Homeboy by Malcolm X

Homeboy—Malcolm X

I read Homeboy by Malcolm X and though I recognize this essay as part of his autobiography, it is a very compelling essay that stands on its own quite well. There are several aspects of this essay that gave it significance as both a commentary on the writer’s own frame of mind at this time and the community he was immersed in.

The first thing that struck me about the essay was the structure of the descriptions and the way the author superimposes his views on the situation in hindsight. This would be an entirely different essay if he had tried to be detached about the experiences. For instance, when he is describing his first conk, we see first how excited he was and the pride he felt at the time despite the painful procedure, “Going to lay on that first conk? The drugstore man asked me. I proudly told him, grinning, Right!” (p.189) Following this excited description, however, Malcolm reflects on how “ridiculous” and stupid he was and goes on to explain the rational behind the procedure as he saw it at the time of the writing. There is a very powerful juxtaposition between his description of buying the ingredients proudly and his final opinion on the conk, that it was his “first really big step towards self-degradation”. (p.191)

From his description of Boston from a country boy’s point of view, we get a compelling picture of his place in the world at that time. He shows the inner conflicts between the alluring and what might have been considered the proper place according to his aunt. The end of the essay brings his actions together with the shame he feels and by doing so creates a significant and powerful self reflection.

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