The Autobiography of Malcolm X

Louise Little (Malcolm’s Mother) Character Analysis

Malcolm X’s mother, Louise Little was born in Granada to a black woman who had been raped by a white man. This traumatic past instills her with a disgust for her own lighter skin tone, a disgust which is passed down to Malcolm. After Malcolm’s father is killed, Louise gradually loses control of her family’s finances, and eventually is institutionalized for mental illness, where she remains for the next 23 years.

Louise Little (Malcolm’s Mother) Quotes in The Autobiography of Malcolm X

The The Autobiography of Malcolm X quotes below are all either spoken by Louise Little (Malcolm’s Mother) or refer to Louise Little (Malcolm’s Mother). For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Race and Racism in America Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Ballantine Books edition of The Autobiography of Malcolm X published in 1992.
Chapter 2 Quotes

Eventually my mother suffered a complete breakdown, and the court orders were finally signed. They took her to the State Mental Hospital at Kalamazoo.

It was seventy-some miles from Lansing, about an hour and a half on the bus. A Judge McClellan in Lansing had authority over me and all of my brothers and sisters. We were "state children," court wards; he had the full say-so over us. A white man in charge of a black man's children! Nothing but legal, modern slavery—however kindly intentioned.

Related Characters: Malcolm X (speaker), Louise Little (Malcolm’s Mother), Reginald Little, Hilda Little, Philbert Little, Wilfred Little
Page Number: 21
Explanation and Analysis:

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Louise Little (Malcolm’s Mother) Character Timeline in The Autobiography of Malcolm X

The timeline below shows where the character Louise Little (Malcolm’s Mother) appears in The Autobiography of Malcolm X. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 1: Nightmare
Race and Racism in America Theme Icon
Family and Dysfunction Theme Icon
As the autobiography begins, Malcolm X describes how his mother (Louise), pregnant with Malcolm himself, confronts a gang of Ku Klux Klan members who are looking... (full context)
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Malcolm is born on May 19, 1925 in Omaha, Nebraska, the fourth of Louise Little’s children. His older siblings Wilfred, Hilda, and Philbert were born in Philadelphia, while his... (full context)
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Education Theme Icon
Family and Dysfunction Theme Icon
Earl Little was a violent man, Malcolm says, often beating his wife (probably because of Louise’s educated way of talking back) and the other children for breaking his rules. However, he... (full context)
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Meanwhile, his mother Louise had the enormous task of caring for the home and its eight children, often while... (full context)
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One afternoon in 1931, Earl and Louise are fighting over whether or not she will cook a rabbit for dinner. After killing... (full context)
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Louise finishes cooking dinner, but is on edge after her vision of Earl’s death. When he... (full context)
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Education Theme Icon
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...and Malcolm, meanwhile, fight each other and anyone else they meet, with Reginald tagging along. Louise tries to find work as a housemaid, and she finds several positions thanks to her... (full context)
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...begin to receive Welfare assistance, but it comes at the cost of these degrading meetings. Louise tries hard to not only provide for the family, but to do so in a... (full context)
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...is at its worst and no one in town has enough to eat. Meals for Louise’s family might consist of old bread, cornmeal, or sometimes just dandelion greens, to the amusement... (full context)
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The family, and especially Louise, begins to deteriorate psychologically. Malcolm, fed up with being labeled a Welfare recipient, starts to... (full context)
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Louise also begins to receive visits from Seventh-Day Adventists, a conservative but welcoming religious organization, and... (full context)
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...As the pressures from running the home and dealing with the state increase, implications that Louise is going crazy begin to circulate. Her religious dietary restrictions, spurred on by the Adventists,... (full context)
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In an effort to make the family more secure, Louise begins to see a “dark man from Lansing” in 1935. She works hard to get... (full context)
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At this point, Louise really starts to lose control of her mental state, and the state agencies begins to... (full context)
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Malcolm continues to visit home, where his mother is mentally deteriorating. Finally, Louise breaks down and is sent to the State Mental Hospital. The children, meanwhile, are now... (full context)
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Louise will be in that hospital for 27 years, and visiting her will cause emotional pain... (full context)
Chapter 2: Mascot
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...several successful members in the North and South. Ella suggests they all go to visit Louise together, and the visit goes surprisingly well. (full context)
Chapter 5: Harlemite
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Malcolm then pays several house calls in Lansing. He first goes to see his mother Louise, who doesn’t really recognize him. Shorty’s mother, an elderly woman, thanks him for news of... (full context)
Epilogue: Alex Haley
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The next time Malcolm comes, Alex asks him, on a hunch, about his mother, Louise. Malcolm is so exhausted and emotionally vulnerable at the time that he responds honestly to... (full context)
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...trip out of town, Malcolm returns, proudly telling Alex that his questions about his mother Louise had pushed Malcolm to go and visit her. Not only that, but his siblings have... (full context)