Book Analysis: Malcolm X Essay Prompts and Directions Potential essays (choose one):

Book Analysis: Malcolm X Essay Prompts and Directions


Potential essays (choose one):

Chosen Essay Topic:

Trace the progress of Malcolm X through his changing “name” (or nick name) as presented in The Autobiography. Based on your reading, which “name” or period of his life had the most significant impact on history?

Malcolm Little, Detroit Red, Satan, Malcolm X, and El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz.

Consider how each name Malcolm X used reflected that period in his life.

Introduction of topic with thesis statement and argument/main idea

Malcom Little

Birth name

Lived in several foster homes

Father dies; mother is committed

Detroit Red

Street life

Lives in Boston and in Harlem

Nickname, as he was born in Michigan and no one knew where Lansing was

Hustler, drug dealer, and head of burglary ring


“Anti-religious” attitude

Meets “Bimbi” who motivates Malcolm to expand his knowledge

While in prison he read about black nationalism and the Nation of Islam, and converted later during the Malcolm X period

Malcolm X

Elijah Muhammad

“X” – pages 123 and 124

Major public figure – black power and separatism

What provoked his shot to fame?

El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz

Embracing racial unity- pages 204 and 205 especially

Split with the Nation of Islam

Make sure to see last page!


4-5 pages, double spaced-no more, no less (between 1200 and 1500 words)

12 point font (Times New Roman)

Standard written English

One inch margins on all sides

Properly cite the book and any other sources (limit use of sources to book, you may use one or two others) using CMOS (Chicago Manual of Style-Notes and Bibliography System)



Your paper must have a main idea/thesis/argument.  It cannot just be a summary of the reading.

Your paper must be carefully edited.  Grammar, punctuation, and spelling count.  No paper will receive and “A” if it has more than 5 writing errors.

Cultivate your own voice/style.  You will be writing a lot of papers in getting your Masters, so find your voice.  This does not mean the papers are about you.  Do not write about yourself.

This is not a research paper, you do not need to consult anything except The Autobiography of Malcolm X AND your textbook. However, if you do consult any other sources you MUST include them in your bibliography (along with the two books listed above, which must be in your bibliography).



Meet the format requirements (10 point deduction for failure to follow directions)

Have a strong main idea

Write clearly and edit your work

“A” papers do these three tasks strongly, “B” papers may be weak in one area, “C” papers may be weak in two areas, etc.



Plagiarism is the theft of words or ideas from another writer and dishonestly passing them off as your own.  Any plagiarism-even a few sentences or a single paragraph-will result in an F on the paper.  Do not be tempted to submit work you did not create.

Everyone MUST submit their paper to Use the link from the class Blackboard page.


Due Dates:


Electronic copies must be submitted to by 11:59 PM Central time on the due date

Late papers will be assessed a 20-point deduction each day that they are late.

Papers will be graded within the Feedback Studio. After they are graded students can find comments there, as well as poor grammatical errors, formatting, and plagiarism.

For writer – from student

First and foremost – I’ve included two attachments that will serve as help for citations (footnotes and endnotes) and formatting. As this is a Master’s Book Analysis exploring a major topic and the different “lives” or “personalities” of Malcolm X, determined by his several names, it must be eloquently written and thorough. If you are not familiar with Chicago Style (17th edition) formatting, cannot write or speak English well, or cannot write grammatically correct sentences WITHOUT ERROR, do NOT accept this assignment. I will rate you poorly if you are unable to write a meaningful analysis that is clear, effective, and without ANY grammatical or mechanical errors

Helpful sources – Only use to expand your knowledge, if you use information from one you must properly cite in Chicago Style using the Notes and Bibliography System. Try to limit your use of sources to the book, and only use the book when quoting, unless a researcher or author has made a great point that you feel the need to include (however you can probably make your own points upon reading the book), but stick to the book for the most part.

Attached as a PDF:

Malcolm X-His Legacy

Simon, John J; Spellman, A B; Gardner, Jigs

Monthly Review; Feb 2005; 56, 9; ProQuest Historical Newspapers: New York Amsterdam News

pg. 25

These sources (Shmoop, Spark Notes, NYPL) are NOT to be used as a source or cited, it is to familiarize yourself with his different identities after reading the book. There is far too much slang in Schmoop but it is just to break down the different stages of his life and is no way an example of proper academic writing. If you choose to quote similar or the same quotes used, do not cite this source at all, find it in the book and cite from there. Find your own quotes to use that stuck out to you, but do not use too many block quotes (100 words or more). Quotes should be short and concise, and if you have a long quote you must make it a block quote, however you can quote several times throughout the paper. When paraphrasing from the book or sources above (limit to two extra sources), you makes sure to cite in-text. I’ve included another book for you to use about Malcolm X but do not quote, it is for background. This paper should be an 100 as you have more than enough sources to be familiar with the material. Do not take material from below that is not in the book.

I’ve included a link on writing a proper paper below (some of it isn’t relevant, as this assignment is an analysis of the book focusing on Malcolm X’s different names or nicknames and the periods of his life, not a book review or other type of essay, and there is a limit to the amount of sources we should use, but it’s a good article from another University).

Do not sympathize with Malcolm X – or sugarcoat his radical ways. Speak of him highly in certain situations, but in others, with his radical views, make note of why he was such a controversial figure. I have an amicable view of him and find him to be an entertaining subject (his wit, his jokes, etc.), he was outspoken and thought his way was the only way, but this was also his downfall, as he was hard-headed and full of hate during the parts of his life where he dedicated his hate to all white men. Make sure to discuss that period of his life where he thought the path to the black man’s freedom was through fighting and hatred. You must discuss the different periods of his life. I have included other sources, as I said stick to the book alone when quoting, but use the sources I’ve provided as research and background.

Do not refer to the white devil unless it is in quotes. This was how he referred to the white man, but you must put it in quotes if you use it. Do not overly use it in the paper, you can speak of how he viewed the white man in other ways, but that is not the MAIN focus of the paper.

Do not mention instances of his life that are not specifically mentioned in the book. If you see something in a separate link I’ve provided that you’d like to expand upon, go into the PDF of the book and press “EDIT –– FIND” and search for the event or specific word.

For Introduction:

Many theses and dissertations (and some long class papers) begin with a section that previews the entire paper and is so distinct that the writer separates it from the rest of the paper. Such papers may also end with a conclusion that is long enough to treat as a separate element.

Here’s how to set up a Chicago-style introduction (or conclusion) page following the guidelines in Kate L. Turabian, A Manual for Writers of Research Papers, Theses, and Dissertations. (See sections A.2.2.1 and A.2.2.7 in the appendix called “Paper Format and Submission.”)

If you begin with an introduction, label the first page Introduction at the top of the page.

Leave two blank lines between the title and the first line of text.

Format the body of your introduction the same as the main text of your paper.

If the substance of your introductory material is not clearly distinct from the chapters that follow it, consider incorporating it into your first chapter.

If you include a conclusion, label the first page Conclusion at the top of the page.

Leave two blank lines between the title and the first line of text.

Format the body of your conclusion the same as the main text.

An alternative is to make the conclusion the last numbered chapter of your paper if you want to emphasize its connection to the rest of your text. If so, treat the word Conclusion as a chapter title (see A.2.2.3).

For more details, see the sample Introduction page below and sections A.2.2.1 and A.2.2.7 of Turabian’s Manual for Writers of Research Papers, Theses, and Dissertations.