Midnight’s Children

Midnight’s Children

by

Salman Rushdie

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Saleem Sinai Character Analysis

Saleem, the story’s protagonist and narrator, is the living embodiment of the newly independent country of India. Rushdie’s novel is largely allegorical, and the character of Saleem is the personification of his country—diverse, conflicted, and rooted in religion. Born at the precise moment of India’s independence from British colonialism, Saleem is endowed with the supernatural power of telepathy. In addition to connecting him with the Midnight’s Children Conference—the other children born during the midnight hour of India’s independence and the metaphorical “mirror of the nation”—Saleem’s telepathy gives him incredible insight as he tells the story of his life, beginning with his grandfather, Aadam Aziz, and culminating with Saleem’s son, Aadam Sinai. Saleem is the manager of a pickle factory and is also a writer, and he is determined to preserve his story before he dies, a victim of “too much history.” He begins to crumble and crack “like an old jug,” a reflection of India’s partitioning and division along lines of religion, language, and class, and it is slowly killing him. Saleem’s story is repeatedly complicated by Shiva, the story’s antagonist. Shiva, who is also born at the precise moment of India’s independence, is Saleem’s only competition as leader of the Midnight’s Children Conference, and he is determined to undo all of Saleem’s efforts to discover the true purpose of the children and their varied powers. Saleem’s ayah, Mary Pereira, a former midwife at the hospital where Saleem and Shiva are born, switches the two infants just moments after their birth in “her own private revolutionary act,” swapping rich with poor, forever changing the lives of everybody associated with her fated alteration. Ironically, despite Saleem’s true parentage, he physically resembles Aadam Aziz—who is technically Shiva’s biological grandfather—inheriting his bulbous nose, “Kashmiri blue eyes,” and his inability to either “believe or disbelieve in God.”

Saleem Sinai Quotes in Midnight’s Children

The Midnight’s Children quotes below are all either spoken by Saleem Sinai or refer to Saleem Sinai. 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: The Perforated Sheet Quotes

One Kashmiri morning in the early spring of 1915, my grandfather Aadam Aziz hit his nose against a frost-hardened tussock of earth while attempting to pray. Three drops of blood plopped out of his left nostril, hardened instantly in the brittle air and lay before his eyes on the prayer-mat, transformed into rubies. Lurching back until he knelt with his head once more upright, he found that the tears which had sprung to his eyes has solidified, too; and at that moment, as he brushed diamonds contemptuously from his lashes, he resolved never again to kiss earth for any god or man.

Related Characters: Saleem Sinai (speaker), Aadam Aziz
Related Symbols: Noses
Page Number: 4
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:
Book 1: Many-headed Monsters Quotes

“It was only a matter of time,” my father said, with every appearance of pleasure; but time has been an unsteady affair, in my experience, not a thing to be relied upon. It could even be partitioned: the clocks in Pakistan would run a half an hour ahead of their Indian counterparts…Mr. Kemal, who wanted nothing to do with Partition, was fond of saying, “Here’s proof of the folly of the scheme! Those Leaguers plan to abscond with a whole thirty minutes! Time without Partitions,” Mr. Kemal cried, “That’s the ticket!” And S. P. Butt said, “If they can change the time just like that, what’s real any more?” I ask you? What’s true?”

Related Characters: Saleem Sinai (speaker), Ahmed Sinai, Mustapha Kemal, Mr. S. P. Butt
Page Number: 86-7
Explanation and Analysis:
Book 1: Methwold Quotes

The Estate, Methwold’s Estate, is changing them. Every evening at six they are out in their gardens, celebrating the cocktail hour, and when William Methwold comes to call they slip effortlessly in their imitation Oxford drawls; and they are learning, about ceiling fans and gas cookers and the correct diet for budgerigars, and Methwold, supervising their transformation, is mumbling under his breath. Listen carefully: what’s he saying? Yes, that’s it. “Sabkuch ticktock hai,” mumbles Methwold. All is well.

Related Characters: Saleem Sinai (speaker), William Methwold
Page Number: 109
Explanation and Analysis:
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:
Book 2: The Fisherman’s Pointing Finger Quotes

“Dear Baby Saleem, My belated congratulations on the happy accident of your moment of birth! You are the newest bearer of that ancient face of India, which is also eternally young. We shall be watching over your life with the closet attention; it will be, in a sense, the mirror of our own.”

Related Characters: Saleem Sinai (speaker)
Page Number: 139
Explanation and Analysis:
Book 2: Snakes and Ladders Quotes

All games have morals; and the game of Snakes and Ladders captures […] the eternal truth that for every ladder you climb, a snake is waiting just around the corner; and for every snake, a ladder will compensate. But it’s more than that; no mere carrot-and-stick affair; because implicit in the game is the unchanging twoness of things, the duality of up against down, good against evil; the solid rationality of ladders balances the occult sinuosities of the serpent; in the opposition of staircase and cobra we can see, metaphorically, all conceivable oppositions, […] but I found, very early in my life, that the game lacked one crucial dimension, that of ambiguity—because, as events are about to show, it is also possible to slither down a ladder and climb to triumph on the venom of a snake.

