The Other Wes Moore delves into the lives of two teenage boys named Wes Moore, who claim to have been twins. Essentially, they were both raised in the same suburb of Baltimore, where they took opposite directions in life. The parallels between the two children are astounding, given that they both grow up in fatherless homes, as mentioned in the first chapter of the novel. “Your father wasn’t there because he couldn’t be there, and my father wasn’t there because he decided not to be there. We would grieve their loss in numerous ways” (Moore Ch. 1). The two boys were both born during the late 1970s in Baltimore, Maryland and they both went through a similar experience during their early lives. Concisely, The Other Wes Moore is an intriguing piece of literature reconnoitering the journey of two boys molded into men with same names but different life choices, with one being a successful man and the other spending his entire life behind bars.
The tale goes back to how all the events in the life of these two young boys began. While one of them managed to get through the reoccurring pattern of several children raised up in the same situations, his counterpart, the other Wes did not have the same opportunity. It is evident from the reading that the two characters ended up to be different people. Baltimore, being a dangerous street known for drug abuse and criminal activities, exposed the two Wes to a very unhealthy life. The events that occur in such streets have a significant influence on a child’s behavior, more so if he or she is not raised with strict and responsible parents. Both of them had drug problem within the neighborhood only that they handled the situations differently. “In both places, young men go through the daily struggle trying to navigate their way through the deadly streets, poverty, and the twin legacy of exclusion and low expectations” (Moore Ch. 2). Of course, the fact that they fought poverty and treated drug problems differently explains to the readers why one of them emerged to be successful when the other would still suffer life imprisonment.
The lucky Wes started embracing change when he got admission to the military school. Conversely, things were different with the other Wes, and he never lived to realize the same change that his counterpart had when he went to school. Instead, the Wes, who is now serving life in prison evolved through violence to drug trafficking, which landed him on the wrong side of life. Later, he became one of the distinguished drug cartels. “Wes had begun selling drugs, which was making him plenty of money. He explained his cash flow and expensive purchases by telling his mother he had become a successful DJ in the neighborhood” (Moore Ch. 4). In as much as the other Wes struggled to change from this dangerous life, his dreams for change could not come true since he was the breadwinner in his family and this was the only way to get some cash to support them. Ideally, it turned out to be difficult for the other Wes to change from the decision that he made before.
Towards the end of the novel, it becomes clear to the readers what made the two Wes become who they were. The last chapters of the book unveil the consequences of the choices that the two young boys made with their lives. The setting of the final chapter of the tale is in South Africa, where Wes the author gets a scholarship to study for the whole year. He takes the opportunity as the first “Rhodes Scholar” to be offered a scholarship in South Africa. At this new city, Wes learns the new traditions and values. One tradition that captures his interest is the process of transforming the South African boys to men, a process that his new met friend Zinzi would soon be going through. However, with time, he realized that the culture was widely practiced in larger parts of African traditions. Again, he became cognizant of the idea that if he was not mentored by various people, and given moral support by his friends and family, he might not have been who he is today. This is evident in the book when he says, “His tribe’s influence in making him a man was obvious and indelible. At that moment, I realized the journey I took was never mine either” (Moore Ch. 7).
The book highlights the possibilities of one Wes becoming successful and the other one failing in life. Apparently, the separate paths that these characters decided to follow were influenced with different elements (Chua and Rubenfeld). It would be imperative to add to the account that one of the reasons why the author Wes Moore was more successful that the other Wes Moore was because he had mentors throughout his life, which his counterpart did not have. The “Rhodes Scholar” was privileged to have a support structure of hard work. His mother worked hard to ensure that he followed the narrow path. When she had more challenges raising him at home, she convinced Wes Moore’s grandfather to mortgage their house so that he could be sent to a military academy. “I was becoming too ‘rich’ for the kids from the neighborhood and too ‘poor’ for the kids at school. I had forgotten how to act naturally, thinking way too much in each situation and getting tangled in the contradictions between my two worlds” (Moore Ch. 3). Despite the fact that this was a harsh and costly decision, Wes’s mother decided to send him to a better environment that could nurture him and remained working hard at home. The military’s support structure made the author Wes to be a successful man out of a boy. The discipline and hard work he got from military school opened for him more doors for his future, unlike the other Wes who missed the same opportunity.
Moreover, the other justification of the author Wes’s success was the standards that were set and enforced for him during his early life, which the other Wes did not have. The fact that both of them went through school was a hope that they would both have better lives in future. However, the lack of strict or strong mentors to enforce the standards for the other Wes made him have an unfortunate life. “As I started to think seriously about how I could become the person I wanted to be, I looked around at some of the people who’d had the biggest impact on my life…… (Moore Ch. 7).” Finally yet important, the other reason why the author Wes was more successful than the other more was that he stayed true to himself when he was making life choices. Ostensibly, the other Wes Moore knew the right thing to do, but instead, he opted to take the short cut of selling drugs, which ultimately landed him in jail. On the other hand, the author Wes believed in what was right for him and made a difference in his life (Frank 19).
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Chua, Amy, and Jed Rubenfeld. The Triple Package: What Really Determines Success. , 2014. Print.
Frank, Robert H. “Why Luck Matters—much More Than You Think the Luckiest People Overlook Their Good Fortune. This Is Bad News for Us All.” Atlantic Monthly. 317.4 (2016): 19-19. Print.
Moore, Wes. The Other Wes Moore: One Name, Two Fates. New York: Spiegel & Grau, 2013. Internet resource.
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