James Baldwin (August 2, 1924–December 1, 1987) is the author and narrator of The Fire Next Time. Baldwin was raised in New York but moved to Paris when he was twenty-four years old because of the blatant racism he experienced in America. He was a strong voice for equality for black people and an advocate for gay rights. (Read our extended character analysis of James Baldwin.)
Elijah Muhammad (October 7, 1897–February 25, 1975) was the leader of the Nation of Islam from 1934 to 1975. He transformed the Nation of Islam from a local organization in Detroit to a movement that spread across the country. Muhammad was heavily criticized for his black supremacist and antisemitic views. (Read our extended character analysis of Elijah Muhammad.)
The driver is an unnamed young black man who drives Baldwin to a friend’s house after his dinner with Elijah Muhammad. Baldwin thinks the driver, who can be seen as representing the next generation of black men, is similar to his nephew. (Read our extended character analysis of the driver.)
James Baldwin (nephew)
James Baldwin’s nephew was the intended recipient of the letter “My Dungeon Shook: Letter to My Nephew on the One Hundredth Anniversary of the Emancipation.” Baldwin describes his nephew as having a strong resemblance to the rest of his family. He also notes that his nephew is tough, dark, vulnerable, and moody like his father.
James Baldwin’s brother
Baldwin describes his brother as having a strong resemblance to the rest of the family. He also describes his brother as tough and moody, qualities Baldwin also sees in his brother’s son (Baldwin’s nephew).
James Baldwin’s father
The man Baldwin refers to as his father was actually his stepfather. He was a preacher, and Baldwin describes him as having had a terrible life because he believed the things that white people thought about him.
The woman preacher
Baldwin meets a woman preacher at his best friend’s church. She asks him, “Whose little boy are you?” (He replies, “Why, yours.”) She is described as being a very...
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