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The Other Wes Moore


The book entitled ‘The Other Wes Moore’ by Wes Moore is an intriguing narrative based on the true story of two distinct individuals of African-American origin whose lives had many similarities. Some of the similarities between the two characters included their similar names and the fact that they both came from Baltimore, Maryland and had no fathers during their childhood. The author of this book drew his inspiration from the fact their names and lives were very closely related as mentioned above. Although they shared certain characteristics, the two personalities also had numerous differences. Thus, the author’s intention was to prove that people who come from a similar background do not necessarily have the same personalities. One of the major themes that the author reveals through this story is drugs and alcohol abuse. He does that through various incidents in the narrative which show the effects of misusing drugs and alcohol, particularly through the other Moore’s life experience. Therefore, this discussion will summarize three incidents in the book that elicit the theme in question and how the characters responded to the events. It will further compare and contrast the reactions of the characters.

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The first incident where Wes, the author, encounters the problem of drug abuse is present in chapter one where one of his friends called Shea was a drug abuser. In chapter one, Wes gets into problems with this neighbor because of “tagging”. Besides, this character eventually gets arrested because of his involvement in the use of drugs. The fact that some of his neighbors were drug addicts shows that there was a possibility for the author to decide to engage in the same behavior.

The other Wes Moore was a victim of drug abuse, and this affected his life in many ways. According to the story, he became a drug addict during his teenage days and also sold drugs to make a living. As a result, his presence in school became inconsistent and was later arrested for the murder of a man who was involved with his girlfriend. Although his family was not aware of this fact, Tony, his brother knew this secret. Nevertheless, his desire to change his ways made his seek assistance from Levy, but this did not succeed.

In the first instance, Wes’s reaction to the situation was very different from that of the other Wes because he chooses only to avoid the use of drugs like his friends. Conversely, the other Wes’s exposure to the use of drugs turns out tragic since he decides to sell the drugs as a way of earning money out of desperation. Both of them are similar due to the fact that they both agree that the use of drugs is not good. That is because the other Wes found the need to look for help from his friend.

At one point in the narrative, Wes came across some drunkards who assaulted him when he was almost getting used to his new learning institution and enjoying some time away from home. During this incident, he was going together with his allies to buy pizza. In this case, Wes decided not to confront the attackers but reason with them even though they were violent towards him. In fact, in the course of this encounter, the perpetrator’s damaged Wes’s teeth.

The second incident of the use of harmful drugs in the other Wes’s life was seen when he started a relationship with a girl named Alicia. Later, Wes’s girlfriend became pregnant for him, and that is when he knew that he had to find a way of surviving and providing for his family. Additionally, Wes found it difficult to tell his parents about the situation, and hence he decided to keep it as a secreted from them. Thus, he had to continue selling drugs to provide for his child. In the story, Wes also got involved with Cheryl, who was the mother of two of his children and a heroin addict. The other Wes acknowledged that “he knew some of the people who bought drugs from him and it pained him to realize that his mother’s child was just like them.”

In the first case, Wes’s reaction showed some level of maturity and level of self-awareness. On the contrary, the other Wes’ reaction was irrational especially because of his decision to continue selling drugs as opposed to asking for help from his parents. For both of them, their reactions contributed significantly to their fate. Thus, the author’s life eventually turns out successful while the other Wes’s life becomes tragic after his arrest and imprisonment.

Another occasion when Wes’s decision shows this theme is seen when Wes goes to South Africa, and he attempts to make a comparison of his life and that of his associates in South Africa. In this scene, Wes appreciates the fact that even though he was predisposed to an environment where drugs abuse was a problem, he made it through those circumstances because of his surroundings and decisions. For example, he acknowledges the important role that his mother played in his life and hence the positive outcomes in his life.

The third incident in the other Wes’s life that illustrates this theme is when he decides to smoke marijuana. This event occurred while Wes accidentally came across marijuana when going through his mother’s belongings. As a result, he decided to take some and some it together with his friends during the barbecue party.

The situations above both personalities turn out differently because of the decisions that they make during their past. Even if both of them were potential drug abusers due to their environment, the second Wes was not keen on changing his fate by throwing away the drugs or avoiding bad company. The other difference between the two people is the fact that their decisions differed because of their educational background.

In my opinion, I think the author was more successful compared to the other Wes. That is because the decisions he makes throughout his life change his fate and slowly leads him towards his academic success. For instance, he eventually became a Rhodes Scholar after studying successfully at John Hopkins University, and to South Africa for a new experience. Conversely, the other Wes gets arrested because of his constant involvement in criminal offenses. I think, they both had a choice since it was possible to make their lives better by resisting the temptation of using drugs. Similarly, the author notes that “people decide take certain action depending on what they observe in the small world around them and the models they decide to imitate”.


Drug abuse is a concern not only within the context of the book but for the entire community among adolescents. Although all the youth are vulnerable of become drug abusers or alcoholic, they also have the power of choice. They can decide to have self-discipline and avoid drugs altogether, or choose to be carried away by peer pressure and other influences. Generally, the author has been successful in bringing out the theme of drug abuse in the book. He has been straight forward in and brings out this theme with so much clarity. The theme is highlighted using the experiences of both characters. Using these experiences, any reader can tell the end that the author intends to achieve. Both Moores had the individual power of choice. Despite the fact that they both came from similar backgrounds, their lives turned out to be different. The author’s life turned to be successful because of the good choices he made while his colleague went to prison because of chose the wrong coursed of action.

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