Chapter 1: Nightmare

Study Questions
1. Where were Malcolm’s parents from?

2. What was the Black Legion?

3. Where did Reverend Little keep his pistol?

4. Why did Malcolm think that his father favored him over his other children?

5. Why was the Little family “better off” than most black families in East Lansing, Michigan?

6. Why did one insurance company refuse to pay off the life insurance policy of Reverend Little?

7. What strategic lesson did Malcolm learn from his rabbit-hunting expedition?

8. Why did Malcolm like to visit the Gohannas family?

9. How did Malcolm feel about his older sister Hilda?

10. How long did Louise Little remain in the state mental hospital in Kalamazoo, Michigan?

1. Malcolm’s father was from Reynolds, Georgia and his mother was from Grenada, in the British West Indies.

2. The Black Legion was a hate society of white racists in Lansing, Michigan.

3. Reverend Little’s pistol was hidden, kept sewn up in a pillow.

4. Malcolm thought that his father favored him because he was his father’s lightest-colored child. He felt that his father had been subconsciously brainwashed by white men into preferring lighter-skinned blacks.

5. The Little family built a small house in East Lansing, Michigan and raised much of their own food.

6. The insurance company claimed that Reverend Little had committed suicide and refused to pay off his life insurance policy.

7. Malcolm learned that any time you find someone more successful than you are, especially when you are both engaged in the same business, that person is doing something that you aren’t.

8. Malcolm liked to visit the Gohannas family because his own family had become destitute. Whenever he dropped by, they would invite him to stay for dinner.

9. Malcolm considered his older sister to be his second mother.

10. Louise Little remained in the state mental hospital for about 26 years.

Chapter 2: Mascot

Study Questions
1. What was the outcome of Malcolm’s boxing matches with Bill Peterson?

2. Why was Malcolm expelled from school?

3. In what extracurricular activities did Malcolm participate in Mason Junior High School?

4. Where did Malcolm work after school?

5. What were Malcolm’s favorite subjects in school?

6. What did Malcolm think was unique about his half-sister Ella?

7. How did Ella become financially successful?

8. How did Malcolm feel after Ella’s suggestion about the Little family visiting their mother? Why?

9. What professions did Mr. Ostrowski encourage Malcolm’s classmates to pursue?

10. Where did Malcolm go to listen to music when he visited Boston?

1. Bill Peterson won both boxing matches.

2. Malcolm was expelled because he placed a thumbtack on his teacher’s chair.

3. Malcolm was a member of the debating society and the junior high basketball team.

4. Malcolm worked in a local restaurant, washing dishes.

5. Malcolm’s favorite subjects were English and history.

6. Malcolm felt that his half-sister Ella was “the first really proud black woman” he had ever seen in his life.

7. Ella became financially successful by investing in real estate.

8. Malcolm was grateful and optimistic about Ella’s suggestion because he felt that she could help his mother get well and return to her family.

9. Mr. Ostrowski encouraged Malcolm’s classmates to pursue careers as teachers, a county agent, a veterinarian, and a nurse.

10. Malcolm went to the Roseland State Ballroom in Boston to listen to music.

Chapter 3: “Homeboy”

Study Questions
1. What does Ella want Malcolm to do when he arrives in Boston?

2. Who was Crispus Attucks?

3. What instrument does Shorty play?

4. What is a “slave”?

5. What was Malcolm’s first job in Boston?

6. Name four famous black jazz musicians who performed at Roseland.

7. What type of car does Freddie drive?

8. What is the first item that Malcolm buys on credit?

9. What is a “conk”?

10. What ingredients are necessary in order to conk one’s hair?

1. Ella wants Malcolm to get to know the city by walking around and traveling through it.

2. Crispus Attucks was a Negro and the first American patriot to be killed by the British in the Boston Massacre.

3. Shorty plays the saxophone.

4. A “slave” is a slang word for a job.

5. Malcolm’s first job in Boston was shining shoes at the Roseland State Ballroom.

6. The famous black jazz musicians who perform at Roseland include Duke Ellington, Count Basie, Lionel Hampton, Cootie Williams, Jimmie Lunceford, Johnny Hodges, Sonny Greer, Jimmie Rushing, Lester Young, Harry Edison, Buddy Tate, Don Byas, Dickie Wells, and Buck Clayton.

