Comparing and contrasting of the Malcolm X Autobiography Elie Wiesels Night and the Epic of Gilgamesh

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Comparing and contrasting of the Malcolm X Autobiography, Elie Wiesel’s Night, and the Epic of GilgameshThis essay compares and contrasts the way writers have demonstrated this theme in the works of the Malcolm X Autobiography, Elie Wiesel’s Night, and the Epic of Gilgamesh. While not fiction, the Autobiography of Malcolm X presents as compelling and fantastical a portrait of human existence as can be found in even the most wildly imaginative works of literature. There are a variety of prominent themes throughout the work, but perhaps the most compelling is the theme of self-determination and freedom. In addition to the highly articulate prose, one of the reasons this story makes such an impression is the fact that the struggle for self-determination is not that of a single man, but of an entire race of people struggling for freedom in a land that has oppressed and maligned them. In these regards, Malcolm X begins by establishing the nature of oppression. He states, In one sense, we were huddled in there, bonded togethher in seeking security and warmth and comfort from each other, and we didn’t know it. All of us—who might have probed space, or cured cancer, or built industries—were, instead, black victims of the white man’s American social system (Malcolm X). This is important as it establishes the structural dimensions of what Malcolm X perceives as the pivotal element of the Civil Rights Movement, of which himself and other African Americans must strive to overcome. For Malcolm X the issue of self-determination isn’t one of simply competing in society, but rather of redefining the very nature of the social order so that a great degree of freedom and success can be achieved. As the text progresses, Malcolm X considers the nature of his own life in terms of the larger question of African American oppression. He writes, I reflected many, many times to myself upon how the American Negro has been entirely brainwashed from ever seeing or thinking of himself, as he should, as a part of the nonwhite peoples of the world (Malcolm X). In these regards, Malcolm X is further considering the nature of oppression and the means by which the social order has operated to convince African Americans that the freedom and self-determination they deserve has been withheld from them by society through a sort of brainwashing. It’s clear that within this passage there is a great degree of anger on Malcolm X’s part that is indicative of his struggle for freedom. Later in the text, he further illustrates his quest for self-determination, indicating, I’ve had enough of someone else’s propaganda.…I’m for truth, no matter who tells it. I’m for justice, no matter who it is for or against (Malcolm X). One sees that ultimately he has become so increasingly angry at his oppressive conditions to the point that he believes violence is a viable solution to the problem. While not a memoir or autobiography in the sense of the Autobiography of Malcolm X, it’s clear that the general reflective nature and structure of Elie Wiesel’s Night is very similar to that of the Malcolm X text. Of course, the major difference is the context of the fight for freedom, with Night occurring in the Nazi Concentration camps of World War II. Whereas the Autobiography of Malcolm X has a tone of anger at the oppressive mechanisms that stand between the individual and freedom, because of the gravity of the situation Night takes on an almost nihilistic tone of despair punctured by moments of hope. In considering the n