The Journalistic Work of "The Autobiography of Malcolm X".

Essay by EggyHigh School, 11th grade January 2004

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Alex Haley is a writer who approaches with caution a man [Malcolm X] many believe to be dangerous and sinister, who always maintains an objective distance, but nevertheless grows attached to his subject and takes extra pains to make the narrative glow.

Had Alex Haley been a member of the Nation of Islam, and this had been some sort of official biography (though Malcolm, of course, was severed from the group so its writing would need to have taken place earlier) I doubt there would be the same friction, the nervous interaction between Malcolm and the man taking notes, that we have here.

Also, if Haley hadn't grown to admire Malcolm on certain levels the story of his life would have been all about cold facts.

The Autobiography of Malcolm X limns an archetypal journey from ignorance and despair to knowledge and spiritual awakening. It is written as told to Alex Haley and is straight forward without embellishment.

With help from Alex Haley, Malcolm corners his writing style not letting much slip, even when he tells the tale of how his father was (truthfully) killed by Klan's men. His voice penetrates throughout the book, with fury and passion, with examples of racist

prejudice among the school teachers. Haley scurries over the attitude Malcolm has towards white America as he exclaims:

'He told me 'Malcolm you ought to be thinking about a career. Have you given it any thought?' The truth is I hadn't. I never figured out why I told him 'Yes Sir, I'd like to be a lawyer.'....He kind of half smiled and said 'Malcolm one of life's first needs is for you to be realistic....a lawyer is no realistic goal for a nigga'

Haley uses the subtle technique of inquisition, almost questioning Malcolm as the book...