Malcolm X Learning To Read Analysis

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Learning to read by Malcolm X is an autobiographical piece describing his self-education. Malcom describes being “Increasingly frustrated. At not being able to express what I(He) wanted to convey in letters.” This gave him the drive to learn to read and write during his time in Charlestown Prison, and Norfolk Prison. He started his self-education by reading books, piecing together the bits that he could understand using context to complete sentences he could not comprehend. The absence of words in his vocabulary struck him as his biggest setback and this led him to the conclusion that “the best thing I could do was get hold of a dictionary – to study, to learn some words.”
Through the Norfolk Prison school Malcolm acquired a dictionary, along with some tablets and pencils. This started his personal quest to improve his penmanship and study words to gain literacy. He began by copying the first page of the dictionary word by word. He then read the words he had written in his own handwriting out loud over, and over. This painstaking work soon became easier as he realized with some effort that he could recollect the words
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“The Sponsors of literacy” by Deborah Brandt could be easily related to Malcolm’s story except for the fact that he didn’t have your average literary sponsor. Malcolm’s story closely follows Dora Lopez’s in their quest for self-education. They both realized the struggle of being illiterate and not being able to communicate their thoughts. They both used books and correspondence to learn conversational discourse while practicing their reading and writing. He used the tools he could acquire behind bars to create a literary sponsor from a dictionary. Brandt says in her article “Sponsors, as we ordinarily think of them, are powerful figures (67-).” But in Malcolm’s case he had no ‘powerful sponsor’ he had time, patience and a book full of
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