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

Shorty

Shorty is Malcolm's close friend. Shorty meets Malcolm in Boston where he (Shorty) is working in the poolroom of a bar. Malcolm meets him, when he was looking for a job, immediately after his arrival from Lansing.

When Shorty learns that Malcolm is from his 'home town', he is overwhelmed with joy. Shorty, who is several years elder to Malcolm is an aspiring musician. He helps Malcolm around in the new city, helps him get his first job as a shoe shine boy and teaches him how to 'conk' (straighten) his hair.

Like other negro youth then, Shorty was in awe of everything white. He secretly envied Malcolm who was able to win over Sophia, a beautiful white girl.

When Malcolm leaves Harlem to stay with Shorty in his apartment at Boston, he had left his old job and had joined a band of traveling musicians. Shorty really liked having Sophia over, when she used to come to meet Malcolm. Very soon, Sophia introduced her sister who had a striking resemblance to her sister (name not mentioned). Shorty and Sophia's sister fall in love at first sight. According to Malcolm, Shorty liked Sophia's sister because she was young, beautiful and more importantly white. On the other hand, Sophia's sister was interested in Shorty because of the novelty of befriending a black musician.

Shorty's feeling of awe and admiration for everything white is evident, when at nights, he would sit up on his bed just to look at the white skin of his girlfriend sleeping next to him.

In the book, Shorty represents the average black youth of America in the 30's, who aspired to enter either the entertainment business or sports - the only two field's opens to blacks then. And even after becoming a musician, it is not easy for a black youth to make two ends meet. Due to this, several black youth are attracted to crime, which offers quick money and that too loads of it.

Sophia

Sophia is the young white girl, who meets Malcolm at one of the 'Lindy hopping' parties. Malcolm dumps his girlfriend Laura for Sophia. This is because like other black youth then, even he was in awe of white skin.


Malcolm admits in the book that their relationship did not have any love. Whatever love that existed between them was purely physical. Sophia continued to meet Malcolm even after her marriage to a white Bostonian. Although Malcolm describes their relationship to be physical, Sophia's love was not solely based on physical attachment. This is evident from the way she reacts when; Malcolm used to slap her for no reason at all. She would cry, shout curses and say that she would never come back again. But she would come back again the next day. And Malcolm knew it too.

Perhaps initially she did get attracted to Malcolm for physical reasons alone. But over the years, she develops a bond with Malcolm. For it is to him that she tells all her personal problems to. Even though Malcolm never asked her about her husband, she use to till him everything about him. When Sophia was going through a difficult phase in her marriage, she confided in Malcolm.

Sophia had a lot of money. But it was Malcolm, she began to rely on for emotional stability. In return, she gave money to Malcolm, whenever he needed it or demanded it. Perhaps it is this emotional attachment that makes her join him in his burglary plans. She and her sister used to pretend that they were young girls employed to do some kind of a survey. They used to visit the wealthy houses in white locality and inform Malcolm and the others about the prospective houses that could be perfect for a break in at night.

Sophia's interest in Malcolm reveals although whites and blacks never mixed openly in America in, clandestine relationship between blacks and whites did happen for love or due to physical attraction.

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