Midnight’s Children

Midnight’s Children

by

Salman Rushdie

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Saleem Sinai’s ayah, or nanny, and his second mother-figure. Mary is initially employed as a midwife in the hospital where Saleem and Shiva are born, and in a testament to her love for Joseph D’Costa, a notorious Communist, she swaps baby Saleem with baby Shiva, her own “private revolutionary act,” switching rich with poor. In her guilt, Mary, a devout Catholic, offers her services to Saleem’s mother, Amina, as an ayah. Throughout the years, Mary becomes increasingly close with Saleem and his family, making her confession difficult, and when she finally confesses after being driven nearly mad by her guilt, Mary runs away and lives with her mother. She remains absent until Saleem finally reveals her as the owner of the pickle factory where he works, and the ayah of his own son, Aadam Sinai.

Mary Pereira Quotes in Midnight’s Children

The Midnight’s Children quotes below are all either spoken by Mary Pereira or refer to Mary Pereira. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Truth and Storytelling Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Penguin edition of Midnight’s Children published in 1980.
Book 1: Tick, Tock Quotes

And when she was alone—two babies in her hands—two lives in her power—she did it for Joseph, her own private revolutionary act, thinking He will certainly love me for this, as she changed name-tags on the two huge infants, giving the poor baby a life of privilege and condemning the rich-born child to accordions and poverty…“Love me, Joseph!” was in Mary Pereira’s mind, and then it was done. On the ankle of a ten-chip whopper with eyes as blue as Kashmiri sky—which were also as blue as Methwold’s—and a nose as dramatic as a Kashmiri grandfather’s—which was also the nose of grandmother from France—she placed this name: Sinai.

Related Characters: Saleem Sinai (speaker), Shiva, Mary Pereira, Alice Pereira, Joseph D’Costa
Related Symbols: Noses
Page Number: 130
Explanation and Analysis:
Quotes explanation long mobile
Book 2: Love in Bombay Quotes

Women have always been the ones to change my life: Mary Pereira, Evie Burns, Jamila Singer, Parvati-the-witch must answer for who I am; and the Widow, who I’m keeping for the end; and after the end, Padma, my goddess of dung. Women have fixed me all right, but perhaps they were never central—perhaps the place which they should have filled, the hole in the center of me which was my inheritance from grandfather Aadam Aziz, was occupied for too long by my voices. Or perhaps—one must consider all possibilities—they always made me a little afraid.

Page Number: 119-20
Explanation and Analysis:
Quotes explanation short mobile
Book 2: At the Pioneer Café Quotes

And while chutney—the same chutney which, back in 1957, my ayah Mary Pereira has made so perfectly; the grasshopper-green chutney which is forever associated with those days—carried them back into the world of my past, while chutney mellowed them and made them receptive, I spoke to them, gently, persuasively, and by a mixture of condiment and oratory kept myself out of the hands of the pernicious green-medicine men. I said: “My son will understand. As much as for any living being, I’m telling my story for him, so that afterwards, when I’ve lost my struggle against the cracks, he will know. Morality, judgement, character…it all starts with memory…and I am keeping carbons.”

Related Characters: Saleem Sinai (speaker), Mary Pereira, Padma, Aadam Sinai
Related Symbols: Pickles
Page Number: 241
Explanation and Analysis:
Quotes explanation short mobile
Book 2: How Saleem Achieved Purity Quotes

What my aunt Alia took pleasure in: cooking. What she had, during the lonely madness of the years, raised to the level of an art-form: the impregnation of food with emotions. To whom she remained second in her achievements in this field: my old ayah, Mary Pereira. By whom, today, both old cooks have been outdone: Saleem Sinai, pickler-in-chief at the Braganza pickle works…nevertheless, while we lived in her Guru Mandir mansion, she fed us the birianis of dissension and the nargisi koftas of discord; and little by little, even the harmonies of my parents’ autumnal love went out of tune.

Related Symbols: Pickles
Page Number: 378
Explanation and Analysis:
Quotes explanation short mobile
Get the entire Midnight’s Children LitChart as a printable PDF.
Midnight s children.pdf.medium

