The Other Wes Moore

Johns Hopkins University Symbol Analysis

Johns Hopkins University Symbol Icon

Johns Hopkins University, an elite institution located in Baltimore, symbolizes both the chance to succeed as well as the dark reality of segregation, inequality, and injustice. One of the first things we learn about Wes’s mother, Mary, is that she was the first person in her family to attend college, and that after completing her associate’s degree at the Community College of Baltimore, she enrolls at Johns Hopkins. Mary works part-time in order to support herself and her family during her time as a student; however, she is forced to drop out when government cuts mean her Pell grant is terminated. This tragic turn of events serves as a reminder of how difficult access to higher education can be for those from disadvantaged socioeconomic backgrounds.

The location of Johns Hopkins in Baltimore highlights the extent to which American society is divided into two worlds, which—despite existing side-by-side—can seem like whole separate universes. Moore describes Johns Hopkins as “the beautiful campus you could walk past but not through,” comparing Johns Hopkins’ relationship to Baltimore to that between Columbia University and Harlem and the University of Chicago and the Southside. Despite their proximity to struggling neighborhoods, these elite institutions exist as isolated worlds. Later in the book, Moore is hesitant about the prospect of applying to Johns Hopkins (despite being encouraged to do so by his adviser) because he believes that the university is “full of kids who did not look or sound like me.” It is only after Moore meets the assistant director of admissions, a young black man with whom Moore can personally identify, that he decides to make an application. Moore’s admission into Johns Hopkins and his success once there—he graduates Phi Beta Kappa and is the first African-American Rhodes Scholar in the school’s history—show that it is possible for a person from the “forgotten” side of Baltimore to make it through to the other side. But on the other hand, Moore never forgets that, for those less fortunate than him, the prospect of attending a school like Hopkins will simply never be a serious possibility.

Johns Hopkins University Quotes in The Other Wes Moore

The The Other Wes Moore quotes below all refer to the symbol of Johns Hopkins University. 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.
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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Johns Hopkins University Symbol Timeline in The Other Wes Moore

The timeline below shows where the symbol Johns Hopkins University appears in The Other Wes Moore. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Introduction
Luck vs. Choice Theme Icon
Friendship, Family, and Brotherhood Theme Icon
Inclusion vs. Exclusion Theme Icon
Discipline and Violence Theme Icon
...take an entirely different direction. While Moore himself won a Rhodes Scholarship while studying at Johns Hopkins University , the other Wes was imprisoned along with his older brother, Tony, for his involvement... (full context)
Chapter 1: Is Daddy Coming with Us?
Luck vs. Choice Theme Icon
Friendship, Family, and Brotherhood Theme Icon
Inclusion vs. Exclusion Theme Icon
Race, Inequality, and Injustice Theme Icon
...associates degree from the Community College of Baltimore. Although she grew up five miles from Johns Hopkins University , “it might as well have been a world away.” Johns Hopkins symbolizes privilege and... (full context)
Chapter 8: Surrounded
Luck vs. Choice Theme Icon
Friendship, Family, and Brotherhood Theme Icon
Inclusion vs. Exclusion Theme Icon
Race, Inequality, and Injustice Theme Icon
...understatement. While earning his associate’s degree at Valley Forge, Moore’s adviser suggests he apply to Johns Hopkins . At first Moore is resistant; he is aware of Johns Hopkins from having grown... (full context)
Luck vs. Choice Theme Icon
Friendship, Family, and Brotherhood Theme Icon
Inclusion vs. Exclusion Theme Icon
Race, Inequality, and Injustice Theme Icon
Moore is now convinced to apply to Johns Hopkins , but still worries about getting in, and his SAT scores are significantly lower than... (full context)
Friendship, Family, and Brotherhood Theme Icon
Inclusion vs. Exclusion Theme Icon
Race, Inequality, and Injustice Theme Icon
...Africa, but focuses on the future. In a few months, he will be graduating from Johns Hopkins Phi Beta Kappa, and as the first African-American Rhodes Scholar in the school’s history. Zinzi,... (full context)