In the prison visiting room, Moore notices that almost all of the visitors are women and children. During his conversation with Wes, Moore is shocked to hear that Wes still insists he wasn’t there during the armed robbery that led to the murder of Sergeant Prothero. Moore wonders if Wes is trying to convince himself of his own innocence by repeating it out loud. Moore doesn’t respond to Wes’s claim, but instead asks if Wes thinks that people are “products of our environments.” Wes replies that he thinks each of us is the product of other people’s expectations, which we internalize as our own. Wes argues that we are so influenced by other’s expectations that we eventually “lose control.” Moore is sympathetic to Wes’ perspective, but feels resistant to how much blame Wes puts on other people. After visitation is over, Moore is still overwhelmed by questions.
This is one of the moments in which Moore explicitly addresses the main theme of the book: are our destinies determined by our environments, or do we have control over them? It is perhaps unsurprising that Wes holds the view that our fates are largely a matter of luck, and equally unsurprising that Moore feels the opposite. The men’s differing opinions suggests that when things go right we like to take credit for it, and when they go wrong we prefer to blame external circumstances. Yet Wes’s view is notably nuanced; he shows that we internalize external circumstances such that they influence our choices.