The Autobiography of Malcolm X

by Malcolm X, Alex Haley

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Last Updated on July 29, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 833

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 examples that justify this statement.

2. Malcolm is fortunate to have several people in his life who help him during times of crises. Name two of these people. How do they offer Malcolm guidance and support?

Chapter 10: Satan 1. All of Malcolm’s brothers and sisters are eager to convert Malcolm. Reginald proves to be the most persuasive. Why is he successful in converting Malcolm?

2. Upon learning the history of black people’s oppression, Malcolm says, “the truth ... was like a blinding light.” Explain this simile.

Chapter 11: Saved and Chapter 12: Savior 1. What are the similarities between Malcolm’s careers as a street hustler and as a minister for the Nation of Islam?

2. Elijah Muhammad’s teachings assert that history has been “whitened” by the white man. Explain.

3. Malcolm cites many historical references to describe white people’s prejudicial attitudes towards non-white people throughout the world. Explain in detail the history of the two countries and the racial prejudices encountered.

Chapter 13: Minister Malcolm X 1. What are Malcolm’s attitudes toward women before he meets Betty?

2. Malcolm describes a situation of police brutality that occurs in Harlem. Explain the significance of Malcolm’s skillful handling of the situation.

Chapter 14: Black Muslims 1. Malcolm teaches that the only solution for black people in America is complete “separation” from white people. He makes a distinction between “separation” and “segregation.” Explain the differences between the two terms.

2. What is the public’s reaction to the ideology of the Nation of Islam? In your opinion, is their reaction justified? Explain.

Chapter 15: Icarus 1. Malcolm makes a clear distinction between the white Southerner and the Northern white “liberal.” From Malcolm’s viewpoint, how do white Americans from these two geographical areas differ?

2. Who was Icarus? Why does Malcolm compare himself to Icarus?

Chapter 16: Out 1. Malcolm mentions the “economic...

(This entire section contains 833 words.)

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exploitation suffered daily by black people,” and cites examples to prove this statement. What specific examples does he cite?

2. Compare and contrast the philosophies of Malcolm’s new organization, the Muslim Mosque, Inc. and Elijah Muhammad’s Nation of Islam.

Chapter 17: Mecca 1. Malcolm’s pilgrimage to Mecca consists of a series of rituals. Describe these rituals and the underlying significance of them in the Islamic religion.

2. Malcolm acknowledges that, “America needs to understand Islam, because this is the one religion that erases from its society the race problem.” Explain this ideology.

Chapter 18: El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz 1. What is a scapegoat? Malcolm refers to himself as a “scapegoat” during a conversation at Professor Essien-Udom’s dinner party. Explain.

2. What are the attitudes of African black people toward African–Americans? How does Malcolm think African–American leaders can learn from their counterparts in Africa?

Chapter 19: 1965 1. Malcolm compares the American Indians’ experiences with the African-Americans’ experiences. How are these two situations similar?

2. Describe Malcolm X’s complex attitude toward Jewish people

Epilogue by Alex Haley 1. How does Malcolm feel about his past—his days as a street hustler, thief, and prisoner? What lasting impact does he feel these prior experiences had on his life?

2. The relationship that Malcolm X and Alex Haley had was a complex one. Why was Malcolm initially reluctant to reveal himself to Haley? What caused Malcolm to “warm up” to Haley? Describe the evolution of their relationship.

3. What events occur—that are unrelated to Malcolm X—during the writing of the autobiography that chronicle the racial climate of America in the early 1960s?


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