Related Characters: Saleem Sinai (speaker)
Page Number: 160-1
Explanation and Analysis:
Book 2: All-India Radio Quotes

Telepathy, then: the inner monologues of all the so-called teeming millions, of masses and classes alike, jostled for space within my head. In the beginning, when I was content to be an audience—before I began to act—there was a language problem. The voices babbled in everything Malayalam to Naga dialects, from the purity of Lucknow Urdu to the southern slurrings of Tamil. I understood only a fraction of the things being said within the wall of my skull. Only later, when I began to probe, did I learn that below the surface transmission—the front-of-mind stuff which is what I’d originally been picking up—language faded away, and was replaced by universally intelligible thought-forms which far transcended words.

Related Characters: Saleem Sinai (speaker)
Page Number: 192
Explanation and Analysis:
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:
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:
Book 2: The Kolynos Kid Quotes

“…Your life, which will be, in a sense, the mirror of our own,” the Prime Minister wrote, obliging me scientifically to face the question: In what sense? How, in what terms, may the career of a single individual be said to impinge on the fate of a nation? I must answer in adverbs and hyphens: I was linked to history both literally and metaphorically, both actively and passively, in what our (admirably modern) scientists might term “modes of connection” composed of “dualistically-combined configurations” of the two pairs of opposed adverbs given above. This is why hyphens are necessary: actively-literally, passively-metaphorically, actively-metaphorically and passively-literally, I was inextricably entwined with my world.

Related Characters: Saleem Sinai (speaker)
Page Number: 272-3
Explanation and Analysis:
Book 2: Commander Sabarmati’s Baton Quotes

“Loose woman,” the demon within me whispered silently, “Perpetrator of the worst of maternal perfidies! We shall turn you into an awful example; through you we shall demonstrate the fate which awaits the lascivious. O unobservant adulteress! Did you see what sleeping around did to the illustrious Baroness Simki von der Heiden?—who was, not to put too fine a point upon it, a bitch, just like yourself.”

Related Characters: Saleem Sinai (speaker), Homi Catrack, Lila Sabarmati
Page Number: 296
Explanation and Analysis:
Book 2: Revelations Quotes

What leaked into me from Aadam Aziz: a certain vulnerability to women, but also its cause, the hole at the center of himself caused by his (which is also my) failure to believe or disbelieve in God. And something else as well—something which, at the age of eleven, I saw before anyone else noticed. My grandfather has begun to crack.

Related Characters: Saleem Sinai (speaker), Aadam Aziz
Page Number: 315
Explanation and Analysis:
Book 2: Movements Performed by Pepperpots Quotes

Midnight has many children: the offspring of Independence were not all human. Violence, corruption, poverty, generals, chaos, greed and pepperpots…I had to go into exile to learn that the children of midnight were more varied than I—even I—had dreamed.

Related Characters: Saleem Sinai (speaker)
Page Number: 333
Explanation and Analysis:
Book 2: Jamila Singer Quotes

Saleem’s parents said, “We must all become new people”; in the land of the pure, purity became our ideal. But Saleem was forever tainted with Bombayness, his head full of all sorts of religions apart from Allah’s (like India’s first Muslims, the mercantile Moplas of Malabar, I had lived in a country whose population of deities rivalled the numbers of its people, so that, in unconscious revolt against the claustrophobic throng of deities, my family had espoused the ethics of business, not faith) […].

Related Characters: Saleem Sinai (speaker)
Page Number: 355
Explanation and Analysis:
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:
Book 3: The Buddha Quotes

So, apologizing for the melodrama, I must doggedly insist that I, he, had begun again; that after years of yearning for importance, he (or I) had been cleansed of the whole business; that after my vengeful abandonment by Jamila Singer, who wormed me into the Army to get me out of her sight, I (or he) accepted the fate which was my repayment for love, and sat uncomplaining under a chinar tree; that, emptied of history, the buddha learned the arts of submission, and did only what was required of him. To sum up: I became a citizen of Pakistan.

Related Characters: Saleem Sinai (speaker), The Brass Monkey / Jamila Singer
Page Number: 403
Explanation and Analysis:
Book 3: In the Sundarbans Quotes

In the aftermath of the Sundarbans, my old life was waiting to reclaim me. I should have known: no escape from past acquaintance. What you were is forever who you are.

