Just as the title suggests, “Midnight’s Children” is about children born at the exact time of Indian independence i.e Midnight of August 15, 1947. One of them is our narrator Saleem Sinai whose birth, by virtue of its date and time, becomes directly co-related to the fate of newly independent India. He is thirty-one years old now and feels that time is running out for him as he believes that his body is going to disintegrate into pieces. Before this happens he wishes to pour out all the stories hidden in the deep recesses of his mind to his would-be wife Padma. Throughout the novel we see how various events in his life coincide with the turmoil faced by newly independent India and how both Saleem and the country handle these changes. The story is thus a fine blend of personal and political stories and perspectives intertwined with the slow unraveling of the suspense regarding Saleem’s birth and its implications.s.
The novel is located in post independent India and its naïve attempts at dealing with the turmoil following colonization resulting in the fragmented psyche of the people. Published in 1981, the novel exhibits a sharp interplay between post-modern and post-colonial theory. As the novel's narrator Saleem proclaims himself to be dying of the same problem that can be seen of any country that has suddenly been pulled out of immaturity to maturity: he is, he says, “falling apart” just like the country was.
The narrator Saleem Sinai is very self aware of his role as a narrator and therefore often communicates directly to the readers. Also, the fact that he is narrating various stories to Padma, his would-be wife and listener, the self consciousness becomes more heightened. Padma becomes the reader’s representative in the novel constantly interrupting and asking questions on our behalf. The style of writing is thus simple and spontaneous following the “stream of consciousness” pattern, giving the narration a sense of immediacy and desperation to finish the tale on the part of the narrator.
Midnight’s Children represents an attempt by both Rushdie and Saleem to deconstruct history and rewrite it according to Saleem’s own personal narrative. However, this trend emphasizes the novel’s larger theme that there is no objective truth, there are various versions true and valid to the teller. The novel intermingles the personal with the political, the real with the fantastical, putting forth different lenses to view the same story with each one true and valid in its own right.
The novel thus undercuts the idea of a singular truth proving that everything is relative to the experience of the teller.
Book Reviewed By Ridhi Kukreja
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