Midnight’s Children

Midnight’s Children

by

Salman Rushdie

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Parvati-the-witch / Laylah Character Analysis

Saleem Sinai’s wife and the mother of his son, Aadam. Parvati is a fellow child of midnight, and she is endowed with the powers of the illuminatus, or “the genuine gifts of conjuration and sorcery.” Parvati tricks Shiva into impregnating her, knowing the he will lose interest once she is pregnant, allowing an impotent Saleem to step in as Aadam’s father. Parvati is killed during Indira Gandhi’s Emergency.

Parvati-the-witch / Laylah Quotes in Midnight’s Children

The Midnight’s Children quotes below are all either spoken by Parvati-the-witch / Laylah or refer to Parvati-the-witch / Laylah. 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 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 long mobile
Book 3: A Wedding Quotes

Parvati’s formal conversion to Islam (which irritated Picture Singh, but on which I found myself insisting, in another throwback to an earlier life) was performed by a red-bearded Haji who looked ill-at-ease in the presence of so many teasing, provocative members of the ungodly; under the shifting gaze of this fellow who resembled a large and bearded onion she intoned her belief there was no God but God and that Muhammed was his prophet; she took a name which I chose for her out of the repository of my dreams, becoming Laylah, so that she too was caught up in the repetitive cycles of my history, becoming an echo of all the other people who have been obliged to change their names…like my own mother Amina Sinai, Parvati-the-witch became a new person to have a child.

Page Number: 477
Explanation and Analysis:
Quotes explanation short mobile
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Parvati-the-witch / Laylah Character Timeline in Midnight’s Children

The timeline below shows where the character Parvati-the-witch / Laylah appears in Midnight’s Children. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Book 2: My Tenth Birthday
Sex and Gender Theme Icon
Identity and Nationality Theme Icon
...simply closing her eyes. Another boy born at twelve seconds after can travel through time. Parvati-the-witch, born seven seconds after midnight in the same Old Delhi slum as the Hummingbird, has... (full context)
Book 2: Commander Sabarmati’s Baton
Fragments and Partitioning Theme Icon
...fall to social pressures. Sadly, most of Saleem’s words fall on deaf ears, except for Parvati-the-witch, who continues to support him. Shiva, on the other hand, does his best to pull... (full context)
Book 3: Sam and the Tiger
Identity and Nationality Theme Icon
...Man In The World” on account of his snake-charming abilities, and he is accompanied by Parvati-the-witch. (full context)
Sex and Gender Theme Icon
Identity and Nationality Theme Icon
Parvati entertains the crowd by making them disappear inside a wicker basket, a skill made possible... (full context)
Identity and Nationality Theme Icon
Parvati clings to Saleem, claiming that now that she has him, she won’t let him go.... (full context)
Book 3: The Shadow of the Mosque
Sex and Gender Theme Icon
Identity and Nationality Theme Icon
Parvati tells Saleem that she also ran into Shiva in Dacca when he came through with... (full context)
Sex and Gender Theme Icon
That night, Parvati comes to visit Saleem. She tells him that she has been wanting him to come... (full context)
Sex and Gender Theme Icon
...and Mustapha kick Saleem out of their house after they catch him in bed with Parvati. Parvati is waiting for him in the street, and together, they return to the magicians’... (full context)
Sex and Gender Theme Icon
Religion Theme Icon
At the magician’s ghetto, Parvati shares her magic with Saleem in the shadow of a mosque. She is a skilled... (full context)
Sex and Gender Theme Icon
Parvati develops a perpetual pout, and Picture Singh decides it is because she wants to get... (full context)
Book 3: A Wedding
Sex and Gender Theme Icon
Saleem continues his story, telling a captivated Padma that on February 23, 1975, he marries Parvati-the-witch. Padma immediately becomes upset, but Saleem quickly cuts her off. He reminds her that “women... (full context)
Sex and Gender Theme Icon
Saleem states that Parvati “took her destiny into her own hands.” Knowing of Saleem’s impotence, she uses her magic... (full context)
Sex and Gender Theme Icon
On May 15, 1974, Shiva is inexplicably struck by a desire to see Parvati-the-witch, and he immediately goes to the magicians’ ghetto. Shiva takes Parvati in his arms and... (full context)
Sex and Gender Theme Icon
On September 12, Parvati tells Shiva that she is having his child, and his temperament immediately changes. He begins... (full context)
Sex and Gender Theme Icon
According to Saleem, by casting a spell on Shiva, Parvati “invalidated his only defense against marrying her.” Upon her return to the ghetto, Parvati stands,... (full context)
Sex and Gender Theme Icon
Religion Theme Icon
Picture Singh convinces Saleem that the only way to preserve Parvati’s honor and solve his own problem of infertility is to marry her. Saleem agrees, and... (full context)
Identity and Nationality Theme Icon
As public discontent with Indira Gandhi grows, Parvati begins the first stages of labor, which in total, lasts thirteen days. During this time,... (full context)
Identity and Nationality Theme Icon
On June 25, 1975, just as Indira Gandhi is declaring a state of emergency, Parvati gives birth to Aadam Sinai, a perfectly formed baby—with the exception of a pair of... (full context)
Book 3: Midnight
British Colonialism and Postcolonialism Theme Icon
...know, including all the information about the children of midnight, and they tell him that Parvati is dead. Saleem is held prisoner during the Emergency, a fate shared by “either thirty... (full context)