Related Characters: Saleem Sinai (speaker)
Page Number: 423
Explanation and Analysis:
Book 3: Sam and the Tiger Quotes

Who what am I? My answer: I am the sum total of everything that went before me, of all I have been seen done, of everything done-to-me. I am everyone everything whose being-in-the-world affected was affected by mine. I am anything that happens after I’ve gone which would not have happened if I had not come. Nor am I particularly exceptional in this matter; each “I,” every one of the now-six-hundred-million-plus of us, contains a similar multitude. I repeat for the last time: to understand me, you’ll have to swallow a world.

Related Characters: Saleem Sinai (speaker), Padma
Page Number: 440-1
Explanation and Analysis:
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:

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:
Book 3: Midnight Quotes

[T]he Emergency had a black part as well as a white, and here is the secret which has lain concealed for too long beneath the mask of those stifled days: the truest, deepest motive behind the declaration of a State of Emergency was the smashing, the pulverizing, the irreversible discombobulation of the children of midnight. (Whose Conference had, of course, been disbanded years before; but the mere possibility of our reunification was enough to trigger off the red alert.)

Related Characters: Saleem Sinai (speaker), Aadam Sinai, The Widow / Indira Gandhi
Page Number: 492
Explanation and Analysis:
Book 3: Abracadabra Quotes

I understood once again that Aadam was a member of a second generation of magical children who would grow up far tougher than the first, not looking for their fate in prophecy or stars, but forging it in the implacable furnaces of their wills.

Related Characters: Saleem Sinai (speaker), Aadam Sinai
Page Number: 515
Explanation and Analysis:
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Saleem Sinai Character Timeline in Midnight’s Children

