The other Wes Moore, one name, two fates, by Wes Moore examines the decisions and choices, that shape our destiny and highlights how easy it is for our lives to take an entirely different direction based on the decisions that we make. The book talks about how people’s destinies are shaped, and it urges the reader to realize their own power, that regardless of our past, we are the ones that decide our destiny. It is up to us what path we decide to take.
The book, the other Wes Moore is divided into 3 parts. The first part is called, Father and Angels. The first few chapters talk about the absence of not having a father when they were growing up. The impact that this had when they were children and as they were growing up. Moore’s dad passed away when he was only a few years old, this made him very emotional and he always had questions about his father. While the other Wes became upset that his father decided not to be part of his life and he became bitter and resentful.
Part 2 is called Choices and second chances, While Moore, won a Rhodes Scholarship while studying at Johns Hopkins University, the other Wes was imprisoned with his older brother, Tony. They were both arrested for their involvement in a robbery that led to the murder of an off-duty police officer named Sergeant Bruce Prothero.
The last section, Paths taken, and expectations fulfilled is about accepting the choices that they both made in life and how their destinies were determined but their environment, their race and the privileged that they had in life and how they took advantages of the things that they were given in life.
These 3 sections represent three major phases in their lives. Every section starts with a conversation between Moore and Wes during one of their visits in prison. One of the main purposes this book is not to create some type of sympathy for Wes. Rather this book was written to inspire people to make a positive and responsible decision in their lives. Privilege is a topic that comes up a lot in this book and this is something that we discussed in week 4 about privilege and How the poorer economic status affects families. Life changes, sometimes the opportunities and resources that are provided to us are not the most adequate and favorable for us in that given moment. Some of us do not have the privilege that others do. For instance, the book talks a lot about all the possibilities that they both had, they both made mistakes, and both faced adversity but the resources that they both had been different. Moore states that sometimes it is hard to differentiate “second chances and last chances.” And while he had a very supporting family, Wes, didn’t. They both were raised by the absence of their father and both were raised in the same neighborhood. Although, one of them was able to get out the other one didn’t have the same luck.
Moore acknowledges that without the necessary resources, it is often simply impossible to make good decisions. So many factors can play a role in this, the lack of one parents’ involvement, the people who we socialize with, society and sometimes even expectation. We live in an era where we are either expected to succeed or fail based on our skin color and our social class. Privilege plays a big role, we are not always handed the right tools to succeed in life and this could be because of where we sit on the scale. Our social class and gender play a big factor in what opportunities we are given. Society can play a big role in how certain ethnicities are expected to behave. In Part III of the book, Wes tells Moore that, “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.” Race plays a big factor in this book and the inequalities that African Americans face in society today prove that certain races are expected to succeed while others are expected to fail. People who are more privileged than others are given the opportunity to make mistakes, to learn from them and to grow from these mistakes. While the ones who are less privilege are not given the opportunity are incarcerated or face other punishments.
The book can be related to a few social problems that we encounter in society today. Chapter 5, Moore states that in 1991 Baltimore had a percentage of 11.7 of girls who had given birth their ages varied anywhere from between 15 and 19 years old(pg.100) In chapter 5, the other we Moore, Wes, and his girlfriend Alicia had unprotected sex and within two months of dating she become pregnant. This can be related to some of the reading and discussions from week 5 about sexuality and from Part III, chapter 6. People have adapted to their current lifestyle and this has influenced the way that they perceive life making it acceptable to have sexual activity outside of marriage. “Teenage pregnancies became a problem and about 650,000, 15-19 year old women in the United States became pregnant each year” (pg.173) it is estimated that about 41 percent of this pregnancies end in the teen mother decides to have an abortion or an abortion (Alan Guttmacher Institute, 2014) A teen mothers is less likely to finish school and end up being a single mother. Teen pregnancies typically occur in poor families and often times these couples don’t get married.
Physical abuse is another topic that is brought numerous times in the book. Joy who is Moore’s mother suffered physical abuse from Moore’s dad. Sadly, this is a reality in today’s world. Not only for women but men too. Gender does not discriminate and even though we see it more in women, physical abuse does not discriminate anyone. Bill who was Moore’s father was an alcoholic and drug addict and he would physically abuse Joy when he was under the influence. From our class readings, we know that child abuse and wife battering is an outpouring concern in society today. Its more publicized and this is due that more victims are coming out and they are accusing their abuser.
At the end of the book, there are about 47 pages were Moore provides over 200 resources in hope that this would help young people create positive changes in their lives as well as places where they can seek for help. Moore expresses his hope, that this book is not just read as a denial of the awful crime that was committed against Sergeant Prothero and his family but that this can instead help others realize that the path that we choose to endure in life is what will determine our future. I think this should be a book that every high schooler should be required to read. Not only is it based on a true story, but it shows that at the end of the day we are the only ones who determine our own fate.
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