Salman Rushdie’s Midnight’s Children as a Permanent Plight of an Individual Identity

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  • Topic: Salman Rushdie, Midnight's Children, The Satanic Verses
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  • Published : January 27, 2013
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Salman Rushdie’s Midnight’s Children as a Permanent Plight of an Individual Identity In Salman Rushdie, India has produced a glittering novelist-one with starting imaginative and intellectual resources, a master of perpetual storytelling. -The New Yorker Sir Ahmed Salman Rushdie is a British Indian Novelist and Essayist. He first achieved fame with his second novel, Midnight’s Children (1981), which won the Booker Prize. Much of his early fiction is set at least partly on the Indian Subcontinent. His style is often classified as magical realism, while a dominant theme of his work is the long, rich and often fraught story of the many connections, disruptions and migrations between the East and the West. His other novels are Grimus (1975), Shame (1982), The Satanic Verses (1988), Haroun and the Sea of Stories (1990), The Moor’s last Sight (1995), The Ground beneath Her Feet (1999), Step across This Line (2003), Shalimar the clown (2005) and Luca and the Fire of Life (2010). A Marvelous epic. Rushdie’s prose snaps into playback and flash- forward…..stopping on images, vistas, and characters of unforgettable presence. Their range is rich as India herself. -Newsweek Midnight's Children is a book about India's transition from British Colonialism to Independence and the partition of India. Saleem Sinai, the narrator of the novel, opens the novel by explaining that his birth takes place on midnight, August 15, 1947, at the exact moment India has gained its Independence from British rule. Now nearing his thirty-first birthday, Saleem believes that his body is beginning to crack and fall apart. Fearing that his death is imminent, he grows anxious to tell his life story. Padma, his loyal and loving companion, serves as his patient, often skeptical audience. Midnight’s Children sets in motion a self- perpetuating process of the creation of a particular language, a form of discourse, namely speculative gossip, which uses history as both a pre-text and a pretext. Rushdie himself seems well aware that much of his treatment of history could be criticized for exploiting these deep fissures in the national psyche created by the turmoil of history. Rushdie defuses such criticism in his novels by symbolically admitting to the ‘guilt’ of gossiping. He begins in Midnight’s Children by offering a metaphor for the plentitude as well as the prurience of gossip in his description of Durga, the washerwoman “She was a full of gossip and tittle-tattle as she was of milk…She represented novelty beginnings, the advent of new stories events complexities” (Rushdie 445). Lacking power over events, Rushdie’s protagonists, narrators and readers may make imaginative connections where they will, transmitting historical fiction into visionary fact and vice-versa. When Rushdie’s characters gossip, they blend reality with imaginative truth, giving semantics, a system of meaning, to the teeming events of history. Saleem Sinai is India and India’s history between 1947 and 1975 is literally written on Saleem’s body. He carries India’s history between dream and nightmare. This is delineated through the complexity and the stratification of several strands of reality which impart a fragmentary look to the novel. The several strata of the novel symbolize Saleem’s gradual amputation and loss of freedom, sainty and individuality. This novel becomes a symbol of man’s fundamental human conditions that of the alienation of the self.    Saleem Sinai, the narrators-protagonist defines himself by identifying his lot with the fate of his country. Born at midnight on August 15, 1947, the date on which India emerged as an Independent state, Saleem from birth has greatness prophesied for him because of this nexus. In the course of his story, he discovers that he is not the center of India’s history but only a...
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