Midnight’s Children

Midnight’s Children

by

Salman Rushdie

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Nadir Khan / Qasim Khan Character Analysis

The personal secretary of the Hummingbird and Mumtaz Aziz’s first husband. Nadir, an amateur writer of little skill, is described as a “rhymeless poet” and a “verbless bard,” and he is a known coward. He runs away frightened when the Hummingbird is killed by unknown assassins, and he willingly divorces Mumtaz when her mother, Reverend Mother, objects to their sexless marriage on account of his impotence. After leaving Mumtaz and changing his name and identity to Qasim Khan, Nadir becomes an official candidate of the Communist Party in India’s 1957 election, narrowly losing to the All-India Congress. During Mumtaz’s second marriage to Ahmed Sinai, Nadir secretly pursues Mumtaz and frequently calls her, arousing the suspicions of her children, Saleem and the Brass Monkey. He finally exits Midnight’s Children after Commander Sabarmati murders Homi Catrack for having an affair with his wife, Lila. Homi’s murder effectively warns Mumtaz of the consequences of infidelity, and she stops accepting Nadir’s phone calls and secretly meeting up with him.

Nadir Khan / Qasim Khan Quotes in Midnight’s Children

The Midnight’s Children quotes below are all either spoken by Nadir Khan / Qasim Khan or refer to Nadir Khan / Qasim Khan. 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: Under the Carpet Quotes

“Change your name,” Ahmed Sinai said. “Time for a fresh start. Throw Mumtaz and her Nadir Khan out of the window, I’ll choose you a new name. Amina. Amina Sinai: you’d like that?”

Page Number: 68
Explanation and Analysis:
Book 1: A Public Announcement Quotes

“See the whole world, come see everything!” The hyperbolic formula began, after a time, to prey upon his mind; more and more picture postcards went into his peepshow as he tried, desperately, to deliver what he promised, to put everything into his box. (I am suddenly reminded of Nadir Khan’s friend the painter: is this an Indian disease, this urge to encapsulate the whole of reality? Worse: am I infected, too?)

Related Characters: Saleem Sinai (speaker), Nadir Khan / Qasim Khan, Lafifa Das
Page Number: 82
Explanation and Analysis:
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Nadir Khan / Qasim Khan Character Timeline in Midnight’s Children

