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Free Study Guide-The Autobiography of Malcolm X by Malcolm X-Free Notes
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OVERALL ANALYSES

CHARACTER ANALYSIS

Malcolm X

Malcolm X is the narrator and protagonist of the book. In the book, Malcolm narrates the story of his life from childhood to his youth as a hustler in Harlem and later to when he became Minister Malcolm X.

The accounts of his childhood, his youth, and his life in the prison and later his life as the fiery spokesperson of the Nation are given in detail.

Malcolm comes across as an honest, out spoken and courageous person who due to his indomitable spirit rises up from the very depths of American society to earn fame as a man, who stood for the cause of black men not only in America but all over the world.

His keen eye for observation, the depth of understanding about American society, his knowledge of the psychology not only of the blacks but also of other communities the Jews and the whites is amazing. Throughout the book, everything he speaks on, his thoughts seems to be extremely clear. And he could speak on not just Racism but several other aspects of American society. Yet, at the end of the book, he gives all the credit for his achievements to Allah and says that only the mistakes made were his. The statement reveals the humility of Malcolm X, a man who had the ability to start or stop a riot in America then.

In the short span of his life, (he died at the age of 40), he achieved international fame, as a man who stood for the rights of the black people. Initially, due to the influence of the Nation, he looked at the race issue from the blacks versus white point of view, his subsequent break from the Nation and travels to Africa and Mecca broadened his outlook. He realized that the white Muslims in the gulf countries did not treat blacks as outsiders at all. In fact the religion of Islam created a common bond between the Muslims of various races and nationalities.

Gradually, from his two visits to African countries, he concluded that the race question in the U.S. could be solved only if the blacks all over the world united. He believed that racism is not a civil rights issue, but an issue of human rights. But before he could translate his new ideas into action he was assassinated on Feb. 21, 1965.

Rev. Earl Little

Malcolm X's father, Rev. Earl Little is a preacher. He is an active member and organizer of Marcus Garvey's UNIA. He was a tall black Negro from Georgia. Due to his work in the universal Negro improvement Association, he was constantly threatened by the Ku Klux Klan. Undeterred by their threats, he carried on his work through secret meetings, where he spread the ideas of Marcus Garvey's. His commitment and strong convictions were tested very often. A white racist group burst his house down. Despite direct threats to his and his family's safety, he remained loyal to his organization.


Malcolm remembers that as a father and husband, he was extremely harsh, for Earl Little constantly fought with his wife and beat his children. According to Malcolm, the fights between his parents were mainly because his mother Louise Little was an intelligent woman. Also she had received some education, which was not common among poor black women then. Malcolm's parents quarreled often because of various disagreements, between them.

In spite of their quarrels and disagreements, Louise Little (Malcolm's mother) was extremely devoted to her husband. Although, Earl Little was extremely proud of his African heritage and spoke of the Little Black Train, which will come and save all the blacks (to be taken to Africa.) he too, according to Malcolm was a victim of white 'brain washing' i.e. he too believed that everything white was good and something to be admired. Because he was fond of Malcolm, as Malcolm, was the lightest of all his siblings, while he was very violent with his other children, he did not touch Malcolm. Moreover, he was the only one, who was taken to all his UNIP meetings at night.

Earl Little's activities in and around Lansing, was seen as an attempt to arouse the 'good Negro's' in Lansing by the whites. When threats by the racist groups did not work, they put an end to his life. One afternoon, he walked out of his house never to return again. He was killed and his body was found on the railway tracks.

Although, the entire case was shut officially, stating that it was an accident, everyone including the Little family knew that Rev. Earl Little's death was anything but an accident

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