The Other Wes Moore Journals
Chapter One. Literary Response
“She studies the other kids at school like an anthropologist, trying desperately to fit in (page #).” This quote truly stood out for me because it gave me a deeper look into Joy’s character. I immediately disliked Joy when she made such a big deal out of Wes hitting Nikki. However, this quote explained to me the reason behind Joy’s passion and strong personality. Her entire life had been about principles and wanting to be the best personality. For Joy, ‘being the best’ meant being just and fair. The fact that she was so alert about justice and observed others from a young age showed that she was determined to pass down her values to her children and would not tolerate them falling into the negative aspects of society. The second part of the quote shows that even though Joy seems to be a strong woman, she has a weakness: the desire to become a part of the majority. After having faced discrimination, she learned to be proud of her minority and fight to cure injustice.
Chapter Two, Literary Response
“Rule number one: If someone disrespects you, you send a message so fierce that they won’t have the chance to do it again” (Page #). The Other Wes’ brother, Tony, thought he was Wes’ role model and was proud to show him the ropes. In his mind, Tony was teaching Wes vital survival skills. However, the irony was that even though Tony was teaching him with his words, his actions had more significance and influence. Wes was smart enough to ignore what Tony would say. However, this quote is significant because it shows how Wes was slowly coming under Tony’s influence and the influence of the environment, in which he was living. When Wes got into the fight at football, he became emotional and remembered the advice Tony gave him. However, he chose to remember and act on the advice that made him feel better at that moment. I do not think that Wes completely realized his mistake, but he was beginning to distinguish between good and evil choices better when he did not want his mother to know, who stood for the good side pulling Wes to goodness.
Chapter Three. Literary Response
“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” (Page #). This was an extremely significant point in Wes’ life. At this point, Wes’ identity was developing and he was facing an identity crisis because of attending the private school. Even though, Wes was happy with his neighborhood friends, he still tried to become happy at the private school. However, when his attempts failed, he realized that he could not have both of the worlds. Neither group accepted Wes’ other identity, which was hurting Wes’ self-esteem and emotional development. I think this quote foreshadows that Wes would have to make a choice in the future and pick with which friends and which society he wanted to stay.
Chapter Four. Literacy Response
“I didn’t have the energy for romantic rebellion – the possibility of losing all control of my life was like a depthless black chasm that had suddenly opened up in front of me” (Page #). Author Wes is arrested here for tagging/spraying a wall. Unlike his friend, who is rebellious and not afraid, Wes immediately gets scared and feels guilty. He realizes that this is a serious situation, and he tries to remember the negative feelings he has so he does not get into a situation like this again. I think the use of the word combination ‘romantic rebellion’ is interesting and the fact that he said he did not have the energy for it. Wes meant that he could not afford to risk his future and let someone else decide his fate, which would be bad in this case. I can see here that Wes is starting to be influenced by his private school atmosphere and is developing a new way of thinking. However, I also realize that he is still part of the bad neighborhood and he can easily be pulled back inside, and that is why he repeats the mistake later.
Chapter Five. Literary Response
“In spite of myself, I was impressed. I had never seen anything like that before. I had never seen a man, a peer, demand that much respect from his people. I had seen Shea demand respect in the neighborhood, but this was different. This was real respect, the kind you can’t beat out of people. That’s when I started to understand that I was in a different environment” (Page #). For me, this seemed to be the turning point in Wes’ life. Once he knew he could not run away from camp, Wes stopped fighting and took a look around him. This quote shows the first thing he observed - men acting respectfully to each other. The fact that Wes realized and was alert of respect and changes in this new environment was very encouraging for me as a reader. For me, it foreshadowed that Wes might have a chance to become disciplined and start to learn respect, especially for his mother, who continues to make huge sacrifices for his future, like asking relatives for money, which took a lot of courage.
Chapter Six. Literary Response
“The irony of the situation forced me to smile, featuring my newly cracked tooth. Years earlier, I had run through these same woods with all of my might, looking for safety, trying to get away from campus. Tonight, I ran through the same woods looking for safety, but in the other direction” (Page #). This is one of my favorite quotes from the entire book. When I read it, it made me smile and realize that Wes is heading in the right direction in life, at last. When Wes managed to control himself during the fight and racial slurs, it proved to him and the reader that he had changed and that he was indeed capable of changing. Three years ago, he would have started fighting back and lost all self-respect. However, because of his resources and training, he not only improved his personality but also helped his family (Ex: scholarships). This quote shows that Wes realized the difference a positive environment could make.
Chapter Seven. Literary Response
“Tears welled in Wes’s eyes but never fell. He’d realized long ago that crying does no good” (Page #). This is a strong quote and foreshadows something dangerous. In my opinion, when a person holds back tears and emotions inside, he or she can become frustrated and explode emotionally later on. When the other Wes stopped crying, he put up a shield and made himself strong enough to do bad deeds. This foreshadows his life worsening and going downhill. This made me feel very sad because Wes had the capability of succeeding in life as he had proved by excelling at the vocational school. In addition, I realized here how different the two Wes’ are. One is climbing the success ladder, and the other is coming fast down. I am not sure whether it is because of making the right choices or having the right environment or both. The Other Wes’ life will always be a circle of regret, bad choices, falling relationships and making excuses for making wrong choices. His excuses will make him feel better about his choices and he will keep blaming society and not take any blame himself for being unprivileged.
Chapter Eight. Literary Response
“It made me think deeply about the way privilege and preference works in the world, and how many kids who didn’t have ‘luck’ like mine in this instance would find themselves forever outside the ring of power and prestige” (Page #). Author Wes made it into John Hopkins University after meeting with a representative. He realized that his chances of getting in increased because someone who worked there knew his story. He also realized that it was not because of him, and the credit should not be his. In fact, it was destiny or chance. In my opinion, Wes has matured and become more humble by demonstrating such modesty and humility. Wes also keeps in mind how he got to where he is now and feels sympathy for those who grew up with him but would never get a change in life like his. Another sign that Wes is becoming mature and learning more about life is the moment he receives the chance to go to South Africa. This is different from the other Wes’ life since he would most likely stay in one place forever, leading to one closed mindset, and the same mistakes over and over again. Wes the author will grow emotionally and physically by meeting other kinds of people and traveling around the world.
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