The Autobiography of Malcolm X

by: Malcolm X & Alex Haley

Malcolm as Satan

In prison, after earning the nickname “Satan” for his foul temper and preference for solitary confinement, Malcolm starts educating himself and turns his outlook around. His transformation begins when he gives himself up peacefully to a Boston detective, letting five years of street hustling catch up with him. This episode demonstrates the ideal of submission to moral authority, which Malcolm later embraces in a Muslim context to justify his willing subordination to Elijah Muhammad, the leader of the Nation of Islam. His embracing of Islam transforms him from a hustler interested in earning money any way he can into a responsible individual interested in educating and enriching himself. Malcolm’s time in prison thus represents the transition between his early years of suffering and deceit and his later years of faith and activism.