The Autobiography of Malcolm X Book Summary and Study Guide

Detailed plot synopsis reviews of The Autobiography of Malcolm X

Malcolm X's story of his transformation from petty criminal Malcolm Little to the international figure for black rights he was at the time of his death. Malcolm X tells the story of his life of personal reinvention from criminal to political revolutionary. X is born Malcolm Little in 1925. He will abandon this surname years later when he learns that "Little" was the name of a slave owner who gave his last name to his slaves, including Malcolm's grandfather. As a young boy, Malcolm's family flees racial violence in a move to Michigan. Nonetheless, Malcolm's father is murdered in a racially charged attack and his mother, mentally shattered, moves into an institution.
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Effectively orphaned, Little moves to Boston to live with his half-sister. A teenage Malcolm Little leans on his natural charisma and cunning and becomes a criminal and night life figure. He sells drugs and pimps women for money. He moves to New York where he continues to make his living through criminal activities. Fearing for his life in a very dangerous Harlem, Little moves back to Boston where he is soon arrested for a string of home burglaries. In prison, Malcolm joins the Nation of Islam and makes every attempt to better himself through education and clean living.

Upon release from prison, Malcolm becomes a key figure in the Detroit Nation of Islam scene. He drops his surname Little for "X", a placeholder for his lost African last name. Despite his growing national fame, X alienates himself from the Nation because of his maverick and fiery nature. He is ultimately suspended from the group. Tensions escalate, including a number of death threats X receives from Nation members. He leaves the group and forms his own organization, Muslim Mosque Incorporated to fuel his social causes. He discovers the Islam of the Middle East in his international travels and preaches the religion as a path of alleviation of racial suffering until his assassination by unknown assailants in 1956.
Best part of story, including ending: Malcolm X is a personality like no other. He made a way for himself despite every kind of obstacle.

Best scene in story: I enjoyed his prison transformation most of all. So much anger, so much passion, so much desperation.

Opinion about the main character: Malcolm seemed incapable of self-awareness at times. He burned so many bridges and made impulsive decisions that cost him everything. It was frustrating to see such a great mind succeed on the one hand and burn out on the other.

The review of this Book prepared by Andrew Black a Level 5 American Goldfinch scholar

Chapter Analysis of The Autobiography of Malcolm X

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Plot & Themes

Political/social rights fight    -   Yes Plotlet:    -   minorities fighting for rights Ethnic/Relig. of subject (inside)    -   Black Ethnic/regional/gender    -   Yes Period of greatest activity?    -   1950+

Subject of Biography

Gender    -   Male Profession/status:    -   champion of justice Ethnicity    -   Black Nationality    -   American


United States    -   Yes Century:    -   1960's-1970's

Writing Style

Book makes you feel?    -   challenged How much dialogue in bio?    -   roughly even amounts of descript and dialog How much of bio focuses on most famous period of life?    -   51%-75% of book

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