Midnight’s Children

Midnight’s Children

by

Salman Rushdie

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Naseem Ghani / Reverend Mother Character Analysis

Saleem Sinai’s grandmother, Amina Sinai’s mother, and Aadam Aziz’s wife. Naseem is first introduced when her father, Mr. Ghani, tricks Aadam into falling in love with her. Using the “magical and sacred” allure of a perforated sheet, Ghani summons Aadam, a doctor, to examine his daughter from behind a purdah, and after many years and several fake illnesses, Aadam and Naseem fall in love. Their love, however, is doomed from the beginning, and their union is an unhappy one. After their marriage, Naseem morphs into Reverend Mother, a particularly unpleasant and unattractive version of herself who rules over her family like a tyrant, imposing punishments and leveling insults. Reverend Mother is resentful of Aadam’s support of her exit from purdah, and she serves to personify the pre-independence concept of womanhood and femininity in India. She is dedicated to her domestic responsibilities and her religion, which she equates with morality, and she cares very little about politics or the oppression of others. Reverend Mother is killed in the Indo-Pakistani War, when a bomb is dropped on her during an air raid.

Naseem Ghani / Reverend Mother Quotes in Midnight’s Children

The Midnight’s Children quotes below are all either spoken by Naseem Ghani / Reverend Mother or refer to Naseem Ghani / Reverend Mother. 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 3: A Wedding Quotes

“Women have made me; and also unmade. Form Reverend Mother to the Widow, and even beyond, I have been at the mercy of the so-called (erroneously, in my opinion!) gentler sex. It is, perhaps, a matter of connection: is not Mother India, Bharat-Mata, commonly thought of as female? And, as you know, there’s no escape from her.”

Page Number: 465
Explanation and Analysis:
Quotes explanation long mobile
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Naseem Ghani / Reverend Mother Character Timeline in Midnight’s Children

