Skip to main content

The Other Wes Moore: Themes & Discussion Questions

Themes & Questions for Discussion

The following is taken directly from: Moore, Wes, and Troy Akiyama. "The Other Wes Moore: A Teacher's Guide." Southeast Missouri State University, 2018, http://www.semo.edu/pdf/MLK-other-wes-moore.pdf. Accessed 16 July 2018.

“Identity can be defined as the ways in which an individual describes him/herself or the ways in which a person is described by society. A person can have several “identities” such as: gender, race, age, socioeconomic status, linguistic background, culture, religion, sexual orientation, geographic residence, nationality, creed, familial connections, body size, and other signifers."

Questions to consider:

1. What does the word identity mean? What are some ways that people identify themselves?

2. Some identities can be seen by others, and other identities are only known to others if the individual chooses to share it.  What identities can you "see"?  What are some identities you may not be able to see?

3. What are the benefits of knowing certain identities of others and what can be misleading or harmful about making assumptions about the identities of others?

4. The cover of the book contains the following statement: "The chilling truth is that his story could have been mine.  The tragedy is that my life could have been his."  What do you think this statement means?

5. Wes was a plebe at Valley Forge Military Academy. What is a plebe and how does it compare to his other identities? What does this new identity do to him?

6. While Wes was in South Africa, he learned of a manhunt taking place in his neigborhood for a man with his same name.  Why is it significant that they have the same name?

7. What do you think Wes learned about himself by writing this book?

The following is taken directly from: Moore, Wes, and Troy Akiyama. "The Other Wes Moore: A Teacher's Guide." Southeast Missouri State University, 2018, http://www.semo.edu/pdf/MLK-other-wes-moore.pdf. Accessed 16 July 2018.

"Personal values are deeply held beliefs that guide individual's lives such as: honesty, loyalty, punctuality, integrity, etc."

Questions to consider:

1. What do we mean when we talk about "personal values"?

2. Is it important to have personal values? Why or why not?

3. Which person from The Other Wes Moore do you think had strong personal values? Why?

4. Which person from The Other Wes Moore do you think lacked strong personal values? Why?

5. We learn that Wes and Nikki had a strong relationship and that they also fought, as many siblings do.  Why was it so important to Joy Moore that Wes be punished when he hit Nikki? How did his father react?  What do we learn about Joy Moore's history that would make her react to this incident in such a way?

6. Wes's mother and grandparents had a lot of rules for Wes.  What were some of their rules? Do you think they were fair or too strict? Why do you think they had so many rules?  How does Wes's experience with rules and structure relate or differ from your own experience?

7. Discuss the type of friends the two Wes Moores had.

8. We learn about Wes's South African family.  What are some values that Wes and his new family seem to share?

 

The following is taken directly from: Moore, Wes, and Troy Akiyama. "The Other Wes Moore: A Teacher's Guide." Southeast Missouri State University, 2018, http://www.semo.edu/pdf/MLK-other-wes-moore.pdf. Accessed 16 July 2018.

"Each day, we all make a series of decisions that determine the ways in which we live our lives. These can include small decisions such as what to wear and what to eat for breakfast or involve larger daily decisions such as the decision to go to school or the decision to complete homework assignments on time."

Questions to consider:

1. What is a decision?

2. What are some decisions that you have made today?

3. Provide an example of a short-term decision.

4. Provide an example of a long-term decision.

5. What are some decisions that a person would need to make if they wanted to go to college?

6. What is meant by the saying that "one bad decision often leads to another bad decision?"

7. Both Wes Moores get into trouble as adolescents.  Talk about the initial indicators that they are beginning to make poor decisions.

8. When Wes is caught spray-painting with Shea, what happens to him when he is thrown into the police car? How is his reaction different from Shea's? In what ways, do you think, did this incident inform Wes's future decision making process?

