The Fire Next Time

Created by Lauren Silha

Main Points/Arguments:

1. Giving in to society's expectations:

Baldwin shows argumentation towards the idea of societal expectations and stereotypes by beginning to describe the children he had grown up with, in which he had turned to the church, they had turned to violence and drugs. From there, Baldwin crescendos into a bubble of description: "Crime became real, not as a possibility but as the possibility. One would never defeat one's circumstances by working and saving one's pennies; one would never, by working, acquire that many pennies, and, besides, the social treatment accorded even the most successful Negroes proved that one needed, in order to be free, something more than a bank account." This relates to the text as a whole due to its correlation of a population's expectations for a certain type of race, gender, or sexual orientation.

2. Interracial friendships/relationships:

Baldwin includes the situation involving his Jewish best friend and father to demonstrate the hatred of difference during Baldwin's time period. "My best friend in high school was a Jew. He came to our house once, and afterward my father asked, 'Is he a Christian?' I really do not know whether my answer came out of innocence or venom, but I said coldly "No. He's Jewish.' My father slammed me across the face with his great palm, and in that moment everything flooded back-all the hatred and all the fear, and the depth of a merciless resolve to kill my father rather allow my father to kill me..."

3. Corruption and hypocrisy in religion:

The idea of hypocrisy inside of the church- the Christian church specifically, proves irony and is highly argued by Baldwin in his book. Baldwin includes his frustration regarding corruption in the church to prove the lack of thought and truth when it came to turning towards God. To further the observation, Baldwin mentions pastors driving nice cars, while the attendees are poor and sad. Afterwards, Baldwin mentions his hardships with religion and his thoughts of giving into society's expectations of what a negro man should become; join a gang, turn towards violence, drugs, etc.

Connection with Media:

"The Mask You Live In" a short sequence involving society's expectations of young men in modern times. Though Baldwin's argument refers to not only women, I felt this video spoke largely in terms of stereotyping and expectations based on gender, race, interests, etc.

Rhetorical Device #1:

Irony is used in one of Baldwin's main arguments (mentioned above) in regards to corruption and mistrust in the church setting. An example would be when Baldwin mentions the wealth accustomed to the church officials, whereas the churchgoers are poor and give the little that they have.

Rhetorical Device #2:

Baldwin utilizes the element of diction to show his genuine but educated tone throughout the book. Baldwin shifts his diction very little throughout the novel.

Rhetorical Device #3:

(Antihero is something that may be stretch for this situation- but I think it works). In the text, Baldwin could be considered the protagonist character for his genuine and intellectual realizations throughout the story of his life. He could be considered a hero for bringing these thoughts to the American people.