The timeline below shows where the character Saleem Sinai appears in Midnight’s Children. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Book 1: The Perforated Sheet
Truth and Storytelling Theme Icon
Identity and Nationality Theme Icon
...stroke of midnight on August 15, 1947—the exact moment of India’s independence from British rule—narrator Saleem Sinai is writing the story of his life. Saleem’s historical birthday means that he is... (full context)
Truth and Storytelling Theme Icon
Identity and Nationality Theme Icon
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 Saleem is full of the stories of his ancestors and has too many to tell, but... (full context)
Identity and Nationality Theme Icon
Fragments and Partitioning Theme Icon
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Saleem’s story flashes back to Kashmir, 1915. His grandfather, Aadam Aziz, kneels to pray, and after... (full context)
British Colonialism and Postcolonialism Theme Icon
Saleem notes that during his grandfather’s time, Kashmir had hardly changed since the Mughal Empire—there is... (full context)
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...home in a fog, making bird-noises and calling in over thirty different species of birds. Saleem gives a physical description of Aadam, who notably has a large bulbous nose, which “established... (full context)
Book 1: Mercurochrome
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Saleem introduces his companion, Padma, an uneducated and illiterate woman. Padma, whose name roughly translate to... (full context)
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Saleem continues writing his story, again making reference to Scheherazade. He begins with Aadam and his... (full context)
Sex and Gender Theme Icon
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...and Naseem begin to ready themselves to move to Agra for Aadam’s new job. As Saleem writes, he recalls finding the perforated sheet in a trunk while searching for a ghost... (full context)
British Colonialism and Postcolonialism Theme Icon
Identity and Nationality Theme Icon
Saleem flashes back to 1919, where Aadam is in the city of Amritsar. The busy city... (full context)
British Colonialism and Postcolonialism Theme Icon
...the metal clasp of his bag digs into his chest, leaving a severe bruise that Saleem notes does not fade until after his grandfather’s death many, many years later. When the... (full context)
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Saleem notes that his skin is beginning to crack, and he knows that his death is... (full context)
Book 1: Hit-the-Spittoon
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Saleem is falling apart, literally cracking “like an old jug” under the stress of his historical... (full context)
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Padma is hooked on Saleem’s story, and she has stopped nagging him to eat and sleep. Padma too senses that... (full context)
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Saleem’s story flashes back to Agra in 1942, where his grandfather, Aadam, has come down with... (full context)
British Colonialism and Postcolonialism Theme Icon
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Identity and Nationality Theme Icon
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...wishes to discuss political happenings, he must go visit his friend, Rani of Cooch Naheen. Saleem notes that as his grandmother begins to age, she repeatedly refers to things and people... (full context)
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Saleem tells of an argument ten years earlier in 1932, when Aadam goes behind Reverend Mother’s... (full context)
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Saleem returns to 1942, to the Hummingbird’s optimism and the streets of Agra, where old men... (full context)
Fragments and Partitioning Theme Icon
...a window, the glass broken from the Hummingbird’s high-pitched hum. Knowing his story is unbelievable, Saleem insists, “It is well known that this is true.” (full context)
Book 1: Under the Carpet
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Saleem’s story continues with Aadam sitting on his “thunderbox”—his personal term for his toilet—considering a laxative.... (full context)
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 Saleem’s story skips to 1943, and his grandfather’s home is still in the grips of Reverend... (full context)
British Colonialism and Postcolonialism Theme Icon
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Saleem’s story again skips to 1945, to the very day that atomic bombs are dropped on... (full context)
Book 1: A Public Announcement
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...behind the scenes, making decisions and political maneuvers that will lead to India’s partition (which, Saleem says, will begin in just six short months—“tick, tock”). Saleem interrupts his own story to... (full context)
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Saleem continues his story with Amina, who having moved to Delhi with Ahmed, wakes for the... (full context)
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...in his box”—including pictures of holy temples, the Taj Mahal, and European actresses—a practice that Saleem considers “an Indian disease, this urge to encapsulate the whole of reality.” The Muslim neighborhood... (full context)
Identity and Nationality Theme Icon
...boy, they will have to kill her, a pregnant Muslim as well. Carrying a baby Saleem, Amina’s announcement saves Lafifa Das’s life, and he repays her with the promise of having... (full context)
Book 1: Methwold
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Saleem tells of ancient fishermen, known as Kolis, the first inhabitants of a specific part of... (full context)
Book 1: Tick, Tock
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Saleem continues his story for an eager Padma; but before he does, he quickly recaps how... (full context)
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Saleem begins on August 13, 1947, and Jupiter, Saturn, and Venus are all “moving into the... (full context)
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As Saleem counts down the hours until his birth, he briefly acknowledges what others were doing on... (full context)
British Colonialism and Postcolonialism Theme Icon
...an ayah, which Amina accepts. The Times of India interviews Amina and takes photographs of Saleem, running them under the headline: MIDNIGHT’S CHILD. She is awarded a scant one hundred rupees.... (full context)
Book 2: The Fisherman’s Pointing Finger
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Identity and Nationality Theme Icon
 Saleem continues his story and tells Padma about a framed painting hanging on his bedroom wall... (full context)
British Colonialism and Postcolonialism Theme Icon
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...message unnerves an already paranoid Mary, who wonders if the government knows about her secret. Saleem also considers that the fisherman in the painting is pointing past the picture and his... (full context)
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Amina and Ahmed bring baby Saleem home from the hospital, including his umbilical cord in an old pickle-jar. Saleem is an... (full context)
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Amina and Mary fuss over baby Saleem and love him fiercely. They are secretly competitive of each other, each somewhat resentful of... (full context)
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Most of the residents of Methwold’s Estate are enamored with Saleem as well (except for Dr. Narlikar, who hates children and advocates for public birth control),... (full context)
British Colonialism and Postcolonialism Theme Icon
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Ahmed, a “self-important man,” never forgives Saleem for breaking his toe, and he resents the attention that Amina gives the baby (she... (full context)