7. Freddie drives a pearl gray Cadillac.

8. The first item Malcolm buys on credit is a zoot suit.

9. A “conk” is a slang term for a hairstyle created when African Americans straighten their hair with lye.

10. The ingredients necessary to conk one’s hair are a can of Red Devil lye, two eggs, and two potatoes.

Chapter 4: Laura

Study Questions
1. How does Ella feel when Malcolm quits his shoe-shining job? Why?

2. What is Shorty’s career goal?

3. What does Malcolm do the day after he quits his shoe-shining job?

4. Where does Malcolm work as a soda fountain clerk?

5. Where do Malcolm and Laura go on their first date?

6. What band is playing the second time Laura and Malcolm go to Roseland?

7. Where do Sophia and Malcolm go on dates?

8. What is a “rubber”?

9. How does Shorty feel about Sophia?

10. How does Ella feel about Sophia?

1. Ella is glad when Malcolm quits his shoe-shining job because she feels that the job had no prestige.

2. Shorty wants to start his own musical group and perform around Boston.

3. The day after he quits his shoe-shining job, Malcolm buys another zoot suit and gets his first barbershop conk.

4. Malcolm is a soda fountain clerk at Townsend Drug Store.

5. Malcolm and Laura go to a dance at the Roseland Ballroom on their first date.

6. The Duke Ellington band is playing the second time Laura and Malcolm go to Roseland.

7. Sophia and Malcolm go to dances and bars around Roxbury.

8. A rubber is a slang word for a car.

9. Shorty likes Sophia very much.

10. Ella does not like Sophia at all.

Chapter 5: Harlemite

Study Questions
1. Why does Ella recommend Malcolm for the railroad job?

2. Why does Malcolm want the railroad job?

3. What is surprising to Malcolm when he visits Washington, DC?

4. Where does Malcolm stay on his first visit to Harlem?

5. What is Malcolm’s favorite drink?

6. Why isn’t Malcolm worried after being fired by the railroad company?

7. Whom does Malcolm visit in Kalamazoo, Michigan?

8. What is Malcolm’s first job when he moves to New York in 1942?

9. When did Harlem’s Cotton Club open?

10. Where does the “Lindy Hop” get its name?

1. Ella recommends Malcolm for the railroad job because she wants him to move out of Boston and stop dating Sophia.

2. Malcolm wants a railroad job because the job would provide him with free transportation to visit New York City’s Harlem.

3. Malcolm is surprised to find thousands of poor people living just a few blocks from Capitol Hill and the White House.

4. On his first visit to Harlem, Malcolm stays at the Harlem YMCA.

5. Malcolm’s favorite drink is a shot of bourbon.

6. Malcolm wasn’t worried after being fired because, during America’s war years, the economy was very strong.

7. Malcolm visits his mother, who is in a state hospital in Kalamazoo, Michigan.

8. Malcolm’s first job in New York City is as a day waiter in Small’s Paradise.

9. Harlem’s Cotton Club opened in 1926.

10. The Lindy Hop is named after Charles Lindburgh, an aviator who made an historic, non-stop flight from New York to Paris in 1927.

Chapter 6: Detroit Red and Chapter 7: Hustler

Study Questions
1. How did the burglar, “Jumpsteady,” get his name?

2. Why is Malcolm fired from Small’s Paradise?

3. How old is Malcolm when he becomes a drug peddler?

4. Why is Malcolm wary of taking Sophia out to Roxbury clubs?

5. Why does Malcolm begin traveling on railroad lines?

6. What caused the 1945 riot in Harlem?

7. What is West Indian Archie’s unique ability?

8. Why does Malcolm visit his brother, Philbert, in Michigan?

9. Who is Branch Rickey? Why are people in Harlem excited about Rickey’s recent decision?

10. What is Malcolm’s main job when he works for Hymie?

1. “Jumpsteady” gets his name from his days as a burglar when he jumped from the rooftops of buildings and maneuvered along window ledges.

