Style of The Fire Next Time
James Baldwin is one of the premier essayists of his time. He draws on his experiences in a straightforward, unapologetic manner, which helps achieve his purpose in The Fire Next Time. His style elucidates his arguments for racial harmony and for the understanding of other religions.
The Fire Next Time is a remarkable showcase of Baldwin's talents. His collection of essays is clear, potent, and to the point. To strengthen his argument, Baldwin considers different points of view, black and white, Muslim and Christian. He pushes for both races to compromise their strong views and come to an agreement on many civil rights issues.
Some of the key elements of Baldwin's style include structure, diction, and literary devices. His complex structure includes long sentences and many clauses. His diction is elevated. Baldwin's heavy use of allusions, particularly biblical allusions, shows him to be a well-educated man and draws extensively on the rich oratorical heritage of the African-American church.
According to Henry Louis Gates, Jr., Baldwin awoke Gates to a new level of consciousness. He says that Baldwin's writing style is unique in that it contains "marvelously long sentences that bristled with commas and qualifications. The biblical cadences spoke to me with a special immediacy" (38). Baldwin drew on his experiences as a young Harlem minister to dictate the rhythm and pattern of his sentence structure.
Baldwin's elevated diction shows that he is an educated man. He has a great vocabulary with which to express his ideas. In saying that white...