Chapter 16 Summary: Out

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Last Updated on May 17, 2018, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 926

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Dr. Leona A. Turner: Malcolm’s family doctor

Cassius Clay: famous Muslim heavyweight boxer

Sonny Liston: famous heavyweight boxer who fights Cassius Clay

Floyd Patterson: famous heavyweight boxer who fights Cassius Clay

Summary

Thanks to Malcolm’s tenacity and dedication to the Nation of Islam, more than 100 mosques opened throughout the United States by 1961. Although his commitment to the movement remains unswerving, he is convinced that “our Nation of Islam could be an even greater force in the American black man’s overall struggle—if we engaged in more action.”

Meanwhile, Malcolm has become aware of the fact that negative remarks were being made about him by people within the Nation of Islam. They were saying, for example, that Malcolm likes being a “coast-to-coast Mr. Big Shot.” Remembering Elijah Mohammad’s prediction about people’s envy and jealousy toward public figures, Malcolm is not angry or upset by these comments. Soon, he starts to notice that he is receiving less coverage in the Nation of Islam’s newspaper, Muhammad Speaks. Malcolm, again, refuses to allow this to bother him, because he considers resentful feelings to be a sign of weakness. Eventually, however, in 1963, Malcolm is so distressed by Muslims’ reactions to him that, attempting to escape the limelight, he begins to turn down journalists’ requests for interviews.

During this time, rumors have begun to circulate about Elijah Muhammad’s allegedly adulterous affairs. In 1963, America’s mass media reports these allegations, and Malcolm is horrified. The Nation of Islam’s strict moral code forbids such behavior. In fact, Malcolm’s own brother, Reginald, was expelled from the Nation several years earlier as a result of a similar type of moral misconduct.

On November 22, 1963, President John F. Kennedy is assassinated in Dallas, Texas. Malcolm believes the President’s assassination demonstrates that “the hate in white men had not stopped with the killing of defenseless people, but that hate, allowed to spread unchecked, finally had struck down this country’s Chief of State.” When asked his opinion about this tragedy, Malcolm replies that it is a case of “the chickens coming home to roost.” Taken out of context, this remark seems disrespectful and brash to people.

In an effort to disassociate Muslims from Malcolm’s statement, Elijah Muhammad silences him for 90 days. Malcolm is deeply troubled and at the same time—given the reaction of Muslims to him in recent years—suspicious of Muhammad’s denouncement. He visits his family doctor, and she advises him to get more rest. Malcolm and Betty, along with their three daughters, go on their first vacation since their marriage. In honor of Malcolm and Betty’s sixth anniversary, their friend, Cassius Clay, takes them to Miami. Malcolm attends the championship boxing match between the underdog Clay, a Muslim, and Sonny Liston, a Christian. Clay triumphs.

Back in New York, Malcolm announces plans to create an organization which would “help to challenge the American black man to gain his human rights, and to cure his mental, spiritual, economic, and political sicknesses ... It would embrace all faiths of black men, and it would carry into practice what the Nation of Islam had only preached.” People are enthusiastic about Malcolm’s new mosque, called Muslim Mosque, Inc.

To prepare himself for this enormous commitment, Malcolm decides to make a pilgrimage to the holy city of Mecca, in Saudi Arabia, which is the birth-place of Muhammad, who was an Arab prophet and the founder of Islam in the seventh century.

Analysis

The conflict detailed in this chapter is between Malcolm and Elijah Muhammad’s Nation of Islam. Although Malcolm has alluded to this conflict in previous chapters, Muhammad’s total repudiation of Malcolm takes the reader by surprise.

As the title indicates, the chapter describes how Malcolm is kicked “out” of the Nation of Islam. The reader empathizes with Malcolm, and recognizes that these events are a part of the process of his evolution. The reader learns that Malcolm has become somewhat disillusioned with the Nation of Islam movement because of its “all talk, no action,” or “non-engagement” policy in response to the black man’s struggle for equal rights. Then, there is the Muslim followers’ growing negativity toward him, his exclusion from coverage in the Nation’s newspaper, and, finally, Malcolm’s torment when he learns about Elijah Muhammad’s betrayal of the Muslims’ strict moral code.

The ultimate blow to Malcolm comes when he is “silenced” by Elijah Muhammad because of his comments regarding the assassination of President John Kennedy.

Malcolm’s language in this chapter lacks the descriptive similes and metaphors used in previous chapters. His language is quite factual and journalistic, particularly toward the end of the chapter, when he has recognized Muhammad’s betrayal and is clearly focusing on ways to remedy the situation.

The chapter concludes on a positive note, as Malcolm announces the formation of a new organization and his intentions to make a pilgrimage to Mecca. His organization will be substantially different from the Nation of Islam’s “talk only” policy. Malcolm asserts that the strength of “a ten-million black vote bloc could be the deciding balance of power in American politics.... The polls are one place where every black man could fight the black man’s cause with dignity, and with the power and the tools that the white man understands, and respects, and fears, and cooperates with.” Malcolm sums up, “It will be the working base for an action program designed to eliminate the political oppression, the economic exploitation, and the social degradation suffered daily by twenty-two million Afro-Americans.”

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Chapter 17 Summary: Mecca