The timeline below shows where the character Naseem Ghani / Reverend Mother appears in Midnight’s Children. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Book 1: The Perforated Sheet
Sex and Gender Theme Icon
When Aadam arrives to examine his new patient, Naseem, Mr. Ghani tells him that his daughter’s usual doctor, a woman, is sick. Aadam realizes... (full context)
Sex and Gender Theme Icon
Mr. Ghani states that the women are his daughter’s protectors and orders Aadam to examine Naseem through the hole—from the other side of the sheet. Ghani claims that Naseem is a... (full context)
Book 1: Mercurochrome
Sex and Gender Theme Icon
...Scheherazade. He begins with Aadam and his mother, who resents her son’s visits to examine Naseem. Mr. Ghani has taken to summoning Aadam weekly to assess his daughter’s myriad of minor... (full context)
Fragments and Partitioning Theme Icon
...as the Great War rages on far away from Kashmir, Aadam falls in love with Naseem through the perforated sheet, despite his mother’s protests. Aadam’s mother is convinced that Naseem’s illnesses... (full context)
British Colonialism and Postcolonialism Theme Icon
On the day World War I ends, Naseem complains of a headache, and Aadam is finally able to see her face through the... (full context)
British Colonialism and Postcolonialism Theme Icon
Sex and Gender Theme Icon
Aadam asks Mr. Ghani for Naseem’s hand in marriage, and he is happy to oblige. Aadam runs to tell Ilse the... (full context)
Sex and Gender Theme Icon
Identity and Nationality Theme Icon
Religion Theme Icon
Aadam and Naseem are married, and the perforated sheet is utilized on their wedding night, providing proof of... (full context)
British Colonialism and Postcolonialism Theme Icon
Identity and Nationality Theme Icon
...Amritsar. The busy city streets are a far cry from the quiet Kashmiri village, and Naseem is having a difficult time adjusting. Aadam’s nose begins to itch, and he senses something... (full context)
British Colonialism and Postcolonialism Theme Icon
Identity and Nationality Theme Icon
Aadam and Naseem are stuck in a hotel in Amritsar because the trains are not running on account... (full context)
British Colonialism and Postcolonialism Theme Icon
Sex and Gender Theme Icon
Identity and Nationality Theme Icon
Meanwhile, Naseem is upset because Aadam has asked her to “move a little” during sex and has... (full context)
British Colonialism and Postcolonialism Theme Icon
Sex and Gender Theme Icon
...mobs in the street. He bandages wounds and applies Mercurochrome, which stains his clothes red. Naseem mistakes the Mercurochrome for blood, and when Aadam corrects her, she becomes irritated, claiming that... (full context)
British Colonialism and Postcolonialism Theme Icon
...many, many years later. When the shooting stops and Aadam is able to return to Naseem, he is covered in blood—which she mistakes for Mercurochrome. Naseem faints when Aadam corrects her... (full context)
Book 1: Hit-the-Spittoon
British Colonialism and Postcolonialism Theme Icon
Sex and Gender Theme Icon
Identity and Nationality Theme Icon
Religion Theme Icon
Aadam’s optimism fades in the presence of Naseem, who has morphed into an exceedingly unpleasant woman now referred to as Reverend Mother. In... (full context)
Sex and Gender Theme Icon
Religion Theme Icon
Saleem tells of an argument ten years earlier in 1932, when Aadam goes behind Reverend Mother ’s back and fires their children’s religious tutor because he is “teaching them to hate.”... (full context)
Book 1: Under the Carpet
Sex and Gender Theme Icon
Reverend Mother immediately objects to Nadir’s presence in their home. Thinking of their three daughters, Alia, Mumtaz,... (full context)
Sex and Gender Theme Icon
...and silently vows to marry her. Alia begins seeing Ahmed Sinai, a young, divorced merchant. Reverend Mother is sure that Ahmed intends on marrying Alia and she distrusts him, but because of... (full context)
Sex and Gender Theme Icon
...Nadir in the basement, and while they never speak, she tends to his every need. Reverend Mother , who possesses witch-like powers, begins to invade her daughters’ dreams at night to spy... (full context)
Identity and Nationality Theme Icon
Religion Theme Icon
 Saleem’s story skips to 1943, and his 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... (full context)
Sex and Gender Theme Icon
...ornamented spittoon given to them as a wedding gift by Rani, who is now dying. Reverend Mother continues her angry silence and begins to grow fat, her “unspoken words inside her blowing... (full context)
British Colonialism and Postcolonialism Theme Icon
Sex and Gender Theme Icon
...a virgin. Aadam runs to the living and tells the whole family of his findings. Reverend Mother , breaking her three-year silence, asks Mumtaz if it is true; she nods. (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 of pent-up silence, blaming Aadam for bringing Nadir into their home and... (full context)
Book 1: Tick, Tock
British Colonialism and Postcolonialism Theme Icon
Fragments and Partitioning Theme Icon
...prayer-mat and the blood-stained perforated sheet. As he removes the sheet, Aadam discovers that (because Reverend Mother forgot the naphthalene balls) moths have thoroughly eaten it, and the infamous hole, now indistinguishable,... (full context)
Book 2: Snakes and Ladders
British Colonialism and Postcolonialism Theme Icon
Fragments and Partitioning Theme Icon
Religion Theme Icon
...alcoholism and depression, Amina writes her parents for advice and three days later, Aadam and Reverend Mother arrive in Bombay from Agra. Reverend Mother is not impressed with Amina’s city life, and... (full context)
Sex and Gender Theme Icon
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Reverend Mother takes over Amina’s kitchen and begins cooking all the meals. Ahmed makes slight improvements eating... (full context)
Book 2: Accident in a Washing-chest
Identity and Nationality Theme Icon
...Saleem is the family favorite. He is adored by his father and neighbors, and even Reverend Mother , who tells him, “Just pull up your socks, whatsitsname, and you’ll be better than... (full context)
Sex and Gender Theme Icon
Religion Theme Icon
...and “every step is like walking on razor blades.” In her guilt, made worse by Reverend Mother ’s cooking, Amina believes her corns to be punishment for her sinful gambling. She begins... (full context)
Book 2: The Kolynos Kid
Sex and Gender Theme Icon
Religion Theme Icon
...his earlier success, and her advancing age is affecting her acting career. Pia complains that Reverend Mother , who has long since disapproved of acting, has begun harassing her to “acquire the... (full context)
Book 2: Revelations
Sex and Gender Theme Icon
...family soon arrives at Buckingham Villa to observe the forty-day mourning period for Hanif’s death. Reverend Mother , who has always disliked Pia, is irritated with her lack of crying and appropriate... (full context)
Sex and Gender Theme Icon
As Pia cries, Reverend Mother embraces her, finally forgiving her for her lack of mourning. She tells Pia that she... (full context)
Book 2: Movements Performed by Pepperpots
Sex and Gender Theme Icon
Identity and Nationality Theme Icon
...midnight switch. Instead, he focuses his considerable rage onto Amina, berating and abusing her until Reverend Mother intervenes. Telling her daughter that there is “no shame in leaving an inadequate husband,” she... (full context)
Book 2: Jamila Singer
Sex and Gender Theme Icon
Religion Theme Icon
...boarders. Saleem and his family are unable to get to Agra to mourn Aadam and Reverend Mother , likewise, is unable to get to Pakistan. (full context)
Book 2: How Saleem Achieved Purity
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Following Aadam’s death, Reverend Mother and Pia move to Pakistan. Reverend Mother does not mourn or mention Aadam, who had... (full context)
Truth and Storytelling Theme Icon
Sex and Gender Theme Icon
...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 and his family... (full context)
Sex and Gender Theme Icon
...all over Pakistan. Of the three bombs that hit Rawalpindi, the first hits and kills Reverend Mother and Pia, the second hits Zafar’s jailhouse, effectively freeing him, and the third hits Emerald’s... (full context)