In Malcolm X's "A Homemade Education," Malcolm discusses his struggles between the language on his childhood streets growing up and the language of literature. Being in prison, he explains how his interest and determination to be "able to read and understand"(197) literature led him to a freedom he had never had or ever felt before. He indulged himself in reading while broadening his vocabulary copying the entire dictionary from which he "also learned of people and places and events from history."(196) As he followed the teachings of Elijah Muhammad, he found extraordinary interest in black history and slavery. Due to slavery's horrific impact on Malcolm he became a minister of Mr. Muhammad's, gaining enlightenment that would lead him to fighting for African-American's human and civil rights.
Having grown up on the streets most of his life and being, as he called himself, "the most articulate hustler out there" (195), he faced tremendous frustration when it came to voicing his feelings. This struggle impressed upon him the significance and importance of literature throughout the world. He therefore commited himself to achieving the ability to read and write. "I saw that the best thing I could do was get hold of a dictionary - to study, to learn some words." (196) So Malcolm did. He simply requested "a dictionary along with some tablets and pencils from the Norfolk Prison Colony school." (196) For days on end he'd spend all his time reading and copying from the dictionary then reading it back to himself numerous times. As his vocabulary expanded, finally was he able to read books and comprehend them. As a result, Malcolm X describes his success by indicating "in fact, up to then, I never had been so truly free in my life." (197) Whereas with Frederick Douglass, he simply felt regret and thought that being able to read and write was overrated and not that big of a deal after all. On the other hand, clearly Malcolm discovered a channel for himself to...
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