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Midnight’s Children

Key Facts

Main ideas Key Facts

full title · Midnight’s Children

author  · Salman Rushdie

type of work  · Novel

genre  · Bildungsroman; satire; farce

language · English

time and place written · England, late 1970s and early 1980s

date of first publication  · 1981

publisher  · Penguin Books

narrator · Saleem Sinai

point of view · This novel is narrated in the first person. The narrator is subjective, though he claims omniscience as he speculates on the motives and thoughts of all the major characters

tone · Urgent; ironic; satirical

tense · Saleem, age thirty, generally narrates in the present tense. Most of the events he describes, however, occur in the past, at which point Saleem switches to the past tense.

setting (time) · From 1915 to 1977

setting (place) · India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh

protagonist · Saleem Sinai

major conflict  · The battle between Saleem, who represents creation, and his archrival, Shiva, who represents destruction, encapsulates the major conflicts of the novel.

rising action  · The birth of Parvati and Shiva’s son, which occurs at the same moment that Prime Minister Indira Gandhi declares a State of Emergency.

climax  · Shiva and the army’s destruction of the magicians’ ghetto, where Saleem has been living with his wife and her son

falling action  · After his home is destroyed and his wife is killed, Saleem is taken to the Widow’s hostel, where heand the rest of the midnight’s children are sterilized.

themes · The single and the many; truth of memory and narrative; destruction vs. creation

motifs  · Snakes; leaking; fragmentation

symbols · Silver spittoon; the perforated sheet; knees and nose

foreshadowing · Ramram’s prophesy of Saleem’s birth; Saleem’s fever induced dream of the Widow