Malcolm's half-sister Ella is a big, strong, domineering black woman. From his first meeting with her at the detention home, Malcolm was impressed with her. She was married three times, and Malcolm says she literally "wore out" her husbands with her domineering ways. Like Malcolm, she joined the Black Muslims, but she left them in 1959, unable to get along with them.
She is depicted as a strong, self-assured woman — secure in, and proud of, her blackness. She was a hard worker and brought other members of the family to Boston, from the South and the Midwest. She helps Malcolm when he first comes to Boston, but they quarrel over the wild life he leads in the ghetto. Still, she never really deserts him or loses faith in him. She is the one person who is faithful to Malcolm throughout his life, and she is the only character in the book who is close to him during all three stages of his career.