X. Malcolm, H. Keller and D. Raymond – The Authors That Face Various Hurdles and Overcome Them Essay

July 16, 2021 by Essay Writer

Updated: Nov 26th, 2019


Malcolm X, Helen Keller and David Raymond are all writers that struggled with self expression, identity and social conformity. These challenges emanated from the lack of language proficiency. However, all three authors succeeded in overcoming insurmountable challenges, and eventually cause audiences to relate to the plight of other people in similar circumstances.

How the authors are alike and different

In all three short stories, the writers are struggling with some type of language-related inadequacy. Helen Keller was blind and deaf, so she could not express herself in written or spoken words. She explains that she was “at sea in a dense fog” meaning that she was trapped in a world of darkness and numbness (Keller 5).

This caused her to become resentful and angry because she could not interact with the world around her. Keller was subsequently shut out from society because of these physical disabilities. Similarly, David Raymond struggled with another type of disability; which was a mental one known as Dyslexia.

The condition caused him to be shunned by his playmates. His routine was never the usual one in class; for instance, he had to meet lots of psychiatrists for evaluation (Raymond 14). At some point, Raymond was even taken to a special school. He resented the bus that came to pick him up because it carried mentally retarded or severely deformed children. David did not want his neighbours to see him getting into the bus because they would judge him; all he wanted was to be like everyone else.

The condition prevented him from expressing himself or performing normal classroom activities. Malcolm X, had his own type of struggle too; illiteracy. He was dealing with another type of mental darkness as well. This condition prevented him from expressing his ideas as clearly as he needed to. Having been a street hustler, he lacked the opportunities needed to acquire literacy skills. The writer was unable to communicate or interact with people properly, and this put him in a self-created prison.

Despite these common struggles among the three authors, one also realises that their social and cultural circumstances had a profound effect on their perception of lack and limitation. As an African American male living in a discriminative society, Malcolm X, felt that his illiteracy contributed to the oppression of his people. His expression of these struggles was influenced by his worldview as a member of the black race.

Conversely, Keller felt that her unfamiliarity with language caused her to be isolated. Her identity was defined by her physical disabilities. It is from this background, that she expresses her agonies. Raymond’s worldview was determined by his status as a dyslexic individual. Therefore, his inadequacies, identity crisis, and low self esteem all stemmed from this background. David’s style is symptomatic of this position in society.

Keller, Raymond and Malcolm X gain a degree of self awareness when they discover the power of language. Malcolm X could never realise his goals of liberation for the black people unless he could express himself well in the English language; when he recognized this, then he became a new person.

Malcolm admired his peer’s command of the language, and made the decision to change his circumstances (Malcolm 277). The life-changing moment occurred when he appreciated that there were so many words to learn from the dictionary. He even copied entire pages – word for word – in order to concretise what he was learning.

Malcolm decided that the mastery of language would deliver him from oppression; it would be his tool to personal empowerment and fulfilment. In this regard, the author became self aware. He realised his real potential, and gets a renewed purpose in life. The same thing happened to Keller after she discovered the power of language. When her teacher passed this strange liquid over her palm, and spelt its name on her other hand, she experienced a great awakening.

She realised that she had been set free, and that all the barriers that held her hostage would soon be “swept away”. To Keller, the discovery of language signified the discovery of her ability to live a meaningful and joyous life. David Raymond also became self aware after realising that is was possible to still be intelligent or achieve great things when one was Dyslexic. He cites examples such as Einstein and Leonardo da Vinci.

All three authors succeed in explaining life in the context of their experiences. Language mastery is something that many people take for granted because it comes naturally to them. However, Keller, Raymond and Malcolm X all have peculiar circumstances that make it quite difficult to learn how to read and write.

After reading these short stories, one gets to understand the significance of words and their meanings. The narratives are important in raising awareness about racial oppression, physical and mental disabilities, and how they relate to self expression and language.


The short stories under analysis are quite similar to one another because the authors face various hurdles and overcome them; they become self aware, and teach audiences about challenges in literacy based on their circumstances. Consequently, the three narratives are important in instilling empathy among audiences concerning the experiences of others who are different.

Works Cited

Keller, Helen. The day language came into my life. USI, 2011. Web..

Malcolm, X. “Discovering the power of language.” Language awareness: readings for college writers. Eds. Paul Eschholz, Alfred Rosa and Virginia Clark. NY: St. Martin’s Press, 2004. 271-284. Print.

Raymond, David. On being seventeen, bright, and unable to read. Mrshatzi, 2011. Web.

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