Impact of The Fire Next Time
James Baldwin's The Fire Next Time is a powerful book. It fanned the flames of the civil rights movement and stands as a staple of African-American literature. It is a testament to black culture and the problems that climaxed during the middle of the 20th century.
One walks away from the book feeling three things. The first is a heightened sense of awareness about growing up in Harlem. The second is a new perspective from which to interpret the struggle for civil rights in the 1950s and 1960s. The third is a respect for Baldwin as a writer and critical thinker.
Baldwin grew up in Harlem in the 1920s and 1930s. He calls on several of his experiences growing up as a background to the contemporary ideas he addresses in The Fire Next Time. Baldwin writes:
The wages of sin were visible everywhere, in every wine-stained and urine-splashed hallway, in every clanging ambulance bell, in every scar on the faces of the pimps and their whores, in every helpless, newborn baby being brought into this danger, in every knife and pistol fight on the Aven...
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