Character Analysis Betty X (Betty Shabazz)

Malcolm’s wife, Betty, is never characterized in detail. She remains a shadowy figure, of whom Malcolm does not speak at any great length. She is described by others as “a black Jacqueline Kennedy” — a naturally sophisticated woman, poised and self-confident. But we can tell, from Malcolm’s suspicious attitudes toward women, in general, that he thinks of her as exceptional. He says that she is the only woman he ever thought of loving.

As for Betty’s background, we learn that she was a nursing student and a member of Temple Seven when she met Malcolm. They were married in January 1958, and had six children (the last two, twins born after Malcolm’s death). Haley suggests that, knowing Malcolm’s temperament, Betty is a patient and self-sacrificing woman.

Malcolm states that his love for her is not physical, but transcendent and all-inclusive. In the context of his usual attitude toward women, this is the highest possible compliment to her.