Midnight’s Children

by: Salman Rushdie

Padma

Padma is Saleem’s loving companion and caretaker, and she will become his fiancée at the end of the novel. She is the audience for Saleem’s narrative. With strong, hairy forearms, a name associated with dung, and a cynical and often impatient ear, Padma represents the antithesis to Saleem’s magical, exuberant, freewheeling narration. She hurries the narrative along, imploring Saleem to get on with the plot rather than veering off into tangents, and often she expresses doubts as to the veracity of Saleem’s account. As a rhetorical device, Padma allows Rushdie the chance to acknowledge explicitly any doubts or frustrations the reader may feel in response to the novel. She is the practical voice of criticism. Because she is there to counteract its most extreme tendencies, she supports the novel’s more willfully excessive indulgences. Saleem’s frequent interruptions, digressions, and self-obsession are all, to some degree, made possible by Padma’s expressions of doubt and frustration: the two sides work together to create a holistic reading experience. By explicitly taking into account the difficulties of the narrative, Rushdie is able to move beyond them.