The Other Wes Moore Chapter 5 Summary
While harassing his sister, Wes (the author) accidentally splits her lip and he gets in serious trouble from his mother. His mother had already had a disappointing conversation with the dean at Riverdale. She slapped Wes, twice, hard across the face. “She was devastated. She was losing her son, and she was not sure how to turn the tide” (89). It turns out that she sends him to Valley Forge Military Academy. At Valley Forge, his “days began before the sun came up and ended well after it retired…Our birth names were irrelevant, as were our past acquaintances and past accomplishments and past failures.
We were the same now. We were nothing” (89- 90). Wes’s first few days were filled with rage directed at his mother because he “felt betrayed” (90). Wes also partly blamed his roommate for his being shipped there because it was his grandmother who had told Wes’s mother about Valley Forge. One morning, Wes’s squad leader came in to his room and offered him a map to the train station in Wayne because he knew Wes didn’t want to be there. Wes was overwhelmed with gratitude with his “mind spinning…[planning his] great escape” (92).
Wes left at midnight that evening and followed the directions perfectly. It wound up getting him lost in the forest. While he sat on a rock and wept, the entire chain of command found him and took him back to the school, directly to his tactical officer, Colonel Battaglioli (Batt). Batt gave Wes one phone call (which were against the rules of the pledge system), and he called his mother. He made promises to her, but she would not let him come home. “Too many people have sacrificed in order for [him] to be there” (95).
The call ended with her telling him that “it’s time to stop running” (96). Wes became impressed with a 19-year-old Cadet Captain named Ty Hill. It wasn’t necessarily the strict rules and routines that had such an impact on Wes, but the “different psychological environment, where [his] normal expectations were inverted, where leadership was honored and class clowns were ostracized” (96-97). Unbeknownst to Wes, Wes’s mother had asked Captain Hill to keep an eye on him. Things couldn’t be more different for the other Wes Moore.
His excerpt begins with him catching the bus to be taken to Perry Hall High School in West Baltimore. Wes was very popular with girls around town and met a girl named Alicia. Within two months, Alicia got pregnant. Tony had just had a baby, and so did Tony’s and Wes’s mother. When Wes told Tony, he laughed at how absurd the whole situation was. Wes wasn’t necessarily afraid of fatherhood and responsibility, but “he did sense that he was crossing a point of no return, that things were about to get complicated in a way he was unequipped to handle” (100).
Tony revealed the news of Alicia’s pregnancy at the 1st birthday celebration of their baby brother. Wes began seeing other girls. One night, Wes saw a girl out of his house, and was confronted by a young man named Ray. Ray beat him pretty badly, but not enough to stop Wes from going inside to get his 9mm Beretta. Wes saw Ray and chased after him. One of Wes’s partners in the drug operation saw the state he was in and joined him. “As they ran, he and his friend…would take turns firing shots at him” (104).
Eventually, they heard Ray cry out and saw him fall, so Wes and his friend returned home. While he was cleaning up in the bathroom, Wes’s mother “was outside the door, knocking ferociously, demanding to know what had happened” (105). Not knowing what else to do, Mary Moore called Tony. Wes hid his gun in the fish tank that held his snapping turtle. Having disposed of his bloody clothes and put on a clean shirt, Wes had his hands in the air as he was being arrested in his bedroom. Tony had arrived too late. Wes was already gone by the time he got there.