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The themes of this book include the factors that help or hinder African American boys' upbringings. The author discusses the factors in his upbringing, including the role of his mother and grandparents and the schools he attended, in helping him prosper, while he examines the alternate path that the other Wes Moore took, towards teenage parenthood and eventual incarceration. 

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Racism is certainly a theme in the book. The author looks at the ways in which the police patrol African American neighborhoods with a sense of antagonism and the effects of racism in his schooling at an elite private school, where he did not feel a sense of belonging but only alienation.

Another theme is absent fathers. The author's father died when the author was very young, and he was raised by his mother and grandparents. His uncle and grandfather were critical male role models for him that helped him in his sometimes difficult path to adulthood. The father of the other Wes Moore had little to do with his son, and Wes was largely raised by his older brother, Tony. The other Wes Moore became a father at a very young age, perhaps in part because he didn't realize what the role of a father was.


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One of the main themes of The Other Wes Moore is how much chance comes into play in determining one's fate. The two Wes Moores grew up in much the same way; they both lived in crime-ridden neighborhoods and had difficult childhoods and got into trouble with the police and in school. Yet, one ended up a Rhodes Scholar and one ended up a prisoner. As the author Wes Moore writes:

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

Another theme is that it is possible to escape from this cycle of poverty and despair, but it cannot be done alone; often it is necessary to enlist the help of a mentor. The author himself went to military school as a youth and he credits the guidance and counsel he received from his mentors with helping him to stay on the right path.

We also learn that the prisoner Wes Moore has undergone a sort of metamorphosis during his time in prison, and now practices Islam. He embraces the writer Wes Moore's decision to write the book, and...

(The entire section contains 604 words.)

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