Course Hero Logo
Literature Study GuidesThe Fire Next Time

The Fire Next Time | Study Guide

James Baldwin

Download a PDF to print or study offline.

Study Guide
Cite This Study Guide

How to Cite This Study Guide

quotation mark graphic


Course Hero. "The Fire Next Time Study Guide." Course Hero. 4 Feb. 2019. Web. 1 June 2023. <>.

In text

(Course Hero)



Course Hero. (2019, February 4). The Fire Next Time Study Guide. In Course Hero. Retrieved June 1, 2023, from

In text

(Course Hero, 2019)



Course Hero. "The Fire Next Time Study Guide." February 4, 2019. Accessed June 1, 2023.


Course Hero, "The Fire Next Time Study Guide," February 4, 2019, accessed June 1, 2023,



James Baldwin

Year Published





Argument, Nonfiction

Perspective and Narrator

The Fire Next Time consists of two first-person essays narrated by the author, James Baldwin.


The Fire Next Time is written in both the past and present tenses. Baldwin uses the past tense when recounting specific events, such as his meeting with the African American Nation of Islam leader Elijah Muhammad (1897–1975). He switches to the present tense when writing about the current—and future—state of race relations in the United States.

About the Title

"The Fire Next Time" comes from an African American spiritual called "Mary, Don't You Weep:" God gave Noah the rainbow sign, / No more water, the fire next time. As he ends the second essay, Baldwin quotes the song to warn readers in very strong terms that if race relations don't improve, their world will be (metaphorically) set ablaze.


This study guide for James Baldwin's The Fire Next Time offers summary and analysis on themes, symbols, and other literary devices found in the text. Explore Course Hero's library of literature materials, including documents and Q&A pairs.

Buy this book from
Cite This Study Guide

information icon Have study documents to share about The Fire Next Time? Upload them to earn free Course Hero access!