Jordan Galloway
February 7, 2017
Critical Reading/ENG 101-905
Essay Title: A Homemade Education
Author: Malcolm X
In the essay, A Homemade Education, it describes Malcolm X's time spent in prison but truly emphasizes on how he retaught himself how to read and write. It all began from Malcolm honoring Elijah Muhammad, the Nation of Islam's founder and a very intelligent man. Malcolm followed Muhammad's teachings and when he wrote to him, he wanted to be articulate too. He also examined how articulate one of his fellow inmates were and this all gave him the motivation to change his life. X eventually studied and copied the whole dictionary, which led to him reading an uncountable number of books. In later years, he became the aggressive speaker we all know and learn about today.
Definitions & Significant Quotes:
Separatism- the separation of a certain group of people from a larger body based on ethnicity, religion, or gender
Evangelism- missionary zeal, purpose, or activity
Incendiary rhetoric- tending to stir up a conflict
Irreverent- showing a lack of respect for people or things that are generally taken seriously
Quote: "Many who today hear me somewhere in person, or on television, or those who read something I've said, will think I went to school far beyond the eighth grade. This impression is due entirely to my prison studies." (X, 225)
Interpretation: Malcolm was saying that because of how intelligent he sounds when he speaks, or writes, or how he presents himself as a person in general; people would think of him as an educated person who finished high school. In all reality, he was on the streets and had to reteach himself how to be as articulate as he was.
In A Homemade Education, Malcolm X used narration and description in the text. He didn't just tell a story, he went into the little details that allowed the reader to connect. When he describes how he was sneaking to read while in prison so that he wasn't seen by the night guard (pg. 228), it's very visual. The author used a lot of visualization to have the reader really stay interested in the essay. X also used point-of-view; by telling the story in first person he allowed us (the reader) to connect better and relate to it.
That's one of the main reasons I personally liked this essay. I could connect to the essay even though I finished school. On page 228, Malcolm goes into detail about how when it was time for lights to go out, he would sneak to the little glow and train his eyes to read. It reminded me of when I was younger and my mom or dad would tell me it's time to go to bed, I'd turn off the light but get that little glow from either under the door, a nightlight, or a device to continue to read a book I was interested in. Also, when he says, "It always seemed to catch me right in the middle of something engrossing." I could relate because it's like when you're in the middle of a book, something happens in the real world and it's always when it's the good part in the book! This essay also inspired me; it's harder to learn something like that as an adult, let alone teach yourself. It reminded me that when you put your mind to something, it's possible. It also made me want to get back to old habits and stop being "too busy" to pick up a book.





















X, Malcolm. "A Homemade Education." The Seagull Reader: Essays, 2nd Ed. Edited by Joseph Kelly,
New York: WW Norton & Co, 2002, 224-228