The timeline below shows where the character Nadir Khan / Qasim Khan appears in Midnight’s Children. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Book 1: Hit-the-Spittoon
Truth and Storytelling Theme Icon
Identity and Nationality Theme Icon
Fragments and Partitioning Theme Icon
Religion Theme Icon
...an old photograph of Aadam and Rani meeting the Hummingbird, along with his personal secretary, Nadir Khan, who enjoys writing poetry and playing hit-the-spittoon. Saleem tells of the Hummingbird and his... (full context)
Fragments and Partitioning Theme Icon
As the Hummingbird and Nadir work late at the Convocation offices, a mob of assassins close in. Nadir answers a... (full context)
Fragments and Partitioning Theme Icon
Religion Theme Icon
Running through the streets of Agra, Nadir hides in a cornfield near Aadam’s house and is discovered by Rashid, the rickshaw boy.... (full context)
Book 1: Under the Carpet
Identity and Nationality Theme Icon
...the corner, and Aadam is so startled that his bowels suddenly evacuate. Rashid has hidden Nadir away in Aadam’s thunderbox room, and he meekly begs for asylum. Aadam silently resolves to... (full context)
Sex and Gender Theme Icon
Reverend Mother immediately objects to Nadir’s presence in their home. Thinking of their three daughters, Alia, Mumtaz, and Emerald—collectively known in... (full context)
Sex and Gender Theme Icon
...to call on Aadam to “tie up a few loose ends.” He is suspicious of Nadir’s disappearance after the Hummingbird’s assassination, and he assumes that the silence in Aadam’s house is... (full context)
Sex and Gender Theme Icon
Mumtaz, Aadam’s favorite daughter, takes to silently caring for Nadir in the basement, and while they never speak, she tends to his every need. Reverend... (full context)
Identity and Nationality Theme Icon
Religion Theme Icon
...grandfather’s home is still in the grips of Reverend Mother’s silence. Aadam tries to convince Nadir that he is no longer in danger, but Nadir refuses to believe him. While Reverend... (full context)
Sex and Gender Theme Icon
...daughter, learning the “hallmarks” of life, “assiduity, nobility, and forbearance,” but at night, she is Nadir’s wife, and he “loves his wife as delicately as a man ever had.” Mumtaz’s time... (full context)
British Colonialism and Postcolonialism Theme Icon
Sex and Gender Theme Icon
...white that she could not be seen in her sheets. Mumtaz too falls ill, and Nadir fears that she may have pneumonia. Worried, Aadam gives Mumtaz a thorough exam and is... (full context)
Sex and Gender Theme Icon
As Mumtaz defends Nadir, insisting that a good marriage does not depend on sex, Reverend Mother unleashes three years... (full context)
Sex and Gender Theme Icon
Major Zulfikar finds the basement empty, and the only trace of Nadir is a letter left for Mumtaz, which reads, “Talaaq! Talaaq! Talaaq!”—translation: I divorce thee. I... (full context)
Sex and Gender Theme Icon
Major Zulfikar agrees not to press charges on Aadam for harboring Nadir if he agrees to allow him to marry Emerald. Aadam agrees, and his youngest daughter... (full context)
Sex and Gender Theme Icon
Identity and Nationality Theme Icon
...Mumtaz’s name to Amina. “Time for a fresh start,” he says, “Throw Mumtaz and her Nadir Khan out of the window.” Amina agrees, and they begin their life together. (full context)
Book 1: A Public Announcement
Sex and Gender Theme Icon
Fragments and Partitioning Theme Icon
...and since they don’t have any yet, Amina is silently miserable and thinks mostly about Nadir. Amina resolves to try to love Ahmed and begins to “train herself to love him.”... (full context)
Identity and Nationality Theme Icon
As Amina silently picks him apart, Ahmed slowly begins to resemble Nadir—he gains weight and his hair turns thin and greasy. Amina turns their home into a... (full context)
Book 1: Many-headed Monsters
Sex and Gender Theme Icon
Fragments and Partitioning Theme Icon
...him. Despite her efforts, Amina is not able to love the part of Ahmed that Nadir had “certainly lacked,” and by early summer, a very disheartened Amina moves to Bombay with... (full context)
Book 2: The Fisherman’s Pointing Finger
British Colonialism and Postcolonialism Theme Icon
Identity and Nationality Theme Icon
...competitive of each other, each somewhat resentful of the other. Secretly, Amina continues to love Nadir Khan, and she frequently dreams that is was really Nadir who fathered Saleem. Her dreams... (full context)
Book 2: Accident in a Washing-chest
Sex and Gender Theme Icon
Amina begins to cry and, repeating the name “Nadir” over and over again, starts to sensually caress her body as a mortified Saleem looks... (full context)
Book 2: All-India Radio
Truth and Storytelling Theme Icon
...with household 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... (full context)
Book 2: At the Pioneer Café
Sex and Gender Theme Icon
Amina sits down at a table across from her first husband, Nadir Khan. Nadir has since changed his name to Qasim Khan, and he is an official... (full context)
Fragments and Partitioning Theme Icon
...again. Instead, he follows Amina by entering her thoughts. There, he witnesses additional meetings with Qasim in which his mother, working on behalf of the Communist Party, gives aid to the... (full context)
Truth and Storytelling Theme Icon
Fragments and Partitioning Theme Icon
Saleem’s story jumps back to the 1957 election, in which Qasim Khan is nearly elected and the Communist Party becomes the single largest opposition to the... (full context)