Aphorism In The Fire Next Time

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In The Fire Next Time by James Baldwin, the author uses aphorisms, deductive reasoning, and a particular use of pronouns to appeal to the reader’s emotions. His purpose is to persuade the reader to agree with him, and he does this by creating a common enemy using these techniques. He appeals to the reader’s emotions, making them feel like a victim of society, and then offering condolence and support. Baldwin uses aphorisms to appeal to the reader’s emotions and persuade them into agreeing with him. One of his most powerful aphorisms reads as follows: “You were born where you were born and faced the future that you faced because you were black and for no other reason” (Baldwin 7). This aphorism makes the reader (his nephew) feel like a victim…show more content…
He takes the broad truth of the anaphora and draws a conclusion from them. Because you are black, “the limits of your ambition were, thus, expected to be set forever” (Baldwin 7). This is something the reader cannot control, and feels the need to push back against; to set his ambition even higher. This allies the reader with Baldwin, because Baldwin claims he is not the people believing your ambitions are set, rather, he is against them. One sentence later, he deduces another claim based off of another aphorism: “You were not expected to aspire to excellence: you were expected to make peace with mediocrity” (Baldwin 7). This example of deductive reasoning uses the word “you” in both the general and personal terms. You, the black population, were not expected to aspire to excellence, and therefore you, the nephew of Baldwin and the reader of this passage, were expected to make peace with mediocrity. But you don't; you are not at peace with mediocrity, which is why this statement strikes a chord with the reader. Few people are okay with the fact that they are mediocre. Everyone strives to be better. So in saying that society wants you to be mediocre, Baldwin is implying that he does not want you to be mediocre; he wants you to be what you want to be, aligning your views with his, providing a common enemy to root
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