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

Reginald Little

Malcolm's younger brother Reginald is portrayed as a sensitive person, who works as an 'instrument' in leading Malcolm on the path of Allah. It is through Reginald, that Malcolm first understands the teachings of the Nation.

Since childhood, Reginald always looks up to his elder brother Malcolm. Among all his siblings, Malcolm always had a special place is the bond between the two, that even when Malcolm because the notorious 'Detroit Red' - the drug peddler and hustler, Reginald still kept in touch with him. Reginald was a marine Corp, when Malcolm was hustling on the streets of Harlem. Malcolm persuades Reginald to leave the corps and become a hustler. Reginald refuses the offer initially. But later agrees to do a small hustle. He is unable to continue the work and leaves Harlem. Then, Malcolm thinks that Reginald failed because he was lazy. However when he looks back at the incident, as a minister of Nation of Islam he realizes that, Reginald was unsuccessful because he did not want to get drawn into crime.

While Malcolm is pulled further into crime, Reginald joins the Nation of Islam. Although Wilfrid is also a member of the Nation, it is Reginald who succeeds in talking to Malcolm about the Nation of Islam. Deeply moved by Reginald's talk, Malcolm gets interested in the teachings of the Nation of Islam.

When Reginald is suspended from the Nation of Islam for committing adultery, Malcolm's faith is shaken (for a moment) in the Nation. Reginald loses his mental stability due to the rejection from his family following his suspension. Influenced by Elijah then Malcolm thinks that it was Allah's punishment. Later when Malcolm's learns about Elijah Muhammad adultery with his numerous secretaries, he realizes that he was wrong about his brother.

Reginald plays an important role in Malcolm's transformation from 'Detroit Red' to Malcolm X the fiery spokesperson and member of the Nation. Malcolm recognizes it and in the book thanks his brother.

Ella Little

Ella is Malcolm's half sister. She is a strong, domineering and proud black woman, who valued her independence and self-respect more than any thing else in life.


Malcolm meets her for the first time at the Detention home, after all his siblings are sent to various foster homes. Over the years Malcolm became extremely fond of her. While in school, he kept in touch with her through letters. She lived in Boston. Like Malcolm's mother, she also believed that the Little family should stick together. And it is this feeling that made her help all her siblings, whenever the need arose. When Malcolm lost all interest in his studies, and decided to leave Lansing, she wrote to various officials so that he be shifted to a better prison. This prison was an experiment, which gave more freedom to the convicts. It had a very good library. This is where Malcolm re-educated himself - by studying Religion and History. The debates and discussions conducted in the prison, trained Malcolm in going through a critical period after his suspension from the Nation, Ella helps him once again when Malcolm wants to visit Mecca without asking him for any explanation, she says: "How much do you need?"

Her support and help reveals her trust in and affection for her brother Malcolm.

Her domineering and strong personality affected her personal relationship adversely. She was unable to keep her marriage going for long. For she marries three times only to break up, after a while.

Later, she decides to join the Nation of Islam. Even there, her independent and domineering nature made her leave it.

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