Malcolm’s younger brother Reginald was the family member with whom he had the closest personal relationship, with the possible exception of Ella. During childhood, Malcolm was Reginald’s hero and protector; later in life, it was Reginald who first persuaded Malcolm to join the Black Muslims. Reginald is depicted as sensitive and insecure, needing approval from those around him. It is this insecurity which eventually causes his mental breakdown after his expulsion from the Nation of Islam. He cannot cope with the rejection of his brothers and sisters.
Despite Reginald’s weakness, however, Malcolm praises his brother for his intelligence. While Malcolm was a hustler in Harlem, he tried to persuade Reginald to leave the merchant marine corps and join him. Reginald refused the first time, and even when Malcolm used his love of music and musicians to entice him to Harlem, he was not drawn into Malcolm’s way of life. To a degree, Malcolm ascribes this to laziness: Reginald was unable to perfect his hustle because he wouldn’t work. But the fact that he did not get drawn into criminal life, as Malcolm did, is an admirable trait.
Finally, Malcolm considers Reginald as having acted as an agent of Allah’s will. He was the instrument which drew Malcolm to the Nation of Islam — and through this involvement, Malcolm’s whole life was changed. For a time, Malcolm thought Reginald’s madness was Allah’s punishment for immorality, but after his own split from the Nation of Islam, he recognizes it as a reaction to his rejection by the family.