Book 2: Snakes and Ladders
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Saleem stops his story to mention his love as a child for the game Snakes and... (full context)
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...Buckingham Villa, Mary and old Musa are constantly fighting. Musa, resentful that Mary sleeps in Saleem’s room while he is stuck in the servants’ quarters, is offended by her constant prayers... (full context)
British Colonialism and Postcolonialism Theme Icon
About the time Amina goes into labor for the second time, Saleem falls ill with typhoid. Aadam treats his grandson the best he knows how, but his... (full context)
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In the commotion of Saleem’s illness, Amina gives birth to a daughter, who comes to be known as the Brass... (full context)
Book 2: Accident in a Washing-chest
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Before Saleem continues his story, he notes that Padma has been gone for two whole days, following... (full context)
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Saleem’s story jumps to 1956, the year in which the Brass Monkey develops the habit of... (full context)
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Despite his own unattractiveness, however, Saleem is the family favorite. He is adored by his father and neighbors, and even Reverend... (full context)
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At “nearlynine” years of age, Saleem begins to attend a local boys’ school along with the other boys of Methwold’s Estate,... (full context)
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Amina begins to grow prematurely old, Saleem notes, “like all the women in our family,” and the Brass Monkey’s poor behavior and... (full context)
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...after a silence that is just a bit too long, she responds, “Sorry. Wrong number.” Saleem and Monkey are suspicious (of what they aren’t sure) and determined to solve the mystery... (full context)
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Later, looking to escape his family, Saleem slips into his mother’s washing-chest. As he relaxes in the dirty laundry, the phone begins... (full context)
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...name “Nadir” over and over again, starts to sensually caress her body as a mortified Saleem looks on. Suddenly struck with the urge to use the commode, Amina removes her clothes,... (full context)
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Amina punishes Saleem with a day of silence and, alone in his room, he is bombarded with a... (full context)
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...his prophesy. “Washing will hide him…voices will guide him.” In the following days, she asks Saleem about the voices. He lies, claiming, “A stupid joke, like you said.” (full context)
Book 2: All-India Radio
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Padma has not returned, and Saleem is still feeling her absence. Alone at the pickle factory with only his employees (“an... (full context)
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Back in his childhood, Saleem abandons his Archangel explanation and finally realizes that the voices he hears are some form... (full context)
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Saleem atones for his blasphemy by washing his own mouth out with soap, and he quickly... (full context)
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Saleem begins to use his gift to his advantage, cheating on tests and improving his grades... (full context)
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...to the solitude of Amina’s washing-chest and looking to escape the thoughts of his family, Saleem begins hiding in the broken clock tower that Joseph D’Costa had attempted to blow up.... (full context)
Book 2: Love in Bombay
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During the month of fasting, Ramzàn, Saleem and the Brass Monkey go to the movies as often as they can. Sitting in... (full context)
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...in a segregated area of the city just below Methwold’s Estate, and the first time Saleem meets her, he is playing cricket with the Monkey and the other children of Methwold’s.... (full context)
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...naked and leaves him crying in the street. “Why she do it man?” Sonny asks Saleem. Forever loyal to the Monkey, Saleem shrugs. “She does things, that’s all.” (full context)
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Saleem convinces Sonny to talk to Evie on his behalf. As a nervous Saleem looks on,... (full context)
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In an attempt to win Evie’s affection, Saleem vows to share her interests, which he currently doesn’t. He has never liked guns nor... (full context)
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After Evie gives Saleem a healthy shove to start him off, he is coasting uncontrollably on her mint condition... (full context)
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Saleem is still unable to get Evie to pay attention to him, and after learning to... (full context)
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Saleem dives deeper and deeper into Evie’s thoughts, and she begins to hold her head and... (full context)
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Saleem is stuck in the angry mob, each of them speaking a different language. He hears... (full context)
Book 2: My Tenth Birthday
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 Padma has finally returned, and she is full of apologies for Saleem. For the past week, Saleem has been ill and delirious. Padma confesses that she recently... (full context)
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Having lost an entire week of writing, Saleem is eager to continue his story. He begins in 1957, as he is nearing his... (full context)
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Saleem claims that the closer the child’s birth to the midnight hour, the greater their magical... (full context)
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Saleem and Shiva are both born at the stroke of midnight; however, Saleem’s power is greater... (full context)
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...alcoholism and seclusion. He stops coming to the table for meals, and he rarely tells Saleem and the Brass Monkey bedtime stories like he used to. He escapes to his home... (full context)
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In a drunken stupor, Ahmed attempts to place a curse on Sherri, Saleem’s mongrel dog—the very same curse he had invented years ago for the benefit of William... (full context)
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...good is to confess her crime. She fails, however, to come clean. Her love for Saleem is too strong, and she is sure that her confession will cause him pain. She... (full context)
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On the day of Saleem’s tenth birthday, Amina throws him a party; however, none of the children of Methwold’s Estate... (full context)
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...“excessively unpopular” at the party by loudly yelling, “Elections coming! Watch out for the communists!” Saleem notices that Amina blushes after Hanif’s comment, and she has been mysteriously disappearing lately, supposedly... (full context)
Book 2: At the Pioneer Café
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 Saleem tells Padma of a strange dream he had while delirious. In the throes of fever—which... (full context)
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Saleem is in the office of the pickle-factory, and his son has come to visit. He... (full context)
