Analysis Of Malcolm X's Coming To An Awareness Of Language

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In "Coming to an Awareness of Language," Malcolm X describes the power that comes from learning to write articulately. As a young man, Malcolm X spent time in prison, and attempted to send letters to those he knew from the streets. He never received a response, likely because they were unable to write a letter to reply. Malcolm X viewed white people in power for the plight of African Americans, and attempted to write to leaders such as Harry Truman. Frustrated by an inability to articulate his thoughts, Malcolm X studied a dictionary in prison and worked hard to improve his penmanship. By copying portions of the dictionary onto paper, Malcolm X eventually learned to read books. This allowed Malcolm X to understand the writings of Elijah Muhammad, and eventually to become a well-known civil rights leader. While in prison, the ability to read was liberating for Malcolm X; instead of focusing on his imprisonment, he focused on educating himself. In his words, he "had never been so truly free in [his] life."

Plato utilizes the image of imprisonment in "Allegory of a Cave" as well. In Plato's imaginary prison, prisoners are chained in a cave and only able to view a back-lit screen. Objects behind the
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For Malcolm X, knowledge was a freeing force in prison. Plato's imaginary prisoners gained knowledge with freedom. For Plato, through learning, individuals are ultimately able to discern the difference between right and wrong. This discernment will not only instill a sense of responsibility within them, but will also help them to avoid imprisonment in the future. For Malcolm X and Plato both, knowledge and education offer freedom to the individual in a practical and real sense. While imprisoned, a person can find freedom through intellectual pursuits. Once free from prison, an enlightened individual is more likely to avoid a return trip to prison. With knowledge comes freedom in a very real
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