The Other Wes Moore Summary and Study Guide
SuperSummary, a modern alternative to SparkNotes and CliffsNotes, offers high-quality study guides for challenging works of literature. This 38-page guide for “The Other Wes Moore” by Wes Moore includes detailed chapter summaries and analysis covering 8 chapters, as well as several more in-depth sections of expert-written literary analysis. Featured content includes commentary on major characters, 8 important quotes, essay topics, and key themes like The Role Mentors Play in Young Lives and Choice Versus Fate.
The Other Wes Moore: One Name, Two Fates (2010) is a narrative nonfiction story that chronicles the lives of two young black men who share the same name: Wes Moore. The author was inspired to write this story because of this fact and their similar start in Baltimore, Maryland. While one Wes Moore was sentenced to life in prison, the writer Wes Moore became a Rhodes Scholar and a best-selling author. Moore’s purpose in writing is to examine how two people with such similar backgrounds can end up with completely different lives.
The first section highlights that both Wes Moores grew up without fathers. When the author was three, his father died in front from a severe allergic reaction. The other Wes Moore barely knew his father. Both of their mothers worked hard to set their families right, but Mary Moore’s (the other Wes Moore’s mother) chances narrowed when her ability to finish her degree at Johns Hopkins University slipped through her fingers as she lost the opportunity to use Pell Grants. Because of financial difficulties, Mary had to move her family to the Murphy Homes projects in West Baltimore. There, Wes’s older brother Tony became a drug hustler while Wes watched, and it was there that Wes developed quite a temper. He received his first arrest at middle-school age.
After the author’s father died, his family relocated to the Bronx to live with his grandparents. His grandparents had strict rules for their safety and protection, and Moore struggled in school. He attended a private school called Riverdale Country School, where he lacked a sense of belonging. He started to attend irregularly. Even though it was a school in the Bronx, Moore was still reminded daily of how much poorer he was than his schoolmates. In a desperate attempt to keep Moore from getting himself into trouble, his grandparents funded his tuition at Valley Forge Military Academy in Pennsylvania. His first night there, Moore hated it and tried to escape. However, with the watchful eye of some strong mentors, he graduated from Valley Forge and moved on to a bright future.
The other Wes Moore’s adolescence wasn’t as successful. Even though his family moved to a safer neighborhood in Dundee Village on the outskirts of Baltimore, Wes was still lured by the world of drugs. Wes’s school attendance was erratic. His girlfriend of two months, Alicia, became pregnant while Wes was making serious money hustling. Wes lied to his family and said his money was coming from DJ-ing gigs, but his brother Tony knew better. Wes never finished high school and was imprisoned for shooting a man. After trying to revive the mother of two of his children from a heroin high, Wes approached his friend Levy for advice about getting out of the drug trade. Levy had gotten out a few months earlier, and he helped Wes get set up with the Job Corps. During the nine months that Wes attended the Job Corps, he honed his skills in carpentry and was at his happiest. However, once leaving and trying to make an honest living, Wes learned how very little money he could make and began “cooking coke” again. Soon after, Wes and Tony were involved in an armed robbery of a jewelry store in which a man was shot and killed. The brothers were apprehended in Philadelphia and sentenced to life in prison.
The author Wes Moore returned to Baltimore after being accepted into Johns Hopkins University for his undergraduate degree; he was also offered an internship with Mayor Schmoke of Baltimore. While meeting with Moore about his upcoming study-abroad semester in South Africa, Schmoke spoke of Moore’s chances of becoming a Rhodes Scholar. His experience in South Africa enlightened his understanding of apartheid, and although his upbringing in the Bronx was not privileged, it was nowhere near as poor as the poverty he witnessed in South Africa. His host family taught him that “it’s not the process you should focus on; it’s the joy you will feel after you go through the process” (170). After his time in South Africa, Moore earned a master’s degree in international relations from Oxford University. He worked alongside Condoleezza Rice in the Department of Homeland Security before working on Wall Street. After this, Wes served with the US Army in Afghanistan for several months.