Malcolm X Essay

Submitted By ludyvas23
Words: 5687
Pages: 23

Ludjero Vasconcelos
Language and Composition
1 April 2013
The Autobiography of Malcolm X
By Malcolm X & Alex Haley
Chapter One: Nightmare
When Malcolm Little’s mother is pregnant with Malcolm, Ku Klux Klan members break the windows of his family’s house in Omaha, Nebraska. The white supremacists’ target is Malcolm’s father, Earl Little, a tall, black Baptist preacher from Georgia, because he works for Marcus Garvey’s Universal Negro Improvement Association (UNIA), which supports the return of American blacks to Africa. Malcolm is Earl’s seventh and lightest-skinned child. He is the only son who escapes Earl’s beatings and gets to follow his father to UNIA meetings. Malcolm’s mother, Louise Little, is a fair-skinned, educated woman from the island of Grenada. She was conceived when her father, a white man she never knew, raped her mother. Though Louise is able to get domestic work in town by passing as white, she stays at home to cook and clean for her family. When the family moves to Lansing, Michigan, in 1929, another white supremacist group burns down their house. Malcolm says that watching his house burn taught him one of many early lessons about being black in America. He sees that success for blacks in Lansing means waiting tables or shining shoes rather than working in a respected profession and that the majority of black people are poor and jobless.
Chapter Two: Mascot
In 1937, Malcolm moves in with the Swerlins, a white foster family in Lansing. He accepts their generosity, but feels more like a “mascot” or a pet than a human being equal to those around him. Malcolm is first in his class at Mason Junior High, but he does not feel comfortable at school. Though he is proud when the students elect him class president, he feels like a “pink poodle”—more of an oddity than a human being. In history class Malcolm finds only one paragraph on black history in the textbook. The teacher laughs as he tells Malcolm’s class that though the slaves have been freed, black people are still lazy and dumb. Malcolm tells his English teacher, Mr. Ostrowski, that he wants to become a lawyer. Though Mr. Ostrowski supports the professional aspirations of white students who are less intelligent than Malcolm, he tells Malcolm to become a carpenter. Malcolm comes to resent his white school and home, and realizes that even well-meaning white people do not see black people as their equals. Frustrated by how he has been treated at school and at home, Malcolm decides to move to Boston. The Swerlins do not understand why Malcolm wants to leave, and Malcolm is not able to explain his motivation to them. He moves into an upstairs room in his sister Ella’s house in Roxbury, a wealthy black neighborhood in Boston. He is glad to move away, later speculating that if he had stayed in Lansing, he would have gotten a menial job or become a complacent middle-class lawyer. Though only fifteen, he can pass for several years older, and he begins to look for a job.
Chapter Three: Homeboy
Malcolm arrives in Boston looking like a country person without any sense of urban fashion. He lives with his half-sister, Ella, who encourages him to explore the city before tying himself down to a job. Malcolm quickly sees the difference between the pace and lifestyle of Boston and that of Lansing. He also sees a difference between the lifestyle of the middle-class blacks who, like Ella, live in the neighborhood of Roxbury Hill, and that of ghetto blacks, who have less money and live further down the hill. Malcolm is drawn to the latter, objecting to the ways in which the “Hill Negroes” try to imitate white people and glorify their own menial jobs. When Malcolm finally begins to look for a job, he begins visiting a pool hall and befriends one employee there, Shorty. Shorty, who turns out to be from Lansing as well, works at the hall racking balls and tending tables, but he is also an aspiring saxophonist. Shorty immediately takes Malcolm under his wing, giving him