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Midnight’s Children

Main Ideas

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