"People who cannot suffer can never grow up, can never discover who they are.
Baldwin makes the above statement in his essay, "The Fire Next Time." By saying this he implies that unless you allow yourself to be influenced by your surroundings, you will never improve who you are. If someone else always is given responsibility for your actions, then you do not fully understand the consequences and can never grow as a person.
A person is guided through by life the experiences of his or her past and can only make judgments based upon those past actions if they know the outcome of those past actions. If one has never had to deal with the outcomes of personal actions because that person has always placed blame or responsibility on another individual, this person will not always make the correct, responsible decision. This can often lead to outcomes that this person will ultimately blame on another individual. .
This often causes a lack of personal growth, which can result in an individual thinking that no matter what he or she does, it is never wrong and if the outcome was not what they expected, it was caused by the interference of someone else. This lack of personal growth is what Baldwin is referring to when he states that they can "never grow up." By not learning from life it as if they are experiencing each event for the first time, as a child would. By not accepting responsibility for their actions, they go through life as if always a child.
Baldwin goes on to say, "That man who is forced each day to snatch his manhood, his identity, out of the fire of human cruelty.knows, if he survives his effort, and even if he does not survive it, something about self and human life that no school on earth - and, indeed, no church - can teach." This statement is meant to reflect the personal growth obtained through trial, even if the outcome of the event is a failure, there is something learned from just trying.