Explain the importance of “not losing face” in the world of hustlers.

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Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Malcolm describes the lives of the hustlers as being rooted in the contingent, in the temporal.  This state of being is one in which the individual really has no vision of anything beyond what is in front of them at that instant, at that moment.  It is for this reason that there is a strong emphasis placed on being seen as "the man" or being seen as never "losing face."  Consider how Malcolm sees this world and how the corresponding connection of honor plays into this:

When you become an animal, a vulture, in the ghetto, as I had become, you enter a world of animals and vultures. It becomes truly survival of only the fittest.

In this light, one's honor is a form of strength.  To lose honor in the face of others is unacceptable because it is viewed as weakness.  The definitions of "strength" and "weakness" are defined in terms of the instant, the moment.  In this, honor and not "losing face" or in modern parlance, not being "punked," is a key component of survival and of strength.

Read the study guide:
The Autobiography of Malcolm X

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