The Other Wes Moore

Wes Moore (Moore/The Author) Character Analysis

The author of the book is named Westley Watende Omari Moore, a name he admits that he himself was not comfortable spelling until he was “well into elementary school.” Like “the other” Wes Moore, he goes by Wes. Born in Baltimore, he moves to the Bronx with his mother and two sisters following the sudden death of his father, Westley. The book charts Moore’s development from a wayward child to a disciplined, distinguished teenager and adult. Although Moore admits that there is no single thing that made the difference in distinguishing his destiny from that of the other Wes, he says the most important factor was the support of his mother, Joy, along with the rest of his family and community.

Wes Moore (Moore/The Author) Quotes in The Other Wes Moore

The The Other Wes Moore quotes below are all either spoken by Wes Moore (Moore/The Author) or refer to Wes Moore (Moore/The Author). For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Luck vs. Choice Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Spiegel & Grau edition of The Other Wes Moore published in 2011.
Introduction Quotes

The chilling truth is that his story could have been mine. The tragedy is that my story could have been his. Our stories are obviously specific to our two lives, but I hope they will illuminate the crucial inflection points in every life, the sudden moments of decision where our paths diverge and our fates are sealed. It's unsettling to know how little separates each of us from another life altogether.

Page Number: xi
Explanation and Analysis:
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We definitely have our disagreements––and Wes, it should never be forgotten, is in prison for his participation in a heinous crime. But even the worst decisions we make don't necessarily remove us from the circle of humanity. Wes's desire to participate in this book as a way to help others learn from his story and choose a different way is proof of that.

Related Symbols: Prison
Page Number: xiii
Explanation and Analysis:
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Chapter 1 Quotes

Johns Hopkins University was only five miles from where Mary grew up, but it might as well have been a world away. To many in Baltimore, Johns Hopkins was the beautiful campus you could walk past but not through. It played the same role that Columbia University did for the Harlem residents who surrounded it, or the University of Chicago did for the Southside. It was a school largely for people from out of town, preppies who observed the surrounding neighborhood with a voyeuristic curiosity when they weren't hatching myths about it to scare freshmen. This city wasn't their home. But after completing her community college requirements, Mary attempted the short but improbable journey from the neighborhood to the campus. Her heart

jumped when she received her acceptance letter. It was a golden ticket to another world.

Related Characters: Wes Moore (Moore/The Author) (speaker), Mary
Related Symbols: Johns Hopkins University
Page Number: 17
Explanation and Analysis:
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Chapter 2 Quotes

The walls and floors were coated with filth and graffiti. Flickering fluorescent tubes (the ones that weren't completely broken) dimly lit the cinder-block hallways. The constantly broken-down elevators forced residents to climb claustrophobic, urine-scented stairways. And the drug game was everywhere, with a gun handle protruding from the top of every tenth teenager's waistline. People who lived in Murphy Homes felt like prisoners, kept in check by roving bands of gun-strapped kids and a nightmare army of drug fiends. This was where Tony chose to spend his days.

Related Characters: Wes Moore (Moore/The Author) (speaker), Tony
Related Symbols: The Murphy Homes Projects
Page Number: 27
Explanation and Analysis:
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'Wes searched around his room for his football jersey. He played defensive end for the Northwood Rams, one of the best rec football teams in the nation. Wes loved football, and his athletic frame made him a natural. Even if he was just going out to play in the streets with Woody and some other friends, he wore that jersey like a badge of honor. The crimson "Northwood" that blazed across his white jersey gave him a sense of pride, a sense of belonging.”

Page Number: 29
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When my grandparents moved to the United States, their first priority was to save enough money to buy this house on Paulding Avenue. To them a house meant much more than shelter; it was a stake in their new country. America allowed them to create a life they couldn't have dreamed of in their home countries of Jamaica and Cuba.

Page Number: 39
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We were all enclosed by the same fence, bumping into one another, fighting, celebrating. Showing one another our best and worst, revealing ourselves––even our cruelty and crimes––as if that fence had created a circle of trust. A brotherhood.

Related Characters: Wes Moore (Moore/The Author) (speaker)
Page Number: 45
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Chapter 3 Quotes

My mother saw Riverdale as a haven, a place where I could escape my neighborhood and open my horizons. But for me, it was where I got lost.

Related Characters: Wes Moore (Moore/The Author) (speaker), Joy
Page Number: 48
Explanation and Analysis:
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I was becoming too "rich" for the kids from the neighborhood and too "poor" for the kids at school. I had forgotten how to act naturally, thinking way too much in each situation and getting tangled in the contradictions between my two worlds. My confidence took a hit. Unlike Justin, whose maturity helped him handle this transition much better than I did, I began to let my grades slip.

