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How is "Hair" by Malcolm X an autobiography?

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mirilo9 | Student, Grade 10 | (Level 2) eNoter

Posted November 18, 2010 at 2:51 AM via web

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How is "Hair" by Malcolm X an autobiography?

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scarletpimpernel | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted November 18, 2010 at 3:01 AM (Answer #1)

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If you just read "Hair" by itself, it is closer to a memoir than an autobiography because it focuses on one event in Malcolm X's life. That being said, though, "Hair" is an excerpt from The Autobiography of Malcolm X. Below are several autobiographical elements found in "Hair."

1. Most significantly, Malcolm X is writing about himself in "Hair"; he is telling his story which is what an autobiography is.

2. The excerpt also contains techniques found in a nonfiction narrative: time markers (These are transition words like "later" and "next.") and dialogue (He even includes the slang that he and Shorty used in Harlem).

3. At the end of "Hair," Malcolm X presents the lesson that he learned from this experience--not to degrade himself in order to conform to others' standards or ideals. While some autobiographies seem to be mere outlets for entertainment or for the writers to glorify themselves, Malcolm X is careful to present his wise and foolish decisions and to offer a moral for his readers so that perhaps they do not repeat his mistakes.

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