Pages 216- 217Alex MancinoMs. Todisco10/25/11 In, The Autobiography of Malcolm X, as told by Alex Haley, main characterMalcolm goes from being a lowly pimp, to a radical Muslim and preacher. Malcolm isexposed to blatant racism early in his life, which shapes a negative view of white peoplein his mind. It is not until Malcolm contacts Elijah Muhammad while in jail and convertsto Islam that his views about white people in America manifest. He is then given anoutlet with the Nation of Islam to voice his opinions of these so-called “devils.” In thispassage where Malcolm is making one of his first speechesto a small group of Muslims,he reveals his true view about white people now that he has joined the Nation of Islam,and shows how Elijah Muhammad’s teachingshave transformed him into a master atmanipulating his audiences emotions. He does this solely to gain leadership, followers,and powers, so he can see his visions realized. This speech is the start of many morepublic speaking’s that will eventually lead to Malcolm’s death. Malcolm supports hisextremist views of white people through his use of pathos, loaded words, and repetition. Malcolm X uses pathos to fill his speech with emotion, and connect with the othermembers of the Nation of Islam that are present. As he speaks he is trying to convey themessage that white people have oppressed blacks for far too long and it is time forreform, primarily through the teachings of Elijah Muhammad. He makes it clear throughthis speech that what the white man did to the black man is the greatest crime in humanhistory. He also makes it clear through his strong use of pathos that he thinks all blackpeople should have the same sentiment towards whites as he does. He wants his audience
to feel what he feels. One way he successfully does this is playing off of one of the mostprominent human emotions; hate. Malcolm shows his hate for the white man in manydifferent ways throughout this speech. He calls them blue- eyed devils, and claims theyhave committed the greatest crime in human history. “Not even in the Bible is there sucha crime! God in his wrath struck down with fire the perpetrators of lesser crimes! Onehundred million of us black people! Your grandparents! Mine! Murdered by this whiteman.” He is playing off everyone in the room’s emotions. He knows they can all relate towhat he is saying in one-way or another.Malcolm also uses harsh descriptions of slaverybecause he knows this will trigger anger and disdain from his audience. He says himself,“The dramatization of slavery never failed intensely to arouse Negroes hearing its horrorsspelled out for the first time.” Malcolm wants his audiences to realize what he has cometo realize. He wants them to understand that the crime committed against them to breakfree from white society all together. He has become skilled at changing an audiencesview, and it all starts with the audience’s emotions. Through Malcolm’s use of pathos, his speech becomes filled with loaded words.These words he uses are substantially powerful, considering the audience, and help betterMalcolm’s position on white people. Malcolm carefully chooses the words he uses tomake sure he will get a reaction from his audience. He sometimes chooses words with apositive connotation because he knows they will contrast with his dark speech. Anexample of this is the word “Christian”. Even though in the minds of many white malesthis word is very positive, Malcolm is well aware that it will have poor standing in aroom full of black Muslims. On the other hand Malcolm uses a slew of powerful wordswith negative connotations to reveal his feelings about white people. Some of these
words are “lesser”, “murdered”, and “rape”. These words all describe what whites havedone to blacks. Words like these will catch an audiences ear, and makes them listencloser to what is being said. When Malcolm can get a full audience listening intently tohim is when he is most powerful. This is when he can easily fill their heads with his ideasbecause they are listening so intently, and so carefully. Even author Alex Haley knewMalcolm had a plan behind using these words because she italicized all of them withinthe speech. Malcolm also uses another tactic within his pathos; he repeats his strongest loadedwords. The two words he repeats most often are “devil”, and “slave.” He uses the worddevil to refer to white people. He does this to get his audience to feel the same hatred forwhite people that he does. In everybody’s mind the devil is the epitome of evil, and nowMalcolm is connecting that to all white people. Every time he uses the word slave he isreferring to black people, primarily his audience. He is doing this for two reasons, thefirst being that he does not want black people to ever forgive or forget the heinous crimewhite people committed against them. The second reason is for self-hatred. Malcolm wasa strong believer that black people had a natural hatred for themselves. He felt that blackscould not integrate with whites until blacks fully accepted who they are. Malcolm wantsto constantly remind his audience of the reason they live in America in the first place.That it is because of the crime whites committed, and nothing else.They were broughthere; they did not come here on their own terms. Malcolm X was one of the greatest speechmakers to ever live. He was a master atgetting his full audience behind him. Yes he was radical in his views, but that does notmean he was wrong. He wanted to stand up for what he thought was right, and he felt
other blacks should have the same sense of empowerment as he did. He felt as if theywere entitled to it. This passage showing an early speech of Malcolm’s is a perfectexample of this. He feels as if the white man is evil, and oppressive and he is not afraid tovoice his views to bring about change. To bring change though he know he needs astrong following. His way of getting people to follow him was using powerful rhetoricstrategies in his speeches. In this speech alone Malcolm uses pathos, loaded words, andrepetition to pull his audience in. He wants to influence the way his audiences feel andthink. He wants their views to be the same as his, so the black community can finally findits true identity in America.