The Autobiography of Malcolm X

by Malcolm X, Alex Haley

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Last Updated on May 5, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 465

Sample Analytical Paper Topics
The following paper topics are designed to test your understanding of the autobiography as a whole and to analyze important themes. Following each question is a sample outline to help you get started.

Topic #1
What long range effects did the death of Reverend Little, Malcolm’s father, have on Malcolm?

I. Thesis Statement: Malcolm was only eight-years-old when his father was brutally murdered. Throughout his life, he was looking for a father-figure to make up for his earlier, tragic loss.

II. Father Figures
A. Mr. Ostrowski
B. Hymie
C. Bimbi
D. The Honorable Elijah Mohammad
E. Allah, the Muslim God

III. Father Figures’ Contributions to Malcolm
A. Mr. Ostrowski initially encouraged Malcolm in school.
B. Bimbi encouraged Malcolm to take prison correspondence courses.
C. The Honorable Elijah Muhammad is instrumental in Malcolm’s transformation.
D. Malcolm credits Allah with all of his success.

Topic #2
What are Malcolm’s views on women?

I. Thesis Statement: Malcolm was seriously disappointed by women early in his life. His process of spiritual transformation enabled him to regain his trust and confidence in women.

II. Malcolm’s Early Experiences With Women
A. His mother was unable to support and care for her family after her husband’s murder.
B. Ella contrasts sharply with his mother.

III. Malcolm’s Later Experiences With Women
A. Malcolm has little respect for Laura.
B. Sophia, as a white woman, represented the unattainable to Malcolm.
C. Ironically, Malcolm trusts the various prostitutes he meets.

IV. Malcolm’s Adulthood
A. Malcolm slowly gains complete trust and confidence in Betty Shabazz.
B. Malcolm accepts Ella’s generosity.
C. As a result, he reconciles with his mother.

Topic #3
The theme of racial prejudice is evident throughout the book. How does Malcolm’s autobiography reflect the racial prejudice of that time?

I. Thesis Statement: Malcolm, his black family and his friends were denied equal treatment because of racial prejudice.

II. Father’s Murder
A. Killed by a local racist group

III. Malcolm’s Academic Career
A. He feels like he is treated like a “mascot".
B. Excels in school, but was dissuaded from seeking a white-collar profession

IV. Boston and New York Experiences
A. Bad influences of black ghetto life are pervasive—drugs, alcohol, gambling, and criminal activity.
B. West Indian Archie is a black street hustler, but has an extraordinary skill—photographic memory.

V. Prison
A. As a black man, Malcolm was given a stiffer sentence because he had white female friends.
B. Charlestown State Prison, with its largely black inmate population, offered virtually no rehabilitative services.

VI. Minister Malcolm X
A. White majority sought to discredit the Nation of Islam

VII. Malcolm’s Ouster from the Nation of Islam
A. White-controlled media continued to discredit Malcolm, despite his new ideology.

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Masterplots II: African American Literature The Autobiography of Malcolm X Analysis