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Free Study Guide-The Autobiography of Malcolm X by Malcolm X-Free Notes
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Chapter 9

Summary (continued)

John offers a steady job to Malcolm in his gambling house, but Malcolm refuses. He wanted to do something that would help Shorty too. Like most black musicians, Shorty too could never earn enough to be comfortable financially. His earnings were just enough to help him pay his rent, buy food, reefers, and pay off old debts. Malcolm suggested to Shorty that he join him in a new 'hustle'. To his surprise Shorty agrees. Malcolm is surprised because Shorty had always been the more cautious and conservative of the two. The new 'hustle' that Malcolm had thought of was burglary. Shorty tells Malcolm that they should let his friend Rudy into their plans.

Malcolm had already met Rudy who was a short, boyish looking, light-colored negro. Rudy worked for an agency which sent him to wait on tables at exclusive parties held by the rich and influential whites. While he was on his job, once a week he went to an old, rich, aristocratic Bostonian. He was paid to undress them both (Rudy and the old aristocrat) then pick up the old man, lay him on the bed then stand over him, and sprinkle him all over with talcum powder. This incident reminded Malcolm of his days in Harlem when he steered the rich white customers to black prostitutes.

Rudy was a useful member for the burglary team because he used to work in the bungalows of rich families. While working there he could make note of the expensive articles there without causing any suspicion. Sophia and her sister also joined the gang and worked as informers. The two girls visited the white localities where the black men could not be caught hanging around during the day.

For a while every thing functioned smoothly for Malcolm and his gang. However, soon things begin to fall apart partly due to Malcolm's mistakes.

The first mistake is when Malcolm sees Sophia, her sister, and her husband's close friend at one of the negro joints. Instead of ignoring them, he walks up to their table and starts addressing them as 'baby'. This obviously arouses suspicion. As Malcolm had expected, Sophia's husband's best friend comes to the apartment they were living in. Malcolm hears the knock on the door and hides under the bed. He hears the key turn and sees a pair of trousers enter the room. The figure moves around searching drawers and cupboards. Next, he looks under the bed and finds Malcolm there. He emerges from under the bed laughing, though the entire situation was anything but funny. It is at this moment he realizes that he had hidden under the bed without his gun.


The man gives him a dirty look and leaves the apartment. The next mistake gets him into trouble with the police. He had given a broken watch, which was among several stolen articles, to a jewelry shop to have a broken crystal replaced. The police had already alerted all the jewelers in Boston about the stolen watch. So when Malcolm walked in to pick up his watch the owner waited until he paid for it and the watch was laid on the counter. Then he signaled the plain-clothes policeman who walked up to Malcolm from the back. Just then a black man walked into the shop and thinking that Malcolm was with the plain-clothes cop and began talking to him with his back to Malcolm.

Malcolm was wearing his gun. But he did not shoot the cop. Later, recalling the incident, Malcolm believes that Allah was with him even then. That is the reason he did not shoot the man. Malcolm just motioned to him and told him to take his gun. The plain-clothes cop was shocked, for he had not thought of a gun at all. He was really touched that Malcolm had not used his gun on him. Two more detectives emerged, who had been covering Malcolm. And Malcolm was arrested.

If Malcolm had not been arrested that day, he would have been dead another way. Sophia's husband's friend had told her husband about him. The husband had come to the apartment with a gun while Malcolm was being arrested.

At the end of the chapter, Malcolm explains the reason behind narrating his bad deeds of the past. He states that all the past experiences of a man fuse into his personality. Therefore, the only way to know and understand Malcolm X, the minister of the Nation is by learning about his past.

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