The Autobiography of Malcolm X

Symbols of Malcolm X's Life College

Creating symbolism in literature adds depth and meaning to any story. Alex Haley’s The Autobiography of Malcolm X displays an abundance of symbols that offer insight into the life of Malcolm X himself. Often, the symbols that Haley uses demonstrate the adjustments that Malcolm X went through during his development: they show his metamorphosis from a person whom the world viewed as unimportant, to the controversial, but influential civil rights leader. Haley first demonstrates how important, yet dangerous, status in a society can be for a minority. The author then explores how the simple hair straightening process called “conk” tied Malcolm X to the Caucasian world. Finally, Haley points out the significance of eyeglasses, watches, and suitcases and how they played a pivotal role in Malcolm X’s life.

Symbolism in literature allows the reader an insightful perspective into a character’s life. The symbolism in Haley’s autobiography provides a look directly into how specific items in Malcom X’s life shaped him as a man, and brought him through the transformations that made him into the powerful advocate of black rights that he became. As a child, Malcolm did not have a lot of material possessions and often felt disconnected from...

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