In The Other Wes Moore, by Wes Moore, both boys named Wes Moore without fathers living in their immensely poor neighborhood display the effects of living in a destitute area without a proper male mentor. Wes Moore, the author, was left without a father at age 4, which may have caused him to feel a lack of direction in the beginning of his life; in addition, living in a poor neighborhood may have caused him to be unable to see how success can come through education.
His mother did indeed give him love, tried to get to him do well in school, and sent him to a private school, but Wes didn’t feel like trying to do well in school for at least two likely reasons. Wes always grew up in a place where most families had a low income. At Chinquapin Middle School in Baltimore: “Close to 70 percent of the kids were on the school lunch program”. Many of the parents of the community couldn’t afford to feed their children without financial aid from the government. Although he spent a lot of time living outside Baltimore, in the Bronx, he still lived in a place where crime and drugs were rampant.
In places such as these, academic success would seem to be futile because of the lack of impression from people in their world. There wouldn’t be very many scholars, who had achieved a higher education and led a successful career that brought them happiness and a handsome salary. Living in Baltimore and the Bronx, Wes had nowhere to actually see with his own eyes how education could take him to great places. The death of the author’s father, and lack of a male mentor, definitely caused a stir of anger, confusion, fear, and possibly ended up in a depression that even affected how well he did in school.
At such an early age, being hit with the sudden reality that your father is no more, emotions can become bottled up. According to a study in The Journal of Adolescence, the lower the GPA of students, the more commonly they were depressed. Wes had been left with a mental stigma for a part of his life, because of the death of his father, and his terrible performance in school is undeniable. In the third grade, he was reading at a second grade level. When attending Riverdale, he was hardly attending school and doing so terribly in academics that the principal called his mother.
His mother then sent him to military school and because of that he was able to have male role models. Having male role models, arguably, was the main factor in how he turned his life around. He no longer felt the repressed emotions from when he was a child, and he eventually started to enjoy academics. Had he a father for all his life, he might have never had the same problems with academics and such. The other Wes Moore’s life was greatly influenced by his life’s circumstances. He also was raised in a destitute area where crime and drugs had taken over neighborhoods, and never had a real father figure.
Young boys need a role model, and because he never had a male hero in his life, he looked to his brother as a role model. Even though his brother did not want him to get involved in the same crimes he was involved in: “To Wes, Tony was a ‘certified gangsta’” (Moore 27). Tony had an immense reputation in the drug game. He worked his way to the top, and naturally, such respect and reputation would appeal to other people. Wes eventually followed in Tony’s footsteps. He was also gravitated toward dealing drugs, because the only neighborhood he knew was filled with demand for drugs.
His mother spread thin financially which was in part because they didn’t have any income coming from their father, and drugs seemed an easy way to make money in his world. He became heavily involved with selling drugs, and ultimately, he joined Tony in committing the crime that got them both into prison for the rest of their lives. With no father, Tony was the only one to look up to. Adolescents without fathers are twice as likely to drop out of high school, just as Wes did. Wes seemed doomed to never make it out of his poor, crime infested neighborhood, because of the environment and the absence of his father.