2. Malcolm is fired from Small’s Paradise because one day, while at work, he gives an undercover policeman the telephone number of a prostitute.

3. Malcolm becomes a drug peddler when he is 17-years-old.

4. Malcolm is wary of taking Sophia out to Roxbury clubs because “the Boston cops used the war as an excuse to harass interracial couples, stopping them and grilling the Negro about his draft status.”

5. Malcolm begins traveling on the railroad lines because it is a safe way for him to sell marijuana to touring musicians.

6. In 1945, white merchants in Harlem refused to hire black people to work in their stores. Thousands of angry black people began to riot in retaliation.

7. West Indian Archie’s unique ability is that he has a photographic memory.

8. Malcolm visits his brother, Philbert, because Malcolm matched the description of the man who had robbed a Harlem bar. He leaves New York, temporarily, until the real thief is caught.

9. Branch Rickey is the owner of the Brooklyn Dodgers. In 1945, he signs the black baseball player, Jackie Robinson, to play in major league baseball.

10. Malcolm transports bootleg liquor from Long Island to New York bars.

Chapter 8: Trapped and Chapter 9: Caught

Study Questions
1. What is Billie Holiday’s nickname?

2. Why does Shorty come to New York?

3. Why is Ella shocked when she sees Malcolm after he has moved back to Boston?

4. How much money does Malcolm’s cocaine habit cost him daily?

5. What is a “finder”?

6. Why does Malcolm decide to include white girls in his burglary operation?

7. Why does Malcolm often go to the Savoy nightclub after burglarizing homes?

8. How does Sophia’s husband find out about her relationship with Malcolm?

9. At the time Malcolm is arrested, who is at his apartment?

10. What is the attitude of Malcolm’s lawyer toward his...

(The entire section is 275 words.)

Chapter 10: Satan

Study Questions
1. Where were Sophia and her sister sent?

2. When was the Charlestown prison built?

3. Who is Malcolm’s first visitor in prison?

4. What subjects does Malcolm study in his correspondence courses?

5. What is the reaction of the other inmates to Malcolm’s refusal to eat pork?

6. How many inmates does the Norfolk Prison Colony have?

7. Where was Elijah Muhammad born?

8. Where does Elijah Muhammad stay when he visits Detroit?

9. According to Elijah Muhammad’s teachings, from what tribe do America’s blacks descend?

10. Who was Master W.D. Fard?

1. Sophia and her...

(The entire section is 188 words.)

Chapter 11: Saved and Chapter 12: Savior

Study Questions
1. Who was Nat Turner?

2. In addition to the United States, Malcolm names two countries whose non-white citizens have suffered as a result of white people. Name these countries.

3. What does the five-pointed Islamic star stand for?

4. Why does Malcolm begin to wear glasses?

5. What did Shorty do while he was in prison?

6. What does Malcolm buy when he is released from prison?

7. What are Elijah Muhammad’s recommendations to Malcolm about how to increase membership in the Nation of Islam?

8. Malcolm compares his visits with Elijah Muhammad with “Socrates on the steps of the Athens market place.” Explain the...

(The entire section is 291 words.)

Chapter 13: Minister Malcolm X

Study Questions
1. How long does it take Ella to decide to convert to Islam?

2. What does Shorty do for a living?

3. What is the City of Brotherly Love?

4. What is the Muslims’ strict moral code?

5. When Malcolm conducts a funeral service, he explains that no tears are shed, and there are no flowers, singing, or organ-playing. What explanation does he offer for this?

6. What is the Muslim Temple’s Unity Night?

7. Describe the problem Betty X has with her foster parents.

8. Where do Malcolm and Betty get married?

9. How many children do Malcolm and Betty have? Name them.

10. What is the outcome of Brother...

(The entire section is 323 words.)

Chapter 14: Black Muslims

Study Questions
1. As Muhammad’s emissary, what African countries does Malcolm visit in 1959?