Related Characters: Wes Moore (Moore/The Author) (speaker), Justin
Page Number: 53-54
Explanation and Analysis:
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Later in life I learned that the way many governors projected the numbers of beds they'd need for prison facilities was by examining the reading scores of third graders. Elected officials deduced that a strong percentage of kids reading below their grade level by third grade would be needing a secure place to stay when they got older. Considering my performance in the classroom thus far, I was well on my way to needing state-sponsored accommodations.

Related Characters: Wes Moore (Moore/The Author) (speaker)
Related Symbols: Prison
Page Number: 54
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Part II Interlude Quotes

From everything you told me, both of us did some pretty wrong stuff when we were younger. And both of us had second chances. But if the situation or the context where you make the decisions don't change, then second chances don't mean too much, huh?

Page Number: 66
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Chapter 4 Quotes

I found in hip-hop the sound of my generation talking to itself, working through the fears and anxieties and inchoate dreams—of wealth or power or revolution or success—we all shared. It broadcast an exaggerated version of our complicated interior lives to the world, made us feel less alone in the madness of the era, less marginal. Of course, all that didn't matter to my mother. All she knew was that I could effortlessly recite hip-hop lyrics while struggling with my English class.

Related Characters: Wes Moore (Moore/The Author) (speaker), Joy
Page Number: 76
Explanation and Analysis:
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Chapter 5 Quotes

Wes, you are not going anywhere until you give this place a try. I am so proud of you, and your father is proud of you, and we just want you to give this a shot. Too many people have sacrificed in order for you to be there.

Related Characters: Joy (speaker), Wes Moore (Moore/The Author), Westley
Page Number: 95
Explanation and Analysis:
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In Baltimore in 1991, 11.7 percent of girls between the ages of fifteen and nineteen had given birth. More than one out of ten. He also didn't feel burdened by the thought that early parenthood would wreck his future plans––because he didn't really have any future plans. And he wasn’t overly stressed about the responsibilities of fatherhood––he didn’t even know what that meant. But in some unspoken way, he did sense that he was crossing a point of no return, that things were about to get complicated in a way he was unequipped to handle.

Page Number: 100
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Chapter 6 Quotes

Wes had his entire operation organized with the precision of a military unit or a division of a Fortune 500 company. The drug game had its own rules, its own structure. He was a lieutenant, the leader of his small crew. Everyone in the crew had a specific job with carefully delineated responsibilities.

Page Number: 110-111
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I had to let this one go. I had to look at the bigger picture. My assailant was unknown, unnamed, and in a car. This was not a fair fight, and the best-case scenario was nowhere near as probable as the worst-case scenario. If I was successful, who knew how the fight would've ended? If I failed, who knew how the fight would've ended? I thought about my mother and how she would feel if this escalated any further. I thought about my father and the name he chose for me.

Page Number: 121
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Part III Interlude Quotes

"I think so, or maybe products of our expectations."
"Others’ expectations of us or our expectations for ourselves?"
"l mean others' expectations that you take on as your own."
I realized then how difficult it is to separate the two. The expectations that others place on us help us form our expectations of ourselves.
"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."

Related Characters: Wes Moore (Moore/The Author) (speaker), The Other Wes Moore (Wes) (speaker)
Related Symbols: Prison
Page Number: 66
Explanation and Analysis:
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Chapter 7 Quotes

As I started to think seriously about how I could become the person I wanted to be, I looked around at some of the people who'd had the biggest impact on my life. Aside from family and friends, the men I most trusted all had something in common: they all wore the uniform of the United States of America.

Related Characters: Wes Moore (Moore/The Author) (speaker)
Page Number: 132
Explanation and Analysis:
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Wes Moore (Moore/The Author) Character Timeline in The Other Wes Moore

