The Fire Next Time

James Baldwin

Main Arguements

  • White Supremacy= Throughout the book, Baldwin emphasizes the idea of of why he believes that white people feel the need to rule over all and to put down other human beings that deviates from their standards. He feels that the reason white people do this because they themselves are insecure and can not find themselves and in order to lift white society up they must make the rest of the human race feel inferior.
  • Religion= Baldwin analyzed the idea of religion and his view upon it which changed as he became older and more wiser. Christianity, which he grew up on, became a sanctuary in his young child to keep him off the streets. Soon it transformed into something more bitter and hypocritical as he became older and saw his own fallacies and inconsistencies in the religion. He realized how much American Christians never lived up to ideals they preached so often. As for religion as a whole he seems to hold that religion can turn people against one another rather than untied them.
  • Social Equality and Harmony= Baldwin maintains the idea that in order for change to be accepted in society by anyone, the ones who self loathe and hate on others, (AKA the overtly racist) must learn to love themselves and understand. With that being said, the move for social equality and harmony must be something that must be welcomed and worked toward by everyone and the best way to start is by loving yourself first, then project that love and confidence onto others.

Media Connections

The media connection I chose is a clip from a YouTube channel called Secular Talk. In this clips, it shows a very Christian white preacher who is overtly racist at the same time in his sermons. This connects to Baldwin's The Fire Next Time because t goes to show that in this day and age, religion as Baldwin had stated and emphasized in his book, contradicts itself and makes itself seem hypocritical.
The Most Racist Pastor In America

Rhetorical Devices

  • Repetition= " come from sturdy, peasant stock men who picked cotton and damned rivers and built railroads... You come from a long line of great poets..."(pg.10) - This is how Baldwin emphasizes to his nephew his greatness and strength in his origins that has been passed down to him to show that he can live up to do anything he wants despite what tries to limits him.
  • Allusion= Malcolm X is a reoccurring historic figure mention in Baldwin's book that he uses to reference his acquaintance with. Considering that he had actually met with Malcolm X, it brings familiarity towards his writing.
  • Imagery= "The central quality in Elijah's face is pain, and his smile is a witness to it-pain so old and deep and black that it becomes personal and particular only when he smiles." (pg.64) On an average, it is expected that a gesture of a smile is supposed to give off an expression of happiness. In Elijah's case, he still show more so​ pain that is more apparent than happiness. making it ironic in its own way. Baldwin does this to emphasize Elijah's character and how rather profound and unique he was.