The Autobiography of Malcolm X Suggested Essay Topics

Malcolm X, Alex Haley

Suggested Essay Topics

Chapter 1: Nightmare
1. Malcolm describes the racial prejudice in Lansing, Michigan. Give three examples of this prejudice and explain the negative psychological impact such prejudice could have on black people.

2. How did Malcolm psychologically cope with the death of his father?

Chapter 2: Mascot
1. What were Mr. Williams’ (Malcolm’s history teacher) views on black history? Explain.

2. Malcolm says that if he hadn’t moved to Boston he would “still be a brainwashed black Christian.” Explain.

Chapter 3: “Homeboy”
1. Boston’s black neighborhood, Roxbury, is divided into two distinct areas—the “Hill” and the “town.” How were these areas different?

2. How does Malcolm feel about Shorty? Explain.

Chapter 4: Laura
1. Malcolm becomes friends with Shorty and Laura. Compare and contrast these two people.

2. Malcolm takes great pride in his relationship with Sophia. Explain.

Chapter 5: Harlemite
1. When Malcolm sells food on the railroad, he asserts, “All you had to do was give white people a show and they’d buy anything you offered them.” Explain his theory.

2. Malcolm says he was “mesmerized” the first time he visited Harlem. What does “mesmerized” mean? Why does Malcolm feel this way?

Chapter 6: Detroit Red and Chapter 7: Hustler
1. In describing the racism that black people experienced, Malcolm says, “All of us ... were ... black victims of the white man’s American social system.” Explain how the racial prejudice of the times had a negative impact on Malcolm.

2. Although Malcolm and his younger brother, Reginald, have very different personalities, the two become very close friends. Compare and contrast these two men.

Chapter 8: Trapped and Chapter 9: Caught
1. As Malcolm looks back on his life, he admits that he “deliberately invited death” many times. Give two...

(The entire section is 833 words.)