In the book "The Other Wes Moore'' how does the author develop the theme of free will? 

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Noelle Thompson | High School Teacher | eNotes Employee

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This is a really good question, actually.  I would have given the theme of this novel a different name (that of "choices"), but I can see now how the theme of free will is almost more appropriate for The Other Wes Moore!  Note, first, the name of the full title: The Other Wes Moore: One Name, Two fates!

This is a story about a young man who is quite an exemplary student and citizen, winner of the time-honored Rhodes Scholarship. His name is Wes Moore. The newspaper does a big write-up on Wes Moore, praising him for all of his accomplishments. Ironically, in the very same paper is another story about a failed bank robbery, a shot cop, and a group of felons who go to jail as a result. One of those felons is ALSO named Wes Moore. 

The chilling truth is that his story could have been mine. The tragedy is that my story could have been his.

The "first" Wes Moore reads the paper and becomes obsessed with "the other Wes Moore." As a result, the two start writing back and forth to each other (one from home and the other from prison) in order to share their lives. It isn't long before the "first" Wes Moore starts visiting "the other Wes Moore" in prison as well. 

It is during the correspondence and the visits where the theme of free will is brought out.  The two men discover that they had a very similar young life.  Their neighborhoods were similar.  Their childhoods were difficult.  Their fathers were absent.  Their friends had similar personalities.  Their corner hangouts were sketchy.  Their pasts both include altercations with police officers.  Now, here is where free will comes in.  Every single one of the above situations presented with each young man a similar choice.  The "first" Wes Moore chose one way, ... "the other Wes Moore" chose the other.  The "first" Wes Moore landed himself a Rhodes Scholarship as a result, ... "the other Wes Moore" landed himself in prison.  It was all a result of free will!

I sat back, allowing Wes's words to sink in. Then I responded, "I guess it's hard sometimes to distinguish between second chances and last chances.

I would definitely suggest reading all of The Other Wes Moore because every single one of the situations above has its own dramatic narrative.  There is pain, sorrow, and redemption within.  One thing is for sure:  the theme of free will abounds!  And the clincher is, ... guess the name of the author:  Wes Moore!!!

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