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...the Methwold’s Estate children have taken over the clock tower, and since Evie has kicked Saleem out of the gang, he no longer has a private place to commune with the... (full context)
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Meanwhile, Saleem continues to suspect Amina of keeping secrets and makes a plan to stow away in... (full context)
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It is not long before Amina must go on another shopping trip (which, Saleem notes, always occur after a wrong number phone call), and he slips unnoticed into the... (full context)
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...in the afternoon, the Pioneer Café turns into a Communist hangout. Now, in the afternoon, Saleem watches his mother meet a man with “poetically long hair.” (full context)
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...Khan, and he is an official candidate of the Communist Party. Through the crowded café, Saleem watches his mother and Qasim share an “indirect kiss” via a drinking glass, and he... (full context)
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Saleem slips back into the trunk and vows never to stow away in his mother’s trunk... (full context)
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During his nightly visits with the other children of midnight, Saleem officially forms the Midnight Children’s Conference. Instead of using words and language, Saleem communicates with... (full context)
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...aggressive, runs a gang, and frequently threatens to squeeze people between his knees. After reminding Saleem that they were both born at the stroke of midnight, Shiva suggests that they be... (full context)
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Saleem’s story jumps back to the 1957 election, in which Qasim Khan is nearly elected and... (full context)
Book 2: Alpha and Omega
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As Saleem continues his story, he describes the civil unrest present in Bombay after the election. Riots... (full context)
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The more Saleem communicates with the Midnight Children’s Conference, the more he dislikes Shiva. Shiva continues to insist... (full context)
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The other children elect Saleem as their leader, and his first order of business is to figure out their collective... (full context)
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Later at school, Saleem attends his dreaded geography class taught by Mr. Zagallo, an unpleasant Anglo man who refers... (full context)
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Zagallo pulls Saleem out his chair by his hair and brings him to the front of the class.... (full context)
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Later, at the school dance, two bullies approach Saleem, mocking him because of his bald spot and calling him “map-face.” They give chase, and... (full context)
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Amina and Ahmed learn that Saleem’s blood does not match their own. Type A and O respectively (and rhesus positive), Saleem... (full context)
Book 2: The Kolynos Kid
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After he is discharged from the hospital, Saleem is picked up by his Uncle Hanif and Mary Pereira. He is told that he... (full context)
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Saleem’s exile to Hanif and Pia’s ends up being quite enjoyable. His aunt and uncle treat... (full context)
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Despite his “bare knees” and short pants (the markings of a child), Saleem enters premature puberty and his testicles “drop into their little sacs.” He begins to notice... (full context)
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...the film industry and they frequently host parties. During one such party, Homi secretly slips Saleem a folded note and asks him to give it to his aunt. Homi says, “And... (full context)
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That night, unable to get Pia alone, Saleem goes to sleep with the letter still in his hand. He wakes screaming after a... (full context)
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The next day after school (where Saleem learns that his classmate, Jimmy, has died of a sudden heart seizure), he arrives home... (full context)
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Amina soon arrives to bring Saleem back to Buckingham Villa, and she offers no explanation as to why he was sent... (full context)
Book 2: Commander Sabarmati’s Baton
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Meanwhile, Saleem finds that he is no longer his parents’ favorite child. Both Ahmed and Amina plainly... (full context)
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Saleem tries to unify the children and pleads with them not to “permit the endless duality... (full context)
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Saleem begins avoiding the Midnight Children’s Conference and spends most of his time in the quiet... (full context)
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Saleem takes Mr. Schaapsteker’s advice. When he discovers that Homi Catrack is having an affair with... (full context)
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Saleem’s “revenge participates a national crisis,” and Commander Sabarmati becomes exceedingly popular. Married men defend his... (full context)
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Feeling guilty over the terrible crime he caused, Saleem nearly confesses to his mother; however, he suddenly changes his mind. Soon after Commander Sabarmati’s... (full context)
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...still alive, moves out. In an unrelated event, Cyrus-the-great’s father chokes and dies, and suddenly Saleem’s family is all alone with an aging Dr. Schaapsteker and Dr. Narlikar’s women, who buy... (full context)
Book 2: Revelations
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As Saleem continues his story for a rapt Padma, Narlikar’s women have begun to demolish Methwold’s Estate,... (full context)
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Saleem’s entire family soon arrives at Buckingham Villa to observe the forty-day mourning period for Hanif’s... (full context)
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On the twentieth day of mourning, Saleem apologizes to Pia for behaving so inappropriately during his exile at her apartment.  She then... (full context)
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...Ahmed notices the ghost, Mary blurts out her secret, confessing to everyone that she switched Saleem and Shiva’s nametags after birth. She then turns and runs from the room. (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 be able... (full context)
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...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, berating and abusing... (full context)
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Later that same day, Amina, Saleem, and the Brass Monkey begin to travel back to Pakistan with Emerald and Zulfikar. As... (full context)
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Saleem and the Brass Monkey go to school with Emerald and Zulfikar’s son, Zafar, an unpleasant... (full context)
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...relationship with her son (who really isn’t her son), but her attempts are forced and Saleem feels alienated from his mother and the Monkey. One night, shortly after their arrival to... (full context)
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As the dinner guests arrive, Saleem has no idea who they are, but he is sure that they are military officers.... (full context)
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...declares Martial Law and states, “I am assuming control of the State.” In that moment, Saleem and Zafar realize that Zulfikar and his dinner guests are planning a coup of the... (full context)
