that he could do better. So without the support there was nothing there. He became all he knew. Rather than following the voice of his brother and not the action both him and his brother end up in prison for the same exact crime. This goes to show that it is the examples set by family that has the biggest impact of anyone.
“”I think so, or maybe products of our expectations.” “Others’ expectations of us or our expectations for ourselves?” “l mean others’ expectations that you take on as your own.” I realized then how difficult it is to separate the two. The expectations that others place on us help us from our expectations of ourselves. “We will do what others expect of us,” Wes said. “If they expect us to graduate, we will graduate. If they expect us to get a job, we will get a job. lf they expect us to go to jail, then that’s where we will end up too. At some point you lose control.”” (Part III interlude) As the story went on The Author realized all of this wasn’t just him and the Other Wes has some part of him. That in some shape or form they were linked.
When Moore had first found out about the other Wes , his life had just begun, while the other Wes’ life had just been taken away from him . The connection that Moore feels with the other Wes is rather deep. He had felt some sort of fraternal connection, and the other Wes had felt it as well . It is rather distinct and mysterious . Moore feels like , even though he did not know anything about the other Wes , he is still somehow directly involved in how he turned out . He feels like he is somehow to blame for how the two’s life ended up so differently . Rather than seeing the other Wes as just another criminal in the system, he felt some sort of compassion for him. He felt obligated to find out what went wrong, and what exactly led him to make the decisions that would ultimately cost the other Wes his life . He often refers to the other Wes as “brother”, mirroring a sense of a fraternal connection.
At this point in the story, Moore begins to write letters to the other Wes, hoping to learn more . Though he is hesitant at first, he still follows through , unsure of the type of response that he is going to get . The other Wes responds back, starting off the letter he wrote to Moore as “Greetings, Good Brother”. The two keep in contact, writing each other very frequently . Two years after discovering the other Wes, this eventually turns into face-to-face prison visits . Moore keeps up with these prison visits , determined to learn more about Wes and where he went wrong in life. What had Moore done differently that Wes had not ? They spend these visits discussing parallels between , as well as beyond the two’s lives . He feels as though these conversations with the other Wes can lead to a larger discussion of themselves, as well as the other men who were apart of their generation . Though he is constantly reminding himself of the crime Wes committed, and why he is rightfully behind bars, Moore feels as though he can still find some positive in all of the madness that the situation has caused . Moore spends hundreds of hours interviewing Wes, his friends, and his family, as well as his own, hoping to find some more insight as to why everything went down the way it did .
There are multiple characters that had a huge influence on the way the two characters had turned out. Tony is Wes’ older brother . He is the ‘trigger man’ of the shooting that landed them both in jail. He ends up dying behind bars due to kidney failure . Alma is Wes’ maternal grandmother . She dies shortly after Tony had been born due to a failed kidney transplant . Bernard is Wes’ father . He got his mother pregnant a few months after meeting her, and left before Wes was even born. Ray is the victim of Wes’ first shooting . He survives, but ultimately got Wes sent to a juvenile detention center . Nikki is Moore’s older half sister. She was a product of their mother’s first marriage . Joy is Moore’s mother . She leaves her first husband due to the drug abuse and the violence, which is how she ends up meeting Moore’s father . She has a troubled relationship with Moore, which seemed to get better after he graduated school . Westley is Moore’s father . He dies unexpectedly when he suffers from an acute epiglottitis , which can suffocate one to death if it is left untreated .