9. How does Wes's life change when Alicia becomes pregnant? What is his mother's reaction to this?

10. After getting beat up (p. 103-105), Wes gets a gun and chases Ray down the street, eventually shooting him. What are the direct and indirect reasons that Wes made this decision?

 

 

The following is taken directly from: Moore, Wes, and Troy Akiyama. "The Other Wes Moore: A Teacher's Guide." Southeast Missouri State University, 2018, http://www.semo.edu/pdf/MLK-other-wes-moore.pdf. Accessed 16 July 2018.

"The two Wes Moores, along with their friends and family members, experience different losses, to differing degrees, throughout the book.  These losses include the loss of a family member, the loss of youth and innocence, the loss of freedom, and the loss of time amongst others. Similarly, both Wes Moores and the people in their lives demonstrate various forms of faith and experience redemption in very different ways. Religion, hope, trust, second chances, and forgiveness are all reoccurring examples of faith and redemption that emerge throughout the book."

Questions to consider:

1. What does it mean to have faith in something? What are things that you have faith in?

2. What does redemption mean? Have you ever experienced redemption?

3. Can you identify any examples of faith and redemption in The Other Wes Moore?

4. On page xiv, Wes writes that "life and death, freedom and bondage hang in the balance of everything." How does this quote relate to the themes of faith and redemption?

5. Describe the scene in the kitchen when Wes loses his father. What is his reaction? What are the two memories he has of his father?

6. The "other Wes" has a different memory of his father.  How are his memories different from those of the author?

7. Talk about the sadness that both Wes Moore's share when it comes to their fathers.  How are their losses similar?  How are they different?
 

The following is taken directly from: Moore, Wes, and Troy Akiyama. "The Other Wes Moore: A Teacher's Guide." Southeast Missouri State University, 2018, http://www.semo.edu/pdf/MLK-other-wes-moore.pdf. Accessed 16 July 2018.

"Wes’s life and his decisions were heavily infuenced by the people he surrounded himself with.  Similarly, the “other” Wes Moore was also infuenced by the people in his life."

Questions to Consider:

1. How do your peers/friends support you?

2. Give examples of how your parents support you.

3. What role does your community and neighborhood play in supporting you?

4. How would your life be different if you did not have the support of parents, peers or community?

5. What kinds of things did the author's mother do to protect her children?

6. Discuss the role of family in this book.  How is Wes's relationship with his sister different from the other Wes's relationship with his brother Tony?

7. After moving to New York, Wes meets new friends and bonds with them on the basketball court. How do these peer relationships influence Wes?

8. From pages 50-51, describe how drugs negatively affected Wes's community.

9. Who are the people in your life that have a positive influence on you. Why are they important to you and your future?


 

The following is taken directly from: Moore, Wes, and Troy Akiyama. "The Other Wes Moore: A Teacher's Guide." Southeast Missouri State University, 2018, http://www.semo.edu/pdf/MLK-other-wes-moore.pdf. Accessed 16 July 2018.

"Throughout the book, we learn about setting goals, the joys of accomplishing goals, and the consequences of not having them."

Questions to consider:

1. What comes to mind when you hear the word "goal?"

2. What is the difference between a short-term and a long-term goal?

3. What is one goal that a doctor might have?  A police officer?  What goals do you think teachers have?

4. What goals have you set for yourself in the past? Did you accomplish them?

5. Mary Moore gets a letter that her Pell grant is no longer available (p. 16-18).  How may her life have been different if that hadn't happened?  How did it change her goals and her path in life?

6. Wes and Justin made sacrifices to attend their school (p. 48-49).  What did this early experience teach Wes and Justin about the importance of goals?

7. What was the final straw that pushed Joy Moore to send Wes to military school?

8. On page 126, Wes writes "the expectations that others place on us form our expectations of ourselves." What does this mean?

9. Wes and Tony rob a jewelry store. What were their goals in doing this? Were they focusing on short-term or long-term goals when they made the decision to rob the store?

 

Loading ...