By Thursday 3/18 write a 750-1000 word critical essay on The Fire Next Time. You are encouraged to offer your own insights, but you might consider some of these thematic questions: What are the principal arguments that Baldwin is making in this extended autobiographical essay? How does the first part of the book, “My Dungeon Shook,” set up and amplify the second part, “Down At The Cross”? From the perspective of the year 2017, are the author’s concerns in 1962, just as the Civil Rights movement was gathering steam, still relevant today? If so, how and to what extent? What is Baldwin’s view of religion, and how does he use his experiences as an adolescent preacher to advance that view? How did Baldwin’s intellectual awakening impact his faith? What elements in the African-American church of his youth most appealed to Baldwin? What connections does Baldwin draw between his budding teenage sexuality and his religious vocation? What is the purpose of Baldwin’s account of his meeting with Elijah Muhammad, leader of the Nation of Islam? What is Baldwin’s view of the white majority population in the America of his time? Does Baldwin’s rhetoric seem angry, and if so, to what purposes is that anger deployed? Is Baldwin hopeful or pessimistic about the future of race relations in the United States? How does this text relate to current issues of interest to you and your generation?
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