The Autobiography of Malcolm X


Malcolm X

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The Autobiography of Malcolm X Themes

Themes and Colors
Race and Racism in America Theme Icon
Religion Theme Icon
Education Theme Icon
Family and Dysfunction Theme Icon
Class Theme Icon
LitCharts assigns a color and icon to each theme in The Autobiography of Malcolm X, which you can use to track the themes throughout the work.

Race and Racism in America

One of the driving influences in Malcolm’s life is his ongoing relationship with race and racism in America. Malcolm’s journey starts from a passive acceptance of the effects of racism around him; he then begins to gain and strongly emphasize self-respect for all black men, before ultimately coming to believe in the potential for brotherhood between all men.

As a child in rural Michigan, Malcolm’s understanding and perception of racism is at first quite…

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Malcolm’s religious journey is marked by a continuous struggle to find a faith in which he can believe and flourish both spiritually and intellectually. As with his views on race and racism, Malcolm’s views on religion play a key role throughout his life, but also evolve as his own understanding and experience changes and broadens.

Despite the fact that Malcolm’s father was a Christian minister, Malcolm never felt at home in Christianity. As a…

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The Autobiography of Malcolm X is the story Malcolm tells of his experiences and of his own growth. Alternatively, it is the story of his education. That education is not a standard one, with typical schooling. It is rather an education in racism, on the streets, and out in the world – but Malcolm is consistent in his efforts to learn from his experiences and to make an education, however informal, for himself.

As a…

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Family and Dysfunction

The concept of family, which often extends beyond biological ties, plays a very important role in Malcolm X’s life. Unfortunately, this idea of family often serves to leave Malcolm even more alone than he was before, rather than acting as a bulwark against life’s challenges.

Malcolm grows up in a fairly large family, the son of Earl Little, a traveling preacher, and Louise Little, a light-skinned Granadan woman. Family life was not…

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Malcolm X is very aware of the plight of many African Americans in America’s lower class, and a large part of his mission focuses on uplifting these people from poverty. Unfortunately, his efforts are often impeded by varying attitudes towards race relations within the African American community, largely due to class differences.

In Lansing, Michigan, where Malcolm grew up, most “Negroes” are unemployed and dependent on welfare; in his words, “The bulk of the Negroes…

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