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Sitting next to Zulfikar, Saleem “created a new father for himself,” and as Zulfikar directed him and described the movements... (full context)
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At midnight on November 1, Zulfikar wakes Saleem from a sound sleep, whispering, “Come on, sonny, it’s time you got a taste of... (full context)
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...to a military airfield and places him on a plane. As the plane takes off, Saleem realizes that not only did he help to plan a coup, but he also helped... (full context)
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Amina stays in Pakistan for four years with Saleem and the Brass Monkey, who begins to abandon her rebellious ways and becomes a devout... (full context)
Book 2: Drainage and the Desert
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Saleem wastes no time reconvening the Midnight Children’s Conference. He seals off the part of his... (full context)
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...internment, Ahmed and Amina finally enjoy a decent marriage. Ahmed has also begun to show Saleem affection again, and they are a happy family for the first time. Saleem’s nasal congestion... (full context)
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...The next day, Ahmed and Amina pack a picnic and head toward the beach with Saleem and Jamila Singer; however, they never make their picnic. Instead, they take Saleem to an... (full context)
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When Saleem wakes from his surgery, his sinuses are clear but his telepathy is gone. Amina finally... (full context)
Book 2: Jamila Singer
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Living in Karachi in his aunt Alia’s home, Saleem’s clear nose and sinuses are now able to smell emotions. He smells Alia’s hypocrisy and... (full context)
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In his new city, Saleem cannot “forgive Karachi for not being Bombay.” He misses his city, and this one feels... (full context)
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...“American-style modern bungalow,” and purchases a plot of land. He consecrates the new land with Saleem’s umbilical cord and brine (preserved in a pickle-jar). Despite Ahmed’s optimism, Saleem discovers that he... (full context)
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...begin to refer to him as Uncle Puffs, and during his regular visits, he encourages Saleem to marry one of his seven daughters. Amina is quick to change the subject and... (full context)
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Like most of the nation of Pakistan, Saleem begins to fall in love with Jamila. He runs errands for her, driving his scooter... (full context)
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Saleem soon finds out about the death of his grandfather, Aadam Aziz. The Indo-Pakistani relationship continues... (full context)
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Stuck in the city, Saleem befriends a prostitute named Tai Bibi, who claims to be five hundred and twelve years... (full context)
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As Jamila sings, a “hashashin wind” blows in from the north, making Saleem drowsy. The wedding guest begin to giggle uncontrollably and Zafar is so relaxed, he wets... (full context)
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Saleem later goes to Jamila’s room to confess his love, and the hashashin wind has caused... (full context)
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Jamila becomes upset with Saleem’s confession, but he explains to her how his love is not wrong. Since they are... (full context)
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As Saleem leaves Jamila’s room, he hears the daughter of the Nawab scream. She has had a... (full context)
Book 2: How Saleem Achieved Purity
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After Aadam’s death, Saleem finds himself dreaming about Kashmir, even though he has never been there. His life in... (full context)
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...Mary Pereira and Reverend Mother, to stir her emotions into her cooking, and she feeds Saleem and his family her food infused with hate and revenge. The family becomes moody and... (full context)
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It is August 1965, and Saleem’s life is about to change on account of the Indo-Pakistani War, which he claims is... (full context)
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...of Uncle Puffs and his seven daughters. Another bomb falls on the home Alia, killing Saleem’s entire family, including Ahmed, Amina, and their unborn child. The final bomb in Karachi falls... (full context)
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As Saleem runs around the blast-zone chaos, knocked back by the power of the explosion, Amina’s old... (full context)
Book 3: The Buddha
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Saleem begins to tell Padma the story of his time in the Pakistani army, claiming that... (full context)
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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... (full context)
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Saleem begins to irritate Ayooba Baloch, since the man-dog doesn’t seem to track very much at... (full context)
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...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... (full context)
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Padma is disappointed in Saleem for leading the troops to Sheikh Mujib, but Saleem never questions his actions. As the... (full context)
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...“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... (full context)
Book 3: In the Sundarbans
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Saleem admits that there is not an enemy rebel to track and he has only led... (full context)
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Suddenly, a snake bites Saleem on his heel, and Shaheed Dar crushes it with a stick. The three boys wait... (full context)
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...ears with mud and are deafened by the insects and jungle-droppings embedded in the mud. Saleem leads them to a Hindu temple of Kali, where they find respite from the rain... (full context)
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...standing over them who take them in their arms, satisfying them over and over again. Saleem and his team pass many days in the temple, rarely leaving, and they suddenly begin... (full context)
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Saleem manages to lead Ayooba, Farooq, and Shaheed Dar out of the temple and back to... (full context)
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...from the mud, and they noisily walk about the village, speaking loudly to each other. Saleem sits down, upset and crying over his inability to remember his name, and Ayooba stoops... (full context)
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After escaping, the three men return to Dacca, where corpses rot in plain view. Saleem, Shaheed Dar, and Farooq are told of the worsening war and a formidable Indian soldier... (full context)
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Saleem soon notices a small pyramid in the middle of a field and discovers that it... (full context)
Book 3: Sam and the Tiger
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...of the war in Bangladesh, surrenders to Sam Manekshaw of the Indian army. According to Saleem, the fighting has cost Pakistan “half her navy, a third of her army, a quarter... (full context)
