In his autobiography, The Autobiography of Malcolm X, it is very evident that through his life, he went through a series of drastic changes that went from one extreme to another. He went from being at “the bottom of the American white man’s society,” to become one of the most influential advocates of Black pride (150). Throughout the novel the most evident changes are when Malcolm X moves to Boston, goes to prison, and going on Hajj. After living in Michigan, Malcolm X moves in with his half-sister, Ella, in Boston. Malcolm X described the move as “pivotal or profound in its repercussions” (38). When he gets to Boston, he sets out to explore the city and to “get the feel of Boston” (40).
When he looks around the area he is living in he finds it full of nothing but “Hill Negroes” (40). He notices that all these black people are simply breaking their “backs trying to imitate white people” (40). He immediately rejects their way of thinking and finds himself in the middle of the town’s “ghetto section” (42). Soon through his friendship with “Shorty”, Malcolm X is exposed to a new kind of living. He spends his first month in Roxbury with his “mouth hanging open” (48). He saw small black children “shooting craps, playing cards, fighting… throwing around swear words and slang expressions” (43).
Eventually, all this exposure to black people “being their natural selves” took a great toll on him (43). After hanging out with Shorty and his friends, inevitably, he took his first reefers, first cigarettes, and the first liquor he drank. He ultimately went from being “country” to a “cool cat. ” When he was exposed to all these “jungle streets,” he became a hustler and soon began to live like an animal, living only to survive (163). As he became more involved with these people he lost all sense of values and morals. He eventually became a common street hustler, drug dealer, and burglar until he was finally caught and served seven years in jail.
Malcolm X’s experience in jail “saved” him eventually and molded him into the great leader he is known for today. While in prison the first thing that made a “positive impression” on his life is a fellow inmate named “Bimbi. ” (153). What impressed him the most about this man was the way he was able to “command total respect … with his words”(154). By trying to pursue a friendship with Bimbi, Malcolm X consequentially seeks an education.
Through his readings and new found religion, the Nation of Islam, Malcolm X finds self-pride. He starts to become proud of who he is and where he came from. He realizes that before, all he was trying to do was act like someone he wasn’t and all it had gotten him was seven years in prison. The letters he got from Elijah Muhammad and his family encouraged all of this. He strives to admit his guilt, and “implore the forgiveness of God” (170).
He would often “be startled to catch himself thinking in a remote way of his earlier self as another person” and marvel at how much he had changed (170). All the reading he did “awoke … some long dormant craving to be mentally alive” (179). His trip to prison opened up new doors for him because he gained knowledge that made him rethink his niche in life. After he left jail, Malcolm X believed that the black man was superior to the white man and the white man was simply the devil. He preached this to thousands of black people and converted them to the Nation of Islam through his moving speeches that stunned and captivated them.
However, all of his beliefs were totally changed after he took a trip to Mecca and went on Hajj. The first thing that enthralls Malcolm X, is the unity he sees in all the Muslims that are gathered at the airport. Everyone, from a king to a peasant, is dressed in the same clothes. There is none superior to the other because in the eyes of Allah .