The Other Wes Moore

by Wes Moore

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Last Updated on June 5, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 302

The Other Wes Moore is the story of two African American males, both with the same name, both from the same city of Baltimore, both from the same generation. Yet, their lives take on two very different paths. Wes, the author, has led a very successful life, achieving high academic attainments including a Rhodes Scholarship to Oxford. The other Wes Moore, however, is a convicted criminal, languishing in prison for the rest of his life with his brother after killing a police officer.

Wes the author becomes fascinated by the story of his namesake. He comes to see him almost as a brother. He wants to find out exactly what happened and which choices were made, that led to their completely divergent life stories. So he starts writing to the other Wes in prison. Thus begins an extensive correspondence between the two men which reveals even more astonishing parallels between their lives.

The author Wes interviews dozens of people in the other Wes Moore's life to gain a more complete understanding of how he came to be in prison. In doing so, he also learns more about himself and the place he occupies in the much bigger story of his generation of African American males. Together, he and Wes devise a project for helping people understand the impact that certain decisions can have on one's life and the life of others.

This doesn't mean that Wes Moore the author is in any way seeking to downplay the role of environmental factors in creating the conditions for crime: the poverty, the institutionalized racism, and the chronic lack of economic opportunity. But, his overriding message is almost an existential one. Ultimately, he recognizes that irrespective of our upbringing and environment, we still have the freedom to choose whom we want to be in life.

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