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Free Study Guide-The Autobiography of Malcolm X by Malcolm X-Free Notes
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CHARACTER ANALYSIS (continued)

Laura

She is the pretty high school girl, who falls in love with young Malcolm in Boston. She overcomes stiff opposition at home to be with Malcolm. Laura goes out 'Lindy hopping' with Malcolm. According to Malcolm, she was a very graceful dancer. And they both made a perfect pair on the dancing floor.

Laura is portrayed as a shy sensitive yet determined young girl. Her determination is evident in the manner in which she rebels against her grandmother, at home. Her grandmother, a very conservative and deeply religious woman, had brought Laura up after her parents' death. Although Laura knew that her grandma would never accept Malcolm with his bright colored 'zoot' suits and slang language, Laura continued to go out with him. Malcolm in turn liked her because she did not seem to have any airs about her, unlike the other middle class Negroes in Ella's neighborhood.

However, when Malcolm dumps Laura for a white girl Sophia, Laura is unable to take the rejection. She is totally broken. She feels let down and the deep sense of betrayal pushes her to rebel against all the taboos and controls at home. She starts smoking, takes drugs, and becomes a prostitute. Very soon, she moves out of her Grandmother's house.

Malcolm feels that he alone is responsible for Laura's moral destruction. In the book, he apologizes for his mistake. The rejection of Laura can be interpreted as Malcolm's last contact with respectability before he gets drawn into crime.

Louise Little

Louise Little is Malcolm's mother. Her childhood was spent in the West Indies. She was light - skinned with straight black hair. Malcolm had inherited his light color from her.

However, she wasn't proud of her light skin as it reminded her of her grandfather (probably illegitimate) who was a white. Unlike her husband, she was extremely strict with Malcolm. Though she and her husband had several disagreements, she was extremely devoted to him and stood by him through the most difficult moments. Like her husband, she too was brave and determined. This is evident from the incident before Malcolm is born. Louise is alone one night with her children. The Ku Klux Klan arrive at the door asking for Earl Little. Louise opens the door and faces them alone.


Malcolm recalls that she was a very sensitive person i.e. she had very strong instincts, such that she could anticipate any bad event. Malcolm seemed to have inherited the same sensitivity and instincts from his mother. The fateful afternoon, when Earl Little leaves home never to return again, it is her natural strong instincts that make Louise rush out and call him back. But by then, he was already out of sight. After her husband's tragic end, it is her strength and determination that helps her to shoulder the responsibility of bringing up her large family. She takes up odd jobs in people's houses to earn a living. However, the depression years makes it rather difficult for the Little family. They could hardly make both ends meet. Finally, she is forced to swallow her pride and seek help from the Welfare Department.

The constant surveillance and interference from the Welfare Department hurt her. For it was one thing to get monetary support from the department, but it was totally another, when they began telling her that she was not looking after her children properly.

Meanwhile, Louise meets another man and courts him for a while. Louise seemed to be happier during this period, for she hoped to marry him very soon. However, the man leaves probably because the thought of taking on the responsibility of seven children scared him. Louise is totally broken. This and the constant interference from the social workers in the Welfare Department affect her mentally. She is sent to a sanatorium in Kilamazoo in 1937. She remains here till 1963. After 63 she goes to stay with her elder son Wilfrid's family.

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