Comparison of the 'Autobiography of Malcolm X' and Joan Didion's 'Where I Was From'
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In this essay two books will be compared and contrasted; the first being Joan Didion's Where I Was From, and the second being Alex Haley's The Autobiography of Malcolm X. Didion's book spans over a wide range of time frames, specifically from the 1800s to the early 2000's. Haley's book stays within the period of the 1920s to the 1960s. Some themes this essay will address is the idea of family and one's roots, the impact of poverty on families and one's psyche, and how the economy affects citizens. Any similarities between the books will also be discussed.
These two books are a fairly unique grouping to be comparing, since Didion's book mainly focuses on trying to find her roots in her home state of California, mainly, what it means to be Californian, and what it means to be a Didion. She breaks up her book into four distinct parts: the first part she discusses her heritage and familial line going all the way back to the 1800s and onward to where her family first emigrated to California around the 1850s, where she chronicles their struggles through old letters, photographs, and journals. Haley's book is the Autobiography of Malcolm X, told from the point of view of Malcolm when he was a small child growing up in the Wisconsin/Michigan area of the United States, and chronicles his journey through the Welfare system, subsequent Foster system, and his move to Boston, his imprisonment, and his conversion to the Islamic faith. The first sections of Didion's and Malcolm X's