The Other Wes Moore – Chapter 5 Summary & Analysis
While harassing his sister, Wes (the author) accidentally splits her lip and he gets in serious trouble from his mother. His mother had already had a disappointing conversation with the dean at Riverdale. She slapped Wes, twice, hard across the face. “She was devastated. She was losing her son, and she was not sure how to turn the tide” (89). It turns out that she sends him to Valley Forge Military Academy.
At Valley Forge, his “days began before the sun came up and ended well after it retired…Our birth names were irrelevant, as were our past acquaintances and past accomplishments and past failures. We were the same now. We were nothing” (89-90). Wes’s first few days were filled with rage directed at his mother because he “felt betrayed” (90). Wes also partly blamed his roommate for his being shipped there because it was his grandmother who had told Wes’s mother about Valley Forge.
One morning, Wes’s squad leader came in to his room and offered him a map to the train station in Wayne because he knew Wes didn’t want to be there. Wes was overwhelmed with gratitude with his “mind spinning… great escape” (92). Wes left at midnight that evening and followed the directions perfectly. It wound up getting him lost in the forest. While he sat on a rock and wept, the entire chain of command found him and took him back to the school, directly to his tactical officer, Colonel Battaglioli (Batt).
Batt gave Wes one phone call (which were against the rules of the pledge system), and he called his mother. He made promises to her, but she would not let him come home. “Too many people have sacrificed in order for to be there” (95). The call ended with her telling him that “it’s time to stop running” (96).
Wes became impressed with a 19-year-old Cadet Captain named Ty Hill. It wasn’t necessarily the strict rules and routines that had such an impact on Wes, but the “different psychological environment, where normal expectations were inverted, where leadership was honored and class clowns were…