The Chaos Theory On The Example Of The Book The Other Wes Moore

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Chaos Theory is a branch of mathematics studying dynamic systems that are highly sensitive to initial conditions.​ This theory can be applied to life and more specifically, the two lives of Wes Moore. The nonlinear progression from the starting point of a cycle can create a nearly unpredictable result. The two Wes’s lives can be analogized as a pendulum, with disparities in the starting point causing a huge chain reaction of difference. Working backward, we can theorize what exactly sets the two Wes’s apart in their fate. In the novel, ​The Other Wes Moore​, Other Wes is unsuccessful because of these three distinct reasons: he was involved with drug dealing since a young age, his family influenced him poorly throughout his life, and he lacked the education to ascend in the economic ladder.

First, Wes’s involvement in drug dealing is a concurrent source of failure throughout his life. He gets in trouble with the law, he gains bad relations with his family, and his role in the game hinders his high school education. Living in low-income cities in the early 80s, both Wes’s were exposed to the growing drug epidemic at a young age. A segment from Author Wes’s monologue where he instantly recognizes a crack-addicted beggar (Moore 50) serves to remind that even as children, substance abuse in the community is a looming truth. Other Wes first indulges in drug usage when he accidentally finds his mother’s stash of marijuana while skipping school. When lying in bed, drunk and stoned, he realizes, “There is definitely money to be made” (Moore 62). Thereafter, his role in the drug game became his primary source of income. His drug dealing gig keeps him out of high school, in jail, and without his brother’s approval.

However, his role in peddling drugs began directly from the influence of his family. This correlates with his behavior and problems, most stemming either directly or indirectly from his family’s impact on him. Mary and Joy led the two Wes’s by example, Mary starting Wes’s involvement in the drug game by indirectly providing him with Weed, and not confronting him about the usage of it, meanwhile Joy putting her every effort to keep her children away from anything having to do with drugs. Tony is guilty of the same but seems to care more about Wes’s well-being then Mary at most points of the book, and throughout the novel one of the only decisions she makes to try to help Wes to get out of the drug dealing world is flushing his stash.

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The second greatest familial influence for the Wes’s must be their fathers. Other Wes states in jail while speaking to Author Wes that, “Your father wasn’t there because he couldn’t be, my father wasn’t there because he choose not to be” (Moore 1). Author Wes having a positive father figure to look up to postmortem is an influence that Other Wes didn’t have. Likewise, Other Wes’s first memory with his father (Moore 25) consists of tension and an unnerving realization.

Next, his lack of education cost him opportunities that could have kept him out of poverty. While it is true that Author Wes was privileged with attending Riverdale Private School, Other Wes failed himself equally of that the school system failed him. Wes became another high school dropout on the streets of Baltimore by choice. With nowhere left to turn and his earned GED only providing him with jobs that “the only consistency in his employment was inconsistency” (Moore 144), Wes turned back to the streets to provide him cash. Being that 1/7 of the city’s inhabitants were addicts (Moore 51), drug-dealing was an easier, and more stable job. Wes’s lack of education ultimately caused his fate as a drug dealer to be sealed.

In the end, Other Wes’s failures stem from influence and choice. There is no denying that Other Wes comes from a disadvantaged environment, but his own actions led him to his fate. Overall, the three distinct reasons why Other Wes failed was because he was involved with drug-dealing since his youth, his family continuously influenced him poorly throughout his life, and he lacked the education to provide for himself and his family. The message taken away from this book is that even though you can’t change your family, you can make the right decisions. The decisions that the Other Wes should have made were graduating high school and taking his brother’s advice on not involving with the drug game.


  1. Malcom, Ian. “Chaos Theory.” ​Wikipedia​, Wikimedia Foundation, 14 Oct. 2019,

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