Midnight’s Children (Book Two)

A quick note, first–we’re going to begin prepping for writing the paper next class.  I realize you’ll only be 40% into the book next time we meet, but make a (preliminary) decision as to which option you’d like to do, so I can make some preparations.  In particular, next week you’re going to spend some time in groups next week discussing the two essays for your options, so start planning for that.

Comment here for the beginning of Book Two.  Toward the end of this section, there is a scene of minor importance to the plot, but major resonance to the novel’s ideas, in which we see the death of Ahmed’s friend (and Saleem/Shiva’s deliverer), the gynecologist Dr. Narlikar, who falls to his death while attempting to save one of his land-increasing tetrapod devices from an impromptu fertility ritual.  (Narlikar, as you may remember, has been convinced by his gynecology practice that Indians need to stop having babies, and furthermore, his scientific mindset has caused him to despise Indian religiosity.)  What do you make of Narlikar’s demise?  Tragic and noble?  Deserved for his wrongheadedness?  Comic and farcical?  Something else entirely?

Other Anglophone authors of “mega-novels”:
Thomas Pynchon (major works Gravity’s Rainbow, V., and Mason & Dixon)
David Foster Wallace (major works Infinite Jest and The Pale King)
William Gaddis (major works The Recognitions and J R)
John Barth (major work The Sot-Weed Factor)
Don DeLillo (major work Underworld)
Mark Danielewski (major work House of Leaves)
Robert Coover (major work The Public Burning)
William Gass (major work The Tunnel)
William Vollmann (major work Europe Central)

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10 Responses to “Midnight’s Children (Book Two)”

  1. Jamie Rohr says:

    I find the connection to pickles very intriguing, and a little bit confusing. Is there a greater significance to pickles that I am unaware of? On page 62, Saleem is dreaming of a pickle factory, twice and then when he awakes, Padma brings him food, among which she has brought pickles!Thats interesting

  2. javeriasid says:

    Here I would have to agree with my classmates, I think it is sad and ironic that Dr. Narlikar died from the tetrapod, which created more land, but at the same time creates more space for inhabitants.

  3. Jamie Rohr says:

    I agree with Erika. While it may seem strange to us, someone who dies protecting their beliefs should be honored and seen with respect. They have enough conviction to go against the norm and stand up for what they believe in. That alone warrants an honorable mention.

  4. hamidah says:

    Dr. Narlikar death is unexplainable. He does die trying to protect one of the tetrapods which creates more land, but hating and telling people the fact that Indians should stop giving birth is like hypocrisy. Because tetrapod creates land which needs civilians to live on and manage it, he is excluding that fact. His death is noble because of the belief in the tetrapods but also a tragic one because he wanted Indians to stop having children. His death is noble, tragic, and hypocritical.

  5. Doctor Narlikar’s death seems a little comical, tragic and a little noble. It is comical because he was a gynocologist and women led to his demise in a sense. It’s tragic because it was almost like a gang murder and a little noble because he died for his ideal. Although he was against procreation due to overpopulation it is a topic that has to be dealt with in a sensitive way. He had no bedside mannner and was forceful in his position and was true to his ideal. The tetrapod scheme is a little ambiguous because I really did not understand the connection between the tetrapods and the future of India.

  6. khaff88 says:

    Dr. Narlikar’s death I find t be tragic because he was trying to accomplish something that would be beneficial for India, even if he was against the religion. He saw India from a realistic point of view knowing that if babies were to be born at the rate it was going to, there would be no land left in India. Obviously his views weren’t going to be observed by others because not many people felt the same way he did about religion. It would be only fitting in a story like this for his fall be towards his own creation and religion.

  7. seanlevine says:

    I enjoyed seeing the Tetrapods become the focus of Shivaite prayers because that usage was wholly incompatible with what Narlikar had envisioned for his project. It somewhat harkens back to the idea of snakes and ladders. In the sense that the Tetrapods represent the ideas of progress, and reclamation. Of upward growth, the country ascending the latter. But upon their completion, they cease to be seen monument erected towards a better, secular and scientific, future. But it quickly slides down back into the realm of the Religious and superstitious, which the good Dr. has been shown to abhor. The fact that he died tethered to “sterile twentieth century concrete” represents, perhaps, that India is still anchored in the past on some level. Or perhaps Narlikar was too attuned to the idea of “the future” for his own good. To answer the question at hand, I found the scene to be farcical in the sense that It’s an extremely ludicrous way to perish; but at the same time it was sort of tragic if you detach yourself from the moment and look at it with the symbolic ideas of science vs religion/the past in mind.

  8. Erika says:

    His death could be seen as noble because he dies protecting what he believes in. May be foolish in someone else’s sight but he kind of resembled in some light.. Okonkwo in Things Fall Apart.

  9. marissae17 says:

    At first I was a little confused as to what Dr. Narlikar was actually trying to do with the tetrapod (because I’m confused during most of this book), however, after reading Cait’s comment it is a little clearer to me now. I’m still a little confused because if he didn’t want his project to represent creation, then why was he trying to create more land for the country to live on?

  10. cbergmann says:

    I think the circumstances of the Doctor’s death was kind of ironic. His tetrapod project intended for land creating and making more space for the already over populated India, was turned into a shrine to Shiva. Shiva is the God of both destruction and creation. Dr. Narlikar was infuriated because creation is the last thing that he wants his tetrapod to represent. On the other hand, the tetrapod also destroyed him. The cyclical symbolism portrayed by Shiva eventually leads to the Doctor’s demise. The reason I find it to be ironic is because a man who lived his life as an anti-religious, anti-procreation fanatic swearing those things out of his life, would eventually be killed by those exact things.