Please wait while we process your payment
If you don't see it, please check your spam folder. Sometimes it can end up there.
Don’t have an account?
Create Your Account
Sign up for your FREE 7-day trial
Already have an account? Log in
Choose Your Plan
$4.99/month + tax
$24.99/year + tax
Save over 50% with a SparkNotes PLUS Annual Plan!
for a group?
Get Annual Plans at a discount when you buy 2 or more!
$18.74 /subscription + tax
Subtotal $37.48 + tax
on 2-49 accounts
on 50-99 accounts
Want 100 or more?
for a customized plan.
You'll be billed after your free trial ends.
7-Day Free Trial
Renews March 5, 2024
February 27, 2024
Discounts (applied to next billing)
This is not a valid promo code.
(one code per order)
Annual Plan - Group Discount
SparkNotes Plus subscription is $4.99/month or $24.99/year as selected above. The free trial period is the first 7 days of your subscription. TO CANCEL YOUR SUBSCRIPTION AND AVOID BEING CHARGED, YOU MUST CANCEL BEFORE THE END OF THE FREE TRIAL PERIOD. You may cancel your subscription on your Subscription and Billing page or contact Customer Support at email@example.com. Your subscription will continue automatically once the free trial period is over. Free trial is available to new customers only.
For the next 7 days, you'll have access to awesome PLUS stuff like AP English test prep, No Fear Shakespeare translations and audio, a note-taking tool, personalized dashboard, & much more!
You’ve successfully purchased a group discount. Your group members can use the joining link below to redeem their group membership. You'll also receive an email with the link.
Members will be prompted to log in or create an account to redeem their group membership.
Thanks for creating a SparkNotes account! Continue to start your free trial.
Your PLUS subscription has expired
Saleem confesses that his story about Shiva’s death was
a blatant lie. Shiva is still alive, and Saleem says that unfinished
business remains between them. Padma proposes to Saleem, and he
accepts. The honeymoon will be in Kashmir. Saleem speculates that
perhaps Padma, with her muscles, might be able to reverse the cracks
and looming death he faces. She proposes getting married on his
thirty-first birthday, but Saleem says that death is waiting for
him that day.
Saleem returns to the story, and his discovery of Aadam
and Picture Singh. Aadam’s tuberculosis has disappeared. According
to Picture Singh, he was cured by the breast milk of a woman named Durga,
whom Picture Singh has fallen in love with. While walking past a
mirror, Saleem sees himself for the first time in months. He notices
how rapidly he has aged, as well as the expression of profound relief
on his own face. Meanwhile, his son, who still won’t speak, demands
constant attention. After Aadam voluntarily weans himself from Durga’s
breasts, Picture Singh hears of a man in Bombay who claims to be
the greatest snake charmer in the world. Determined to challenge
the man, Picture Singh sets off for Bombay with Saleem and Aadam.
When they arrive in Bombay, Saleem discovers that Bombay
has changed completely. The three go to the Midnite-Confidential
Club, a secret, underground club that caters to the cream of Bombay’s society.
A blind woman leads them to a room where they wait for the other
charmer. A light comes on, and Picture Singh’s opponent, the Maharaja
of Cooch Naheen, comes out. The two duel for a long time, their
snakes coiling and dancing, until the younger man begins to falter,
and one of Picture Singh’s snakes wraps itself around his neck.
Picture Singh collapses after his victory and is carried out. In
a back room, they are given food to eat. Saleem takes a bite of
chutney and instantly recognizes the flavor. He finds out that the
Braganze Pickle factory, located in the north of town, makes this
particular chutney. Locating the factory, Saleem walks up to the
gate and meets Padma for the first time. He asks to see the manager
and hears his name called out. He looks up and sees Mary Pereira,
the only family he has left.
Saleem recounts what had happened to Mary. She now lives
at the top of the old hill, in the mansion built by the Narlikar
women. Her room occupies the same space Saleem’s room used to occupy. Mary
owes the entire business to her sister, who convinced the Narlikar
women to invest in Mary’s chutney. Finally, Saleem’s son, Aadam,
begins to say his first word: abracadabra.
Saleem describes the pickle jars. He screws the lid on
the last one, and titles it “Abracadabra.” Saleem decides that he
will now write the future, and he describes his death. On the day
of his wedding, his body breaks and falls apart, reducing him to
600 million specks of dust.
In order for Saleem to reach Bombay and discover Mary,
one final battle for supremacy must take place. Picture Singh, who
claims to be world’s greatest snake charmer, takes his meager savings
and travels to Bombay to assert his title. There can only be one
greatest, according to Picture Singh, and he is willing to sacrifice
everything to prove it. He succeeds in proving his skills, but only
after he literally descends into a world of darkness, and nearly
destroys himself in the process. Picture Singh’s victory is ultimately
a defeat, or a ladder that becomes a snake. Even in its final moments,
life proves to be ambiguous and full of ironies.
“Abracadabra” proves a fitting title for the novel’s final
chapter, since the chapter is as much about the continued presence
of magic as anything else. As Aadam Sinai’s first word, it suggests
that, despite everything that has happened—the wars, the tragic
deaths, and the chaotic political turmoil—the next generation of
midnight’s children retain the magic of potential, and the ability
to change the world. In Aadam’s mouth, it becomes a word of defiance,
accumulated over the months of silent listening that marked the
first three years of his life. A sense of cautious hope pervades
the last chapter. Saleem is set to marry Padma, and in her strong
body, he sees a flicker of hope that his own, cracked body might
somehow be preserved. Perhaps, armed with Padma and with love, he
won’t disintegrate and be consumed after all.
Despite all the changes and exiles he has undergone, Saleem
ends up almost exactly where he began: at a house on Methwold’s
Estate, his son in the care of Mary Pereira, just as he was once
in her care himself. Saleem has succeeded in telling his story,
thereby preserving it for his son, just as fruit gets preserved
for chutney. That initial optimism is tempered, however, by Saleem’s
final prophecy, which spills out in a stream of consciousness. Imagining
his future, Saleem sees himself falling apart on his birthday and
crumbling into millions of specks of dust, just as his grandfather
Aadam crumbled into dust in his time. Saleem’s birthday is, of course,
the anniversary of his nation’s independence. Crumbling into dust
becomes a symbolic act of both exhaustion and unity. Having given
everything he has within him—not only through his life, but through
the telling of his story as well—Saleem can surrender himself, dissolving
into a metaphor for his nation, as he crumbles into as many pieces
of dust as there are people in India.
Ace your assignments with our guide to Midnight’s Children!