From the very first passages of Midnight’s Children, Rushdie establishes the novel’s unique narrative voice. Saleem narrates in the first person, often addressing the audience directly and informally. He also writes in a prose style that feels spontaneous and improvised, as if he were writing his thoughts down as fast as he can, without stopping to revise or edit. Midnight’s Children doesn’t represent a cool, composed account of past events, nor does it resemble an objective voice recollecting events from a distant vantage point. Saleem rambles and veers off, rephrases and reworks, much as one does in coversation. This prose style is referred to as stream of consciousness, and, in its immediacy, it reflects Saleem’s desperate, urgent need to finish his tale before he dies.
The prose style also makes the novel resemble a session of oral storytelling, a feature highlighted by the presence of Padma, Saleem’s faithful listener and the reader’s stand-in within the pages of Midnight’s Children. At times, Padma plays the role of a passive audience member, while at other moments she actively interjects, making comments and suggestions and calling Saleem to task for some of his more excessive flights of fancy. In this way, acting on our behalf, Padma plays the role of skeptic and critic. Through Padma, Rushdie can anticipate and acknowledge the reader’s potential frustrations. By preemptively addressing any doubts and concerns we might have, Rushdie is then free to pursue the narrative as he sees fit.