The Ballot or the Bullet

The Ballot or the Bullet Metaphors and Similes

"With the blood dripping down his jaws like a bloody-jawed wolf" (Simile)

To illustrate the ferocious and violent nature of the white supremacy and the damage it has wrought upon the African-American people, Malcolm X compares Uncle Sam to a wolf stained with blood from a recent kill.

"Put your religion at home, in the closet" (Metaphor)

Here, Malcolm X uses the common metaphor of "the closet" to describe the act of keeping something private to indicate that a person's religion is their own business and should not impede unification under the cause of civil rights.

"When a racial powder keg goes off, it doesn't care who it knocks out of the way" (Metaphor)

Malcolm X describes the righteous anger of African-Americans as a "powder keg," or a barrel of gunpowder, to indicate the strength of this anger and the danger it contains, because if it goes off, it will have tremendous destructive power.

"If you were black, you were born in jail" (Metaphor)

Malcolm X uses the metaphor of a jail to describe the experience of African-Americans born into a system of oppression from which there is seemingly no escape.