Midnight’s Children

by: Salman Rushdie

Shiva

Born at the stroke of midnight and named after the Hindu god of destruction, Shiva is Saleem’s rival and counterpart. Switched at birth with Saleem, Shiva is robbed of his affluent birthright and raised in abject poverty. Blessed with a pair of enormous and powerful knees, Shiva is a gifted warrior and, therefore, a foil for the more mild-mannered Saleem. Shiva represents the alternate side of India: poor, Hindu, and as aggressive as Saleem is passive. As a young child, he is the leader of a street gang and possibly a murderer. He is driven by a determinedly individualist perspective and grows up unable to form any human attachments. Although he is a violent character, he is, nonetheless, a tragic figure, damaged and shaped by the forces of history and class. During the 1971 war between India and Pakistan, Shiva lives up to his name and becomes a war hero, eventually promoted to the rank of major. Along with his military reputation, Shiva also becomes a noted lover among the women of Indian high society, siring a number of illegitimate children. In the end, Shiva hunts Saleem down and turns him over to one the camps opened during Indira Gandhi’s state of Emergency, where Saleem, along with the other midnight’s children, is administered an operation that renders him sterile. In this way, Shiva manages to effectively destroy the children of midnight.