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Free Study Guide-The Autobiography of Malcolm X by Malcolm X-Free Notes
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Chapter 2

Notes

The incident, where Malcolm tries to win back his brother's affection, by entering the local boxing reveals not only his sense of humor but also his deep affection for his younger brother Reginald. Later, when Malcolm is on his own on the streets of Harlem, New York, it is Reginald who regularly meets his brother.

Reginald's affection for his brother makes him leave his work at the Merchant Marines and stay with him. This tells the reader that although the Little family was separated, the bond between the siblings did not break. They kept in touch with each other, wherever they went.

The chapter also gives the reader an idea of the society at the time. Blacks had very few professions open to them other than sports and entertainment. Moreover, no black could even dream of any other profession like medicine or law, even if they were intelligent and capable. Just as Malcolm was advised by his teacher to take up carpentry instead of becoming a lawyer, thousands of black kids were thought fit to do only menial jobs.

Malcolm's 'strange' behavior in the end tells the reader that after the Ostrowski incident, he had become completely aware of the racial discrimination that existed in society. It hurt him very much. The 'strange' behavior is a form of rebellion against the racist and unjust society he was living in.

This incident coupled with the attitude of the Swerlins and the use of the word 'nigger', served to convince him later, (as a member of the Nation of Islam) that the demand by black leaders to be 'integrated' into white society can never be possible. Integration is a myth. For he believed that blacks, however capable, would never be accepted by the whites.


In this chapter, the reader is introduced to a new member of the Little family, Ella Little. Ella is Earl Little's daughter from his first marriage.

She is a tall, independent woman who comes to meet her other siblings for she wants to keep the Little family together. This is evident from the statement she makes when she meets Malcolm: '…We Littles must stick together…' In a very subtle manner, Ella seems to have taken Malcolm's mother's place. For she too wanted to keep her family together. Although Ella is not present physically in Lansing, the younger siblings had someone now to look up to and even approach for help. This is true for Malcolm, who turns to her for help when he is totally disgusted at the white man's prejudice in Mason. Ella stands by him even though she is not aware of the emotional turmoil going on within young Malcolm. She promptly calls Malcolm over to Boston.

Later in Malcolm's life, Ella always stands by him like a rock, through all his ups and downs. Even though, she often did not approve of his actions, her affection for him never lessens.

Another minor yet important aspect about Malcolm that is highlighted in the chapter is Malcolm's memory. The numerous details that Malcolm recalls so far back in his life reveals his powerful memory and his eye for detail.

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