Midnight’s Children

by: Salman Rushdie

The Brass Monkey (Jamila Singer)

Characters The Brass Monkey (Jamila Singer)

Saleem’s younger sister, initially known as the Brass Monkey, is born into the world with little fanfare. She eventually grows up to become the most famous singer in Pakistan, adored throughout the country. As a child, Saleem notes that the Brass Monkey learned at an early age that if she wanted attention, she would have to make a lot of noise, which is precisely what she does. She becomes a mischievous child who garners attention by destroying things and remains unable to accept love throughout her adult life. The playful and impish nature of her youth is lost almost immediately upon her arrival in Pakistan. There, in a religiously devout country, she succumbs to the laws of devotion and patriotism, just as her brother becomes more invested in the profane elements of life. She goes through extraordinary lengths to keep herself veiled, and her voice is described as being “pure,” reflecting the ideals of a country that values wholesomeness in its women. Despite her devotion, Jamila Singer retains elements of her former self. She rebels against her dietary constraints by secretly eating leavened bread, baked by Catholic nuns, and she openly criticizes the Pakistani army when they abuse her brother.