The Fire Next Time

Austin O'Malley and Farrah Maragha and Tess Zolp

Main Arguments

Oppression from white people: Baldwin felt very proud of his ancestors' endurance through forced slavery, social restraints, and laws against them. In the text, he wrote about how he came to learn that white people were doing wrong against his ancestors; and despite many bold attempts to stop this, they continue to oppress him and all Negroes even to today.

Religion: Baldwin wrote concerning his negative experiences with the Christian faith. He believed it was corrupted and sought out a new religion which would satisfy his spiritual needs.

History: Black people were safe in their lives until stolen or sold into slavery. This lead to a worldwide negative perspective on black people which will require a tremendous amount of time and effort to reverse.

Education: White people do not know the full extent to which their ancestors tortured Negroes.

Application to Media

A media connection that could be made to The Fire Next Time could be the documentary "Slippin'", which discusses the predominence of gang violence and drug use in impoverished black communities. Similar to Harlem, Baldwin's place of upbringing, the clip from the documentary shown discusses the painful reality of lives of crime many black youth turn to in their communities, which Baldwin adressed in the books second chapter.


Rhetorical Devices

  1. Religious Parallel - While this device is used throughout the text, Baldwin best utilizes this concept in an abstract form at the book's start: Page 7, “This innocent country set you down in a ghetto… it intended that you should perish.”
  2. Metaphysical concepts - Baldwin often alludes to the weight of white man's sins upon his black counterpart, using terms like "damnation" and "hell" to invoke an emotional response from his readers. On page 20, Baldwin begins, “School began to reveal itself, therefore, as a child’s game...", one he can't win.
  3. Religious Allusion - At the final line of Baldwin's literary collection, [ "God gave Noah the rainbow sign, no more water, the fire next time!"] he offers the titular quote from the Bible (which serves to emphasis his focus on religion and its active application in his life and beliefs, especially in context of his patience, strong but wearing thin, in his discrimination and the treatment of his people.