Midnight’s Children

Midnight’s Children

by

Salman Rushdie

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Midnight’s Children: Book 3: The Buddha Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Saleem begins to tell Padma the story of his time in the Pakistani army, claiming that Jamila sent him to army as punishment for loving her. Saleem’s memory is still absent after being brained by the spittoon, and he is sent to a mysterious camp in the Murree Hills.
Saleem’s amnesia enables his treason and allows him to fight against India. His suspicion that Jamila is to blame for his recruitment is unfounded and is reflective of Saleem’s latent misogyny.
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At the camp in the hills, Brigadier Iskandar rallies the three new troops of the Canine Unit for Tracking and Intelligence Activities (CUTIA), Ayooba Baloch, Farooq Rashid, and Shaheed Dar. He informs the new recruits that they will be working with the man-dog tracking down rebels.
As the man-dog, Saleem uses his power of midnight against India and tracks bombs for the Pakistanis. Saleem’s moniker as the man-dog is demeaning, and Iskandar treats the troops poorly, reflecting the hierarchical nature of their squad.
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Sitting under a tree holding a silver spittoon is Saleem, the CUTIA man-dog in the flesh. The three new recruits know little about him, only that he’s from an important family, has a highly susceptible nose, and is the brother of famed songbird, Jamila Singer. The three soldiers quickly nickname Saleem “the Buddha,” or “old man.”
Saleem clings to the old spittoon because, as a symbol of Old India, it represents his true identity as an Indian, not a Pakistani. Of course, Saleem doesn’t remember this, but he nevertheless keeps the spittoon close.
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Related Quotes
Saleem begins to irritate Ayooba Baloch, since the man-dog doesn’t seem to track very much at all. Instead, Saleem sits under a tree with his spittoon, smiling. The irritation in Saleem’s camp mirrors the irritation present in Pakistan, as Sheikh Mujib, the leader of an independence movement in Bangladesh, begins to advocate for his own government.
Saleem doesn’t seem to work at all and he smiles smugly as Pakistan loses ground to a self-governed Bangladesh. Deep down, Saleem appears to know who he is, and his reaction reflects this.
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Soon, twenty CUTIA units are flown into Dacca, the capital of Bangladesh, including Shaheed Dar, Farooq Rashid, Ayooba Baloch, and Saleem, along with sixty thousand other troops. Once in the city, Saleem leads the troops to Sheikh Mujib. Saleem is given one of Mujib’s old shirts and sniffs him out. According to Saleem, “it’s easy when you’ve got the smell.”
Pakistan’s response in Dacca is overkill. Surprisingly, Saleem never questions orders and willingly sniffs out and gives up the leader of the Bangladeshi resistance. Thanks to his amnesia, Saleem becomes a good Pakistani soldier, and his is able to ignore his true identity. 
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Padma is disappointed in Saleem for leading the troops to Sheikh Mujib, but Saleem never questions his actions. As the troops lead Mujib out of town, Saleem witnesses Pakistani troops burning the town, which is already riddled with bullets. As they drive by, soldiers beat and rape the citizens.
Despite representing the land of the pure, the Pakistanis’ behavior is deplorable, and Saleem is complicit in this. Without knowledge of his true identity, Saleem has also lost his moral compass.
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In response to the Dacca invasion, ten million refugees pour over the Pakistani border from Bangladesh into India, making it “the biggest migration in the history of the human race.” As this mass exodus occurs, Saleem and his unit begin tracking an unknown enemy, and Saleem leads his team directly into the Sundarbans, a large and dense jungle on the banks of Bangladesh.
Saleem still doesn’t know who he is, but he can no longer tolerate taking orders in the Pakistani army, and he goes off tracking an imaginary enemy to avoid further orders that are sure to offend his morals. Saleem’s actions are evidence of his true identity in the face of his amnesia. 
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