Midnight’s Children (Book Three)

Remember, Thursday we’re going to discuss a) what we need to find out in research for our papers, and b) what passages would be good to use in the papers.

Our prompt for our penultimate reading: many of you have noted recently how inflated a sense of self-importance Saleem has seemed to have.  Yet throughout most of the beginning of Book Three, he (at least his narrated, 1971 self) seems to have almost no sense of self at all.  What do you make of this?  Why has someone so self-confident become so vacant?

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11 Responses to “Midnight’s Children (Book Three)”

  1. I believe that this part of the story, Saleems amnesia its the authors way to point out the weakness of this character. The moment of confusion that its part of humanity. This moment of insecurity that he converts as convenient in that moment of suffering. Saleem character is one self center, powerful, arrogant attitude that can come from ignorance, oppression and suffering in humans. It also shows how the human brain translates this emotions and makes the human adapt to the circumstances.

  2. javeriasid says:

    Saleems amnesia comes from getting hit with the family spittoon and leave him without any recollection of his past. I believe his “amnesia” if he really has it stems from the violence he comes to face with. The bombing that kills his entire family, is so traumatic to him that it leads him to suppress him memories, thus leaving his narrative to become so vacant.

  3. mhealy101 says:

    For our penultimate reading I think the only obvious reason is due to his amnesia. He mentally cannot be so self absorbed, therefore he feels “vacant”. There is a moment when he says, “ But how convenient this amnesia is, how much it excuses! So permit me to criticize myself…” This part is interesting because it is like Saleem is giving an excuse for not having these “super” powers anymore. Although Saleem obviously has every right too, but it just seems like it will not last long until he is back to his old self-absorbing self again.

  4. jkauffman says:

    I don’t think Saleem has lost his sense of self at all, or at least he won’t for long, because he is still the same person looking for sympathy and worth as he is telling his story. The only difference now is that he has developed amnesia and must rely on his feelings of being important.

  5. GordonWTam says:

    I enjoyed the explanation on an earlier post that his sense of great self was literally and figuratively blown to bits with the rest of his family. Ironically right before he goes on to describe “vacant” Saleem he reminds us with Padma that he will later on become/go back to the self-absorbed Saleem we all know. “Mourn for the living, I rebuke her gently, ‘The dead have their camphor gardens.’ Grieve for Saleem!” (391) This is said to Padma when she sheds tears for those who got killed in the explosion at the end of book 2.

  6. I agree with my peers about Saleems amnesia. He really has no identity because he cant remember it. Another reason he seems vacant is because having a direct role in the war can make anyone feel small because of the warlike atrocities he witnesses. The chain of command can play a role as well because everyone takes orders from somewhere even though he leads his away team.

  7. khaff88 says:

    Saleem not remembering parts of his past is a good explanation for him not to talk about how great he is, he can’t boast about something he can’t remember. This is definitely a low point for Saleem, he lost his entire family, his home, his country (in a sense) and he’s lost his memory. I can’t find anything in this that would be worth building up to be a great accomplishment (what Saleem usually does). Like every character, as they grow throughout the book, I think this is just Saleem’s weak moment where he feels “vacant” but I know this will not last; Saleem loves himself too much to stay quiet.

  8. nmulet says:

    I would REALLY like to believe that Saleem suffered from some type of amnesia from being hit in the head. And it’s the amnesia that caused him to be so distant. Maybe, at some point, he really did have amnesia. But I think the real reason he is so distant is because he’s always had this inflated sense of self, delusions of grandeur. I think his narcissism was rooted in his family and his country. After losing all of his family and the world he knew being blown to shreds, I think he no longer knew who he was or who he was supposed to be going forward. Basically, he felt lost and confused because “The Great Saleem” died in the explosion and all that was left was the nose.

  9. gvelella says:

    Even though he did have amnesia after the so called “heroic” suicide mission, I think Saleem has actually stayed to his old ways. Even from the beginning of the Buddha chapter, he wants to be recognized and mourned for his problems. When he snaps out of it, he just jumps back into his storytelling about his heroic ways.

  10. marissae17 says:

    I agree with Caitlin on this post. I think it might of had to do with Saleem having acting as if he has amnesia. On page 419 he states after he has realized that the snake has bitten him and filled him with venom, “I was rejoined to the past, jolted into unity by snake poison, and it began to pour out through the Buddha’s lips.” I was surprised when Saleem had said that all of his memories had come back to him so quickly after a freak accident, that he didn’t even know what was happening because his entire body was numb. I know that sometimes people with amnesia remember things randomly, but I believe it has something to do with something helping them to remember, not a random animal in the forest biting them in the heel and their entire life story comes back to them…

  11. cbergmann says:

    I am not sure what to make of this because although at first it seems as if Saleem has become “vacant” with no sense of self, he quickly reverts to his old ways. I am going to take a guess and say this “vacant” period is due to his claim of having amnesia. Whether or not he actually does I am not sure. I cannot tell if he means that he literally had amnesia or that he was in such a state of self-pity that he just repressed his past. I am going to be pessimistic and say he is just being self-loathing. I believe this because on page 429 he states, “…I could not have told him what I later became convinced was the truth: that the purpose of that entire war had been to reunite me with an old life, to bring me back together with my old friends.” This shows that he is actually the same old Saleem. One could argue that he only became his “old self” once his amnesia was “cured” by seeing his old friends, but again like I said I am going to be a pessimist on this one.