The Autobiography of Malcolm X | Study Guide

Malcolm X and Alex Haley

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The Autobiography of Malcolm X | Chapter Summaries

See Chapter Summaries Chart

Timeline of Events

  • 1929

    Racist group burns down the Little family's house.

    Chapter 1
  • 1931

    Malcolm's father, Earl Little, dies under mysterious circumstances.

    Chapter 1
  • 1939

    Malcolm's mother is committed to a mental institution, and he is sent to a detention home.

    Chapter 2
  • 1941

    Malcolm moves to Boston.

    Chapter 2
  • 1941

    Malcolm gets a job as a shoeshine at Roseland Ballroom.

    Chapter 3
  • 1942

    Malcolm moves to Harlem and continues hustling.

    Chapter 5
  • Some years later

    A showdown with West Indian Archie forces Malcolm to return to Boston.

    Chapter 8
  • 1946

    Malcolm, Shorty, and their accomplices are arrested for burglary.

    Chapter 9
  • 1946

    Malcolm is sentenced to eight to ten years in prison.

    Chapter 10
  • After some time

    In prison Malcolm converts to the Nation of Islam.

    Chapter 11
  • 1952

    Paroled from prison Malcolm moves to Detroit.

    Chapter 12
  • 1953

    Malcolm changes his name to Malcolm X and becomes a minister of the Nation of Islam.

    Chapter 12
  • 1958

    Malcolm marries Sister Betty X.

    Chapter 13
  • 1963

    Malcolm learns Elijah Muhammad committed adultery, and Malcolm is expelled from Nation of Islam.

    Chapter 16
  • 1964

    Malcolm makes a pilgrimage to Mecca.

    Chapter 17
  • February 21, 1965

    Malcolm is assassinated while giving a speech in Harlem.

    Epilogue by Alex Haley

Chapter Summaries Chart

Chapter Summary
Introduction by M.S. Handler New York Times reporter M. S. Handler introduces the book with his reminiscences of Malcolm X. He recalls the first time... Read More
Chapter 1 Malcolm X's story begins before he was born, with a Ku Klux Klan raid on his family home in Omaha, Nebraska, in 1925. Hi... Read More
Chapter 2 This chapter begins with Malcolm X's recollection of the Louis vs. Braddock boxing match in 1937 in which the black boxe... Read More
Chapter 3 Malcolm says he looked like a country hick when he first showed up in Boston. His green suit fit badly, and his naturall... Read More
Chapter 4 Malcolm gives impression of the hip lingo of the time. He recalls listening to jazz records while drinking alcohol and s... Read More
Chapter 5 Malcolm takes a job as a dishwasher on a rail line that goes to New York. After he sees black life in New York, Boston s... Read More
Chapter 6 Malcolm explains the numbers game as an illicit gambling game; people choose a three-digit number and bet on it. Bettors... Read More
Chapter 7 Malcolm starts carrying a gun and begins doing robberies and stick-ups. He is always high. On one robbery with Sammy, he... Read More
Chapter 8 This chapter begins in medias res, that is "in the middle of things." Sammy and Malcolm are doing drugs in Sammy's apart... Read More
Chapter 9 The chapter begins with Malcom moving in with Shorty. Ella and Shorty are surprised at how Malcolm has changed. Shorty, ... Read More
Chapter 10 Malcolm and Shorty are each sentenced to 8 to 10 years on multiple counts, with the sentences to run concurrently. Not k... Read More
Chapter 11 Malcolm writes to Elijah Muhammad, and in so doing realizes his handwriting is barely legible; he is ashamed of his gram... Read More
Chapter 12 Malcolm is paroled in 1952 and moves to Detroit on the advice of his siblings, who think he needs to study with other pr... Read More
Chapter 13 Malcolm X decides to become a minister of the Nation of Islam and spends months studying with Elijah Muhammad in prepara... Read More
Chapter 14 The chapter begins by looking back a few months before the incident with Johnson Hinton that ended Chapter 13. In 1959 a... Read More
Chapter 15 As Malcolm X makes more appearances, he receives more mail. "Ninety-five percent of the letters were from white people,"... Read More
Chapter 16 The chapter begins in 1961 when Elijah Muhammad's illness suddenly worsens. Members of the Nation of Islam are upset bec... Read More
Chapter 17 Malcolm X tells readers that all Muslims attempt the pilgrimage, or hajj, to Mecca at least once, "if humanly able." Wit... Read More
Chapter 18 Prince Faisal of Saudi Arabia makes Malcolm a guest of the state and arranges a car to take him sightseeing in Mecca. On... Read More
Chapter 19 Malcolm observes that black people didn't follow through on his idea about taking their case to the United Nations. He a... Read More
Epilogue by Alex Haley Alex Haley first hears of Malcolm X and the Nation of Islam through a friend in 1959. Soon after he pitches an article a... Read More
On Malcolm X by Ossie Davis A magazine editor asked actor Ossie Davis why he gave the eulogy at Malcolm X's funeral. Davis gives his answer in "On M... Read More
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