Midnight’s Children

Midnight’s Children

by

Salman Rushdie

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The story’s antagonist and Saleem Sinai’s alter ego. Like Saleem, Shiva is also born at the precise moment of India’s independence from British rule, and he is likewise endowed with a magical power, though Saleem’s power of telepathy is stronger than Shiva’s gift of war. Shiva, the supposed son of Wee Willie Winkie and his wife Vanita, is named after the gods of destruction and procreation, and is born with a set of “menacingly knocking knees,” which are reflective of his power. Shortly after Saleem and Shiva’s birth, a midwife named Mary Pereira swaps the two babies in her own “private revolutionary act,” effectively switching rich with poor. Saleem is brought up in Shiva’s rightful life, and he assumes Shiva’s role as the leader of the Midnight Children’s Conference, the gathering of all the children born during the midnight hour of India’s independence, and the metaphorical “mirror of the nation” of India. Shiva repeatedly tries to usurp Saleem’s power, and he sabotages all of Saleem’s efforts to identify the children’s purpose in the newly independent India. Shiva is also the biological father of Parvati-the-witch’s son. Parvati traps Shiva into impregnating her, knowing that he will lose interest in her after she is pregnant, allowing an impotent Saleem to claim her fatherless baby. Shiva, who ultimately becomes a soldier in the Indian Army, destroys the magicians’ ghetto where Saleem and Parvati live with their newborn son during the state of emergency declared by Indira Gandhi, and Parvati is killed in the process. After Gandhi’s emergency, Shiva is never heard from again, and Saleem continues to raise Parvati’s son.

Shiva Quotes in Midnight’s Children

The Midnight’s Children quotes below are all either spoken by Shiva or refer to Shiva. 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:
Get the entire Midnight’s Children LitChart as a printable PDF.
Midnight’s Children PDF

Shiva Character Timeline in Midnight’s Children

The timeline below shows where the character Shiva appears in Midnight’s Children. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Book 2: The Fisherman’s Pointing Finger
Truth and Storytelling Theme Icon
British Colonialism and Postcolonialism Theme Icon
Identity and Nationality Theme Icon
Religion Theme Icon
...wife, Willie now brings with him a rather large baby with “menacingly knocking knees” named Shiva, after the god of procreation and destruction. (full context)
Book 2: My Tenth Birthday
Fragments and Partitioning Theme Icon
Saleem and Shiva are both born at the stroke of midnight; however, Saleem’s power is greater than Shiva’s.... (full context)
Book 2: At the Pioneer Café
Identity and Nationality Theme Icon
Fragments and Partitioning Theme Icon
...communicates with the other children through pictures, and it is not long before he meets Shiva again. Shiva hasn’t been to Methwold’s Estate since he threw a rock at another kid,... (full context)
Identity and Nationality Theme Icon
Fragments and Partitioning Theme Icon
Shiva is mean and aggressive, runs a gang, and frequently threatens to squeeze people between his... (full context)
Truth and Storytelling Theme Icon
Fragments and Partitioning Theme Icon
...the Communist Party becomes the single largest opposition to the All-India Congress. On polling day, Shiva and his own gang, The Cowboys, are hired by an unknown paymaster to stand outside... (full context)
Book 2: Alpha and Omega
Identity and Nationality Theme Icon
The more Saleem communicates with the Midnight Children’s Conference, the more he dislikes Shiva. Shiva continues to insist that he is the true leader of the children, and Saleem... (full context)
Book 2: Commander Sabarmati’s Baton
Fragments and Partitioning Theme Icon
...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 them further apart, telling Saleem his... (full context)
Book 2: Revelations
Religion Theme Icon
...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
Fragments and Partitioning Theme Icon
...Children’s Conference. He is convinced that he won’t be able to hide his secret from Shiva, “the most ferocious and powerful of the Children,” who will be sure to claim his... (full context)
Book 2: Drainage and the Desert
Identity and Nationality Theme Icon
Fragments and Partitioning Theme Icon
...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 along the Himalayans, the children become angry with... (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 the army procession. Shiva, a famous war hero,... (full context)
Book 3: A Wedding
Sex and Gender Theme Icon
...destiny into her own hands.” Knowing of Saleem’s impotence, she uses her magic to summon Shiva to the magicians’ ghetto, and when he arrives to her shack, he doesn’t quite understand... (full context)
Sex and Gender Theme Icon
Identity and Nationality Theme Icon
According to Saleem, Shiva is successful both in the military and socially, and he frequents parties, dances, and other... (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... (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 to yell... (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... (full context)
Book 3: Midnight
Sex and Gender Theme Icon
...rioting begins. Fires are started, people are assaulted, and troops are soon sent in. Major Shiva has arrived as well, and he is looking only for Saleem, who he quickly pulls... (full context)
Book 3: Abracadabra
Identity and Nationality Theme Icon
Saleem claims that Shiva is still alive, and he is terrified. They still have “unfinished business” that will persist... (full context)