The Autobiography is a spiritual conversion narrative that outlines Malcolm X's philosophy of black pride, black nationalism, and pan-Africanism. Literary critic Arnold Rampersad and Malcolm X biographer Michael Eric Dyson agree that the narrative of the Autobiography resembles the Augustinian approach to confessional narrative. Augustine's Confessions and The Autobiography of Malcolm X both relate the early hedonistic lives of their subjects, document deep philosophical change for spiritual reasons, and describe later disillusionment with religious groups their subjects had once revered. Haley and autobiographical scholar Albert E. Stone compare the narrative to the Icarus myth. Author Paul John Eakin and writer Alex Gillespie suggest that part of the Autobiography's rhetorical power comes from "the vision of a man whose swiftly unfolding career had outstripped the possibilities of the traditional autobiography he had meant to write", thus destroying "the illusion of the finished and unified personality".
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