Alt hough it was an ngoing journey, their struggles had given them confidence in writing for peo ple to follow. In both these essays, both men write about how they educated themselves. Des pite the differences in their circumstances, both men were motivated to learn how to read, both men had obstacles to overcome, and both men were transformed by the experience. Malcolm X shows true character and motivation in his essay, Coming to the Awareness to anguage. ” He overcame his hardship in prison by using imprisonment as self motivation to learn how to read and write.
He says, ” I became increasingly frustrated at not eing able to express what i wanted to convey in letters that I wrote, especially those to Mr. Elijah Muhammad… ” He proved that by learning the entire dictionary by himself in prison. In contrast to Malcolm X’s situation, Richard Wright wanted to read because he read a ne wspaper article denunciating H. L. Mencken saying that he was “a fool. ” Wright wanted to know what this man had done to cause such hatred against him. “l wondered what on earth this M encken had done to call down upon him the scorn of the South. The only people had ever heard denounced in the
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South were Negroes, and this man was not a Negro. ” Richard Wright didn’t ex actly know what was going on in the world around him, so that is what motivated him to learn and read more. Richard Wright and Malcolm X both had many obstacles while trying to reach their goals and learn how to read and write. Richard Wright says, “I ran across many wor ds whose meanings did not know…. ” Richard Wright had no way around learning on his own. Unli ke Richard Wright, Malcolm X knew the meaning of every word in the dictionary. Malcolm x never had the problem of stumbling and being stopped bywords he didnt know.
Malcolm X said, ” When I had progressed to really serious reading, every night at about ten P. M. I woul d be outraged with the “lights out…. ” Whereas Richard Wright didn’t know what he was reading Malcolm X had difficulties finding the right ‘time” to read. Malcolm X describes how his life in prison changed his outlook on many peop les lives. While in prison, Malcolm X taught himself from dictionaries and books how to become literate. This literacy prompted Malcolm X to find an interest in history, but notjust his tory, the history’ “white men” left out.
He became further interested in this topic, and found hi mself dig deeper and deeper. His interest was never slowed, even years later, and he gives all t he credit to the homemade education he gave himself in prison. He states, “l have often refle cted upon the new vistas that reading opened to me… ” Malcolm X had felt some type of accompli shment in his life. He had taught himself to read and he had made himself a better person. If Richard Wright had never read those books, chances are he would have nev er made the effort to pick up his life and move it along.
Upon reading Mencken and other authors, Richard Wright found out more about why white people acted the way that they had. Wright said, ” could calculate my chances for life in the South as a Negro fairly clearly now. ” He had a better grasp on why they treated him the way that they had. Wright became more k nowledgeable. He said, ” I could submit and live the life of a genial slave, but that was impossible . All of my life had shaped me to live by my own feelings, and thoughts… ” Richard Wright liv ed for himself and the black community. It was unlike Wright to have to live under the white ommunity as a slave.