2. What is the name of the television documentary that profiles the Nation of Islam?

3. What “demagogues” does Malcolm compare Muhammad to? Name three.

4. What national magazines run stories about the Nation of Islam?

5. Who coined the name “Black Muslims”?

6. According to Malcolm, what do America’s law enforcement agencies do to keep track of the Nation of Islam?

7. Aside from health concerns, why is Malcolm so adamantly against smoking?

8. What will the proposed Islamic Center in Chicago contain?

9. What type of health...

(The entire section is 273 words.)

Chapter 15: Icarus

Study Questions
1. Who was Rosa Parks?

2. Why does Malcolm say it is “ridiculous” for Northern white and black Freedom Riders to demonstrate in the South?

3. What ethnic or religious groups does Malcolm use as examples of the problems with “assimilation”?

4. Who originally suggested having a March on Washington?

5. What song was sung during the 1963 Civil Rights’ March on Washington?

6. What two publications increased Malcolm’s popularity?

7. What situation does Malcolm cite to prove that Jewish people exploit black people?

8. Who does a New York Times poll indicate to be “the second most sought after” speaker at...

(The entire section is 339 words.)

Chapter 16: Out

Study Questions
1. Why does Betty have an argument with Malcolm?

2. In 1962, Malcolm refers to a “climate of hate” in the United States. What specific incidents is he speaking about?

3. Where do Malcolm and Muhammad make their last public appearance together?

4. How did Elijah Muhammad allegedly betray the Nation of Islam’s strict moral code?

5. What does Malcolm do to find out the truth about Elijah Muhammad’s alleged misconduct?

6. What directives are Muslim ministers given in response to the assassination of President John Kennedy?

7. How does Malcolm respond when asked his opinion about President Kennedy’s assassination?


(The entire section is 346 words.)

Chapter 17: Mecca

Study Questions
1. What does Dr. Shawarbi give Malcolm before his departure to Mecca?

2. The first city Malcolm visits in the Middle East is Cairo. Describe this city.

3. What is the literal meaning of Hajj in Arabic?

4. Malcolm learns that rugs play an important role in the Muslim culture. Name the five ways Muslims use these rugs.

5. What important ritual do Muslims practice before prayer?

6. Where does Malcolm stay when he is in Jedda?

7. Why is Malcolm amazed by the hospitality of Dr. Azzam and his family?

8. At the conclusion of Malcolm’s pilgrimage to Mecca, where do he and his fellow pilgrims go?

9. What...

(The entire section is 310 words.)

Chapter 18: El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz

Study Questions
1. What daily customs and routines does Malcolm begin to follow?

2. After his experiences, what recommendations does Malcolm have for African-American leaders?

3. Malcolm names two American authors who have “helped to spread and intensify the concern for the American black man.” Who are they?

4. Why does Malcolm voice suspicion when he finds out the United States’ State Department official, G. Mennen Williams, is visiting Africa?

5. In Lagos, Nigeria, Malcolm is given a new name by the Muslim Students’ Society. What is that name? Explain its significance.

6. What African country’s wealth and natural beauty impresses Malcolm the most?...

(The entire section is 381 words.)

Chapter 19: 1965

Study Questions
1. Where does Malcolm hold many of his public meetings?

2. Malcolm cites two countries as having had a “revolution” to overthrow their old systems of leadership. What countries does he cite?

3. From where does the city of St. Augustine, Florida, get its name?

4. According to orthodox Muslim law, who was Muhammad ibn Adbullah?

5. While Malcolm is abroad in 1964, there is a campaign going on in the United States for President. Who are the two major candidates in that election?

6. What shocking F.B.I. statistic does Malcolm cite regarding crime in America?

7. What does Malcolm regret about his past?

8. What languages...

(The entire section is 314 words.)

Epilogue by Alex Haley

Study Questions
1. In what national publications do articles about Elijah Muhammad’s Nation of Islam first appear?

2. What was Malcolm’s first reaction to Alex Haley’s proposal about the publication of his life story?

3. What does Haley first ask Malcolm about that induces Malcolm to reveal intimate details about his life?

4. Next to college, where does Malcolm think is “the best place for a man to go if he needs to do some thinking”?

5. According to Haley, what is Malcolm’s opinion of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.?

6. By Malcolm’s calculations, what was the Nation of Islam’s membership before he joined? What was the membership 12 years later?...

(The entire section is 444 words.)