The timeline below shows where the character Wes Moore (Moore/The Author) appears in The Other Wes Moore. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Introduction
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Moore introduces the book, explaining that it is the story of two men born in Baltimore... (full context)
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Two years after discovering the story of the other Wes, Moore cannot stop thinking about him, even though he isn’t the type of person to usually... (full context)
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After this initial contact, the men continue to exchange letters, and eventually Moore begins visiting Wes in prison. Moore is astonished to learn of further parallels between their... (full context)
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...the boys’ developing maturity. Each section begins with a short extract from a conversation between Moore and Wes during one of their visits in prison. At the end of the book,... (full context)
Part I: Fathers and Angels (Interlude)
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Moore has asked Wes about how his father’s absence affected him, but Wes denies that it... (full context)
Chapter 1: Is Daddy Coming with Us?
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At three years old, Moore is playing a game with his sister, Nikki, which involves him chasing after her and... (full context)
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The chapter jumps back to the three-year-old Moore in his room. Westley comes upstairs and gently tells his son that he must “defend”... (full context)
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Moore explains that, as a young person, Westley was both gifted and extraordinarily driven. He graduates... (full context)
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...calls an ambulance while Joy attempts CPR on Westley. When the medics arrive, Nikki makes Moore wait outside the house. Eventually, the ambulance take Westley away, with Joy and the children... (full context)
Chapter 2: In Search of Home
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Moore describes walking downstairs one night to find his mother half-asleep on the couch. Since Westley’s... (full context)
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Moore’s grandparents have recently retired; his grandfather, Rev. Dr. James Thomas, used to be a minister,... (full context)
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...Winell met as teenagers in Jamaica. As newlyweds, they immigrated to the United States so Moore’s grandfather could attend a historically black college called Lincoln University. In James’s first days on... (full context)
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Moore’s grandparents establish strict guidelines for behavior, which Moore describes as “not Bronx rules… [but] West... (full context)
Chapter 3: Foreign Ground
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Moore and his friend Justin have spent the day in Manhattan, window shopping for sneakers that... (full context)
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Moore and Justin walk home, the smells of Jamaican, Chinese, and Puerto Rican food wafting through... (full context)
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Moore and Justin head home, and Moore mentions the rules of the street: don’t make eye... (full context)
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Plagued by a constant feeling of alienation, Moore’s academic performance suffers. Justin encourages Moore to study harder in order to avoid probation. While... (full context)
Part II: Choices and Second Chances (Interlude)
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Back in prison, Moore wishes Wes a happy 32nd birthday, but Wes admits he almost forgot about the day... (full context)
Chapter 4: Marking Territory
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Back in the Bronx, Moore is rapping along to a song about drugs while a horrified Joy looks on. Moore... (full context)
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Moore mentions an occasion in which Shani ends up in a physical fight with two other... (full context)
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Moore panics, dreading the thought of Joy having to collect him from jail. His relationship with... (full context)
Chapter 5: Lost
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It is 5.30 am, and Moore is awoken by a chorus of loud shouts telling him to get out of his... (full context)
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Moore is unafraid of Sergeant Anderson; compared to the Bronx, military school does not seem particularly... (full context)
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After four days, Sergeant Austin enters Moore’s room and says it’s clear that Moore doesn’t want to be at Valley Forge, adding... (full context)
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Colonel Battagliogli tells Moore that he will allow him to speak on the phone for five minutes. Moore looks... (full context)
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Joy repeats that she loves Moore and is proud of him and that “it’s time to stop running.” The next day,... (full context)
Chapter 6: Hunted
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Moore describes graduation day at Northern High School and points out that Maryland has one of... (full context)
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Back in military school, Moore is now leading his own platoon, who address him with “a coordinated ‘Yes Sergeant.’” He... (full context)
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During the summers, Moore attends “prestigious” basketball camps and daydreams about the day he is drafted into the NBA.... (full context)
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Moore opens the letter from Justin. They have remained close friends in spite of a dean... (full context)
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Moore is occupied by overseeing his platoon from the moment he wakes up to the moment... (full context)
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Moore and Dalio keep walking, but soon hear a voice shouting, “Go home, nigger!”. Moore then... (full context)
Part III: Paths Taken and Expectations Fulfilled (Interlude)
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In the prison visiting room, Moore notices that almost all of the visitors are women and children. During his conversation with... (full context)
Chapter 7: The Land That God Forgot
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Moore is in a plane in the state of Georgia, being trained by a group of... (full context)
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At the same time, Moore has grown to enjoy academic life and is now an enthusiastic reader. He reads Colin... (full context)
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Moore decides to attend the Valley Forge junior college, receive his associate’s degree, and become a... (full context)
Chapter 8: Surrounded
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Moore is at the office of Mayor Kurt Schmoke, who teasingly calls Moore “General” despite the... (full context)
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...is getting ready to leave politics behind and spend time with his family. He asks Moore if he has enjoyed his internship. Moore responds, “I’ve loved it, sir,” but adds that... (full context)
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Moore is now convinced to apply to Johns Hopkins, but still worries about getting in, and... (full context)
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Back in the Mayor’s office, Schmoke asks Moore if he has ever heard of the Rhodes Scholarship. Moore knows that President Clinton, Maryland... (full context)
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Moore is able to travel to South Africa after receiving a grant from the School for... (full context)
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A few weeks before Moore returns to the United States, he is walking through his township with Zinzi and his... (full context)
Epilogue
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...when they once again confront the monotony of their lives behind bars. At the time Moore is writing, Wes has become a grandfather at 33, and is serving the tenth year... (full context)
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Moore moves on to describe how the lives of other characters in the book progressed up... (full context)
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Moore spent two and a half years at Oxford through the Rhodes Scholarship and graduated with... (full context)
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Moore reflects that The Other Wes Moore was a labor of love, rigorously researched even though... (full context)
Afterword
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Moore admits that after the book came out, readers pressed him for an answer on what... (full context)