Where does the title The Fire Next Time come from and what does it mean?
The title comes from “Mary Don’t You Weep,” a Negro spiritual. The line goes, “God gave Noah the rainbow sign / No more water, the fire next time.” The “first time” humanity failed, God flooded the earth and instructed Noah to build an ark. Instead of ending the world with water, God will end it with fire next time. Baldwin interprets this line to mean that if we fail to solve the issue of racial inequality, we (or God) will bring a destructive fire upon our civilization.