The Fire Next Time was published in 1963, 100 years after the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation. The early sixties were a time of heated debate regarding racial segregation, and much of that debate was inflected by religion. Many Christian groups—such as the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, to name just one—were foundational to the Civil Rights Movement, basing their calls for equality within the framework of Christianity’s celebration of love and kindness. On the other…(read full theme analysis)
Fear is laced throughout The Fire Next Time. In fact, it lurks behind important elements of the three previous themes: authority, religion, and love. Baldwin concerns himself in particular with how fear can act as a divisive catalyst, something that drives white and black people apart and supports racist patterns.
When Baldwin sought out the Christian church as a teenager, he did so for fear of the “whores and pimps and racketeers on the…(read full theme analysis)