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The Fire Next Time

Author: James Baldwin
by

Debra McWhite

on 15 October 2012

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Transcript of The Fire Next Time

By: Debra McWhite
4B/American Literature James Baldwin was a novelist and playwright during the mid-20th century. While not a marching activist, Baldwin emerged as one of the leading voices in the civil rights movement for his compelling work on race, notably Notes of a Native Son and The Fire Next Time. Baldwin was out about his homosexuality and atheist beliefs. In addition to writing, he also taught at several universities Author's Biography Pictures Summary of the book The Fire Next Time
Author: James Baldwin
Quick Facts
NAME: James Baldwin
OCCUPATION: Writer
BIRTH DATE: August 02, 1924
DEATH DATE: December 01, 1987
EDUCATION: DeWitt Clinton High School, The New School http://www.biography.com/people/james-baldwin-9196635 This book consists of two essays, both examining the so called "Negro Problem" in America in the early 1960's ("Negro" was the term then in use for African-American, and is used interchangeably with the term "black" in this book. The use of both terms in this analysis is therefore reflective of their usage in the book, and of the socio-cultural-literary context in which they were written). Themes other than "the Negro Problem" explored include an examination of the shallowness and ineffectiveness of religious faith, and of inter-generational influences and relationships.

"My Dungeon Shook: Letter to My Nephew on the One Hundredth Anniversary of the Emancipation". This first part of the book is, in fact, what the subtitle suggests it is: a letter written by the author to his nephew. The letter begins with descriptions of how the loving and passionate the author feels about his nephew, writing with particular poeticism... "Down at the Cross: Letter from a Region in My Mind", Part 1. This section of the book opens with two quotations. The first is from Rudyard Kipling, a British author who lived in, and wrote extensively about, colonial India. The quotation is in the form of a poem, and urges the listener (the indigenous Indian population) to "take up the White Man's burden" and not call too loudly for freedom to ease their pain. The second quotation is from a hymn referring to the cry of a sinner for redemption "down at the cross" (where Jesus Christ died), how redemption came to the singer, and cleansed his heart.

The first part of "Down at the Cross" is an examination of Christianity, from both the personal perspective of the author and from a black cultural perspective. The author discusses at length the origins of his teenage experiences with the Christian... This part of "Down at the Cross" explores similarities and differences between Christianity and The Nation of Islam, the name for the followers of Elijah Muhammad, a prophet who claimed to have a revelation of truth directly from Allah. The author summarizes that truth as: black people are Allah's creations, white people are the creations of the devil and are therefore devils themselves, and that the time will inevitably come when black Americans will be able to claim their destiny and eliminate white people from the earth. The author describes his experience of seeing members of the Nation of Islam preaching on the street, making particular note of how they were watched by police (see "Quotes", p. 62). He compares the Nation of Islam preachers, and Elijah Muhammad in particular, with the preachers he listened to when he was a child, and considers the differences between the Christian belief system... Part 3 After a brief speculative discussion of where the Nation of Islam gets its money, the author turns to an extensive consideration of whether the Nation's goals (eliminating the white race from America, the black race taking power) can realistically be accomplished. He clearly expresses the opinion that logistically those goals are impossible, the main reason being the relatively small number of (financially disadvantaged) blacks compared to the large numbers of (relatively wealthy and much more influential) whites. He indicates that he supports the necessity for the cultural transformation sought by the Nation of Islam. Yet expresses the doubt that such change will ever happen because of the complete reluctance, even inability, for whites to see that such change is even desirable, let alone necessary. This inability, he suggests, comes from a profound socio-cultural unwillingness to face several realities - the reality of being an individual (see "Quotes", p. 102), Characters and Conclusion James Baldwin

James Baldwin is the book's author, writing at a time in American social and literary history when the true depth and extent of the so-called "Negro problem" was beginning to become apparent. Biographical information at the end of the book indicates that by the time this book was published he had already written several novels and books of essays, as well as received several awards and fellowships. Biographical information contained in the novel portrays him as having grown up in Harlem, in the midst of that community's economic, spiritual and political poverty - a poverty he seems to have resisted, in various ways, all his life. The various forms of this resistance are portrayed throughout the book. The term "the Negro Problem" was used throughout the 1950's and 60's as a shorthand description of the ongoing state of racial tension (principally between black and white Americans) in America. The essays in "The Fire Next Time" both explore the problem, but from different perspectives. "My Dungeon Shook" anchors its analysis of the problem in the personal relationship between the author and his nephew. The author suggests that he agrees with the nephew that the situation is intolerable, but proposes that instead of reacting from a place of anger, the nephew (and by extension the black community as a whole) ought to strive for transforming the situation rather than confronting it violently. He suggests transformation of attitudes on both sides of the problem through the spreading love and understanding, to preserve the beauty that exists even in the midst of the pain and suffering of the Negro/black people. http://www.bookrags.com/studyguide-the-fire-next-time/themes.html EVALUATION
This novel broaden my out look on our black history, therefore I agree to recommend my peers to read The Fire Next Time by: James Baldwin.
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