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Saleem and Shaheed Dar arrive in Dacca and find the city demolished. They are met with... (full context)
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...by her gift of sorcery bestowed upon her by her midnight birth. When she sees Saleem, she becomes excited, calling out to him by name, and he suddenly remembers who he... (full context)
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Parvati clings to Saleem, claiming that now that she has him, she won’t let him go. As the Indian... (full context)
Book 3: The Shadow of the Mosque
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As Saleem continues his story, he notes that he now has twenty-six pickle-jars present for each of... (full context)
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When Saleem returns to India, Indira Gandhi’s New Congress Party is in full power. Saleem is struck... (full context)
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Saleem stays for a few days in the ghetto, a guest of Picture Singh, but he... (full context)
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Parvati tells Saleem that she also ran into Shiva in Dacca when he came through with the army... (full context)
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Mustapha spends his free time researching genealogies and lineages. One day, Saleem sees a folder in his office labeled TOP SECRET with the title PROJECT M.C.C. (full context)
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While at Mustapha’s, Saleem also definitively learns about the deaths of his family and the recent disappearance of Jamila... (full context)
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Following Saleem’s disappearance during the war, Jamila spoke out against the Pakistani government and was forced to... (full context)
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On the four hundred and eighteenth day of Saleem’s stay in Mustapha’s home, a man with “a mouth as fleshy as a woman’s labia”... (full context)
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That night, Parvati comes to visit Saleem. She tells him that she has been wanting him to come and visit her in... (full context)
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Later that same night, Sonia and Mustapha kick Saleem out of their house after they catch him in bed with Parvati. Parvati is waiting... (full context)
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At the magician’s ghetto, Parvati shares her magic with Saleem in the shadow of a mosque. She is a skilled witch of “white magic,” and... (full context)
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...pout, and Picture Singh decides it is because she wants to get married. He asks Saleem if he is interested, but Saleem claims that he can’t marry Parvati because he is... (full context)
Book 3: A Wedding
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Saleem continues his story, telling a captivated Padma that on February 23, 1975, he marries Parvati-the-witch.... (full context)
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Saleem agrees, thinking also of the Widow, and claims that even “the great cosmic energy” is... (full context)
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Saleem states that Parvati “took her destiny into her own hands.” Knowing of Saleem’s impotence, she... (full context)
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According to Saleem, Shiva is successful both in the military and socially, and he frequents parties, dances, and... (full context)
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According to Saleem, by casting a spell on Shiva, Parvati “invalidated his only defense against marrying her.” Upon... (full context)
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Picture Singh convinces Saleem that the only way to preserve Parvati’s honor and solve his own problem of infertility... (full context)
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...Sinai, a perfectly formed baby—with the exception of a pair of “colossally huge” ears. Like Saleem, Aadam’s birth has historical significance, and he is “handcuffed to history” as well, his “own... (full context)
Book 3: Midnight
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Saleem’s story continues in the winter of 1975-6, in the middle of Mrs. Gandhi’s Emergency, where... (full context)
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Saleem’s nose smells trouble, and soon the Constitution is altered to give Indira Gandhi absolute power... (full context)
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...doesn’t cry or cough, and he appears to hold all of his sound inside himself. Saleem soon smells danger again, and he knows that the “truest, deepest motive behind” Mrs. Gandhi’s... (full context)
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...soon sent in. Major Shiva has arrived as well, and he is looking only for Saleem, who he quickly pulls into a van. Saleem believes that Gandhi’s sterilization program is a... (full context)
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While captured by the Widow, Saleem tells his captors everything they want to know, including all the information about the children... (full context)
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During his imprisonment, Saleem speaks a letter aloud to the other children of midnight. He tells them that we... (full context)
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On New Years’ Day, Saleem is visited by the Widow’s Hand, and by the end of the day, each member... (full context)
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Saleem is released from his imprisonment in March of 1977, along with the other four hundred... (full context)
Book 3: Abracadabra
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Saleem claims that Shiva is still alive, and he is terrified. They still have “unfinished business”... (full context)
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Saleem continues his story, and after his release from the Widow’s imprisonment, he returns to the... (full context)
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...is not difficult to understand why. Each day, new stories fall from Durga’s lips; however, Saleem is no longer interested in stories, and he soon discovers that Durga is a succubus.... (full context)
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Young Aadam Sinai, at less than two years old, requires “perpetual attention” from Saleem, and he keeps him busy. According to Saleem, Aadam is part of a new generation... (full context)
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Picture Singh hears of “the existence of a rival” snake-charmer in Bombay, and he convinces Saleem to return to the city with him and Aadam Sinai in search of the famous... (full context)
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...arrive in the Bombay, the city has greatly changed and barely resembles the Bombay of Saleem’s youth. Most of the stores he knows are gone, and up on the hill where... (full context)
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Saleem and Picture Singh arrive at the Metro Cub Club with Aadam Sinai, in search of... (full context)
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Afterward, a waitress brings Saleem and Picture Singh bowls of bright green chutney, and Saleem immediately recognizes the taste. The... (full context)
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Arriving at the factory, Saleem meets a feisty Padma for the first time, and standing at the top of the... (full context)
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As Saleem visits with Mary, Aadam Sinai finally utters his first word: “Abracadabra.” Saleem decides to stay... (full context)
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Saleem vows to preserve his stories the same way he preserves Mary’s chutney, and he labels... (full context)