Mary Pereira Character Timeline in Midnight’s Children

The timeline below shows where the character Mary Pereira appears in Midnight’s Children. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Book 1: Methwold
Fragments and Partitioning Theme Icon
In the meantime, Mary Pereira goes to Catholic confession. Mary, a midwife at the local hospital, is in love... (full context)
Book 1: Tick, Tock
Sex and Gender Theme Icon
...“To understand just one life, you have to swallow the world.” Ending his summary with Mary Pereira just days before his birth, Saleem says, “all these made me, too.” (full context)
British Colonialism and Postcolonialism Theme Icon
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...rushes Amina to Dr. Narlikar’s hospital, where Vanita continues to strain with the assistance of Mary Pereira. In the commotion of Amina’s labor, just as the sun sets on Methwold’s Estate... (full context)
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With the staff engaged with Ahmed, Mary Pereira is left alone with the two midnight babies, Vanita having finally given birth at... (full context)
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Three days later, Mary is racked with guilt. Joseph is still in the wind, and he has left Alice... (full context)
Book 2: The Fisherman’s Pointing Finger
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The Prime Minister’s message unnerves an already paranoid Mary, who wonders if the government knows about her secret. Saleem also considers that the fisherman... (full context)
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...birthmarks cover his face. Strangely, Saleem makes very little noise and doesn’t blink. Amina and Mary, who have since turned into “a two-headed mother,” take turns opening and closing his eyes,... (full context)
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Amina and Mary fuss over baby Saleem and love him fiercely. They are secretly competitive of each other,... (full context)
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...every month to get his allotment. When that fails to be enough liquor, Ahmed orders Mary and old Musa, his long-time servant, to obtain alcohol from a doctor as well. (full context)
Book 2: Snakes and Ladders
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...“imbued with the personality of its creator), and the same food fills Amina with rage. Mary begins cooking chutneys and kasaundies of her own, into which she stirs her guilt and... (full context)
British Colonialism and Postcolonialism Theme Icon
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...steering wheel of the car and she is forced to stay home. At Buckingham Villa, Mary and old Musa are constantly fighting. Musa, resentful that Mary sleeps in Saleem’s room while... (full context)
Truth and Storytelling Theme Icon
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...old Musa’s things (despite his earlier denials). He is convinced that his constant fighting with Mary is about to cost him his job, and he didn’t want to be put out... (full context)
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In the days following old Musa’s departure, Mary notices a strange figure running around the broken clock tower near Methwold’s Estate. Frightened, Mary... (full context)
Book 2: Accident in a Washing-chest
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...of Methwold’s Estate, and they are strangely compelled to share their problems with her. Even Mary is tempted (but resists) to tell Amina her sins. (full context)
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...to me.” His parents think him insane (“Oh Saleem, has your brain gone raw?”) and Mary accuses him of blasphemy. Ahmed reaches out and strikes Saleem in the side of his... (full context)
Book 2: All-India Radio
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...words.” Saleem is even able to pick out the voices of his own family and Mary Pereira. (full context)
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...tasks and pieces of her husband, and she keeps repeating the same name, “Nadir, Nadir.” Mary, who Saleem has taken to dreaming with, dreams each night about a man named Joseph... (full context)
Book 2: My Tenth Birthday
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...continues to drink. The last of the Coca-Cola girls quit, leaving him without a secretary. Mary convinces Alice to come and work for Ahmed. She has long since forgiven her sister... (full context)
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Meanwhile, Joseph D’Costa continues to haunt Mary’s dreams, and she begins forcing herself to stay awake. In her sleeplessness, Joseph begins haunting... (full context)
Book 2: The Kolynos Kid
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Identity and Nationality Theme Icon
...he is discharged from the hospital, Saleem is picked up by his Uncle Hanif and Mary Pereira. He is told that he is not returning to Buckingham Villa; instead, Saleem and... (full context)
British Colonialism and Postcolonialism Theme Icon
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...quite enjoyable. His aunt and uncle treat him like the son they never had, and Mary constantly feeds him baked goods and fresh green chutney. Unfortunately, Hanif’s film career has steadily... (full context)
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...voluptuous breast, and she frequently hugs him and holds him close—which he rather enjoys. Meanwhile, Mary, having just returned from a trip to Methwold’s Estate, informs Saleem that “the country is... (full context)
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...her body. She reacts badly, pushing him away and calling him a pervert, just as Mary enters the room holding a pair of pants. “You are a big man now,” she... (full context)
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...not been happy lately and that terrible things have been happening. When he mentions that Mary has already told him about the strange occurrences, she becomes upset with Mary in the... (full context)
Book 2: Commander Sabarmati’s Baton
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After they return to Buckingham Villa, Mary discovers that the ghost of Joseph has decayed. He is missing an ear and a... (full context)
Book 2: Revelations
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On the thirty-seventh day of mourning, Mary is convinced that she sees the ghost of Joseph approaching Ahmed in his office. Before... (full context)
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...corner, is my old servant Musa, who tried to rob me once.” Indeed, the man Mary has confused for Joseph’s ghost is in fact old Musa, afflicted and dying of leprosy.... (full context)
Book 2: Movements Performed by Pepperpots
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After Mary’s confession, Saleem begins to avoid the Midnight Children’s Conference. He is convinced that he won’t... (full context)
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...to settle around Buckingham Villa, but Ahmed remains drunk and angry. Surprisingly, he doesn’t blame Mary, or even Saleem, for the midnight switch. Instead, he focuses his considerable rage onto Amina,... (full context)
Book 2: Drainage and the Desert
Identity and Nationality Theme Icon
Fragments and Partitioning Theme Icon
...reconvening the Midnight Children’s Conference. He seals off the part of his mind that contains Mary Pereira’s secret, and he doesn’t call to Shiva. Soon, as China defeats the Indian army... (full context)
Book 2: How Saleem Achieved Purity
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Soon, Alia begins to work her revenge on Ahmed and Amina. She begins, like Mary Pereira and Reverend Mother, to stir her emotions into her cooking, and she feeds Saleem... (full context)
Book 3: Abracadabra
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...the first time, and standing at the top of the stairs is his former ayah, Mary Pereira, the owner of Bragaza Pickles. She lives in the pink obelisk, which is owned... (full context)
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As Saleem visits with Mary, Aadam Sinai finally utters his first word: “Abracadabra.” Saleem decides to stay on at the... (full context)
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Saleem vows to preserve his stories the same way he preserves Mary’s chutney, and he labels the last jar “Abracadabra,” indicating the end of his story. Saleem... (full context)