Critical Book Analysis: The Fire Next Time. James Baldwin

1144 WordsApr 13, 20175 Pages
Critical Book Analysis: The Fire Next Time James Baldwin is a renowned and celebrated African American writer who came to prominence during the civil rights movement of the 1960’s. The Fire Next Time is often regarded as one of his best works and cemented his role as a leading spokesman for the African American community. Baldwin spoke out against all kinds of discrimination. Baldwin’s ultimate message was that the redeeming power of love, understanding and self-determination would free African Americans of the “Negro Problem” (a euphemism for racial tension at the time) and the mythical idea of white racial superiority (often held by whites). In The Fire Next Time, Baldwin dives deep into the African American experience with a bold,…show more content…
Yet, what made Baldwin so much like his predecessors was his desire to understand what it meant to be black in America. How do they define themselves? How can they self-determine a better future? Baldwin addresses self-definition and self-determination throughout the two essays. I combined them because I feel the way he explains, they go hand and hand. The first essay is about Early, in the first essay to his nephew, he says “you can only be destroyed by believing that you really are what the white calls a nigger” (4). This is what happened to Baldwin’s father, Baldwin recalls his father was “defeated long before he died because, at the bottom of his heart, he really believed what white people said about him”. He wants his nephew to remember this. He wants his nephew to realize that he will only be lesser than a white person if he believes himself to be; do not give into this thought, it is not true. You are a product of your expectations and how you define yourself. However, Baldwin recognizes that African Americans self-determination has been, and continues to be, limited, just because they were born black in America. This is made clear when Baldwin says “you were born where you were born and faced the future that you faced because you were black and for no other reason. The limits to your ambition were, thus, expected to be set forever … you were
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