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 December 13, 2023
December 6, 2023
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 firstname.lastname@example.org. 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 describes a fever-induced dream in which someone
he calls “the Widow” reaches out and destroys the children by ripping
them all in two. Someone brings Saleem’s son to the pickle factory, although
the boy will not say whom. Saleem says that he is telling this story
for his son and that memory has its own special truth. He compares
himself and his story to figures and stories from various world
Saleem returns to the year he turned ten. Purshottam,
the sadhu, has died from a fit of suicidal hiccups. Saleem restricts
his communication with the other midnight’s children to a single
hour a day, between the times of midnight and 1 a.m. One
day, as his mother goes on a shopping trip, he hides himself in
the car and uses his telepathy to follow, through his mother’s mind,
the route they are taking. He watches as his mother enters a dirty
restaurant called the Pioneer Café. In the morning, film studios
pick up extras at the Pioneer Café, but in the afternoon it becomes
the hangout of the Communist Party. Saleem watches as his mother
sits across from Nadir Khan, now named Qasim Khan, and the two of
them exchange meaningful looks and gestures.
Saleem describes how he brought the midnight’s children together,
breaking through the barriers of language and eventually transmitting
an image of himself into their brains. They each have a horrible
sense of self-image. He introduces himself to Shiva, who recognizes
him as the rich kid from the estate his father used to work on.
Shiva suggests that the two of them should be the leaders of the gang.
Shiva scorns and mocks Saleem’s attempts to create a meaningful
purpose for the conference. Shiva, Saleem notes, is the god of destruction
and the Hindu pantheon’s most potent deity. He tells how Shiva’s
father tried to mutilate him in order to make him a better beggar
and how, at the last moment, Shiva saved himself by gripping his
father with his powerful knees.
Saleem describes the events of the 1957 election. The
Communist Party makes a powerful showing, although the Communist
candidate Qasim Khan lost his race, due, in part, to Shiva and his
intimidating gang of thugs. Suddenly, however, Saleem realizes that
he’s gotten the dates wrong and that the election of 1957 occurred before
his tenth birthday.
Saleem says he will describe the fall of Evie Burns, but,
before doing so, he offers a list of alternative titles for the
chapter, as well as a description of the events of that winter.
Bombay is on the brink of partition. A severe drought occurs, and
vandals sabotage the city’s water reserves. Several whores are found
murdered, bearing strange bruises that look as if made by a pair
of giant, powerful knees. As a result of the water shortage, stray
cats in search of water overrun Methwold’s Estate. Evie promises,
in exchange for payment, to rid the estate of the cats. Armed with
her Daisy air-gun, Evie ends the plague of cats by shooting them.
The Brass Monkey, who was rumored to have been able to speak to
animals as a child, is outraged. She calls Evie outside, then pounces
on her. The two have a terrible fight, and, a few weeks later, Evie’s
father sends her away for good. Months later, Evie writes Saleem
a letter confessing to have once stabbed an old woman who complained
about her assault on the cats. Saleem suggests that perhaps his
sister acted out love for him.
Saleem says that he never liked Shiva but nonetheless
could not keep him out of the Midnight’s Children’s Conference.
Saleem’s mental powers grow stronger, and he is eventually able
to turn his mind into an open forum in which all the children can
speak to each other. Saleem notes that the conference ignored the
warnings of Soumitra, the time-traveler among them, who insisted,
“all this is pointless—they’ll finish us before we start!”
At school, Saleem’s geography teacher rips out his hair.
Shortly afterward, Saleem loses part of his finger during a school
dance while attempting to impress a girl. Saleem is rushed to the
hospital, where his parents are asked to donate blood. His parents’
blood types are A and O, but he is neither—thereby proving that
they could not be Saleem’s biological parents. Ahmed assumes that
his wife had an affair. Saleem, looking back on his ten-year-old
self, endows him with the gift of hindsight and allows him to ruminate on
the homogenous nature of the body and the profound consequences
of his mutilated finger. He closes with the image of a ten-year
old boy with a bandaged hand thinking about blood and the last look
he saw on his father’s face.
Saleem’s fever-induced nightmare of the Widow, the introduction
of his son, and the description of the chutney factory clarify certain
elements of Saleem’s current situation. The Widow, whom Saleem has referenced
several times as his destroyer, grows into an even more ominous
figure during the dream Saleem recounts. As cryptic as Ramram’s
prophesy, Saleem’s dream also foreshadows future events in the narrative.
In addition, we learn that Saleem is a father and that he’s recording
his history for his son. Saleem claims that “memory’s truth, because
memory has its own special kind. It selects, eliminates, alters,
exaggerates, minimizes, glorifies, and vilifies also; but in the
end it creates its own reality.” This reinforces the idea, present since
the beginning of the novel, that the truth of facts, figures, and chronologies
represents only one kind of truth. When experiences filter through
a person’s consciousness and are recomposed by that individual consciousness
into a work of art, the resulting narrative produces a different,
but equally legitimate, kind of reality. History is always a kind
of storytelling, and Saleem argues that his version of events should
be considered just as valid as any other.
As Saleem’s mother flirts with a figure from her past,
now turned communist, India finds itself flirting with communism
as well. Once again, we can see the influence of the cinema on Saleem’s
narrative. Not only is the Pioneer Café the afternoon hangout for
the Communist Party, it is also the recruiting spot for film extras.
The communists, like the film extras, are looking for a role, however
minor, to play in their nation’s political drama. And India’s political
turmoil, with its widespread corruption, certainly seems dramatic
enough to warrant a film treatment. Saleem’s mother and Qasim Khan,
in restrained flirtation, mirror the gestures of a Bollywood film,
and Saleem describes their scene in cinematic terms: their hands
“enter the frame,” but Saleem “left the movie before the end.” Saleem’s ability
to enter other people’s minds, and see through eyes that are not
his own, mimics the power of a film camera to capture perspectives
unavailable to normal human eyes.
These chapters also offer insights into the character
of Shiva, Saleem’s main antagonist. Their debate about their purpose
in the world, while slightly unbelievable, coming as it does out
of the mouths of ten-year-olds, points to one of the fundamental
differences between the two boys. Shiva is named after the god of
destruction, whereas Saleem represents Brahma, the god of creation.
The two boys represent destruction and creation, violence and restraint, respectively.
The ambiguity that Saleem found lacking in his childhood board game
of Snakes and Ladders is evident in his portrait of Shiva. Born
into abject poverty and nearly mutilated by his father in order
to make a living, Shiva is as tragic as he is violent. His anger and
his attraction to destruction are inescapably related to his upbringing—an
upbringing that the older, mature Saleem knows was meant for him.
Ace your assignments with our guide to Midnight’s Children!