Midnight’s Children (Book One)

Comment here for the first few chapters of Midnight’s Children.  I’ll ask what, so far, you make of our narrator Saleem.  As with several things we’ve read, this story is being told at one point in time, in one setting, about the past, in another setting, so try to keep track of where you are.  The narrator is Saleem Sinai, writing his memoirs at some point in the late 1970s and frequently exchanging dialogue with a woman named Padma.  For most of this first section, he writes about his grandfather, Dr. Aadam Aziz, and his family, during the years 1915-1947.

Other Indian writers popular internationally:
Arundhati Roy (novelist, The God of Small Things)
R. K. Narayan (novelist, the Malgudi novels)
Vikram Seth (novelist and poet, A Suitable Boy and The Golden Gate)
Jhumpa Lahiri (fiction writer, The Interpreter of Maladies)
Anita and Kiran Desai (mother/daugher novelists, works Clear Light of Day and The Inheritance of Loss)

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13 Responses to “Midnight’s Children (Book One)”

  1. Saleem is very descriptive within his stories. He wants to walk you through the events he encounter and leaves me with a sense of wanting to know more

  2. hamidah says:

    Saleem wants to write about his whole past starting from his grandfather’s time. He is worried that he might forget about his past because he feels he might disappear soon and wants to inform us about what took place in his family, including, his grandfather’s itchy nose moments. That is how much detailed his writing is about his family

  3. khaff88 says:

    I like the tone Rushdie sets up for the reader, Saleem seems very personable. I’m not fond of how self-absorbed he is though; him thinking that his birth reflects the status of his country I think is a bit dramatic on his part. Jumping from story to story at points had me confused so I needed to go back a couple of times to clarify which character is which. All in all the start of the book has me interested, I’m curious to what happens throughout the rest of this book.

  4. mhealy101 says:

    Cleary Saleem is very detail oriented. You get this impression at the very beginning of the novel when he tells of the exact time and place of when he was born (which is rather odd because this is impossible). The narration starts to get a little fuzzy when Padma interrupts Saleem. Also, another thing I picked up on is when Saleem is narrating the story it almost seems as at times that he is putting together random thoughts on a piece of paper or in other words “freewriting”. For example, “ And there will be another bald foreigner…and Tai’s gas prophesies another kind, which was the consolation of my grandfathers old age, and taught her stories, too… and pie-dogs aren’t far away… Enough. I’m frightening myself.” It is like there is no thought in his writing process, just whatever comes to mind first.

  5. hernandez says:

    The narrator is extremely meticulous when it comes to giving the reader details. It’s like even the smallest detail is important to getting to know his story. However I still find it very hard to keep up with the characters and also the story line.

  6. Jamie Rohr says:

    So I couldnt help but think when reading about Saleem, is that the way he describes himself is almost as if he sees himself as G-d. His ability to see things that no one else can see, even more specifically all at the same time is a very godlike quality. I grew up learning that time does not exist for god and our entire lives are laid out in front of Him, happening all at the same time. The fact that Saleem has that same trait, and emphasizes that his birthday is the same day of independence of the country, you cant help but think that he thinks he is godlike.

  7. GordonWTam says:

    Detail obsessed would be the way I put it. For some reason the narrator wants us to know everything to the dot. Maybe it will be explained why later? Either way you can tell from the very first line, where he is not satisfied with merely saying he was born in Bombay. He corrects himself and gives the place, date and time down to the very second, the stroke of midnight.

  8. javeriasid says:

    So far I see Saleem to be a very detailed narrator, it almost seems like he is telling the story to someone so it can be published, but in fact he is telling the story to Padma. He talks about his birth in a detailed manner, relating it to history, he writes “my father broke his big toe; but his accident was a mere trifle when set beside what had befallen me in that benighted moment because thanks to occult tyrannies of those blandly saluting clocks I had been mysteriously handcuffed to history, my destines indissolubly chained to those of my country.”

  9. Saleem is a very detail-oriented narrator and his images are very vivid. I am not familiar with this part of the world. It is like a complete culture shock. Its amusing to see Dr. Aziz make house call traveling by boat(shakara). It is a little difficult to follow along with the characters. Padma seems like a tough women and funny too. I have a question with the constant reference to the nose? Is it similar to the thought of having a fight when youyr nose itches? Im not familiar with the Mughal Empire and even Indian independance. There is also a dichotomy of private and public life which i find interesting.

  10. Erika says:

    Very detail oriented… I find that he provided a lot of necessary information of understanding his story. From the very introduction he did not want the reader to get lost. It appears as if he knows that some people in reading will get lost within the first couple pages, if not sections, if there is nothing to keep their attention.

  11. marissae17 says:

    Honestly, it’s very frustrating for me. At first, in the beginning I was so lost with what was going on I had to look online to see what the setting was and the general idea because with most of the names looking a like and the jumping around in the different settings, I didn’t know what to and what not to focus on. Also, when he jumps from past to present, I think that it would be easier for the reader (or at lease easier for me) if he would just let us know that he had interrupted his story instead of just randomly starting to talk to Padma. I also agree with the person above me. He says that he is only 32 when writing this portion of the novel, but makes hints that he’s dying and that underneath his skin is beginning to crack. I’m not sure if he feels that he is going to die because it is his time or he has an illness.

  12. gvelella says:

    It seems Saleem doesn’t want you to miss a single bit of his story. He doesn’t want to be vague about the detail of his birthday in the very beginning of the first chapter, and also doesn’t edit out anything he says: “…no that won’t work” and “No, it’s important to be more…on the stroke of midnight, as a matter of fact” is an example of what I mean.
    There seems to be something wrong with him, perhaps a terminal illness. He’s too young to die of old age, and he seems to be dying.

  13. cbergmann says:

    So far the only things I can observe about Saleem are that he is very thorough in his story telling and he is possibly sick in some way. Saleem states, “Enough confessions. Bowing to the ineluctable Padma-pressures or what-happened-nextism, and remembering the finite quality of time at my disposal…” (38). This quote gives me the impression that if he was left to his own devices, he would probably go on a lot more about the past, giving me the impression that he is very thorough. I also get the impression that Saleem is sick in some way because he keeps talking about himself falling apart. Maybe this has some effect on his storytelling, he feels as if he needs to get down every detail before he vanishes. This might also have an effect on his concept of time.