Malcolm X’s Writing Strategies
The passage “Hair” was from the Autobiography of Malcolm X, written by Malcolm X and his partner Alex Haley. In the passage, Malcolm X recorded his experience of straightening his hair, and showed his main idea in the end of it. By creating this article, Malcolm X revealed the social morality of America in that time: The Blacks were despised by white people, but they were wrongheaded that even though they may suffer the bitterness of flesh, they still pursued the aesthetic ideas of white people. It is obvious that Malcolm X was trying to appeal all of the black people to stop modeling themselves on white people blindly. His purpose was to let the Blacks know that all men are equal. He wanted to tell them that they have the right to have their own aesthetic ideas, to enjoy their own life, to gain respect. And Malcolm X uses figurative language and several rhetorical devices, such as metaphor and irony to deliver his main idea.
I first find that Malcolm X used a metaphor 17th paragraph, “ When Shorty let me stand up and see in the mirror, my hair hung down in limp, damp strings.” Here Malcolm X’s new hairstyle was nearly done. By comparing his hair to limp and damp strings, Malcolm X implied that he was satisfied with his pretty conk. However, I think that it is a kind of foreshadowing in this article. Considering that Malcolm X ridiculed himself in the following passage, it seems like the rhetorical device here is also an irony. And it reflects and satirizes the Blacks’ general idea in that time. This kind of combining writing strategy could make the text more far-reaching.
Meanwhile, Malcolm X used irony in the last paragraph. He claimed “I had joined that multitude of Negro men and women in America who are brainwashed into believing that the black people are “inferior”—and white people “superior”—that they will even violate and mutilate their God-created bodies to try to look “pretty” by white standards.” Obviously, Malcolm X used irony here. After reading the whole article, you may think the passage is just a huge satire, while this rhetorical device reaches the peak here, because Malcolm X clearly opposed the black people to do harm to their bodies for just looking like the white people. However, Malcolm X did not mean to satirize his companion. He was trying to help them to walk out from the crooked situation. Consequently, irony is the brightest highlight in this passage.
Regarding the figurative language, it appears everywhere in this passage, and I think Malcolm X used it to state his main idea subsidiarily. In the 5th paragraph, “ He peeled the potatoes and thin-sliced them into a quart-sized Mason fruit jar, then started stirring them with a wooden spoon as he gradually poured in a little over half the can of lye”, it shows that how…